The pandemic-driven remote work trend is here to stay, creating a new level of mobility for many workers. If you’re one of those fresh mobile workers, you may be looking for a living environment with lower costs and lower stress. Some of those environments are also looking for you. Towns all over the country are making an active effort to attract new residents. Some states will even pay you to move there.
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14 states that will pay you to live there
For many years, states and towns across the country have watched their best-educated citizens leave to seek their fortunes in major cities. Now they are launching bids to bring people back.Many of these areas offer a far more relaxed living environment and much lower housing and general living expenses than major cities.
- West Virginia
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 simply 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.
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 $10,000 for homebuyers and $5,000 for renters.
If you’re coming to work for a local employer, you’ll need to confirm that the employer participates in the program. You’ll also need to purchase or rent a residence in Shawnee County within a year of your move.
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. At least six Kansas towns offer free land to workers willing to move to small towns.
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.
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’ll need to be over 18, eligible to work in the US, 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.
The Northwest Arkansas Council offers the Life Works Here initiative, which seeks to draw talent from all over the country. They advertise the low cost of living, low unemployment, outdoor sports, arts, culture, cuisine, and other attractions.
The program offers $10,000 in cash and a mountain or road bike, and focuses on remote STEM, creative and tech workers, and entrepreneurs. The incentive program is no longer taking applicants, but efforts to draw new residents are ongoing and the program may resume.
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.
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.
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 lively creative culture.
Most of the regions on this list are far from major urban Centers. New Haven, CT 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 up to $80,000 in incentives for new homeowners.
The package includes $10,000 in interest-free loans to cover down payments or closing costs and $30,000 for energy-saving home upgrades. Families with children can qualify for up to $40,000 in in-state college tuition breaks if their kids attend a New Haven public school.
Maine’s state legislature has approved the Maine Smart Buy Program, which is offering to forgive up to $40,000 in student debt for qualified home buyers who agree to live in the home for five years.
Participants must have a minimum credit score of 640, and they must purchase a home with a value between $86,600 and $131,300.
The city of Augusta, Maine’s capital, offers rebates on state taxes for college graduates moving into the city.
Alaska doesn’t have a specific incentive program to encourage relocation, but once you’ve lived in the state for 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. The proposed 2022 dividend is higher at $2,560, driven by higher commodity prices and a new distribution formula.
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.
The town of Britt, Iowa offers free lots with values up to $10,000.
The city of Chattanooga, TN offers GeekMove, an incentive program designed to encourage tech workers to relocate to the area. The program awards qualified professionals $11,250 to help purchase a home in the city.
An additional $1,250 is available to selected individuals to help with moving costs.
Chattanooga prides itself on a gigabit fiber network that provides internet speeds up to 200 times faster than the average US broadband speed and additional incentives for remote tech workers in bandwidth-intensive fields.
Hamilton, Ohio is seeking to attract new residents with its Talent Attraction Program. The program is a “reverse scholarship” providing assistance with student loan debt.
Suppose 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.
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 expenses 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 who work for a company outside the region and should be relocating from at least 60 miles away.
Minnesota towns like Claremont, New Richland, and Middle River are offering free plots of land as incentives to workers willing to move in.
Remote work and relocation incentives
For decades, rural towns and smaller cities across the US 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 now 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.
U.S. states aren’t the only places that will pay you to relocate. If you’re considering an international move, check this out to learn about some countries that will pay you to live there.
Steps before you accept an incentive from any state
These packages can 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. Think about 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.
Are you used to having access to art galleries, concerts, and other cultural events? Accustomed to having restaurants serving food from a dozen different cuisines within walking distance of your home? To an active and diverse social 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’s find in an urban center. Some take it a step farther and offer cash: some states will pay you to move there.
These programs generally have qualifying criteria. They may have minimum income or education requirements, and some may prioritize younger applicants.
You’ll also have to consider whether you really want to move to these areas. After all, there are reasons why they have declining populations!
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. If not, you might still be interested, but you should carefully consider each potential destination’s pros and cons!
What are the benefits of moving to a different state?
Relocating to another state can get you much cheaper homes, property taxes, and general living costs. If you’re moving away from an urban area you may also find opportunities for outdoor recreation and a more community-oriented lifestyle. Many areas are actively seeking new residents and some states will pay you to move there.
You may also find yourself missing out on some features of your current living environment. Consider both the positives and the negatives before moving to a different state.
