Earning

15 places around the U.S. that will pay you to move there

You can even test some out first with a free Airbnb stay.

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Relocation incentives are gaining traction at a time when remote work is likely to be more common as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Some places are offering cash toward buying a home, while others will help pay off part of your student loans or cover the cost of year-long visas.

Some corporations are sweetening the deal, too. Airbnb is offering free stays so that, say, people who are unsure whether they want to move to Topeka can, if selected, visit to feel out what it's like to live there.

Here are 15 places around the U.S. that will pay you to live there.

1. Alaska

Alaska.
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The offer: Alaska's incentive program isn't new, but that doesn't make it less enticing. It's called the Permanent Fund Dividend, and Alaska deposits at least 25% of the money it makes from its gas, mine, and oil reserves into this fund every year. Then the amount is distributed among state residents, often working out to somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000 per person. In 2020, permanent residents were given $992.

The reason: The fund was created by Governor Jay Hammond in 1976, who wanted to ensure Alaskans would get a cut of the profits generated by their state's natural resources.

The catch: To be eligible for a 2021 dividend, you must have lived in Alaska during 2020 and not have claimed residency anywhere else since December 2019. If you move now, you'll be eligible for the dividend in 2022. 

2. Northwest Arkansas

The offer: The Northwest Arkansas Council created the Life Works Here initiative, a talent incentive program that offers $10,000 cash to remote workers willing to relocate to Northwest Arkansas. Those accepted will also receive a mountain bike and an Airbnb stay.

The reason: To attract remote workers who don't want to live in large cities or suburbs.

The catch: You must be at least 24 years old and have two years of work experience. You should also have full-time employment, live outside Arkansas, and be able to relocate within the next six months.

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3. Hamilton, Ohio

The offer: The Talent Attraction Program Scholarship offers to pay up to $10,000 of your student loans over a 30-month period. Payments will be in installments of $300.

The reason: To bring more young graduates to the area.

The catch: To be eligible, you have to have graduated from college with a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, or math) degree. And if you cease employment before the end of the 30-month period you will stop receiving the payments. You also must demonstrate employment in the city of Hamilton and/or Butler County.

4. Maine

Maine.
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The offer: The state has expanded its Educational Opportunity Tax Credit program, which is meant to encourage recent graduates from any state to move to Maine with an offer to pay some of their student loans. Residents will be able to deduct the total money paid in student loans from their income tax bill, up to a certain amount, depending on their degree. So if you graduated in 2020 with a bachelor's degree from any university or college, you can deduct $367 per month, and if you graduated with an associate's degree in 2019, you can deduct $77 per month.

The reason: Maine is the among the least populated states in the country with 1.35 million residents. For context, Indiana is roughly the same size as Maine and has a population of 6.7 million. Maine's population skews older, too: The median age is 44, about six years older than the median age of the U.S. overall, so the state wants to bring in more residents, and younger ones. 

The catch: You must have graduated from a college, community college, or university after 2015 to apply.

5. Natchez, Mississippi

The offer: Through the Shift South program, workers can receive up to $6,000 to move to Natchez or Adams County, Mississippi. The program will reimburse you $2,500 for your move and pay you $300 a month for one year. You will also receive a free Airbnb stay.

The reason: To attract people to are to "enjoy the unique quality of life along the bluff of the Mississippi River," according to the Shift South site.

The catch: You must buy a house that is valued at $150,000 or more, and work remotely for at least one year.

6. Newton, Iowa

The offer: Since 2014, Newton, Iowa, has offered $10,000 cash to those who build or buy homes in Newton. You could also get a "welcome package" that is valued at more than $2,500.

The reason: Newton was home to Maytag's headquarters until 2007 when the plant shuttered and hundreds of people lost their jobs. Since then, the city has created more jobs than were lost, but there isn't enough housing to accommodate workers. Between 2012 and 2014, no new homes were built in Newton, according to the Des Moines Register. By offering free money to those who buy or build a home, Newton is attempting to lure contractors and homebuyers to the city.

The catch: You will only receive the full $10,000 if you're building or buying a home that is worth $180,000 or more. For a home worth between $100,000 and $179,999, you could receive $5,000.

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7. Shoals, Alabama

The offer: The Remote Shoals program is offering up to $10,000 if you're willing to relocate to the Shoals area. Towns in the Shoals include Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia. The minimum reward is $6,000. Applicants will also receive a free Airbnb stay.

The reason: To bring tech workers to the area who can spend money and stimulate the local economy.

The catch: Workers must be able to work remotely and earn at least $52,000 a year. They also must be able to move to the Shoals area within six months of being accepted. Only 10 people will be accepted.

8. Rural areas of Kansas

The offer: As part of the Rural Opportunity Zone program, Kansas is offering to pay up to $15,000 of your student loans over five years if you move to an approved county, of which there are almost 95.

The reason: To stimulate job growth in rural areas of Kansas.

