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Holding the prestigious honor of being one of the United States’ thirteen original colonies, the northeastern state of Connecticut is a small, but densely populated region. Due partially to its proximity to the large cities of New York City and Boston, but also due to the state’s own attractive major cities, Connecticut is one of the top five most densely populated states in the US.
Connecticut’s largest cities include the capital, Hartford, and the more southern, New York-adjacent cities of Stamford, Bridgeport, and New Haven. Yet despite its reputation as a tightly packed conglomeration of urban and suburban living, the state has managed to keep a large portion of its landmass dedicated to nature. A surprising 58% of the state is made up of forests, and Connecticut residents enjoy access to gorgeous hiking and biking trails, like the eighteen-mile-long Farmington River Trail. There are also plenty of opportunities for fishing, paddling, skiing, skating, and swimming. Outdoorsy types will certainly be satisfied by the diversity of activities available throughout the state.
As expected, due to the state’s location and its role in the early days of the country, Connecticut is chock-full of historical delights. A top attraction is Mystic Seaport, a sprawling area an hour outside of Hartford that comprises a museum, a recreation of a historical 19th-century whaling village, and multiple historic seafaring vessels, including four that are designated as National Historic Landmarks. The nearby Mystic Aquarium is also a fan favorite, housing beluga whales, sea lions, and a pool where visitors can touch rays and sharks.
Continuing on the trend of historical recreations, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, further inland from Mystic, has life-size dioramas as well as a recreation of a 16th-century Pequot village. The entire organization is non-profit and completely owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Nation. Fans of more recent history will enjoy the Submarine Force Museum at Groton, where the USS Nautilus resides, giving visitors the opportunity to step foot inside the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine.
Of course, it is difficult to discuss attractions in Connecticut without considering Yale University. Opening its doors in 1701 in New Haven, Yale is the third-oldest higher education institution in the United States and among the most highly regarded in the world. Campus tours are available of course, but it is also home to several fabulous museums, including the Yale University Art Gallery and the Peabody Museum of Natural History.
With the rich historical tapestry available to visitors, it would be easy to assume that tourism is one of the main drivers of the Connecticut economy, but this is actually far from the truth. Connecticut, beneath its storied past, is a very modern economic hub, home to fourteen Fortune 500 companies including health insurance giants Aetna and Cigna. Connecticut’s key industries include advanced manufacturing, aerospace and defense, bioscience and healthcare, financial services, green energy, and insurance. For such a small state, it certainly leaves a large impression on the nation, both historically and in the modern era.
Much like its glut of museums, Connecticut is certainly not short on well-preserved examples of historical architecture. For a complete interior and exterior experience, the Mark Twain House in Hartford is a stunning showcase of the American High Gothic style, which borrows heavily from Victorian influences. Constructed in 1874, the exterior features dramatically peaked gable roofing while the interior still retains much of the furniture and detailing that was present during the famous author’s tenure at the house.
For something more explicitly New England in flavor, the Norfolk Library, constructed in 1889, was done in the quintessential New England shingle style. This is easily recognizable by the fish-scale tile shingles on the upper floors of the structure. Many shingle-style homes can be found in New England to this day. It remains a popular and easily recognizable aesthetic in the eastern United States.
Fans of a starker and more austere architectural style will enjoy Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan. Built in 1949 in the modernist style, Johnson designed this streamlined and box-like structure to be his own private residence. The home features mostly glass walls and an open floor plan.
Just like the historical examples provided above, would-be Connecticut homeowners have a wide range of housing styles available to them. However, there are a few styles that remain more popular than others throughout the state. Colonial and ranch-style houses are widely available in the Connecticut housing market. You’ll also see a lot of saltbox houses. These are typically two stories in the front and one story in the rear, with a strongly pitched roofline. Dutch colonial style is also popular, which can be differentiated from the colonial style by its gambrel roofs and curved eaves.