Which countries will pay you to move there?
The U.S. isn’t the only country with towns that will pay you to move there. Towns in countries as diverse as Switzerland, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Australia, and New Zealand. These offers will typically require you to move to small rural towns with declining populations.
Why do states offer financial incentives to move there?
Many states, towns, and small cities have experienced “brain drain”: educated people moving to major urban centers. They want to attract workers who will buy and take care of homes, spend in local businesses, and pay local taxes.
These incentives are usually limited to people meeting specific educational, professional, or employment-related standards.
The package offered with Ascend West Virginia is valued at $20,000 total. Like other programs, you'll have to meet some requirements to apply for Ascend WV: 18 years of age or older.What state is paying $20000 to move there? ›
The package offered with Ascend West Virginia is valued at $20,000 total. Like other programs, you'll have to meet some requirements to apply for Ascend WV: 18 years of age or older.Which US state will pay you to move there? ›
Not every state pays your moving expenses, but they do pay you to live there. Our list includes West Virginia, Alaska, and Kansas.What island will pay you to live there 2023? ›
The Greek island of Antikythera has less than 50 inhabitants, and the Greek Orthodox Church will pay you to move there. You'll receive a house, a piece of land, and €500 (around $545) a month for your first three years.Will Alaska pay you to move there? ›
Since 1976, Alaska has paid its residents to live there via its Permanent Fund Dividend. The payouts are funded by Alaska's oil royalties and are divided up evenly among residents. Yearly payouts vary, but the 2022 dividend was $3,284. Not too shabby just for being there!Where is everyone moving to in 2023? ›
Based on migration data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans are moving to Austin, Texas; Raleigh, North Carolina; Orlando, Florida; Dallas, Texas; and Phoenix, Arizona. The most moved-to cities are based on percentage increases in population since 2010.How can I move states with very little money? ›
- Pile Up Cash for Moving Expenses. ...
- Declutter So There's Less to Move. ...
- Pack With Free Supplies. ...
- Negotiate for a Relocation Package. ...
- Ask Your Friends for Help. ...
- Move During Winter or Weekdays. ...
- Use Public Transportation. ...
- Haul a Cargo Trailer.
The three cheapest states to move to in terms of housing costs are: West Virginia, with an average price of $123,000; Mississippi, with an average price of $125,000; and Arkansas, with an average house price of 133,600. You can view the 10 cheapest states to move to below.Can I move to Alaska without a job? ›
If you move to Alaska without a guaranteed paycheck, you're going to need some savings to take care of your basic needs on arrival: food, shelter, and transportation. Make sure to sock away at least three months' worth of savings before you make the move to Alaska. Six months' would be ideal (if you can swing it)!What are the most expensive states to move in? ›
The ten most expensive states to live in are Hawaii, Massachusetts, California, New York, Alaska, Maryland, Oregon, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Hawaii is the most expensive state to live in, with a cost of living index of 184.
Dominican Republic, Belize, Costa Rica and Panama are a few of the most affordable islands to live on and double up as top destinations to visit.What island can I live on for free? ›
- Pitcairn, United Kingdom.
- Easdale Island, Scotland.
- The Hawaiian Islands, USA.
- Cape Breton Island, Canada.
- South Island, New Zealand.
Do You Need To Pay Taxes On A Private Island? Yes. Since a private island will likely be under the ownership of a sovereign country, chances are, taxes will need to be paid on it. However, this can be a bit of a gray area when it comes to certain countries and their tax or fee laws.Do you get $1,000 dollars for moving to Alaska? ›
While some people are fortunate enough to find a job that covers relocating, the state of Alaska doesn't offer funds to cover moving costs for new residents. The government does, however, share oil profits with permanent residents in yearly payments through the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD).What is minimum wage in Alaska? ›
Minimum Wage - January 2021
The Alaska Minimum Wage poster was updated to reflect an increase in the minimum wage rate. Effective January 1, 2021, the minimum wage is $10.34 per hour.
Top states residents are leaving
The annual 2022 United Van Lines National Movers study is out! But it wasn't good news for New Jersey or New York. A similar report from United Van Lines showed New Jersey as the top outbound state, followed by Illinois, New York, Michigan, and Wyoming.
