11 States (and Cities) That Pay You to Move There

The pandemic ushered in a new era of remote work, and as a result, more and more people are no longer tied to an office. With the prospect of living in the city of your dreams becoming that much more attainable, you may have done your research and narrowed down the cities you plan on scoping out. But before you make a snap decision and pack up for the road, did you know that some cities and states have created incentive programs for relocation? That’s right – there are a number of cities and states that will pay you to move there. But is it true? And if it is, which states will pay you to live there? And how much do they pay?

The truth is that many states and cities could benefit from a larger tax base. So, to attract more people to their city, local governments are paying remote workers to move to their area. Plus, a few states will even pay you to live there if you accept a local job, so you don’t necessarily have to be a remote worker either.

Whether you’re moving across the country for a change of scenery or the financial incentives of these programs sound appealing, there may be a few locations on this list that could be the ideal next step for you. Find out more about places that pay you to live there and the incentives they offer.

States that pay you to move there

1. Alaska

If moving closer to the great outdoors sounds appealing to you, nothing beats the rugged, beautiful landscape of Alaska. But with Alaska being so far away, you may wonder: how much does Alaska pay you to live there and why? 

Simply put, the state needs people. So much so that Alaskans will receive an annual dividend of approximately $1,600 simply for living there for a full calendar year and plan on becoming a resident indefinitely. To see if your forever home is in Alaska, look up homes for sale in Alaska and Alaska rentals in popular cities like Anchorage and Fairbanks.

But if you’re still on the fence about living in Alaska, consider this: there’s no state tax, so you won’t have to pay any income or sales tax, and the median home price is $371,500, compared to the national median price of $428,379. Plus, you’ll be surrounded by stunning scenery and wildlife and have access to some of the world’s best seafood.  

Initiative Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD)
Benefits & information Variable, depending on what the government in Alaska approves each year.  2021’s dividend was $1,114 per person.
Program requirements To receive the PFD, you must:

  • Live in Alaska for a whole calendar year. Then, you can apply. 
  • Plan to live in Alaska indefinitely after your first calendar year.
How to apply Visit the PFD’s website and apply between January 1-March 31 after you’re eligible.

2. Maine

Cash incentive? How about student loan forgiveness. Maine is another state that pays you to move there, but instead of offering money, first-time homebuyers with student loan debt are eligible to receive up to $40,000 in student loan forgiveness – way more money than other states that pay you to move. Plus, the program is state-wide, and all students are eligible to apply.

Housing is also relatively affordable compared to other coastal states, with Maine’s median home sale price clocking in at $348,777. With some extra wiggle room in your budget, courtesy of the student loan forgiveness, you’re sure to find homes for sale in Maine that suits your needs. There are also plenty of apartments in Maine to rent from while you explore the many quaint towns and jaw-dropping coastline.

Initiative Maine Smart Buy Program
Benefits & information Up to $40,000 toward student loan forgiveness
Program requirements There are a few stipulations to qualify for the Maine Smart Buy Program:

  • Credit score at or above 640 
  • Purchase a home in Maine that is valued from $86,600-$131,100 
  • Be a first-time homebuyer
  • Not a current resident of Maine
  • Live in the home for five or more years
  • Treat the home as your primary residence
  • Have student debt totaling between $5,000-$40,000
How to apply Visit https://mainehousing.org/

3. Vermont

If you currently work remotely or want to work for the state of Vermont, you may want to put the Green Mountain State at the top of your list. As one of the smallest states by population, with just over 625,000 residents, the state is enticing young remote workers to move there by offering two remote worker grants with awards up to $7,500. While this attractive relocation incentive won’t cover your moving expenses, it’s worth noting that the median sales price of homes in Vermont is $373,000, lower than the national median of $428,379.

But if you plan on visiting the home state of Ben & Jerry’s before committing, there are plenty of short-term rentals in Vermont to consider. With its beautiful outdoor space and affordable housing, remote work in Vermont is a great option. 

