Everybody always says that all boats are compromises. That you can’t have everything. We all nod and agree… then we spend time, lots of time, trying to find that perfect boat. I mean, its just everybody else that can’t find it, right?

Think about some of the "high level" decisions, most of which are at least to some extent exclusive of the other:

 

Live aboard vs. Day cruise
A live aboard obviously needs a bit more in the space and comfort range… well, you don’t have to, but most of us are going to require it. Space and comfort equals size and cost, in most instances. I AM going to have a bathroom. A shower is pretty much a requirement, along with space for 3 to sleep.
Passagemaker vs. Coastal/River cruising
Draft, cost and range are probably the biggest items here. Coastal/River is where its at for me… don’t get me wrong, I would love a full up passagemaker and off over the horizon, but its not happening in the real world.
Displacement speed vs. Planing speed
If you have a Coastal/River craft, then this is a decision to make. Very few passagemakers are planing boats, so its a decision that falls from the previous one. Displacement speed is limited by LWL (Length Water Line), which is a function of the size of the hull. This is a mathmatical/physics limitation that we live with. Problem is, if we’re dealing with smaller boats, then the hull speed that a displacement hull can be driven at drops off. Longer, narrower boats do better here, but there are still limits. Due to this limitation of hull speed, many people go to the I still haven’t fully come to grips with this… a lot of it depends on the answer to the next in this list.
Gas vs. Diesel vs. Electric vs. Hybrid
This relates to some extent on the previous answer… a planing boat probably isn’t practical for electric at the current state of the technology. A displacement hull, depending on design and power requirements, could go for any of the choices.
Inboard or Outboard
Again related to the above, but not as much. Inboard is more complex, sometimes noisier, sometimes quieter. An inboard can provide for heat, hot water and electricity, where an Outboard pretty much provides motive force and nothing else. Outboard can be taken on/off for repairs, can be replaced with a “drop in” unit if needed without disassembling the boat, etc.
Inside vs. Outside living
Do you like to hang out in the sun/wind/rain? Do you want to be inside all the time? Do you have different desires among the crew?
Living “up” vs. “down”
This is similar but not quite the same as the previous Inside/Outside point… do you want you cabin/galley/saloon whatever “up” so that you can see out, have lots of windows, etc.? Or would you rather have some parts nestled down in the hull more. Probably you wouldn’t “rather” have areas with little visibility, but are you willing to put up with that (and a taller boat, usually), to have more living space in the same hull length? Cabin/hull designs that are all pretty much single level will have less space for a given hull length than a multi-level boat (just like a multi-story house).
Pretty vs. Ugly (otherwise known as aesthetics)
There’s no right or wrong here… I think its a very personal thing. There are general trends, but different people like different looks. And if you have a wife/kids involved, get their input also!

Lastly, if I hurry up and build something, then I can be enjoying the doing and using of it while I continue to plan for the next one 🙂

That next one can be the final… yeah, that’s the ticket!

That will be my retirement boat that I can actually use for longer periods of time. I’ll have different wants/needs in a lot of respect by then, know more about what I want/need, and maybe even decide I don’t want to do this again.