The top three countries for American expats are Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom, which are all popular for their proximity to the States and lower cost of living.What are the top cities people are leaving? ›
San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles are the top cities Americans want to leave, according to Redfin. Other cities in the top ten including Washington, D.C., Chicago, Boston, Seattle, and Denver.How to move out with $0? ›
- Tip 1: Start Planning Early. No matter where or when you plan to move out, the best thing you can do is start early. ...
- Tip 4: Get Rid of as Much Stuff as Possible. ...
- Tip 5: Ask People to keep their Newspapers for You. ...
- Tip 6: Recruiting People to Help You.
- Do your research. ...
- Assess your finances. ...
- Save for emergencies. ...
- Consider all affordable housing alternatives. ...
- Sell what you can… ...
- … ...
- Figure out a way to make income right away. ...
- Be realistic and set your expectations.
The numbers can vary considerably depending on your particular circumstances, but $4,000 should be enough when you're moving locally. And $10,000 is a good amount of money to have saved up before moving out of state.Which state has the highest and lowest cost of living? ›
Cheapest vs most expensive state
The cost of living in America varies dramatically between each state. From Mississippi being the cheapest state to live in with a median household income of $46,511 to Hawaii being the most expensive state with a median household income of $83,173.
Regarding affordability, the report indicates that Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are the most affordable states with Arizona, Nevada, and Florida being the least affordable. The researchers came to this conclusion by using features such as credit score, mortgage debt, paid family leave, and median income.What is the best state to save money in? ›
North Dakota takes the cake as the best state in the U.S. to save money in. With the third lowest debt-to-income ratio in the country for Q3 2022—and the second lowest percentage of income spent on housing costs and rent—North Dakotans are able to keep more money in their pockets.What is the most common job in Alaska? ›
|4||Customer Service Representative||865|
- Juneau: Alaska's Capital City. ...
- Kenai: A Picture-Perfect Fishing Village. ...
- King Cove: A Nature Lovers' Paradise. ...
- North Pole Revisited. ...
- Palmer. ...
- Can I afford to live in Alaska? ...
- Be Prepared to Negotiate. ...
- Find a Realtor to Help You Buy a Home.
We found at least 10 types of jobs in Alaska that pay more than the state average of $63,717 per year. The top examples of these jobs are Interventional Cardiologist, Diagnostic Radiologist, and Cardiologist.What state has the easiest cost of living? ›
- Mississippi. Coming in as the cheapest state to live in in the United States is Mississippi with a cost of living index score of 83.3. ...
- Kansas. ...
- Alabama. ...
- Oklahoma. ...
- Georgia. ...
- Tennessee. ...
- Missouri. ...
According to several studies on cost of living, Hawaii is the most expensive U.S. state to live in. Prices are typically double in Hawaii compared to those on the mainland, and the continued rise in inflation is making costs ranging from housing to health care much more expensive.What is the number one most expensive state to live in? ›
Hawaii. Hawaii is truly a paradise, but it is also the most expensive state in America to live in. The cost of living in Hawaii overall is 86% higher than the national average, and the cost of housing in Hawaii is a jaw-dropping 207% above the national average.
- Gulfport, Miss.
- Newport News, Va.
- New London, Conn.
- Grand Isle, La.
- Corpus Christi, Texas.
- Atlantic City, N.J.
- Navarre, Fla.
- North Beach, Md.
- Pensacola. ...
- Myrtle Beach. ...
- Daytona Beach. Cost of Living Index: 86.7. ...
- Freeport. Cost of Living Index: 83.8. ...
- Corpus Christi. Cost of Living Index: 83.7. ...
- Atlantic City. Cost of Living Index: 83.6. ...
- Mobile. Cost of Living Index: 82.9. ...
- Biloxi. Cost of Living Index: 82.2.
Adapting to Island Life
In the U.S., Canada, the Bahamas, and most of Central America, you can buy an island. Environmental restrictions may limit what you can build on an island, so it helps to find an island with a property that can be grandfathered in, Krolow says.
