12 States That Will Pay You to Move There

The remote work trend is here to stay, creating a new level of mobility for many workers. If you’re a digital nomad, you may be looking for a new living environment with lower housing costs and less stress. Some of those environments are also looking for you. Towns all over the United States are working to attract new residents. Some states will even pay you to move there.

Key points

  • If you have a remote job, there are plenty of cities that will pay you an incentive to relocate there
  • Some offer straight-up cash, while others offer housing incentives — Maine even offers to forgive a portion of your student loans
  • These towns advertise a lower cost of living, much cheaper real estate and lower taxes
  • The offers sometimes have strings attached, like a minimum amount of time you need to reside in the area
  • Make sure you know what you’re getting into — Don’t plan a move to Bemidji, Minn., if you hate cold.
  • Many towns are using these programs to revitalize their economies and boost population

These 12 states will pay you to live there

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

They include:

  • West Virginia
  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • Oklahoma
  • Vermont
  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Alaska
  • Iowa
  • Ohio
  • Minnesota

Here is a breakdown of each program and its requirements.

1. 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 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.

2. 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 $15,000 for homebuyers and $10,000 for renters.

These are the program requirements:

  • You must confirm that your new employer participates in the Choose Topeka relocation incentive
  • You must move to Topeka for a full-time position
  • Purchase or rent a home, for a primary residence, in Shawnee County within a year of your hire/move
  • You must be eligible to work in the U.S.
  • Complete a Choose Topeka survey after one year
  • Participate in a Choose Topeka Immersion program
  • An application from your employer must be received prior to permanent relocation

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. And more than 20 small Kansas towns have tried offering free land to workers who are willing to move there.

3. 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. 

4. 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 must be over 18, eligible to work in the U.S., and have full-time remote employment. You will have to pass an application process: 

Stillwater, Oklahoma, offers a $5,000 incentive, $300 toward closing costs, and free coffee for a year to remote workers willing to buy a home in the city. 

5. 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, with a particular emphasis on nurses.

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.

6. 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 a lively creative culture.

7. Connecticut

Most of the regions on this list are far from major urban centers. New Haven, Conn., 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 incentives for new homeowners.

The package includes financial assistance for first-time homebuyers for down payments and closing costs. The City will provide a zero-interest forgivable loan. At the end of the five-year loan period the loan is fully forgiven.

8. Maine

Maine residents who meet certain graduation requirements are eligible to receive up to $25,000 in lifetime student loan forgiveness though the Maine Student Loan Repayment Tax Credit.

To qualify for the credit, you must:

  • Be a full-time Maine Resident
  • File a Maine Income Tax Return
  • Have earned an associate, bachelor’s or graduate degree after 2007
  • Have a certain amount of earned income

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

9. Alaska

Alaska doesn’t have a specific incentive program to encourage relocation, but once you’ve lived in the state for at least 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, and in 2022 each resident received $3,284. The 2023 dividend was $1,312, according to the Alaska Department of Revenue.

10. 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.

Britt, Iowa, offers free lots with values up to $10,000.

11. Ohio

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

If 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.

12. Minnesota 

The Greater Bemidji 218 Relocate program is an incentive package aimed at attracting new residents. The program includes up to $1,000 in reimbursed moving 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 working for a company outside the region and relocating from at least 60 miles away. 

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

Remote work and relocation incentives

For decades, rural towns and smaller cities across the U.S. 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 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.

Steps before you accept an incentive from any state

These packages 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. Consider 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.

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’ll find in an urban center. Some take it further and offer cash.

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. But before you decide, carefully weigh the area’s pros and cons.

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