Pennsylvania is rich in history, and it has plenty of landmarks for tourists. Although Pennsylvania is a state, a lot of its residents consider it as being part of the commonwealth, which is basically a state with some differences. The population of Pennsylvania is around 12.81 million people, although a lot of people move out of this state, the population is still growing slowly, in some years the growth is stagnating while in others there is a slight increase in population.
Living off the grid in Pennsylvania is legal, this is not one of the best off grid living states although with some work you should be able to manage. The cost of property, cost of living, and the crime rate are well below the national average. On the other hand, the property tax is higher than the national average and the state doesn’t offer any statewide solar or wind power incentives, but you can still apply for the federal tax credit.
If you want to live off the grid in Pennsylvania then you will definitely need a fire starter as the winds can quickly blow out any open flame, my personal recommendation is to use a Ferro rod kit which can make sparks as hot as 5,500 F Click here to check it out on Amazon.com
Pennsylvania has 4 cities that have over 100k population, its biggest city is Philadelphia with over 1.6 million population followed by Pittsburgh with 300k, Allentown 120k, and Erie with 100k population. The city of Philadelphia attracts a lot of tourists and people looking for jobs, although living off the grid near such a big city is not the best idea. Philadelphia is an economic hub of Pennsylvania, and the crime rate in this area is fairly high.
If you have never visited Pennsylvania then the first thing you will notice is that there are a lot of Amish people and carriages often cause traffic jams. Near the biggest cities, you will rarely encounter any Amish people but once you go to the rural areas you will see a lot of them. Not a lot of people are fond of the Amish, most people find them strange, although from an off grid perspective you can learn a lot about living off the grid as frugally as possible.
The climate of Pennsylvania is ideal to grow a lot of different types of crops, the problem is that the growing period can be fairly short in some years and winters can be harsh. When it snows in Pennsylvania it really snows, although the local authorities do a good job cleaning up the roads in the bigger cities, but this is not the case in the smaller cities and towns. If you want to know how this state compares to its southern neighbor then check out my recent article Off grid living in West Virginia ( Mountain State ).
Pennsylvania’s climate is humid continental type, summers are hot, winters are cold, and through the year the humidity is fairly high. Although the humidity is high it is not as nearly as bad as in the southern states. The average temperatures during the summertime are around 85°F and during the wintertime, it is around 25°F. The highest ever recorded temperature in this state was 111°F in 1936 and the lowest one was -42°F in 1904. If you want more tips about living off the grid then check out my recent article Tips for living off the grid ( Top 14 Tips & Tricks ).
Best crops to grow in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is great for growing wheat, oats, and tobacco, in addition to this one of the main exports of this state are vegetables and fruits. People who live off the grid here often grow potatoes, sweet corn, tomatoes, and beans. In some areas, you will see a lot of greenhouses, this way they can grow fruits and vegetables almost all year round. As the growing period is fairly short in this state you have to know what you are doing if you want to rely on your crops for feeding yourself and your family. My personal recommendation is to also check out the states on the east coast to see the difference between this state and the ones on the coast, for more information, check out my recent article Off grid living in Massachusetts ( The Bay State ).
Freshwater availability in Pennsylvania
Due to its high humidity and geographical location Pennsylvania, has plenty of freshwater, both below and above ground, and you can also harvest freshwater legally. The average yearly rainfall in this state is around 42″, which is about the same as in the neighboring states. Generally speaking the closer you get to Lake Erie the higher the rainfall is and it is fairly common that in these areas the average yearly rainfall to be around 100″.
Pennsylvania is well known for its hunting season, in fact, this state has one of the highest numbers of hunters in the entire country. Hunting is such a big thing in Pennsylvania that when the hunting season starts a lot of areas have events celebrating it. The main problem with all this hunting is that several mammals can no longer be found in this state like bison, wolves, and moose. Although you will still be able to find elk, white-tailed deer, opossum, rabbits, and river otters.
In the local lakes and rivers, you will find bluegill, trout, brown bullhead, channel catfish, perch, and black crappie. You will need a permit both for hunting and fishing https://www.pgc.pa.gov/HuntTrap/LicensesandPermits/Pages/default.aspx.
Generating power off the grid in Pennsylvania
- Solar power: You can easily generate power with solar panels in this state although mostly during the summertime as during the wintertime the days tend to get fairly short. The state doesn’t offer any statewide solar incentives although you can still use the federal tax credit which is 30%. Just keep in mind that the percentage gets lower every year and if you set it up in 2021 the federal tax credit will only be around 22%.
- Wind power: As far as I know there are no statewide incentives for wind power, and you will have to apply to the federal tax credit to get it cheaper.
Pennsylvania off grid laws
You can live off the grid in Pennsylvania legally, in fact, the state facilitates living off the grid as it has one of the highest populations of Amish which mostly lives off the grid. A lot of people who do not live in the bigger cities do homeschool their children, the homeschooling laws in this state are fairly relaxed when you compare it to its eastern neighbors.
Pennsylvania road access
The quality of the roads in Pennsylvania is not that bad, but the one thing that you will hate is traffic jams. The closer you get to the cities the higher the probabilities are that you will get stuck in traffic. This problem is present even in the rural areas, if you are stuck behind a carriage then you will have to move at a snail’s pace.
Price of land in Pennsylvania
The price of land in Pennsylvania is around 25% less than the national average, when it comes to the price of housing and land this is one of the cheapest ones near the east coast. If you compare Pennsylvania to its neighboring states in the east then you will notice that the prices in some of these states can be a lot higher. Generally speaking, the cheapest lands and housing is in the northwestern part of the state or in the center of the state between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania property tax
The property tax in Pennsylvania is higher than the national average, currently, it is at 1.58% and the national average is at 1.08%, although the 25% cheaper housing makes the property tax sting a little bit less. Beaver County has the highest property tax at 1.71%, although the vast majority of counties are around the 1.58% mark.
Cost of living in Pennsylvania
The cost of living in Pennsylvania is around 10% lower than the national average, most notably the price for housing is around 25% cheaper, the health care services are around 3%, and the cost of utilities is around 2% cheaper than the national average. On the other hand, you will pay more for transportation with around 4%, and for groceries with around 1%.
The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is at 4.2% which is slightly above the national average of 4%, the problem is that the trend is going up and not down as in most of the states. Back in 2019, the unemployment rate was at around 3.8%. The minimum wage is at $7.25 which is as low as you can get, in the neighboring states the minimum wage is around $8, if not higher. The biggest industries where most of the people work are agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and tourism.
Pennsylvania crime rate
The crime rate in Pennsylvania is below the national average, currently, the crime rate is at 3.07 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is at 4 crimes per 1000 people. The safest areas are around Smicksburg, Smithton, Enon Valley, Elderton, and Shade Gap. The areas with the highest crime rate are around Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New Castle, Wilkes Barre, and Johnstown.
Pennsylvania natural disasters
Pennsylvania is prone to having, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, and storms. The area with the highest probability of natural disasters like floods are in the northwestern part of the state, as the annual rainfall here can be more than double than in the rest of the country which in some years does cause floods and flashfloods alike.
Overall Pennsylvania is not a bad state for off grid living, but if you take a look at the states just to the south of Pennsylvania then you will find better opportunities. With that being said, there are a lot of people living off the grid in Pennsylvania, most notably the Amish, which live more or less off the grid, and this just proves that homesteading can be done on a larger scale.