Where are you located?
There are a number of boats partaking of the Contessa heritage but less revered/expensive. Most of these are Scandinavian, or British takes on Scandanavian designs. Jeremy Rodgers began his career copying the Norwegian Folkboat, and its DNA is traceable in the 32. Even Doug Peterson's Contessa 35 speaks of Swedish influence.
Scandinavian/North Sea boats reflect their sailing conditions: tight passages, lots of upwind work, cold temperatures, nasty blows with chop, and the possibility of hard groundings. They tend to point very well indeed, have good stability, but suffer a little downwind: they aren't tradewind smacks. High aspect mains and knife bows are typical, as are low freeboard, low interior volume, and limited ventilation.
Brands to investigate include She (South Hants), Omega, Linjett, Albin, Rival, Sigma (esp. the 33 OOD
), and Scanmar. Anything drawn by Rolf Magnusson
or Peter Norlin
should be up your alley; their boats make my heart flutter.
If you are on the US East Coast, you might look at this Albin Ballad
. My favorite boat. It's far less known than the Contessas, so it sells for a fraction of the cost. Similar numbers, heavier on the IOR influence, tough little nut.