Originally Posted by overbored
look into where you are going to keep this new boat before you buy, in some locations the length and width of the boat can be a determining factor. some marinas charge by the foot and some by the slip length and going only a few inches longer can cost you a lot more for the slip per month.
I found this to be especially true. One of the reasons that I own a 29' boat is that it fit into a 30' slip. A 30' boat did not, and pushed me into a 34' slip that was going to cost an additional $80/mo in moorage. It was a pretty big factor in our shopping. There are a lot of 30-32' boats that we looked at which has less functional interiors for our needs. I wouldn't be surprised to find that there are nice sailing 34' boats with more useful interior space than a 38' and it might save you $50 or more per month.
We had a Catalina 25 earlier and I can say that the support network for Catalina boats is great. There is a very nice mailing list of Pearson 28 owners too where I can get some help with my current boat, but the Catalina forums, Catalina Direct, and Mainsheet (the Catalina magazine) all provide a lot of very useful brand and model specific knowledge that just isn't equaled with other brands. There are nicer boats than Catalinas in every possible category, but I think that they generally hit a nice balance of price and functionality.