The land of no laws refers to the island of Saint Eustatius, known by the locals as Statia. The writer, Rosamond van der Linde lived on this quaint Caribbean island for 30 years. She has recorded many stories related to her life there.Which island is paying people to move there? ›
The small Greek island of Antikythera is an untouched paradise, offering stunning views and unique culture. But now, its leaders have come up with an even more alluring reason to visit – they are paying travelers to move there!What is the smallest island you can live on? ›
Just Room Enough Island, also known as Hub Island, is an island located in the Thousand Islands chain, in New York, United States. The island is known for being the smallest inhabited island, which appears to be around 3,300 square feet (310 m2), or about one-thirteenth of an acre.Can you claim an unowned island? ›
Terra nullius is the idea that unoccupied land can be claimed by occupying it. It's somewhat like an antiquated idea used in areas under international law when a sovereign nation wants to lay claim to something. If you found an unclaimed island, the way you'd take it is through the idea of terra nullius.Can you buy an island for yourself? ›
Most private islands for sale are located in the Bahamas, Central American, South America, and Asia. However, you might also find options in the United States or in Europe. Go into your search with some requirements. You may want to consider price, weather, and the level of existing infrastructure.What island has no taxes? ›
The Cayman Islands
It's also one of the British Overseas Territories with zero tax on its residents.
Under the remote worker program, successful applicants will receive $12,000 along with free passes to indulge in whitewater rafting, golf, rock climbing, horseback riding, skiing and ziplining. The full relocation package is valued at more than $20,000.
The Little Rock Regional Chamber on Monday announced a “Love, Little Rock” campaign to tempt out-of-state folks to move to Central Arkansas. A pretty $10,000 incentive comes along with it, and locals who recruit outside talent can earn $501.How to get $10,000 for moving to Arkansas? ›
The initial Life Works Here incentive launched in November 2020, offering remote tech talent the opportunity to relocate to the region for $10,000 and a mountain or road bike.Is Hawaii offering money to move there? ›
Hawaii is banking on long-term tourism to revive its pandemic-era economy. A new program called Movers and Shakas, which is funded by a number of local businesses and organizations, is offering to pay the airfare of anyone looking to work remotely from Oahu and volunteer with a local nonprofit.How much will they pay you to move to West Virginia? ›
Today, West Virginia announced a program called Ascend WV, which will pay people $12,000 and give them a year's worth of free outdoor recreation if they move to the Mountain State.Where is the cheapest place to live in West Virginia? ›
The title of most affordable city in West Virginia goes to Parkersburg. Located along the Ohio-West Virginia border, Parkersburg also ranks as the fourth largest city in the state. Enjoy exploring historic sites downtown or romping in the parks along the Ohio River.
The only way to reserve funding is through the pre-approval process. Since 2018, through programs developed by the Vermont Legislature, the State of Vermont has awarded $1,780,000 in relocation grants to attract new residents, grow the workforce, and provide support to Vermont employers.Is Arkansas the cheapest place to live? ›
Arkansas has one of the lowest cost-of-living rates in the U.S. You can make your money go a long way here. The costs of food, fuel, healthcare and utilities make this a great choice when settling down. Housing costs in Arkansas are much lower than in most of the country.What towns in Arkansas pay you to move? ›
Bentonville, home of Walmart, is one of the fastest-growing areas in the state, and the Northwest Arkansas Council has invested $1 million into incentivizing people to move to the region.
The cost of living in Arkansas is 8% lower than the national average. Housing is 21% lower than the national average, while utilities are 1% lower. When it comes to basic necessities such as food and clothing, groceries are around 2% higher than in the rest of the country, while clothing costs 2% higher.What is the average salary for someone living in Arkansas? ›
Average Salary in Arkansas $52,048 (May 23) ZipRecruiter.
Median Household Income: $52,123. Average Household Income: $73,346. Per Capita Income: $29,210. 4.5% of Households in Arkansas are High Income Households that make over $200,000 a year.How do I get a relocation allowance? ›
The only way to ask for relocation expenses is to ask directly or be upfront about your needs. If receiving relocation assistance is non-negotiable for you, it's best to be upfront about it. You can ask the HR what the relocation policy is in your company.What is the most affordable Hawaiian island to move to? ›
Hilo, Island of Hawaii
Not only is this city one of the most affordable places to live in Hawaii, but it's also one of the best places to live for job opportunities, raising a family, or retiring!
To live comfortably in Hawaii, an annual income of around $70,000 to $100,000 for a single person, or $120,000 to $200,000 for a family is recommended. Is it expensive to live in Hawaii? Yes, Hawaii is known for its high cost of living due to factors such as housing, groceries, utilities, and transportation.Can you move to Hawaii without a job? ›
Can I move to Hawaii without a job? Yes, you can. Many newcomers do just that. Even so, you will have to find a job as soon as possible due to the high living expenses.