First, welcome to Sailnet. I'd highly recommend you read this POST
to help you get the most out of sailnet.
Second, you really shouldn't be posting variants of the same post in multiple threads.
Third, you really need to figure out what you want in a boat before you go running around looking to buy one. The best way to do this is to figure out what you want to do with the boat, and then work backwards from that to what boats will be best suited for it. Are you looking for a trailerable boat or one that you'll keep in the water? Trailerable boats are often far less expensive to own, but often not as seaworthy.
While there are a lot of boats that would be suitable for the bays and such, far fewer would be suitable for venturing out onto the Gulf of Mexico, even on nice days.
I'd also point out that you'll probably want to save at least 15-20% of your total boat buying budget for refitting, upgrading and repairing the boat you do end up buying.
I'd highly recommend you look at James Baldwin's Boat List
, as it has quite a few small seaworthy boats that might be in your price range.
I would also recommend you read the Boat Inspection Trip Tips
thread I started, as it will help you determine whether a given boat is worth going any further with, and may save you the cost of a survey on a less seaworthy boat.