Spending

Savannah, Georgia, is paying people to move there in 2020

Courtesy Savannah Economic Development

If you're looking to move to a less expensive city in order to save on rent, or because your job has made it more possible to work remotely, you might want to consider Savannah, Georgia. The historic city is now offering a stipend to 50 people willing to move there in 2020. 

What Savannah has to offer

The Savannah Economic Development Authority is offering up to $2,000 reimbursement for 50 new residents who move in before 2020 ends. The money would cover moving service charges, vehicle rental, utility deposits, and gasoline.

However, there are some requirements: 

  • You must work in tech and have three years of experience in the field.
  • You must relocate to Chatham County, where Savannah is located, and either sign a one-year lease or buy property.
  • You can only apply for the grant after living in Chatham County for 30 days and once you have a Georgia driver's license with a Chatham County address.

While $2,000 might not be enough to entice a large family to uproot their lives, notes Jen Bonnett, the Savannah Economic Development Authority VP of innovation and entrepreneurship, she hopes that it's enough money to tempt those who have been in the workforce for a few years and can take on a mentoring role for Savannah's large student population.

The city is home to Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah State University, and Georgia Southern University Armstrong Campus. Plus, the Savannah/Hilton Head Airport has more than 20 direct flights to destinations including New York, Miami, and Chicago. 

"For a young couple that's just getting started and has a couple years of tech experience, you know, $2,000 will get you here," she says. 

For a young couple that's just getting started and has a couple years of tech experience, you know, $2,000 will get you here.
Jen Bonnett
Savannah Economic Development Authority VP of innovation and entrepreneurship

The cost of living in Savannah is 10% less than the national average, according to PayScale.com, and the cost of housing is 33% less. For example, there are several two-bedroom apartments for rent listed on Trulia.com for between $1,000 to $1,400 per month.

In general, 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. 

Many places offer relocation incentives 

The trend of offering money to entice people to move is not new, and many areas offer similar programs. For example, the Tulsa Remote program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, offers remote workers a $10,000 stipend and $1,000 for housing for a year to move there. You'll also get access to a desk at a co-working space in downtown.

In Vermont, the New Worker Relocation Grant Program offers up to $7,500 to applicants who moved to the state after January 1, 2020, and work full-time for a Vermont employer. 

What Savannah is offering is a "drop in the water" compared to those programs, says Bonnett, so she's hoping the program attracts those who already love Savannah. "I'm not looking to attract somebody who doesn't have an affinity for Savannah," she says. "I'm looking for people who want to move here and build a thriving, yet small, tech community." 

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