Old thread, but it's a question that never goes away.
I'm also looking for a spot in the country where building permits are either non-existent or affordable. I think there are two groups of people who seek the same: one simply doesn't want any government interference in the way they choose to live and the other simply cannot afford the extortionate fees that many counties charge. Here in Southern California, you cannot stick a spade in the ground unless you have greased palms to the tune of about $40,000 for a typical single family home. I am not exaggerating. Some places are worse than others, but it truly is extortion and I refuse to play that game. If a county in rural Texas only wants $25 for a septic Permit, I am happy to pay that. But not $5,000.
I have no intention of building something that is an eyesore or unsafe, but I truly believe that building some kind of affordable shelter on your own land ought to be a basic human right that trumps your neighbor's desire for conformity or their perceived property values. When did Americans become these voluntary conformists anyway??
I think it would be beneficial to have a separate topic on the forum where people could list places that are more amenable to the low budget self-builder. It has been one of the hardest subjects to research on the internet I have come across. Many counties don't publish fee schedules or their websites are badly designed and don't answer any questions and calling up each and every potential county is a mammoth task. I think sharing personal experiences of people who have dealt with this, in whatever location they might have picked, could be invaluable to the rest of us.
So please keep this thread alive by posting all your nuggets of information; where are these counties? How easy were they to deal with? Which have permits, but affordable ones? How much did it cost?