Property: Want a home overseas or a rural retreat?

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FAMILIES who fancy moving to a cottage in the country, whether it be in Devon, Yorkshire, Cumbria or the Cotswolds, are finding they need at least pounds 100,000 to buy almost anything with more than two bedrooms. Prices for small, pretty village houses that fit the urban refugee's dreams have held up much better than their counterparts in the towns.

Barringtons' Cotswold period property register advertises only the kind of houses for which city-dwellers would make the move. They are almost all in Cotswold stone and of traditional Cotswold design.

Jackson-Stops & Staff (0993 822661) is selling a pretty Grade II-listed cottage in Burford, Oxfordshire, for pounds 120,000. It has a sitting-room, kitchen, utility room, two bedrooms and a bathroom. Up the road, in the town centre of Chipping Norton, you can get a two-bedroom period cottage of similar size for pounds 50,000 (Tayler & Fletcher, 0608 644344).

A move from a city semi or terrace, if it is to be worthwhile in terms of space and romance, will cost closer to pounds 150,000. Mallams (0993 822666) in Burford is selling a classic Cotswold cottage with sitting-room, dining-room and breakfast room/kitchen, three bedrooms and a bathroom for pounds 155,000. R A Bennett & Partners (0451 820536) has a similar Grade II-listed terraced cottage in Bourton-on-the-Hill for pounds 150,000.

If you are willing to go into town, you can buy the same amount of space for two-thirds the price. Two houses with three bedroooms and two reception rooms near the market place in Cirencester are for sale for pounds 108,500 (Moore Allen & Innocent 0285 651831). The same agents have a four-bedroom Victorian stone townhouse for pounds 119,500.

THIS IS property exhibition season. Following the Ideal Home Exhibition comes the Individual Homes Show at the NEC in Birmingham on the last weekend of this month. The show is the focus of National Individual Homes Week, a venture backed by the Royal Institute of British Architects to encourage more home-buyers to go it alone. Although aimed primarily at the self-build market, it also hopes to persuade people to adapt their off-the-peg homes in a more individualistic way. The show runs from 29 April to 2 May, tickets pounds 6. For details call 0891 333546.

Taking place the same weekend is the World of Property Exhibition, the focus for people looking to buy - or, in this market, more probably to sell - homes abroad. It includes stands selling properties in Florida, Canada, the Caribbean and Switzerland, as well as all the main European home-buying destinations. The exhibiton is at Sandown Racecourse in Esher, Surrey, from 29 April to 1 May. Admission is free.

TWO OLD blacksmiths' forges, both pink-washed and surrounded by lovely gardens, have come up for sale at the same price. Embridge Forge, on the south Devon coast, has a vegetable garden, flower garden and a flourishing wild garden. Forge Cottage sits in traditional cottage gardens in Whitehill, near Faversham, Kent.

The Devon forge has four bedrooms, a first-floor living-room, kitchen and dining-room and lies on the edge of Stoke Fleming, about a mile from the sea. If you cannot make it that far, there is a small swimming pool in the garden.

The Kent forge is slightly larger, with a sitting-room, study and dining-room, three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It was probably two cottages in the 16th century, and still has such features as inglenook fireplaces and exposed beams, as well as two staircases. Both houses are priced at pounds 150,000 from Jackson Stops & Staff in Exeter (0392 214222) and Cluttons in Canterbury (0227 457441).