Thoughts on new boats
I started to mention buying a used boat as well but didn''t. Halyardz is right -- you should check out some late model used boats if nothing else as a way of comparison shopping for price for new vs. used. Many used boats have a ton of equipment you are effectively buying at a deep discount as well. Buying new is nice, but no guarantee of anything either. There are plenty of stories about warranty hassles with boats primarily because the different gear, engine, etc. are covered not by the boat manufacturer, but by the gear/engine manufacturer. It comes down to how good the dealer is in many cases to pull it all together.
No matter what you buy, new or used, Beneteau or Compac, try to go for a test sail for that model. There''s nothing like feeling the boat move under YOU first hand to know how it sails.
The cockpit thing depends on your needs of course. Large cockpits are nice when lounging, but can be a problem when you are heeled over in 20 knots and don''t have a way to brace yourself. It sounds to me like you have a handle on that anyway, so go with it. there are lots of boats out there that will meet your needs both above and below deck.