Yes PVP can be very harsh but also exciting. Sounds like thats not what youre into.
PVE-C is just PVE but during certain hours you can damage other players. You can never damage other players buildings.
Sounds like PVE or PVE-C is what your looking for. Next question is official vs private servers.
Let me tell you that official servers are unmanaged and most likely will not have any actions taken by FUncom on them. But they are reliable and plentiful.
Privates are nice because admins can enforce rules and kick people for exploits or glitching. The downside is server restarts and the chance the admin can abuse their power.
I have played both and had a bad experience with glitchers on official servers. The private server I am on now is awesome and the admins are great. However, its PVP so it wont be what youre looking for.
Best of luck!