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Harrisburg area Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry Counties
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Old 08-27-2017, 04:17 PM
4 posts, read 4,556 times
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We are thinking of eventually relocating to PA (in about 5 years) and are in the early stages of choosing an area. We don't know PA well so are looking for suggestions of areas to visit, to see if they would be a good fit.

As a first pass we were thinking of the area north of Harrisburg, maybe up 15 or up 322.

Our dream list would be:

--Suburbs of small cities/ largish towns/ smaller towns with services

--Within an hour's drive or so of a bigger city (Harrisburg, Pittsburg, Philadelphia)

--Within 2 hours or so from Baltimore, MD

--Higher elevation or otherwise a cooler climate than for example Harrisburg itself (my spouse thinks Harrisburg is too hot/ humid in the summer)

--Schools are not important but we'd like somewhere safe

--Services/shopping would be nice (within 30 minutes or so)

--Welcoming of diversity/ open-minded

--Hiking nearby would be nice

Anyway, that is the dream list and we know we'll probably have to compromise on some things. Would appreciate any ideas!
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Old 09-04-2017, 10:21 AM
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Since you wish to be within 2 hours of Baltimore, suggest 2 places in Franklin County southwest of Harrisburg: Blue Ridge Summit (high elevation) and Mercersburg (very nice area). But ask your question in the PA forum.
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Old 09-06-2017, 09:48 AM
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Thank you Wells5!
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Old 09-06-2017, 03:16 PM
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Yeah, these criteria don't equate, since Harrisburg is basically 2 hr considering traffic from Baltimore itself, and although PA is not flat the repeated ridges and valleys of the middle of PA don't appreciably raise the elevation until you get close to State College or past Williamsport.

Without the 2 hr from Baltimore criterion (since you'd be pushing 3 to 4), I'd suggest rural areas close to State College, or nearby subdivisions if you are looking to stay suburb-y. The level of shopping in State College honestly isn't much lower than in Harrisburg, there are actually stores in State (such as a hiking outfitter and Trader Joe's) that don't exist in Harrisburg area. Penns Valley (Centre Hall, Spring Mills, Millheim) isn't too far out of town, and has an artsy vibe. Jackson Twp, Huntingdon County is just over Tussey Mountain from State College, surrounded by great hiking and MTB areas of Rothrock State Forest and a bit hippie. Schools and mail are Huntingdon, which is a considerable distance away, and ruins picking up on this area on a zip code based search.

Possibly the closest areas with housing of any type, that might make a degree or two difference and within about a 2 hr range of Baltimore would be up on the slopes of the geologic feature South Mountain, which runs from about Boiling Springs, PA southwesterly to the Potomac River opposite Harpers Ferry, WV. Most of this area is served postally from neighboring lower-down towns (such as Gardners, the postal address for Pine Grove Furnace State Park), other than Mont Alto and Blue Ridge Summit. Much of the ridge is publicly owned, in PA typically part of Michaux State Forest, but there are scattered houses (often converted hunting camps). There are many trails in a web radiating out from the Appalachian Trail in this area. The post office Highfield-Cascade MD might be worth looking at, too.

You might actually consider Frostburg MD - a college town at high elevation, west of Cumberland MD on I-68. It's not really within an hour of Pittsburgh or its outer suburbs, but within 2 hr for sure. And a little over 2 hr from Baltimore area, straight shot. Cumberland has only basic shopping though, as in Sears/Walmart (no Target). Also, the surroundings quickly get into socially and politically conservative areas.
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Old 09-15-2017, 07:49 AM
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ki0eh, that you. That is very helpful!
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Old 09-16-2017, 08:55 PM
Location: Elizabethtown, PA
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All of central PA is humid in the summer. We don't have the great altitude variances like, say, the Blue Ridge Mountains.

North of Harrisburg isn't going to offer you much in the way of 'culture'.

I'd concur with the above suggestions that west/southwest of Harrisburg will more likely find you seeing what you are after.
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Old 09-17-2017, 07:53 AM
Location: Denver, CO
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My uncle lives in Dauphin which is north of Harrisburg. I lived in and around Harrisburg for several years. There is basically nothing around there culturally. If you are ok with that then it is a pleasant, slow paced place to live.
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Old 10-02-2017, 08:59 AM
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Thanks again, everyone! Your comments have been very helpful and it seems that I need to regroup and think about other locations.
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Old 10-18-2017, 11:05 AM
Location: Philadelphia
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I would 100% recommend around Bethlehem, PA. The Lehigh Valley is gorgeous. North of Harrisburg is not really going to offer much, the climate is the same within about a 60 - 90 mile radius. You have to get as far north as State College to really experience any major differences in climate in PA.

I would definitely look into the Lehigh Valley. If you do not need to be by mountains, then I would 100% recommend the western and north western edges of Chester County. Tons of Open Space and fairly close to Philadelphia, but still rural. It is horse country and very very beautiful area, with rolling hills and serene landscapes with some really great charming towns.
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