In my alter ego as a yacht broker, I frequently come across people whose dream is to buy a boat and sail off into the sunset. It is entirely common to have inquiries that read: “I am looking for a cruising catamaran, 41-50 feet, owner’s version, for liveaboard around-the-world sailing, and my budget is less than $150,000.” To that, my response would be, “Either you need to adjust your size expectation, change your budget, or look for a monohull.”
Yes, that is blasphemy, but for less than 150k, there really aren’t going to be a lot of worthwhile cats, especially if you are against doing major repairs or owning an ex charter boat with a lot of issues.
At 150k, there start to become some options. You can find an older sub 40′ boat, maybe a Privilege, Lagoon or Fountaine Pajot that will be serviceable to your dream. That might make sense, too. But where I see so many expectations left unmet is in clients who think they will find a Bristol 45′ cruising cat that just fell through the cracks. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t happen like that unless you are incredibly lucky. Cats cost more than monohulls, sometimes twice as much. And good boats are still very desirable, no matter how bad the economy gets. Sure, you might find a project boat for 120K somewhere, but it is likely to cost you at least that again to make it safe, clean and seaworthy.
There are boats out there that are reasonably priced, need a reasonable amount of repairs, and will let you live the dream. In the end though, unless you are really lucky, you need to spend 150K minimum to get anything really worthwhile.