just a little PIREP here with what I did having had similiar thoughts - however your milage may vary.
After my RV-4 sold to France I was in the market for a RV-3A/B and I placed an ad on the respective websites and here at the VAF forum with my 'wants' and too I checked with Smokey if he is willing to check a plane if and when one comes up.
Actually a gentlemen responded re his -3A which he had not advertised until than and after agreeing the principles of the deal Smokey went to see the plane and wrote a report (which was honest and true actually) and ferried the plane around (well, sure he had some fun as well http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjkhwVsN4MU
). Too, I was able to use his network and the plane got tinkered up a bit and than shipped to Gemany. Smokey, Brad, Ron and Jesse: again a big Thank You, mates.
As the report said there was stuff to work on and a couple of friends have improved a lot since (I am not a builder): partly new wiring under the panel and relocation of the battery (could not brake on the LH side due to the battery tray when LE rudder was applied), safetied all nuts and bolts for aileron and rudder / elevator, new alternator and cosmetics (i.e. fairings …). All great now and the only obvious (maybe it never stops ...) thing left to do is a different offset angle of the rudder stabilizer. Many thanks to Wolfgang, Gerd and Daniel for helping on this - without you guys it could have been accomplished for sure.
So what I have now is a 2010 built RV-3A with now ca. 75 hrs TT, with an O-320 with 75 hrs SMOH and a Catto prop with 75 hrs SNEW (check it out on Randy's Unofficial RV-3 website) and decent avionics.
AND: the -3 rocks! Very versatile (well, having in mind it is a single seater) ie. with tanks half full I am not getting outclimbed by an IO-360 powered RV-8 (if I get some 30 secs. lead on T/O) and than I can cruise say at 4500FT density ALT at 140+ KTAS with as little as 6 GPH to cover 350+ NM or go faster at higher FF.
To mee it can do what the -4 can do all a bit better (lacking one seat, well, say 3/4 of a usable seat when W&B comes into play, at least at my 210 lbs in the front seat) however it looks cooler (love the -4 but to me it looks a bit awkward the pilot sitting a bit too much in the front under the canopy - pls no one of the -4 drivers getting offended - and I love the P-51 look and as I like to taxi with the canopy open).
Well, why am I telling you this ....
Don't let the distance to the US put you off, make good use of the network which exists in the RV community ... and pay back by letting other people know what you have learned (and pay your dues to DR, of course). However you will need to tinker up the plane here either yourself or with a couple of builder friends, very imortant I'd like to say - but is worth the effort as you already mentioned the US market offers way more options.
Too, you could check the quite advanced RV-3 project which my friend Matthias has sitting in his workshop in South Germany (just PM me and I can let you know more details) - about only some 150 - 300 hrs to first flight.
Anyway, all just my personal opinion however you are free to contact me anytime you'd like to do so, Heinz
P.S. I nearly forgot to mention: I partly own a 4 seater still (the PH-ERD) and if you go for a single seater it might make sense to make sure you have access to a 2 seater or such; however on 95% of my flying I fly alone as in this way I can do it all at my pace, I don't need to put anyone else at risk, no one talks to me all the time and I can just shut up, too.
Homebased Muenster-Telgte, Germany, Europe
a.) Eggenfellner H-6 powered 4-seat Robin, PH-ERD
325+hrs since SEP 2008 .... counting
b.) bought flying & sold: Vans RV-4 with O-320, PH-EIL
.... very sad ending - lost a friend
c.) bought flying at 51 TT: Vans RV-3A, PH-URZ
.... now at 150 hrs (and having fun