There's another recent joiner of CF, who calls himself "Broken Sailor". You can do a forum search on his name and see some of the questions he's been getting answers to relative to the costs of keeping boats in the SE United States. With boats, deferred maintenance
can sink you, so your budget
will have to include unexpected largish bills, unless you are able to to most of it yourself.
Since Puerto Rico
is your dream, you might want to research
whether it is legal
there to liveaboard
, whether there will be import fees
for your boat, and so on.
The advice to start crewing
on other people's boats is excellent, and should be fun. As others have suggested, go aboard as many different types of boats as possible. You'll be learning
what you prefer as well as gaining sailing competency. One advantage of having no experience is that a skipper
can train you to his or her own way of doing things: different ships, different long splices.
A while back there was a thread here about the main knots and hitches you should know. You can teach yourself those, and practice them.
Good luck with it.