Norwich, Connecticut

Population: 40,493
House styles: Colonial-era and Colonial Revival houses predominate, with a sprinkling of Georgian, Greek Revival, and Craftsman
Expect to pay: Modest houses and fixer-uppers are available for under $75,000; larger, renovated dwellings, and houses in the designated historic district, typically go for about $250,000

We're not gambling types, but we'd bet on this history-laden city as a smart place to make an investment. Founded by English colonists in 1659, the former mill city and shipping hub has weathered the economic downturn well compared with many other cities in The Nutmeg State. That's partly due to its proximity to New London and Hartford—both under an hour away—and because of the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos, steady employers that are each just a 10-minute drive. Not that an abundance of riches, from architectural to recreational, is anything new to residents here. Well-maintained historic houses and public buildings abound, including five that are on the National Register of Historic Places; many of the older houses are concentrated in the neighborhood known as Norwichtown. The nearby Veterans Memorial Rose Garden, which boasts some 2,500 bushes in 120 varieties, is located within Mohegan Park, a popular spot for swimming, fishing, and picnicking. And downtown, the Marina at American Wharf offers casual and fine dining opportunities for boating fans and landlubbers alike. If you're looking to relocate to a New England town with affordable houses and plenty to do, this place may hold all the cards.

Among the best for: The Northeast, Bargains, First-Time Buyers, American Heritage
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