Welcome to Vector. I have been with it more or less since 5.8 or earlier. In reading your posts, I suspect you will like it quite a lot. Simply put, its more fun (and more work at first, as you are finding out).
Tried 3 times to install VL just wouldnt budge
I had trouble getting 7.1 RC1 to load via a unebootin-creaded usb stick, so I headed down to Best Buy, bought some CDs, burned the iso to one of them and it loaded fine from the CD. I would try that before giving up and also, as you are not familiar with VL, I suspect your hunch to go with 7.0 is what you should go with.. Switching to final VL 7.1 when it finally arrives will be a pain, but, as you probably already know and in any event which has been noted, if you partition into 3 (swap, root and home) and don''t reformat /home, you won't have to reload your data and if, as also mentioned, you copy your config files, you can probably save some additional hassle.
There will be more programs in the repositories for 7.0.