If your job will let you work from anywhere, why not choose a place where you can go biking through the mountains on your lunch break? Or where you can spend your weekends on the scenic shores of Lake Michigan? And, if the great outdoors aren’t enough to convince you, perhaps $10,000 would help change your mind?
That’s the argument that West Virginia, southwest Michigan and other communities are making as they try to convince remote workers to relocate to a new region. According to the website Make My Move, dozens of cities across the country are offering financial incentives to attract remote workers. In general, workers have to apply online to the incentive program, essentially to verify that they have full-time jobs that allow them to telecommute and that they are willing to live in the new community for at least one year. If the applicant is accepted for the grant, the money usually is offered either in a lump sum in the beginning if the relocator buys a house or in payments spread out over the year for renters.
In the places that are offering workers as much as $10,000 to move, that amount could make a sizable impact because the median home price in some of the communities is roughly $140,000. While there aren’t yet numbers available on how many people age 50 and older have taken advantage of these offers, the programs could make an appealing option for mid-career professionals who already are considering a move to a more affordable community as they transition toward retirement.
Here are six programs offering remote workers $10,000 or more to move there.
When it launched in April 2021, Ascend West Virginia hoped that a $10,000 moving bonus might be enough to entice a few dozen remote workers to consider relocating to Morgantown. But the amount of interest in the opportunity was much higher. More that 7,500 people applied for the funding. Among the 53 who received the first round of payments are former residents of 21 states, the District of Columbia and Berlin.
“In the weeks after we announced Ascend, we were thrilled to receive thousands of superb applications from around the globe,” says cofounder Alys Smith. “The level of interest in living in West Virginia and working remotely was remarkable."
Recipients get the $10,000 in monthly installments, and they do have to pay taxes on the funds. The monthly payments end early if the awardees leave the area before they’ve been there for a year. But those who choose to stay for an additional year can collect another $2,000.
While the round of awards for Morgantown has ended, Ascend West Virginia is now gathering applications for a new batch of $10,000 grants to move to Lewisburg.
Tulsa Remote is one of the pioneers among programs that attract remote workers to relocate to a new region. Launched in November 2018 with funding from the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the program has enticed nearly 1,200 people to move to the Sooner State over the past three years.
Tulsa Remote currently offers those selected for the program $10,000, either in one lump sum for those who buy a house or in quarterly increments throughout the year to those who rent. To be eligible for the money, applicants have to be at least 18 years old, able to move to Tulsa in the next 12 months, and work full time for a company based outside of Oklahoma.
As an additional benefit, Tulsa Remote has partnered with Airbnb to help people who are relocating find the Tulsa neighborhood they like most. Participants can receive a $150 Airbnb coupon that can be used to test out different parts of the city with overnight stays.
Join today and get instant access to discounts, programs, services, and the information you need to benefit every area of your life.
In addition to $10,000 to help with the costs of relocating, this program is giving street or mountain bicycles to remote workers who decide to make the move. And if the thought of pedaling along the region’s mountain trails on a new bike isn’t enough to tempt you, you can opt for an annual membership to one of the area's cultural attractions instead, including Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Amazeum interactive children’s museum, TheatreSquared performing arts center, the Walton Arts Center and the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion.
Those last two options are reminders that northwest Arkansas is where you’ll find Bentonville, home to Walmart’s headquarters. The Walton Family Foundation provided the funding for this relocation program run by Finding NWA.
Remote workers who move to Topeka or surrounding Shawnee County, Kansas, can get up to $10,000 toward the purchase of a home or $5,000 for rent money. Workers must have annual salaries of at least $60,000 to be eligible for the full benefit.
The Choose Topeka incentive program existed before the pandemic, but it originally focused on workers who already lived in the region. Hoping to capitalize from the increase in remote work, the program added an incentive option specifically for telecommuters.
Music fans might recognize the Shoals region of northwestern Alabama as home to the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, the recording studio founded in 1969 by four session musicians who had recorded songs with Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Wilson Pickett.
Today the city of Muscle Shoals and the neighboring towns of Florence, Sheffield and Tuscumbia are tuning up to make hits with remote workers. Thanks to the Remote Shoals program, which launched in June 2019, they can collect up to $10,000 to relocate to the region as long as they are able to telecommute to their current job and earn at least $52,000 annually before taxes.
In addition to its place in American music, the region — where the median price for all homes hovers near $140,000 — is centrally located between four prominent cities. It’s a two-hour drive from Birmingham, Alabama, Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, and a one-hour flight from Atlanta.
Nearly half of the applications for the Move to Michigan program came from people who were living in Chicago. That’s because at just 90 minutes away from the Windy City, communities in southwest Michigan can offer the appeal of living along the shores of Lake Michigan at a fraction of Chicago’s prices. The Move to Michigan program will even throw in an annual pass for the South Shore Rail trains that carry commuters back and forth to Chicago.
The main incentive with Move to Michigan is a grant of up to $15,000 toward the purchase of a home in Berrien County. But other potential perks include one year of free car service to nearby airports, annual memberships to both a fitness club and a golf driving range, and free membership in a coworking space. To be eligible for the $15,000 housing grant, applicants cannot be current Michigan residents and should be able to show they are working remote full time for a company outside of southwest Michigan.
Since the program launched in October 2020, more than 300 families have applied for the package of incentives. Twenty of those families were awarded the first round of incentive packages.
Kenneth Terrell covers employment, age discrimination, work and jobs, careers and the federal government for AARP. He previously worked for the Education Writers Association and U.S. News & World Report, where he reported on government and politics, business, education, science and technology, and lifestyle news.