Nick, batten the hatches because you are going to get inundated with slams for not having thought out what purposes you want to use the boat for. Living aboard
is one, but where do you want to sail, what is your budget
, how many people on board, do you want luxury or utility, what kind of rig, and on and on.
I went through the same process. What I found useful is to not throw out a question like this to this, or other forums
. You will get confusing, contradictory, and sometimes negative comments. You will also get lots of helpful and positive comments. But it will not be terribly organized or useful.
So - you need to go out and do some basic research
on the topic and then come back in a few weeks/months with good specific questions, which is what the forums
are best for. No one will write the book to help you with what you need to know on this forum.
Go out and find some (of hundreds) books
on how to select and buy the boat for you. You already know you want a sailboat. You don't want a racer
boats (in general if you want to actually compete) don't make the best liveaboards. Get several of the books
. Go through them chapter by chapter. Make notes. Make a list of the features that seem to fit what you need/want. Add and refine the list over and over again. Start looking at boats for sale
listing. Look at the features they mention. Look up any you don't understand. Think about it all. Sleep on it.
Then go look at boats. Compare the actual boats to your thoughts. You will not get much attention from brokers if you come in not knowing what you want. They'll figure out right away that you are clueless. The good ones will show you a couple of boats that might work for you. The bad ones will try to sell you any boat they can knowing you won't really know what would work or not.
This is work. It can be a blast. We started out exactly where you are at right now except you have more sailing experience than we do. I am a list guy though and I enjoy research
. The whole process was fun and exciting but daunting. Make it fun. Don't expect to figure it out real quick. Have fun and good luck. BTW - no such thing as the perfect boat for you or anyone else. All boats are compromises and combinations of different features and attributes. You will have to look at what is available for you at a price
you can afford that has most of what you want but not all. And quadruple the cost of everything you think it will be.