All of us are different (thank God!) so it's really hard to give "advice".
All I can tell you is, that when I met my third wife, she had a daughter of 4. I took them both along on the boat and while the mother had severe problems to adapt (she had been lake sailing and vacation
sailing before, but cruising year round is a different story all together, also when it comes to the type of weather
you every now and then have to deal with) the kid did just great! She grew up from a spoiled rug-rat to the most wonderful and responsible young lady in a heartbeat ... and her and I having fun together and being "conspirators" put quite a lot of stress to my marriage (jealousy).
She'd clean the freshly caught fish
with a big knife no prob., and her mother would freak out
.... that type of stress....
As to cruising grounds: Dont know what my fellow posters here got to say, but I wouldnt suggest the Caribbean for starters. Reefs
, Currents, anchorages
that take caution and experience, no sheltered marinas
to pull up in for a really good nights sleep without worries.......
On the other hand, the Med has plenty such marinas
plus lots of charming old fishing ports
and LOTS of history
, culture and a different language within a days sail.
If you buy and move onto the boat by late spring you have plenty of time to test how your family
will cope with first of all living in a rather confined space prior to ever leaving port. Comes April/May the Med converts to pretty much a huge bathtub which will not be much of a terrifying challenge until Mid September when you'd have to start to look out for the occasional earl fall gale. (Mallorca i.e. sees one of those usually by Mid- end of September and after that its really nice sailing weather
again all the way up to Christmas
Also: For long distance (incl. Caribbean) cruising I'd prefer a multihull
while thats not too great an idea in the Med. Most anchorages
are deep enough until quite close to the shore (so the reduced draft
of the Cat is not much of an advantage) but the Marinas are crowded and they tend to charge twice the price
of a mono of same length if you show up with a Cat (and that is only if they can accommodate you at all)
Yeah, if I was you, I would try to get myself some dirt cheap
boat, something to mess around with and which you can always sell again for the same you bought it for. I'd buy it in the Med and go cruising here (eastern Med is nice, but dont disregard the beauty of the western part of it either) - Once you and your family have tested your seagoing abilities, your ableness to live together on confined space ......... time for step two: Go and buy something you like, and go cruising around the globe!
(BTW: 4hours from Vancouver? You are not by any chance somewhere near Kelowna, where a client of ours simply is not paying his 100 K $ bill?! :-) )