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Harrisburg area Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry Counties
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Old 03-10-2016, 09:28 PM
 
61 posts, read 64,076 times
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Hello, I am thinking about trying to get a government job and relocate to the Harrisburg region, hopefully within the next year. I love rural mountainous areas and would like to live north of Harrisburg, and commute down to the city for work. I'm looking to get away from the fast pace of the east coast (Philadelphia suburb area) and head to Central Pennsylvania. I would like to live in a small town or rural area, not the city or the suburbs. Does anyone have good recommendations for nice areas north of Harrisburg (Dauphin or Perry counties)? Also I would like to know how good the school districts are for when I have kids sometime in the future. Is that area a slower and more relaxing pace than the Philly region? Any advice or recommendations? I'm used to a much slower pace of life where I grew up in western Pennsylvania, the east coast is way too fast, congested, and different for me. Thank you!
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Old 03-11-2016, 03:19 PM
 
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No, Perry County is not Philadelphia. There are only two traffic lights in the whole county (up from zero, ten years ago).

Generally speaking, the school districts in Perry and northern aka "upper" Dauphin counties are fairly small with limited resources. Your children might always have a different surname than everyone else.

Roads and traffic choke points distort distances dramatically. Newport is as close to Harrisburg as Halifax is, time-wise. Tower City is closer in than Williamstown.

The availability of stores and shopping is very spotty. In upper Dauphin there is a Walmart and a couple of other chain stores on the east end of Elizabethville along US 209. There is also a small shopping strip for basics at the south end of Halifax. Millersburg also has some stores but seems gradually be losing its status as the capital of upper Dauphin to Elizabethville. From, say, Gratz, it's common to drive to the Shamokin Dam/Hummels Wharf "strip" as that area is closer time wise than the box stores in Lower Paxton/Swatara townships.

Newport has a Giant and Weis (hidden on a side street) chain grocers and a fairly large locally owned hardware store (and, now, a Tractor Supply). There are now medical offices there, but peculiarly not many dentists. There are also a few stores along PA 34 in Shermans Dale.

From any part of this area, the hospital is in Harrisburg, or maybe the "west shore" suburbs.

Newport and Duncannon Boroughs have fairly large flood zones relative to the size of the communities. The floodplain and the small lot sizes seem to hinder investment in the town areas.

Generally at least once a year the "Duncannon subway" (the portion of PA 849 going under the railroad between US 22/322 and the Borough limits) floods, requiring significant detours. Maybe once in 10 years the US 22/322 highway floods at the south end of Dauphin Borough, basically cutting off the entire area.

Millerstown, Halifax, Elizabethville, New Bloomfield town areas are generally less susceptible to flooding.

Lykens, Williamstown, and Tower City have coal heritage. Yes, a finger of the anthracite region extends into Dauphin County. But also note the Lykens postal address extends beyond the coal outcrop (for example, if you don't have a PO box, Gratz Borough has a Lykens address). The west end of Lykens shows the abrupt transition, from a large Amish/Mennonite grocery and furniture store around the bend from a still-working coal breaker.
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Old 03-11-2016, 07:40 PM
 
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Thank you, ki0eh! I am happy to hear that those areas are not like the Philly area. Being from western Pa I'm used to wide open spaces of farm land and woods, and it seems like the area north of Harrisburg is just that. I loved living in Happy Valley when I went to college, central Pa is so beautiful and I'm eager to get back, I love it! With that said, would you recommend one area over another in terms of school district? Or are north Dauphin and Perry at about the same ranking?
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Old 03-13-2016, 08:37 PM
 
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Upper Dauphin county (Halifax, Millersburg, Upper Dauphin Area, and Williams Valley) and Perry County (Susquenita, Newport, Greenwood, West Perry) are each divided into four school districts. I don't really know very much about ranking them, perhaps others have favorite resources.

"Western PA" is an area of tremendous diversity, if you'd be willing to share more specific details about where you're from I might be able to do a better job comparing.
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Old 03-16-2016, 12:46 PM
 
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How long of a commute are you looking to have?

You may also want to take a look at the more rural parts of Cumberland County. I have passed plenty of farmland and open fields once I get out past Mechanicsburg, heading more towards Carlisle. If you take a trip down Rt15 towards the Gettysburg area you will also find more farmland and wide open area. If you would go with either of these areas you wouldn't be far from major highways/interstates (Rt15, I81, I76). They also wouldn't be too terribly far from local amentities and stores. May be something to consider!

