15 States That Will Pay You to Move There

The pandemic-driven remote work trend is here to stay, creating a new level of mobility for many workers. If you’re one of those fresh mobile workers, you may be looking for a living environment with lower costs and lower stress. Some of those environments are also looking for you. Towns all over the country are making an active effort to attract new residents. Some states will even pay you to move there.

15 states that pay you to live there

For many years, states and towns across the country have watched their best-educated citizens leave to seek their fortunes in major cities. Now they are launching bids to bring people back. Many of these areas offer a far more relaxed living environment and much lower housing and general living expenses than major cities.

Here are some of the states that will pay you to move there:

West Virginia

The Ascend West Virginia program emphasizes outdoor recreation, with the website’s opening page featuring stand-up paddling, rock climbing, mountain biking, golf, and other sports.

Ascend West Virginia will give you $12,000 in cash simply to move to a list of selected West Virginia communities, $10,000 when you move, and $2,000 at the start of your second year. No strings attached, you can spend the money on anything you like.

You’ll also get a year of free outdoor activities, ranging from whitewater rafting to mountain biking to downhill skiing. You’ll also get free access to co-working spaces and social groups to help you settle in. 

You’ll need to pass an initial online application process and a virtual interview. They’re looking for people who can work from anywhere and are looking for better work/life balance, a sense of community and outdoor adventures. 

You’ll need to be over 18 and work remotely for a company outside West Virginia.

Kansas

The Choose Topeka program offers a $15,000 grant to workers who get a job with a Shawnee County employer. Remote workers can get up to $10,000 for homebuyers and $5,000 for renters.

If you’re coming to work for a local employer, you’ll need to confirm that the employer participates in the program. You’ll also need to purchase or rent a residence in Shawnee County within a year of your move.

Remote workers can only receive one incentive per household and must work for an employer outside the county.

Lincoln County offers a Neighborhood Revitalization Program with substantial property tax rebates for qualified individuals. At least six Kansas towns offer free land to workers willing to move to small towns.

Nebraska

Several communities in Nebraska offer free land and other incentives to people moving into the area. Curtis, Nebraska offers free lots to people willing to build homes and incentives up to $1,000 for enrolling children in public schools.

Free land is also available in Elwood, Beatrice, and several other Nebraska communities

Oklahoma

Tulsa Remote is an incentive program offering up to $10,000 in cash or toward a home purchase for selected applicants willing to relocate to Tulsa. You’ll also have access to co-working spaces.

You’ll need to be over 18, eligible to work in the US, and have full-time remote employment. You will have to pass an application process: 

Stillwater, Oklahoma offers a $5000 incentive, $300 toward closing costs, and free coffee for a year to remote workers willing to buy a home in the city. 

Arkansas

The Northwest Arkansas Council offers the Life Works Here initiative, which seeks to draw talent from all over the country. They advertise the low cost of living, low unemployment, outdoor sports, arts, culture, cuisine, and other attractions.

The program offers $10,000 in cash and a mountain or road bike, and focuses on remote STEM, creative and tech workers, and entrepreneurs. The incentive program is no longer taking applicants, but efforts to draw new residents are ongoing and the program may resume.

Vermont

Vermont advertises top-ranked schools, quality work-life balance, and a thriving small business economy. They also advertise a Relocation Incentives program to attract remote workers and employees.

The incentive program offers relocation grants of up to $7,500 for workers who move to the state to take a job and to remote workers who bring their jobs with them. As with most such programs, there is an application process.

Alabama

The Shoals region is a group of cities in northwest Alabama. The Remote Shoals program strives to attract remote workers and independent contractors who earn a minimum of $52,000 per year and can relocate within six months of being selected. 

Successful applicants will get a cash incentive of up to $10,000 in three installments. 

The area advertises affordable real estate, low property taxes, a low cost of living, and lively creative culture.

Connecticut

Most of the regions on this list are far from major urban Centers. New Haven, CT is the home of Yale University and is close enough to New York City for a day trip, which makes it a bit unique among the states that will pay you to move there. It also offers an attractive package with up to $80,000 in incentives for new homeowners.

The package includes $10,000 in interest-free loans to cover down payments or closing costs and $30,000 for energy-saving home upgrades. Families with children can qualify for up to $40,000 in in-state college tuition breaks if their kids attend a New Haven public school.

Maine

Maine’s state legislature has approved the Maine Smart Buy Program, which is offering to forgive up to $40,000 in student debt for qualified home buyers who agree to live in the home for five years. 

Participants must have a minimum credit score of 640, and they must purchase a home with a value between $86,600 and $131,300.

The city of Augusta, Maine’s capital, offers rebates on state taxes for college graduates moving into the city.

Alaska

Alaska doesn’t have a specific incentive program to encourage relocation, but once you’ve lived in the state for a year you will be eligible for the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). This is a percentage of Alaska’s revenue from the sale of mineral resources that Alaska pays annually to every resident.

The payments vary with commodity prices and can change from year to year. The 2021 dividend was $1,114 per resident. The proposed 2022 dividend is higher at $2,560, driven by higher commodity prices and a new distribution formula.

Iowa

The city of Newton, Iowa, just outside the state capitol Des Moines, offers a $10,000 cash incentive and a “Get to Know Newton” welcome package to new residents who buy a home valued at $190,000 or above. The incentive is paid on the closing of the home’s financing deal.

