Imagine waking up tomorrow in a small town nestled between rolling green mountains. You start your day with an early hike, then head to a local coworking space for the day. In the late afternoon, you close your laptop and take a kayak out on the water to detach from work. After your paddle, you walk down Mainstreet to grab a locally made beer for happy hour, then dinner followed by live music. 

You’re also paid to be there. No, that’s not a typo. That’s just the Pennsylvania WildsThe Wilds Are Working Remote Work Program. A lush area of north-central Pennsylvania is funding remote workers to come work from and enjoy their community for 4 weeks.   

The program pays for your accommodation, sets you up with a welcome committee and provides a stipend to spend on activities around town. Applications are now being accepted!

Did your eyes just jump out of your head like a Looney Tune? Here’s everything you need to know. 

Pinterest image for The Wilds Are Working blog post with a picture of someone working on a laptop and someone kayaking with the text "get paid to work remotely from the Pa Wilds, here's how"

This blog post is a paid partnership with The Wilds Are Working. As a Pennsylvania native and remote work enthusiast, I’m thrilled to share this program and opportunity with my readers. Will you think about applying?! I’d love to hear in the comments! 

Introducing The Wilds Are Working Program 

No, you’re not imagining it. Pennsylvania is kind of a random destination for working remotely. 

Especially (or eXspecially, as the locals pronounce it) the rural areas of Pa. 

Not for lack of amenities, opportunity or overall appeal, though. Having been a remote worker since 2017, I’ve developed a stringent measurement system for evaluating a remote work destination. The Pa Wilds checks every single box: 

  1. Contrast to at-home life 
  2. Opportunities to enjoy the outdoors 
  3. Walkable and not auto-reliant surroundings 
  4. Public transportation available 
  5. Affordable enough to stay for a month
  6. Charm and personality unique to the area 
  7. Close enough proximity to other destinations for outings 
  8. Local events and live music are a bonus 

Yet central Pennsylvania eludes pretty much every guidebook on remote work destinations. That’s what The Wilds Are Working program is trying to change. 

Word collage of the text from The Wilds Are Working website. The biggest words are: work, remote, community, Kane, Wilds, Bellefonte and experience
Word collage of the text from The Wilds Are Working website.

The Wilds Are Working program is a grant-funded initiative to bring remote workers to the Pa Wilds region. Anyone who works already remotely is welcome to apply (this is not an employment opportunity).

If accepted, you’ll relocate to one of two predetermined locations in the Pa Wilds for four weeks. The Wilds Are Working program will provide free accommodation and a spending stipend to enjoy the community.

Before you pack your bags, let’s get some clarity on where these communities are so you can decide which to apply to.

Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of the Pa Wilds region. That’s not a sign not to apply! Even if you’re from Pa, you might be wondering: where exactly is the Pa Wilds region? (guilty) 

USA map with Pa Wild highlighted-Writing From Nowhere

The Pa Wilds is the region in north-central Pennsylvania. The regions boasts an impressive 2,100,000 acres of public land, including 29 state parks, 8 state forests and 50 state game lands. 

What’s The Pennsylvania Wilds Region Like? 

If US geography has never been your best trivia category, you may even be asking “which one’s Pennsylvania again?” 

Pennsylvania (referred to by the initials p-a by the locals) is east of New York State, and home to the well-known cultural hubs of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. 

The Wilds Are Working program IS open to international applicants, by the way. Just don’t confess to anyone that you didn’t know which one Pa was when you get there. 

The Pa Wilds region is about a 3-hour drive from Pittsburgh and a 4-hour drive from Philadelphia. The nearest airport is State College, though flying into Pittsburgh, Philly or even New York and renting a car would make for a lovely road trip. Megabus also has frequent routes. 

The front tip of a purple kayak on a river, with a woman in a yellow kayak to the right and lush green trees surrounding the river.
Kayaking in Bellefonte. Pictures were provided by The Wilds Are Working

While some remote workers will naturally be more drawn to urban environments than the outdoors, the Pa Wilds checks every box for outdoors-loving remote workers. 

In their own words on their website, the Pa Wilds region describes the local outdoor recreation as “endless.” I’m inclined to agree with them; 2 million acres is a lot of public space.

But with endless outdoor opportunities to enjoy and many small towns sprinkled across the landscape, finding a precise location perfectly suited for remote work would be a big task. 

Through the program, all of the research and planning has already been done. The Wilds Are Working is paying remote workers to go stay for four weeks in two specific Pa Wilds locations: Bellefonte and Kane.

Which one suits you best? 

Map of Pennsylvania with pins labeling Kane and Bellefonte, and the text "The Wilds Are Working" Communities

Perks Of Working Remotely From Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 

Bellefonte, Pennsylvania is State College’s neighbor, which is home to Pennsylvania State University. Less than a 15-minute drive from the so-called “happy valley,” Bellefonte has access to larger-scale amenities while still offering small-town charm. 

Quick Facts About Bellefonte:

  • The town has fewer than 7,000 permanent residents (source)
  • In 2020, it was listed as the second-best place to live in Pa (source)
  • It’s been described as “a photographer’s dream” (source)

When I asked a friend living in Bellefonte what they liked about the town, they cited great coffee, craft alcohol and unique restaurants. 

Personally, the outdoor coworking spaces took my cake. After 5 years of working remotely, I’ve seen very few spaces designed for outdoor coworking. That gets my little remote-work-heart racing.