I also grew up in Southwestern PA, so I know that area pretty well. Not sure where exactly you are from, but if I had a better idea I may be able to suggest something comparable.
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Old 03-17-2016, 06:03 PM
 
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Thank you, ki0eh and LampTrill! I am from the very southwestern part of Pennsylvania, less than an hour from the West Virginia border, grew up in a small coal mine town. I love the rural parts of Central Pennsylvania best out of any other area of the state (outside State College in the Centre, Clinton, and Huntingdon counties). That's one reason why I was thinking of Perry county and Upper Dauphin because they mirror that Central Pa rural look that I love. Really I'm an Appalachian person, which is why I love the mountains. Flat land is very foreign to me, along with suburban sprawl. I checked out Cumberland county but it seemed very suburban, but it may be more rural west of Mechanicsburg like LampTrill said. How would a commute be from say, Halifax down to Harrisburg in the morning, assuming I worked a 9 to 5 job? Also, how is parking in the city? Are there park and rides where I could take the bus into Harrisburg?
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Old 03-17-2016, 06:37 PM
 
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Check out route 23 on Routes and Schedules | CAT: Capital Area Transit I'm not sure of any meaningful fixed route transit from Perry County.

Harrisburg is being attempted to be saved from bankruptcy by parking fees (to a first approximation, of a long sad story). Harrisburg Parking

Lykens is sort of a minor center that was, maybe not as extremely so as Brownsville. Williamstown is sort of like New Salem, Fayette County (not to be confused with New Salem of York County).

The open land west of Mechanicsburg to Carlisle is largely owned by well heeled speculators. West of Carlisle out towards Newville is somewhat commute hindered because there is no interchange on the PA Turnpike in this area and the roads are slow going. Some parts of Cumberland County (such as Doubling Gap/Colonel Denning State Park) are actually closer time wise to Harrisburg by driving over the Perry County side.
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Old 03-20-2016, 08:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelGuitar22 View Post
Thank you, ki0eh and LampTrill! I am from the very southwestern part of Pennsylvania, less than an hour from the West Virginia border, grew up in a small coal mine town. I love the rural parts of Central Pennsylvania best out of any other area of the state (outside State College in the Centre, Clinton, and Huntingdon counties). That's one reason why I was thinking of Perry county and Upper Dauphin because they mirror that Central Pa rural look that I love. Really I'm an Appalachian person, which is why I love the mountains. Flat land is very foreign to me, along with suburban sprawl. I checked out Cumberland county but it seemed very suburban, but it may be more rural west of Mechanicsburg like LampTrill said. How would a commute be from say, Halifax down to Harrisburg in the morning, assuming I worked a 9 to 5 job? Also, how is parking in the city? Are there park and rides where I could take the bus into Harrisburg?
Check out Shippensburg, PA in Cumberland County (South of Harrisburg with an easy commute via I-81). Homes are generally inexpensive, you get a bit of culture from the various events and show (BIG names come to Shippensburg University concerts), and the area has a somewhat blue-collar feel. Shippensburg is also home to a large Mennonite and Amish population, so that's somewhat unique.
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Old 03-21-2016, 12:20 PM
 
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Due to relative isolation (safest to plan on a full hour drive each way if your work site is center city Harrisburg, comparable to Thompsontown or Gratz), Shippensburg is still a bit cheaper and less sprawly than a couple of exits either way on I-81. With a large new intermodal terminal, the monster warehouses are likely coming faster than they have been. I don't quite understand the level of residential development in Chambersburg (supposedly DC spillover? really??) but that's getting closer as well. So if the OP wants a location that continues to stay ahead of the sprawl machine, Shippensburg might not be it.
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Old 03-21-2016, 07:25 PM
 
61 posts, read 64,076 times
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Thank you, ki0eh and Dequindre! Those were helpful responses. The 23 bus route looks promising if I live in upper Dauphin (beautiful area up there around Halifax, am strongly considering trying to find a place up there someday). My only issue would be trying to find an apartment around that area, it seems like most apartments are in the city or nearby suburbs. Anyone know of apartments around the Upper Dauphin and Perry County areas? I also have a question about crime in the Harrisburg area. I've read articles that Harrisburg has a worse crime rate than Philadelphia. Is the crime rate in Harrisburg really that bad? How far outside of the city does the crime extend?
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