What if we told you there were some towns in America that would pay you to move? If you ever get that nagging voice in the back of your mind—the one that tries to convince you to pack all your belongings and uproot your life for a fresh start—well, now’s the time to listen to it.
Maybe you’ve toyed with the notion of escaping somewhere familiar—or perhaps someplace far away. You’re not alone, but more and more people are taking the plunge. About 31 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 31) relocated, either permanently or for an extended period of time, during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey conducted by Bankrate. And more than 15.9 million people filed change-of-address requests last year from February through July alone, per data collected from the United States Postal Service.
The overarching migration trends are nothing new, but the phenomenon was certainly supercharged by the coronavirus. As remote-based work skyrocketed—along with pent-up cabin fever—people realized “the big move” was finally within reach.
Now, destinations across the country are jumping on the bandwagon. They’re offering incredible incentive programs in hopes of luring these newly minted digital nomads to relocate permanently (while boosting their local economies along the way). Perks range from tax breaks and moving assistance to free co-working space and cold hard cash. So before you pack up and hit the road, check out these innovative programs that’ll pay you to move to see if any are a fit. Oh, and keep your eyes peeled, because experts predict these types of incentive initiatives will continue popping up in the future.
These Affordable Towns in America Will Pay You Up to $15,000 to Move
1. Choose Topeka
Where to find it: Topeka or Shawnee County, Kansas
What’s the deal: Looking to pack your bags and pad your bank account? If so, Topeka offers up to 15,000 reasons why you should take a closer look at moving to Kansas. Choose Topeka was designed to attract talent to Shawnee County by offering a range of benefits, which vary depending on whether you’re an on-site employee or remote worker.
For example, people who accept an on-site position in Topeka can receive up to $15,000 when purchasing a home in the area (or up to $10,000 if they decide to rent during their first year). Meanwhile, remote workers can get up to $10,000 to buy a house or $5,000 to put toward their rent. To sweeten the deal, Jimmy John’s will also throw in an extra $1,000 bonus for program participants who move into one of their three Topeka sandwich delivery zones. Read through all the details and FAQs over on their application portal.
2. Remote Shoals
Where to find it: The Shoals, Alabama
What’s the deal: If you’re the kind of guy who prefers an under-the-radar destination, then The Shoals of northwestern Alabama might just pique your interest. The region is known for its creative vibe and welcoming communities, which encompass the cities of Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia. It’s also conveniently located—just a two-hour road trip from cultural hubs like Birmingham, Nashville, and Memphis.
Remote Shoals is currently accepting applications and will reward program participants with $10,000 for relocation costs to The Shoals (25 percent up front, 25 percent after six months, and the remaining 50 percent after the first full year). So, who’s eligible? Applicants can be full-time, remote employees, or self-employed contractors, but they must currently live outside of the region. They also need to be at least 18 years old, eligible to work in the U.S., able to move within six months, and need to bring home at least $52,000 per year. You’ll be belting along to “Sweet Home Alabama” in no time.
3. Choose Southern Indiana
Where to find it: Dubois or Orange County, Indiana
What’s the deal: You might be surprised to learn many of Indiana’s off-the-beaten-path communities punch well above their weight class. The recently launched Choose Southern Indiana program is an economic development initiative to elevate its talent pool and showcase the hidden gems of the region. While the Dubois County relocation incentive is targeted to remote workers ages 25 to 40 who make between $30,000 and $50,000 per year, the Orange County program is tailored specifically to Veterans younger than 45 years old. Participants of both programs will receive a check for $5,000, but must maintain their Indiana residency for a minimum of two years. Approved applicants can also select two additional complimentary experiences, with options like a free season pass to West Boggs Parks or a tour and tasting at Patoka Lake Winery. They’ll pay you to move and then some.
This new initiative was a collaboration between Radius Indiana, Dubois Strong, and the Orange County Economic Development Partnership. “We believe the rich variety of recreational opportunities and the quality of life and safety in our small cities and towns are going to appeal to any number of people when they discover this chance for an introduction to southern Indiana,” said Jeff Quyle, president and CEO of Radius Indiana.
4. Tulsa Remote
Where to find it: Tulsa, Oklahoma
What’s the deal: Tulsa first made a name for itself as the “Oil Capital of the World” in the early 1900s, but the city has seen a vibrant rebirth in recent years. Today, it’s a dynamic destination that marries classic Southern hospitality with cutting-edge cosmopolitan delights. Tulsa Remote was created to entice go-getters while encouraging diversity and enhancing the community. The program includes $10,000 (split up over the course of the year) and free desk space at 36 Degrees North, a cool co-working space in the heart of Downtown Tulsa. They also host regular community-building events and meetups so program participants can network with each other and meet locals.
In order to apply (and be eligible for them to pay you to move), you need to have full-time remote employment, or be self-employed outside of Oklahoma. Applicants also must be able to relocate within 12 months of being accepted. In 2020, Tulsa Remote welcomed more than 375 members, and they’re hoping the break that record in 2021.
5. Newton Housing Initiative
Where to find it: Newton, Iowa
What’s the deal: Never heard of Newton, Iowa? This tightly knit central Iowa getaway can be found just 30 miles from Des Moines. Newton is known for its small-town charm and quaint attractions that combine safety, affordability, and a true sense of community. So if you’re looking to build the house of your dreams from the ground up, this program is perfect for you.
Since 2014, the Newton Housing Initiative has provided a range of incentives to expand both the quantity and quality of the city’s housing inventory. Aimed at home builders, real estate developers, and homebuyers, the program will contribute up to $10,000 for new single-family homes beginning construction in 2021. The home must be valued at $180,000 to qualify for the full incentive. Meanwhile, new homes valued between $100,000 and $179,999 are eligible for a $5,000 reward. They’ll also toss in a “Get to Know Newton” welcome package worth over $2,500 for both tiers of the program.
6. Ascend WV
Where to find it: Lewisburg, West Virginia
What’s the deal: The rugged mountain towns of West Virginia promise a higher quality of life, thanks to a laid-back pace, unbeatable cost of living, and abundant adventure opportunities. But the new Ascend WV program makes the destination even more desirable for remote workers. Those accepted into the program will reap benefits like networking opportunities, complimentary co-working space, and free outdoor recreation. However, the real draw is a no-strings-attached cash incentive of $12,000.
Launched in April 2021, the first host city of Morgantown has already closed their application window after receiving more than 7,500 submissions (offer to pay people to move and look what happens…). Lewisburg is up next, opening to applicants in early 2022. “Here, remote workers looking for a change of pace will find a quaint small town that packs a big punch with a thriving downtown, local arts and eateries, and warm Southern hospitality,” says Chelsea Ruby, secretary of the West Virginia Department of Tourism. The program is possible because of a transformational $25 million donation from Brad D. Smith (a West Virginia native and former CEO of Intuit) and his wife, Alys. Partners also include the State of West Virginia, the West Virginia Department of Tourism, and West Virginia University.
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