Initiative New Relocating Worker Grant
Benefits & information Up to $7,500
Program requirements To qualify for the New Relocating Worker Grant, you’ll have to fill a qualified position with a state employer. 
How to apply Visit Think Vermont’s Relocation Incentives page
Initiative New Remote Worker Grant
Benefits & information Up to $7,500
Program requirements To qualify for the New Relocating Worker Grant, you have to work remotely with a company located outside of Vermont
How to apply Visit Think Vermont’s Relocation Incentives page

4. West Virginia

Famous for more than just “country roads,” West Virginia is offering one of the most lucrative programs to attract new residents to the state. This West Virginia moving incentive is called Ascend West Virginia, and they’re currently accepting applications from people who want to get paid to move to West Virginia, specifically The Greenbrier Valley, Morgantown, and East Panhandle communities. 

In addition to a huge chunk of change, new transplants can also receive outdoor recreational equipment along with other benefits to sweeten the pot. Housing is also very affordable even without receiving the money to move there, with the median home sale price in West Virginia 38% below the national median at $290,200.

This program has already started to generate some buzz so get a head start on some house or apartment hunting by scoping out West Virginia rentals and homes for sale in West Virginia before applications fill up.

Initiative Ascend West Virginia
Benefits & information If you qualify for Ascend West Virginia, you can expect to receive up to $12,000 cash, plus other benefits such as free outdoor recreational equipment, professional development opportunities, and co-working space.

The package offered with Ascend West Virginia is valued at $20,000 total.

Program requirements Like other programs, you’ll have to meet some requirements to apply for Ascend WV:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Full-time, verifiable employment
  • Work remotely for a company based outside of West Virginia
How to apply Check out https://ascendwv.com/

5. Arkansas – Northwest Arkansas

Arkansas’ moving incentive program is the only program that’ll award cryptocurrency or cash to attract top talent to move to the region, and they’ll even throw in a mountain or road bike to explore the area’s vast number of outdoor spaces. Plus, with the average median home price of $258,000, low cost of living, and a per-capita income 14% above the national average, it’s no wonder it’s known as one of the best places to live in America.

All this to say that if calling Northwest Arkansas your new home state has a nice ring to it, check out homes for sale in Arkansas or apartments in Arkansas to see if your next dream home is available.

Initiative Life Works Here Initiative in Northwest Arkansas
Benefits & information $10,000 in cash or cryptocurrency

The Life Works Here Initiative also offers support in finding community, housing, and jobs. 

Program requirements To qualify for the Life Works Here Initiative, you’ll have to meet a few requirements:

  • Willing to move to Benton or Washington counties in Arkansas for at least twelve months (one year)
  • Must remain for at least a year in order to get the full benefit of the incentives
How to apply Visit https://findingnwa.com/incentive/

Cities that pay you to move there

6. Tulsa, OK

Oklahoma is paying to relocate remote workers through a program called Tulsa Remote. With a lower cost of living, a thriving remote community, and countless opportunities to explore the city, it’s no wonder why Tulsa is attracting a steady stream of new residents. And if you’re looking to buy a house in Tulsa, it’s worth noting that the median home sale price in Tulsa is $225,000 – *57% below the national median price. Plus, you’ll receive cash and other benefits for your Oklahoma relocation. 

But if you’re not ready to make the leap to homeownership, no worries. Consider renting an apartment in Tulsa or checking out houses for rent to get a feel for what it’s like to live in Tulsa before putting down roots. 

Initiative Tulsa Remote
Benefits & information $10,000 relocation incentive

You’ll receive $2,500 up front and the rest of the $10,000 within your first year after moving to Tulsa.

Tulsa Remote stipend recipients also receive a one-year membership at a city co-working site and housing and community resources. 

Program requirements To qualify for Tulsa Remote, you have to meet a few requirements:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Eligible to work in the US
  • Full-time remote or self-employed work which is based outside the state of Oklahoma
  • Able to move to Tulsa within 12 months of applying
How to apply Visit Tulsa Remote’s website

7. Topeka, KS

Known for its family-friendly atmosphere, moving to Topeka, KS, could be a decision that pays off big time. The Choose Topeka Initiative offers cash funds to remote workers moving from out of state for a “on site” position, as well as to remote workers as long as their employer is located outside of Shawnee County. 

New applicants with “on site” positions, where your employer is a participant in a relocation incentive and located in Shawnee County, are eligible to receive up to $10,000 for renting and up to $15,000 for buying a home.

