When looking for a home, there are a few things you’re going to consider: location, price, size, and (maybe) style. We’d like to add one more thing to your list—the aww factor. It’s the emotional pull that a particularly adorable home brings. It can make you fall in love the minute you step into the driveway. No style has more “aww” than a classic cottage, particularly when it’s in a storybook setting. Plus, since cottages tend to be on the smaller side, you can often find great bargains. Don’t believe us? We’ve rounded up eight country cottages under $200,000 that are the very definition of enchanting.
1. Greentown, Pennsylvania
Summer is when Greentown shines. That’s because life in this small village near the Poconos revolves around Lake Wallenpaupack, a popular spot for fishing and boating. But the village has its charms year-round, especially if you’re into outdoor pursuits. For instance, the general area is very popular for hunting, and the rural beauty of Greentown is especially gorgeous in the snowy season. While it’s a bit remote, (there’s a small grocery store in town, and that’s about it), you’re not too far from civilization. Scranton is a quick drive on nearby I-84, as is Port Jervis, New York where you can—believe it or not—pick up a train to New York City.
This cheery, mid-century, two-bedroom cottage is surrounded by trees, giving you a lovely view no matter the season—especially from the enclosed porch. You’re close to the aforementioned highways along with lots of parkland, giving you the ideal location for work-life balance.
2. Alton, New Hampshire
Alton is part of the vacation-friendly Lakes Region of New Hampshire, where summer resorts have thrived for decades. It’s located on the water in the scenic cove of Alton Bay, off of Lake Winnipesaukee. Alton is a great choice for those who enjoy the beauty of the region but aren’t huge fans of the summer crowds. Tourists stick mostly to the campgrounds on the shore of the lake, and anyone else passing through is likely en route to the nearby mountains: Rocky Mountain, Pine Mountain, Cedar Mountain, Mount Major—need we go on? Hiking and skiing are the things to do here, so if you’re the type who is at L.L. Bean so often that you could send the staff Christmas cards, Alton is for you. There’s also a great garden center (Alton Home & Garden) and a beer/wine-making supply shop (Kettle to Keg Homebrew).
At 1,338-square-feet, this two-bedroom home has plenty of space for your hobbies. Built in 1910, living in this cottage is like stepping back in time. From the shutters to the stone fireplace, this cozy home looks kind of like a place Goldilocks would visit.
3. Hayesville, North Carolina
Living in Hayesville is like living in a postcard—you’re surrounded by some of the most dramatically beautiful vistas in the state, which range from mountains to lakes. What you won’t be surrounded by? People. Located near the North Carolina-Georgia border, Hayesville has a population of fewer than 350 people. It’s an ideal town for aspiring Thoreau-types who have grown tired of the packed sidewalks of cities or the constant traffic in big suburbs. While you won’t find any trendy bars in Hayesville, you will find something to do beyond relaxing on Chatuge Lake or hiking the famed mountain trails in the region. (You’re near the Blue Ridge Mountains, along with the Appalachian Trail.) From sampling vintages at Eagle Fork Vineyards to indulging in a hot fudge sundae at the old-fashioned ice cream counter Chinquapins in the historic (and tiny) downtown square, you’ll quickly understand why weekenders love this town.
For such a beautiful destination, you’d expect sky-high prices and huge weekend homes. That’s not really the case here. For less than $100,000, you can call this downright adorable two-bedroom cottage yours. Even better? It’s right on the lake.
4. Running Springs, California
If you want to find a bargain in California, you have to head away from the coasts and cities. And up a mountain. Sitting 6,000 feet above sea level, the town of Running Springs is mainly known as a ski destination. (Locals take advantage of the weekday discounts—and the free birthday admission—to Snow Valley Ski Area, a favorite since the 1930s.) There’s plenty of snow to enjoy, but the winters are mild. Plus, summers offer events like the Mountain Top Days—a community-wide celebration that includes a chili cook-off and outdoor concerts. The lack of big chain stores adds to the charm, though you can find all the essentials you’ll need on Hilltop Boulevard. While the small-town vibe and uniquely beautiful scenery make Running Springs feel remote, it’s only 90 minutes east of Los Angeles.
