I think this is a good enough comment to bring front and center:
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post https://www.lloydkahn.com/2015/03/11/the-near-impossibility-of-building-your/
“There are still places where community is good and bureaucracy is limited. In northern New York, we have a small cabin, 14X28, on 44 acres. We bought it as a prefabbed shell, and are finishing it inside as we can. The building permit to set it on a gravel pad was 32 bucks. No problems with a composting toilet, and the inspection to hook up the power, after I did the wiring and ran underground cable up to the road, was 50 bucks. Installing fiber-optic internet was free.
9 miles away is Potsdam, with two universities, and 10 miles further away is Canton, with two more universities. St. Lawrence County was a favorite destination during the back to the land movement of the 70s, and a lot of countercultural folks are still there, still trying to live well and lightly on the land.
It’s beautiful there (part of the county is in the Adirondack State Park, and the county is bordered to the north by the St. Lawrence River. Montreal is a couple hours away, and you can make a day trip out of going to NYC, if you don’t mind getting home late.
The land is still remarkably cheap, though not as cheap as it was 20-30 years ago. Taxes are high, but in unincorporated areas, with a modest home, they aren’t terrible. And what’s more, those high taxes pay for a lot of good stuff you don’t get in low tax states.
The climate is harsh, of course, but that’s one reason the place isn’t overrun with people. If, like us, you have a place to go, or can travel during the coldest months, it’s a perfect climate.
Best of all, the people there are the nicest, kindest people I’ve ever run across. I know that sooner or later, I’ll run into a jerk up there, but in three summers, it hasn’t happened yet. An example: when it came time to hook up the power, it turned out they’d mailed the paperwork to another address. We had to go down to the National Grid offices in Potsdam to get it straightened out. We got into the parking lot, and the guy in charge was outside waiting for us, with the paperwork in hand, ready to be signed.
The same thing happens constantly there, with folks going out of their way to be kind and helpful.
Anyway, there are still Good Places.”