Ubuntu gives you an option to do an in-place upgrade through their upgrade gui, and it's worked just fine for me the several times I've used it.
Under Linux Mint it's been a bit trickier, but not really that bad. I wish they handled the in-place upgrade stuff a bit better, but on the flip side the rest of the OS works really well for me and has many of the tweaks I'd normally apply to Ubuntu already done. With Mint 17 you actually can upgrade in-place to the point releases which seem to be tracking some upstream changes.
While I find the short support times annoying, I find it acceptable that a short term release becomes unsupported quickly. The LTS releases from Ubuntu get security patches for 5 years, and you don't have to pay them any money for the service.
Also whining about having to use the command line is like whining about having to drive stick instead of automatic. Automatic is pretty easy, but once you learn it, driving stick is not much more difficult and many people actually enjoy driving that way.