Located in Smiley Park Country Club, this 1930, two-bedroom home is a throwback to the town’s heyday. Vintage-home lovers will hone in on the period details and quirky charm, from the stone fireplace to the beamed ceilings. A little cosmetic TLC, and this is a gem that’ll shine.
5. Corvallis, Montana
Derived from the French words for “heart” and “valley,” Corvallis lives up to its name. This is the kind of small town where you’ll get to know all your neighbors. There’s just a handful of hangouts for the fewer than 1,000 people who live in the region. By “handful,” we mean three: The Memories Cafe, the Corvallis Tavern, and Wild Mare (a western-themed bar). So, what’s everyone doing here, aside from enjoying the year-round Christmas shop The Brooks? Probably taking in the scenery. Corvallis is home to the Teller Wildlife Refuge and is part of the beautiful Bitterroot Valley region. What Corvallis lacks in excitement, it makes up for in stunning natural beauty—perhaps this is why the town is home to a few artists and studios, like Aspen Hot Glass.
If you want to have your own studio, this recently updated two-bedroom cottage might be for you. Built in 1920, the two-bedroom home was remodeled to maximize the interior light—a must for any artist. This effect was achieved by creating a more open floor plan, another feature that helps you get creative. Art studio in the living room? Why not?
6. Moodus, Connecticut
Moodus is a country getaway that was super popular in the 1940s and 1950s when this village had the nickname the “Catskills of Connecticut.” You can still see glimpses of this past in the area’s vintage buildings. If you love history, you’ll definitely feel at home here. There’s even a ghost town (Johnsonville Village), a house museum (Amasa Day House), and the Machimoodus State Park, where you can take in great views of the region from a lookout point on Mt. Tom (including the adjacent Sunrise State Park, a former summer resort).
Though the woods are beautiful, they’re also home to an unusual phenomenon called “Moodus Noises.” Described as kind of a low screaming, this unexpected noise comes from micro-earthquakes. The good news? You can’t hear them from this tiny two-bedroom home on the other side of town. The roomy yard makes up for its size, along with deck space, an enclosed dining porch, and a pier on the Connecticut River. Plus, it’s just across the river from The Gillette Castle, a mansion inspired by a medieval castle.
7. Deer Park, Washington
With just 4,000 residents, Deer Park has the feel of a small country town. It’s a tight-knit community with a lot of local pride, which comes out in full-force during the town’s three big annual events: Winterfest, a family-oriented celebration held in January that includes outhouse races and a craft fair; a summer concert series held in Mix Park; and Deer Park Settler’s Day, the oldest community celebration in Washington, held every July. The year-round entertainment options are similarly down-to-earth and mainly revolve around the local bowling alley. You’d swear you were in the Midwest if it wasn’t for the breathtaking mountain landscape surrounding Deer Park. And when you want a little taste of city life, Spokane is a 20-mile drive away.
This 1900 bungalow is as quaint as you’d expect for Deer Park, complete with a white picket fence. The blue and white charmer is also technically zoned “central commercial” in case you are looking to start your own small business. The price is just right if you’d rather invest more of your budget in your new venture.
8. Englewood, Tennessee
With a low cost of living and plenty of natural beauty, Englewood might be ideal for retirees—or anyone on a budget. The town dates back to the early 1900s when Englewood was a thriving hub for textile production. (You can see glimpses of its past at the Englewood Textile Museum.) Located almost halfway between Chattanooga and Knoxville, Englewood is the very definition of a rural retreat. There isn’t a main street, or touristy areas, just the splendor of the Great Smoky Mountains nearby. Your Walmart and supermarkets are in nearby Athens, while Target and other suburban standbys are about a half-hour away in Cleveland. What we’re trying to say is that you should really love peace and quiet if you decide to live here.
The serene atmosphere makes this rural one-bedroom house feel like a retreat. Though the exterior is appropriately quaint, inside you’ll find a huge open-concept layout with polished hardwood floors. And there’s vintage charm too—like stained glass windows and built-in shelves.
Originally published May 5, 2015; updated January 29, 2018.