The town of Britt, Iowa offers free lots with values up to $10.000.

Tennessee 

The city of Chattanooga, TN offers GeekMove, an incentive program designed to encourage tech workers to relocate to the area. The program awards qualified professionals $11,250 to help purchase a home in the city. 

An additional $1,250 is available to selected individuals to help with moving costs.

Chattanooga prides itself on a gigabit fiber network that provides internet speeds up to 200 times faster than the average US broadband speed and additional incentives for remote tech workers in bandwidth-intensive fields.

Ohio

Hamilton, Ohio is seeking to attract new residents with its Talent Attraction Program. The program is a “reverse scholarship” providing assistance with student loan debt. 

Suppose you have graduated in the last seven years with a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, or Mathematics) degree and have full-time employment in the area or remote work. In that case, the program will cover up to $10,000 of student loan debt.

Minnesota 

The Greater Bemidji 218 Relocate program is an incentive package aimed at attracting new residents. The program includes up to $1000 in reimbursed moving expenses and/or telecommuting expenses. 

218 Relocate includes gigabit internet service, a one-year membership to the LaunchPad co-working space, free access to the Community Concierge Program, membership in the area Chamber of Commerce, and teleworking support tools.

Applicants should be telecommuters who work for a company outside the region and should be relocating from at least 60 miles away. 

Minnesota towns like Claremont, New Richland, and Middle River are offering free plots of land as incentives to workers willing to move in.

Remote work and relocation incentives

For decades, rural towns and smaller cities across the US have watched their best-educated citizens leave to seek their fortunes in major urban centers. With remote work surging in popularity since the pandemic, many are now launching bids to bring workers back.

These towns advertise a lower cost of living, much cheaper real estate, low taxes, outdoor activities, and a simple, community-focused lifestyle. Many take it one step further and offer direct incentives, like free lots and relocation grants, to workers willing to move in.

Additional incentives may include access to co-working spaces, discounts or free promos at local businesses, and other incentives.

This is not charity. Many of these towns have declining populations and tax bases. Many have seen industries close or move out. They hope to revitalize their economies by bringing in workers who will earn outside the community and spend in it.

U.S. states aren’t the only places that will pay you to relocate. If you’re considering an international move, check this out to learn about some countries that will pay you to live there.

Steps before you accept an incentive from any state

These packages can seem attractive, and for some people, they could be desirable. You’ll still have to think carefully before considering them. These steps will help you make the best decision for you.

Talk to your employer

Remote workers still have employers, and independent contractors have clients. Discuss any potential move with the people you work for or with. Consider internet speed and reliability, potential time zone complications, and tax issues.

Figure out what you’re looking for

If you’re considering relocating, economic considerations aren’t the only factors. Think about the kind of living environment you’re looking for, including schools, culture, social opportunities and even climate. For example, Alaska or Minnesota might not be great choices if you can’t stand cold weather.

Knowing what makes you happy and what kind of living environment you want makes you more likely to make a good relocation decision.

Understand what you’re getting — and what you might be losing

Relocating to a rural, small town, or even small city environment can bring significant economic benefits. Your salary goes further and you can afford a bigger house. Taxes may be lower and you may feel safer. Relocation still isn’t for everyone. 

You will lose some things and gain some things, and the losses may be harder to quantify, especially if they are things you’ve taken for granted in your current environment.

Are you used to having access to art galleries, concerts, and other cultural events? Accustomed to having restaurants serving food from a dozen different cuisines within walking distance of your home? To an active and diverse social environment?

If so, you might want to think twice about moving to a small town. Consider schools, recreational opportunities, and the general culture you’re moving into.

The bottom line

Towns and smaller cities across the country offer incentives designed to attract educated workers. Many also offer relatively inexpensive real estate, low taxes, a cost of living that’s easy on your budget, and advantages like outdoor recreation and a generally quieter lifestyle than you’s find in an urban center. Some take it a step farther and offer cash: some states will pay you to move there.

These programs generally have qualifying criteria. They may have minimum income or education requirements, and some may prioritize younger applicants.

You’ll also have to consider whether you really want to move to these areas. After all, there are reasons why they have declining populations!

If you’re already considering a move to a simpler, lower-cost environment, it’s worth considering states that will pay you to move there. If not, you might still be interested, but you should carefully consider each potential destination’s pros and cons!

FAQs

What are the benefits of moving to a different state?

Relocating to another state can get you much cheaper homes, property taxes, and general living costs. If you’re moving away from an urban area you may also find opportunities for outdoor recreation and a more community-oriented lifestyle. Many areas are actively seeking new residents and some states will pay you to move there.
You may also find yourself missing out on some features of your current living environment. Consider both the positives and the negatives before moving to a different state.

Which countries will pay you to move there?

The U.S. isn’t the only country with towns that will pay you to move there. Towns in countries as diverse as Switzerland, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Australia, and New Zealand. These offers will typically require you to move to small rural towns with declining populations.

Why do states offer financial incentives to move there?

Many states, towns, and small cities have experienced “brain drain”: educated people moving to major urban centers. They want to attract workers who will buy and take care of homes, spend in local businesses, and pay local taxes.
These incentives are usually limited to people meeting specific educational, professional, or employment-related standards.

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