The catch: You cannot have lived in Kansas within the past five years. You must hold an associate's degree or higher before relocating, and you also must have earned less than $10,000 of income in Kansas prior to moving to a rural opportunity zone.

9. Savannah, Georgia 

Bar in Savannah, Georgia.
Courtesy Savannah Economic Development Authority

The offer: The Savannah Economic Development Authority is offering up to $2,000 reimbursement for 50 new residents who move in before the end of 2020. The money would cover moving service charges, vehicle rental, utility deposits, and gasoline. It is meant for those who work in the tech industry. 

The reason: The Savannah Economic Development Authority would like to build up its tech economy. Plus, the city population has hovered around 145,000 for the past few years, without any significant influx of new residents, so the program could be meant to fuel some population growth.

The catch: You must have three years of experiences in the tech field and already be living in Chatham County, where Savannah is located, before applying. You also must show you have signed a one-year lease or bought property and have a Chatham County address on your driver's license. 

10. Southwest Michigan

The offer: Called Move to Michigan, the program offers a $15,000 forgivable grant. The payment comes in the form of a forgiven $5,000 grant every year. You can also pick two out of eight offered perks, including a beach pass and a car service to the airport. Airbnb is offering free stays.

The reason: To entice people from Chicago to move to Michigan.

The catch: You must buy a home that is at least $200,000 in the zip codes 49022, 49085, 49103, or 49127. You can't be a Michigan resident, but upon moving you need to obtain a Michigan license or state ID. You also must prove you are employed by a company outside Southwest Michigan.

11. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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The offer: Tulsa has partnered with a nonprofit, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, to offer remote workers a $10,000 stipend and $1,000 for housing for a year to move there. The Tulsa Remote program also gives applicants access to a desk at a co-working space in downtown Tulsa. Airbnb is offering a free stay.

The reason: "We have a very active effort for [attracting] secondary offices, headquarters, and advanced manufacturing companies," Michael Basch of the George Kaiser Family Foundation told City Lab. And, he added, Tulsa isn't as strong as they'd like to be in "tech and data science — things that are important for 21st-century companies." By offering financial incentives, Tulsa Remote is hoping to attract workers who can build up those sectors of the city's economy.

The catch: There are several requirements you have to meet to be eligible to receive these perks and benefits. You must be able to move to Tulsa in the next six months, over the age of 18, and able to work in the U.S.

12. Tucson, Arizona

The offer: Remote Tucson is offering a package of services that equals $7,650. Accepted applicants will receive $1,500 to cover moving costs, along with a myriad of other perks including free internet, access to co-working spaces, gift cards to local restaurants, and three nights in a hotel. Airbnb is offering free stays.

The reasons: To attract young professionals to the area.

The catch: You must live and work full-time outside Tucson but be able to relocate within 6 months. You must be 18 or older and prove that you earn at least $65,000 per year.

13. Topeka, Kansas

Topeka, Kansas.
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The offer: Through the Choose Topeka program, you can receive up to $15,000 if you buy or rehabilitate a home in Topeka, and up to $10,000 if you rent a home there. It's a match program, meaning that half those funds would have to come from an employer paying you to relocate. Then Go Topeka, in partnership with the Joint Economic Development Organization, will match that employer incentive.

You can also receive an additional $1,000 cash, provided by Jimmy John's Sandwich, if you live within a Jimmy John's Sandwich delivery zone in Topeka.

If selected you get a free Airbnb stay in the area to feel out what it's like to live in Shawnee County, where Topeka is located.

The reason: About 40% Shawnee County workers who make more than $40,000 actually live outside the county, according to Go Topeka's press release. This program is meant to bring more employees to live in Topeka and grow the city's population.

The catch: Though the incentive will be offered to 40 to 60 residents per year, according to Go Topeka, you will only receive your incentive after living in Topeka for one year. Applications start this year for selected job seekers to move in 2021.

14. Vermont

Vermont.
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The offer: The Remote Workers Grant Program funds people who are willing to relocate to Vermont. The initiative awards remote workers who apply up to $7,500 per year for two years for becoming a Vermont resident.

The reason: The median age of a Vermont resident, 42, is also a bit older than the national median. And one-third of Vermont households have someone 65 or older in them, Joan Goldstein, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Economic Development, told CNN. This, paired with a dwindling workforce, inspired the creation of the Remote Workers Grant, which is intended to bring in young workers.

The catch: You must be a full-time employee at a Vermont business. 

15. West Virginia

The offer: The program Ascend West Virginia is offering those willing to relocate $12,000 in cash. Accepted applicants will receive $10,000 in monthly installments over the course of the first year, then an additional $2,000 at the end of their second year.

The program is also offering a free year of outdoor recreations passes for activities such as whitewater rafting and outdoor skiing worth $2,500 and access to a co-working space. A free Airbnb stay is included.

The reason: To encourage remote workers to move to West Virginia.

The catch: You must be 18 years or older, able to prove you have full-time employment you can do remotely, and not live in West Virginia currently.

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