Overseas: Get ready to fall in love with old America

Known for its autumn splendour, New England has year-round appeal, says Laura Latham

New England's traditional tourist season is autumn, when thousands of acres of forest turn russet and gold, and coachloads of sightseers (or "leaf peepers") turn up to view the splendid display.

However, this is not the only thing that makes the six New England states worth experiencing. From Connecticut to Maine, via Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, there are strings of pretty, historic towns settled in between rugged coast and rolling countryside.

If you are after the quintessential clapboard home with wide porch and picket fence, this is where to look. And with US house prices on the slide, this sought-after location is becoming more affordable.

"Real estate is currently experiencing a major value correction after several years of double-digit appreciation," says Scott Christopher of The Christopher Group in Maine. "Prices have dropped as much as 30 per cent in some locations, leading to a buyers' market."

Christopher says that it is possible to find rural homes from £115,000 but that you will need to pay more for large land plots or waterfront. "Much Maine real estate is tied to second-home ownership, with the most desirable locations on the ocean or lakes," he says. "For oceanfront, expect to pay from about £250,000 for a three-bedroom cottage on one to three acres of land."

In such locations it is possible to really get away from it all, and destinations such as Acadia National Park in Maine, the White Mountains of New Hampshire or the stunning Cape Cod coast will give you the natural lifestyle you are dreaming of.

Accessibility is something that Vermont agent Sharon Bateman thinks is another New England plus. Flights to Boston or Montreal take just over six hours; both cities are within two to four hours' drive of the heart of the region.

"Vermont is full of wonderful architecture with charming antique residences, small farms and luxury retreats," says Bateman. She says that "comfortable" three-bed country properties "on an acre or two, sometimes requiring some fixing up" near the picturesque town of Stowe can be purchased for less than £100,000, while £170,000 will be able to secure you what Bateman refers to as a "family homestead".

The same is largely true of other New England states, with £60,000 to £100,000 buying you woodland cabins or nice apartments, and a budget of up to £600,000 getting you something spacious in a dramatic rural or coastal setting.

Some areas of Massachusetts and Connecticut can be expensive, due to their popularity with city buyers, but even here you can find country and quaint village homes from £100,000 up to beautiful colonial-style estates with pools and several acres from around £600,000.

When you consider all New England has to offer, maybe it is time to turn over a new leaf.

Sharon Bateman: 001 802 253 9771; www.sharon-bateman.com
The Christopher Group: 001 207 469 7006; www.mainerealestatebrokerage.com

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