What size first boat?
I''ll first profess that my actions are probably not appropriate for new sailors. My second boat, bought 37 years after my parents sold my first one, is a 32'' Pearson. Although I had a lot of sailing experience in my distant past, I continuously questioned my sanity for buying such a big boat for the first I owned her.
I got over it. For me it was the right choice, but it wouldn''t likely be for others.
I agree with the tiller assessment for learning, but I like a wheel. In addition to the little Catalinas, you might look at Ericson 27s and 29s, and all manner of little Cals. I almost bought a Cal 2-29 and have been on a very sweet-sailing pop-top Cal 25. With Cals, the 2 before the lenght indicates a wheel.