But if I ever turn down a local beer, cup of good coffee or a trip to a cool restaurant, order me an MRI. 

Bellefonte’s business district

In regards to working remotely, The Wilds Are Working in Bellefonte counts these assets amongst the most appealing to remote workers: 

  • Indoor and outdoor coworking spaces
  • Craft beverages 
  • Live music 
  • Coffee shops
  • Community events 
  • Parks
  • Restaurants 
  • Farmers’ markets 
  • Arts and museums 
  • Nightlife
  • Fishing
  • Hiking and cycling trails
  • Bird watching
  • Water recreation on Spring Creek
  • Camping 

These activities are reachable by foot or via public transportation available through the Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA for short). Lyft and Uber, the ridesharing apps, are also available in the area. 

Participants will be given a stipend to fund their playtime, which can be spent on any of the above activities or more. 

A welcome committee is available to help you book activities, get involved in the town and even meet up to spend some time together.

It really gets you daydreaming, doesn’t it? 

If you want to turn your daydream up a notch, Google the accommodations and take a walk around the town on Google maps. The five accepted remote workers will have their accommodations paid for at a local establishment that’s located within walking distance of Mainstreet. 

Spring Creek in Bellefonte

Some of the options include The Queen Bed and Breakfast, Our Fair Lady Bed and Breakfast, Historic Gamble Mill and Bellefonte Bed and Breakfast. You can apply alone, or with a partner or family. 

The Wilds Are Working is hosting five remote workers in Bellefonte in July. You can apply on their website today.

Fewer than 7,000 residents may sound like a small town, but it gets even cozier with Kane, Pa. 

Perks Of Working Remotely From Kane, Pennsylvania 

The outdoor recreation opportunities in Kane are plentiful, but that’s not all it has to offer. The community recently opened a media lab, and participants can expect high-speed wifi in their accommodation to balance out their off-the-beaten-path activities.

Aerial view of Kane

Quick facts about Kane: 

  • The town has fewer than 4,000 permanent residents (source
  • Nicknamed the “icebox of Pennsylvania,” Kane stays cool all year long thanks to its position on the Allegheny Plateau. Locals are spared the heat that most Pennsylvanians experience in the summer (source

In regards to remote work, The Wilds Are Working in Kane advertises these assets amongst the most appealing to remote workers: 

  • A new media lab 
  • Live music
  • Parks
  • Water recreation
  • Restaurants
  • Locally-made alcohol 
  • Hiking trails
  • Bird watching
  • Disc golf
  • Camping
  • Biking and walking trails 
  • ATV trails
  • Fishing
Woman on a mountain bike
Exploring Kane by bike

This level of access to the outdoors isn’t something that most remote work destinations offer. The entire Pa Wilds region is more rugged than most travel guides will suggest, but there are reasons to explore a rural destination instead of a city for working online.

The Wilds Are Working is hosting five remote workers in Kane in September. You can apply on their website today.

Why Work From A Rural Destination Instead Of A City? 

Before the pandemic, remote work was associated with yuppies (young urban professionals – get with the lingo, gramps!). The remote work surge of 2020 blew the lid off of working online, but the conversation about where to go is still overly focused on urban areas. 

One of the greatest appeals of remote work is that you can avoid cities. Commutes, traffic, higher costs. These are the exact reasons why so many people leave densely populated areas for small towns.

But you don’t have to relocate permanently to get access to the relaxed escapism that small towns provide. Pull up for just a month to work online and get a change of scenery and enjoy a slower pace of life.

These towns are almost always left out of the conversation about remote work destinations, which is part of what The Wilds Are Working aims to change. 

If you’re able to work remotely but you’ve stuck to your home base, this is the perfect opportunity. The planning and funding are handled. The only question is, are you available in July or September? Which community do you want to apply for?

Before you pack your bags, make sure that your expectations are set correctly so that you have the best four weeks possible.

What Is It Like To Work Remotely On Location?

I could talk your ear off all day about the endless tangible and intangible benefits of working remotely. From spending more time with family to being able to travel more instead of waiting for vacation days, this lifestyle is incredible

It’s a golden ticket, but if you never work anywhere different, you never cash it in. 

When remote work goes wrong, it’s lonely, unstimulating and puts a strain on your mental health

But when it’s done right, it’s energizing, restorative and improves productivity.

If you’re still reading this, I think it’s a sign that you’re ready to try working from somewhere new. If you have the means to do so, I truly think you owe it to yourself to take your laptop on the road. 

Working remotely from a vacation destination, AKA taking a workation, is meant to give you a stimulating new experience once you close the lid of your laptop. 

How would you like to see the Pa Wilds’ rolling green mountains?

A smiling woman pushing a stroller is walking on a bridge with two small children.
Exploring Kane

Final Thoughts 

Normally when planning a remote work vacation, there’s a lot of research required to make sure that you’re going to have a good experience. 

There’re a lot of important questions that need to be answered, but sometimes those answers are hard to get.

Is the wifi fast enough? Am I going to be bored after I’m done working? Will I meet anyone or will I be lonely? 

The Wilds Are Working has taken all of the risk out of the remote work experience. Not only is it a brilliant way to put The Wilds on the map as a worthy remote work destination, I think this opportunity is going to be such an incredible experience for the remote workers that are selected. 

Will you apply?? 

I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to remote work, but I’ve NEVER seen a fully-funded trip like this before. Opportunities don’t come around like this every day, and I hope that anyone who’s able to work and travel simultaneously will take advantage of this chance.

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