These days, the concept of “home” is blurring as more people choose to live and work from, well, everywhere. If you’re the digital nomad sort — the kind of person who appreciates van life and not being tied to anywhere for more than a few months — these eight destinations will pay you to move there.
Tulsa Remote has become a model of success for remote worker programs in the U.S. In 2019, it planned to lure 20 newcomers to Tulsa. It proved so successful that the actual number was closer to 100. For 2020, the program returned to welcome almost 400 more workers. In 2021, new participants receive $10,000 (divided among upfront relocation expenses and monthly living stipends), access to a high-tech downtown co-working space, and the tools to start building new social and professional circles within the city. If you’re not sold on the idea of moving to Oklahoma, consider that the city is extremely affordable (housing prices are 40% below the national average), has plenty of under-the-radar breweries, restaurants, and attractions, and is ranked among the best in the country for entrepreneurs and digital nomads.
In the same vein as Tulsa Remote, Kansas’ state capital debuted its Choose Topeka program. The initiative continues to draw new residents into the city as a way to boost the local economy. The immediate incentives are pretty attractive: Up to $15,000 for newcomers who purchase a home in Topeka, while renters receive up to $10,000. If that’s not enough, consider the city’s low cost of living, which is more than 10% cheaper than the U.S. average. According to Zillow, the average single-family home price is less than $140,000, while most renters spend less than $750 per month with utilities. The city is already looking for its next round of 2021 residents, and applications are now open.
Santiago has been a pioneer of remote worker programs since 2010. That year, the Chilean capital launched Start-Up Chile, an initiative that promises entrepreneurs as much as $40,000 to move to the city and start (or continue) their own business. For 2021, there are three options: a Pre-Acceleration Program available for startups that are less than three years old; an Acceleration Program for startups with a functional product; and a Scale Program for the expansion of innovative and tech-based startups. Participants receive a 12-month work visa, membership at a state-of-the-art co-working space, direct access to the city’s most influential business contacts, and a whole lot more. The next round of applications opens in October 2021.
Maine might well be the most quintessential New England state (sorry, Massachusetts). But, it seems it’s not quite sexy enough to retain its young residents or even attract newcomers. To combat its declining youth population problem, the state devised a creative way to lure potential Mainers; helping new residents pay off their student debt. Through the Opportunity Maine Tax Credit, if you move to Maine, any money paid toward your student loans is deducted from your owed state income tax. There are a few basic qualifications: Residents must have lived in the state for nine out of 12 months for the previous tax year, and they must have worked within the state (even if their employer is located elsewhere). Those with a Bachelor’s degree in a STEM-related field (science, technology, engineering, or math) can also receive extra financial incentives.
Alabama is getting in on the remote worker incentive programs, too. The Shoals region of Northern Alabama — including the cities of Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia — recently launched its Remote Shoals program. Participants must be 18 years or older, make at least $52K per year, and be self-employed or work remotely. In return, they’ll receive up to $10,000 to move to the Shoals region. It’s a slower pace of life for sure, but it is centrally located within a two-hour drive from Memphis, Birmingham, and Nashville.
Not sure if small-town living is right for you? Natchez, Mississippi, is luring newcomers to the city with plenty of Southern charm and relocation incentives. Participants in the new Shift South program can score $2,500 in relocation expenses and an additional $300 per month for an entire year to help cover living costs. The two main requirements are that you must be employed remotely (outside the town of Natchez) and buy a home valued at at least $150K in Natchez or Adams County.
To lure folks out of the city and into small-town life, Newton, Iowa (population: approximately 15,000), is offering a straightforward relocation program. Newcomers who buy a home valued at $180,000 or more will receive a $10,000 cash incentive, while homes valued between $100,000 and $179,999.99 can score a $5,000 incentive. It’s not the same sort of comprehensive year-long program as most others on this list, but, hey, ten grand is ten grand.
Like Newton, the town of Ontario, Oregon, offers a similar relocation initiative. Since 2017, newcomers have been invited to buy their perfect plot of land (most vary between $50K to $135K) and build their dream home with a cash incentive of $10,000. If Ontario isn’t on your list of dream retirement destinations, consider that it’s located right on the Snake River with some of the country’s best kayaking, rafting, and fishing opportunities.