I can't help much with the budget questions, as we are in our first year of ownership. But I wanted to put in a little plus for the 423. We bought an 06 423 in March of last year. We spent most of our time on her until we sold our house and have lived aboard since August.
It's a great boat for coastal cruising. I've done a passage on a true blue water boat, so I think I know some of the differences.
My only reservations about this boat for coastal cruising is the lack of storage. We struggle to carry everything we need on board
There's a good yahoo group for the 423 that's worth reading if you decide on that boat.
Welcome back to the sailing world!
Beneteau 423 #310