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Old 12-14-2012, 10:16 AM
 
Location: Salem County
10 posts, read 13,057 times
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Default living off the grid in Central PA...is this possible?

I want to buy a small chunk of land (1 - 5 acres) and live in a trailer somewhere in Central PA. If not in Central PA, where is THE BEST place to do something like this?

What is the best area to do this in, and what are some of the issues and restrictions one might have?

I don't need running water or plumbing, but it might be nice. Thanks.
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Old 12-14-2012, 10:41 AM
 
737 posts, read 557,178 times
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The biggest issue with off-grid is the price. The second is the PITA of dealing with the equipment and/or workarounds of non-grid living.

Personally, if I was going off-grid, I'd look for somewhere with a more mild climate. An off-grid trailer in C. PA is going to get awfully cold come about January.
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:34 PM
 
Location: Reading, PA
933 posts, read 731,433 times
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I'd shoot more for northern PA. Elk, Cameron, Potter, McKean, some of their adjacent counties. Those counties are very sparse. Much more so than Lancaster, Dauphin, Lebanon or York.
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Old 12-15-2012, 10:08 AM
 
Location: Selinsgrove, PA
1,509 posts, read 4,450,441 times
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I know of a family that did this somewhere in upstate New York. BTA88's suggestions would mirror that type of location.
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Old 12-15-2012, 12:38 PM
 
3,159 posts, read 5,359,734 times
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There are thousands who live off-grid in Central PA, usually they don't wear buttons either.

But without the cover of being Amish, you'd very likely attract attention from various code officials. The first code to run afoul of are the rules for septic systems. The classic outhouse or pit toilet is illegal everywhere in PA (not that you won't see them, but still...) and the privy (in PA rules defined as a vault toilet with contents pumped and hauled for off site disposal) is illegal for new-build. An NSF listed composting toilet is nominally legal but I bet that would be an uphill battle for a new-build and most if not all those that are NSF listed require power venting.

Now for the building code, there is a blanket exemption for a "recreational cabin," but one of the conditions for getting that is recording a restriction against full-time living on the parcel and it's possible that would run afoul of local zoning. There are municipalities still with no zoning - even in northern Dauphin County.

Possibly the easiest way to start off-grid living would be to buy an old hunting camp in a non-zoned municipality if you can manage to purchase without triggering the need to record the aforementioned restriction. Also make sure there isn't a deed or leasehold restriction against full-time living (State Forest leased hunting camps are so restricted).
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Old 12-16-2012, 06:52 AM
 
11,055 posts, read 7,827,734 times
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Lots of people do it, its not called appalachia for nothing.
Basically you'd run into major problems not having running water or a septic system if you live in any burough or community. But there are plenty of hunting camps without those so you could probably get away with it in the more remote areas. Plus the amish live that way but I'm sure they get special permits.
Land up in Potter and the northern tier counties is relatively cheap( or was before the fracking boom) but jobs are hard to come by. Or maybe not with the fracking boom, thats a mixed bag.
I remember a pretty nice hunting camp my great uncle helped build back in probably the late 1920s or early 1930s in Mifflin County. They had( before newer member douchebags ripped it out to make a make shift shower in probably the 1990s) a spring fed spring house with water piped in from up on the mountain behind their property. Thats easy enough to do if you have a good location. There's a Youtube Video where a woman does the same thing. Look for one where she has a pet donkey.
Have a wood stove, maybe some solar panels for low power lighting and battery charging, and a solar shower in warmer months and you could live semi comfortably.
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:28 AM
 
Location: Salem County
10 posts, read 13,057 times
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thanks for all the quality responses thus far. I think i would like to pursue this in another area, as I don't really like the sound of all the gov't restrictions in PA.

I heard Texas might really be the place to do this - what do you think?
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Old 12-18-2012, 10:04 AM
 
Location: Reading, PA
933 posts, read 731,433 times
Reputation: 501
Quote:
Originally Posted by brl2012nj View Post
thanks for all the quality responses thus far. I think i would like to pursue this in another area, as I don't really like the sound of all the gov't restrictions in PA.

I heard Texas might really be the place to do this - what do you think?
The Texan government, despite their conservative reputation, is rather heavy handed. How about Montana, North/South Dakota, Nevada, Alaska or the upper peninsula of Michigan?
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Old 12-18-2012, 03:27 PM
 
Location: Montgomery County, PA
1,884 posts, read 1,022,203 times
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What does exactly "off-the-grid" mean, and more importantly why?
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Old 12-18-2012, 05:53 PM
 
Location: Reading, PA
933 posts, read 731,433 times
Reputation: 501
Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyRider View Post
What does exactly "off-the-grid" mean, and more importantly why?
Kidding? No?

Off the grid means living basically as people lived in the 1800s. Self sufficient, not dependent on utilities, the government or other people. Generally people who live off-the-grid are subsistence farmers. It's basically a form of living that allows people to separate themselves from society.
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