What do you actually need from a cruising boat?
It's a hard question. Mostly because it varies greatly from person to person and further complicated by the fact that most folks these days never really learned the difference between need and want...
Personally, where I'm concerned, comfort is a big part of the equation and I'm not going to put a lot of effort into a lifestyle that is uncomfortable... Would you?
Take Lin and Larry Pardey's boat "Seraffyn" reading "Cruising in Seraffyn" does not paint a picture of a couple sailing around the world being uncomfortable or unhappy. At just a kiss less than 25-feet, Seraffyn seems to have been a comfortable cruising boat and home.
Of course, a 25-foot boat is not for everyone but it does make an excellent case that with the right mindset and some better-than-average organizational skills it's a doable option.
Just a bit of advice, I'd work on the needful organizational skills set if comfort is important to you.