Whatever the style, there are some general similarities among homes in the Connecticut area. Wood flooring, mentioned in 19,871 recent listings, was the most popular home feature, according to Realm’s data analysis. Patios and decks were also among the most popular, mentioned in 17,8181 and 9,666 listings, respectively. Although New England is known for its harsh winters, it seems homeowners in Connecticut love using outdoor spaces when the weather allows. Additionally, in a state where there is lots of older construction, potential homeowners will be happy to hear that Realm’s data analysis also found 12,548 listings that mentioned updated HVAC systems and another 10,073 listings that mentioned roof work, putting these features in the most popular list as well. Since New England receives lots of cold and snow, updated HVAC systems and well-maintained roofs are extremely important.
According to Realm’s data analysis, most homes in Connecticut were built in 1950. Older houses, though charming and full of character, can sometimes cause pain to the pocketbook. Though it’s likely that many of these 1950s era constructions have had work done in the last seventy years, it’s always best to go in with a clear understanding of what’s been updated and what may need attention. Older homes can have insufficient electrical systems, and homeowners might find that there are far fewer outlets in each room than they require. The house might require an electrical upgrade to keep up with the demand of 21st-century appliances.
If the home still has its original plumbing, older piping materials like galvanized steel and cast iron might be reaching the end of their shelf life. Both of these materials are prone to rust, which leaves homeowners vulnerable to leaking or broken pipes. It might be wise for prospective homeowners to take on an additional cost and have a drain line video inspection. This will give the potential buyer valuable information about the quality and age of the plumbing.
Two dangerous substances to be on the lookout for in older homes are asbestos and lead. Asbestos was popular during the 1940s and 50s as insulation around heating components, and it was often used as lining or cladding for walls and roofs. Lead is slightly less of a threat since it was chiefly found in the paint at the time and it’s a safe bet to assume that a house built in 1950 has received more than one painting update. Nevertheless, it’s smart to be aware of potential toxins, especially if you’re planning to renovate the property yourself. Removing asbestos and lead, while helpful in the long run, could be hazardous to health if improperly handled.
It’s also important to understand what kind of insulation the house may or may not have. It was common in the ‘40s and ‘50s to not insulate houses as well as they are today and this could lead to higher energy bills down the road, especially during those bitter New England winters. In addition to insufficient insulation, if by some miracle, the home still has its original furnace or heating system, it would definitely be time for an upgrade. Furnaces from seventy years ago cannot compete with the efficiency of today’s systems, not to mention there is the potential presence of asbestos.
Finally, although checking the foundation should always be a part of a good home inspection, especially with older structures, there is a particular issue to be aware of in the state of Connecticut. From 1983 to 2005, a local concrete supplier had pyrrhotite in its concrete. Though unaware of it at the time, pyrrhotite can cause cracking and crumbling in the foundation over time. This is particularly problematic for homes in the northern portion of the state near Stafford Springs. The state is offering financial assistance to those affected homeowners.
Though buyers today tend to favor open floor plans, many of the homes in the 1950s skewed towards a closed floor plan and rooms might feel much smaller than the modern homeowner is used to, particularly the closets and the bathrooms. If all goes well with the inspection, but the floor plan is what really needs updating, Realm’s free-to-use dashboard can help you assess the cost and potential value of a renovation.
Despite all of the potential problems to be on the lookout for in older Connecticut houses, homes in the state are largely free from issues with naturally occurring floods and fires. Realm’s data analysis found that 97% of homes are built outside of a flood zone, while 100% of homes are outside of a designated perimeter for a fire that has occurred in the last five years.
What is the average house price in Connecticut?
As of June 2021, the average house price in Connecticut was $318,096. For context, at the same time, the average house price in the United States was $293,349. This means real estate prices are slightly higher in Connecticut compared to the rest of the nation. However, it’s worth noting that Connecticut has a slightly higher income level than the rest of the nation. This may account for the difference.
Is Connecticut a good place to live?
Yes. Even though the cost of living is slightly higher than average for the United States, Connecticut has high rankings when it comes to education, health, income, and quality of life. So yes, pricing for homes might be higher, but it comes with plenty of value!
Is Connecticut expensive?
In short, yes. Connecticut is an expensive state, particularly in larger, New York-adjacent cities like Stamford and Bridgeport. In those areas, the cost of living is only 17% lower than living in Manhattan. However, quality of life, income, education, and health are all rated quite high when compared to other states in the country.
We currently cover most standalone, single-family homes