I new here and a reasonably new pilot. About 130 hours. Own a DA40XL and flying about 4 hours per week.
Home base is Ocala, KOCF…wife, 2 teenagers and will be traveling to Cat Island Bahamas fairly often, 5-6 times per year, all around Florida and southeast. Several trips per year to Telluride, Colorado.
I would like the option of altitude and need something a little faster than my DA40 to make the above trips. I want to get there in a timely fashion, but like to be comfortable going.
I have been thinking a lot about the Columbia and Mooney for the speed to get me to Colorado but frankly probabaly won’t be making that trip very often so something a little slower but more comfortable might work well plus having 2 engines for the mountains and my over water flights to Cat Island…thus the recent thoughts of the DA42. (By the way the DA50 is farther out than I want to wait).
I think the OP is smart to rule out twins in his wish list. The duchess is an easy airplane to fly, but with less than 200 hours it’s going to be extremely expensive to insure, and may be a bit of a handful for an inexperienced pilot managing a wife and two kids in the airplane while dodging ice and turbulence and mountains heading into TEX.
I’d look at something in the cherokee 6, lance, saratoga, comanche area.
I agree that a single is the way to go. Just bring a raft when flying over water. If the engine quits over the mountains, you will usually be at a good altitude and have a good long glide to get you somewhere safer to land. My suggestion would be an A-36 Bonanza. They are fast, heavy haulers and very easy to fly (I’ve owned a Cessna, 2 Mooneys, 2 Beeches, 3 Bellancas in my career and the A=36 is the easiest and safest to fly and land. If you are carrying 3 passengers, then you will be carrying the gear for 4 people and the A 36 is the one that can carry 4 plus luggage galore safely. Don’t let people scare you away from Bonanzas as being “too much airplane” It really isn’t
A Bo is a very good plane and would be fit the mission well. Adjust the age of the plane to match budget. Also recommend looking at SR22’s. There are a lot of planes out there also with big price variation depending on age. Also, their turbo installation is better than others so it is an easy step-up with minimal additional work load. Friend in Atlanta has one. Biggest thing he likes is being able to get to cooler air fast in the summer.