I like working with DrupalVM and I've worked with Ansible based Vagrant setups for years and so I'm very familiar with it's setup. More than that, I find I have very few problems with running it. I normally run it with Vagrant, but you can run it with Docker if you like.
According to the official Drupal documentation, to create a new site using composer you should use a composer template project called drupal/recommended-project. This has a default composer.json file setup with some values that will help you get up and running swiftly with a new Drupal project.
Installing a Drupal site from configuration is useful when running tests or if you don't have a copy of the database. You'll get a copy of the Drupal site without any content that will act in the same way as the live site. You can use modules like default content to add content into the mix so your newly installed site acts a little bit more like the live version.
Since there are some prerequisites to get this up and running I thought I would run through what is needed to get this working and how to run it.
A change that was snuck into Drupal version 8.8.0 and wasn't mentioned in the 8.8.0 change notes was a small change to the setting that controls the placement of the configuration directories. The alteration deprecated the $config_directories setting from the settings.php file and move the configuration into the $settings array. You can see the detail behind this change on the Drupal change record.