Remote workers, where your employer is located outside of Shawnee County, can receive up to $5,000 for rent in the first year and up to $10,000 in funds towards a home purchase. 

There’s also no denying the savings that come with living in Topeka compared to other major cities. The median home price in Kansas is $125,000, well below the national median sales price, and the city boasts a 10% lower cost of living. So if you’re wondering how much home you can afford on your budget, this is too good of a deal to pass up.

Ready to make the move? Start your home search by looking up apartments for rent in Topeka, as well as homes for sale in Topeka.

8. Lincoln, KS

Take your dream home from blueprint to construction by making the move to Lincoln. Instead of cash incentives, the city is taking a unique approach to attract new residents by offering free land to those looking to put down roots. Each lot ranges from 14,000 to 35,000 square feet and is located within a fully decked-out residential development within the city limits, but keep in mind that you’ll bear the costs associated with building a new home.

But if building a home isn’t for you, Lincoln is made even more attractive by its affordable housing market. The median sales price for homes for sale in Lincoln is even lower than Topeka’s at $110,000. 

Initiative Free Home Site Program
Benefits & information Variable, plots of land range from 14,000-35,000 square feet
Program requirements While the Free Home Site Program doesn’t offer a stipend, they do offer free tracts of land.

In order to qualify, you must be an individual or family relocating to or flipping a home in Lincoln, KS. 

How to apply Visit Lincoln Housing to apply

9. Newton, IA

The city of Newton is attracting new residents to settle into their community for the long haul with a major housing initiative. With the Get to Know Newton program, you’ll receive a stipend amount based on the value of the home you buy. So, if you pay $100,000-$179,999.99 for a home, you’ll receive a $5,000 cash incentive, along with the Get to Know Newton package, which is worth over $3,000. For a home of $180,000 or more, eligible applicants will receive a $10,000 cash incentive in addition to the Get to Know Newton package. 

Choosing Newton as your home also means more affordable housing. The median home price for homes for sale in Newton is $123,200 –  below the national median. But if you’re looking to scope out the city before making your decision, there are plenty of short-term rentals in Newton to consider.

Initiative Get to Know Newton
Benefits & information Up to $10,000, plus extras if you qualify
Program requirements In order to qualify for Get to Know Newton, you must purchase property in Newton, Iowa, which is just outside Des Moines.
How to apply Visit https://newtongov.org/

10. The Shoals – Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia, AL

If you’re a remote worker looking for a change of scenery, vibrant food scene, outdoor activities, and more, consider The Shoals area in Alabama. The Shoals is made up of four different cities: Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia, and all four are accepting applications for new residents interested in participating in the Remote Shoals program.

Can’t part with the hustle and bustle of urban life? No worries. The Shoals is only a two-hour drive from Birmingham, Nashville, and Memphis, and an hour flight to Atlanta via Boutique Airlines, giving you easy access to major cities.

With low property taxes and the typical home in Alabama selling for $329,900, the overall cost of living in these cities is significantly lower than other similarly sized metro areas in the state. But if you’re having trouble picking, you can also consider renting an apartment in Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, or Tuscumbia if you want to test drive one of these cities to find the right fit. 

Initiative Remote Shoals
Benefits & information $10,000

You’ll receive 25% of the stipend before your move, another 25% six months after you relocate, and the remaining 50% one year after your move.

Program requirements To qualify for Remote Shoals, you must: 

  • Move to Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, or Tuscumbia, AL
  • Be 18 years old or older
  • Eligible to work in the US
  • Move to the Shoals area within 6 months of approval
  • Have a minimum income of $52,000 per year
  • Have full-time remote or self-employed work which is based outside of the Colbert and Lauderdale counties in Alabama
How to apply Visit https://remoteshoals.com/

11. Hamilton, OH

Hamilton has a great program to offer if you’re one of the many college graduates seeking remote work out of state. With student loans being the biggest deterrent to growth for college graduates, the city is offering to pay down debts to boost its college-educated workforce. 

The affordable housing market is also one of the perks of moving to the city. The median sale price for homes in Hamilton comes in at $185,950, but if you want to see what else the city has to offer before moving there, you can always rent an apartment in Hamilton to see if it’s the right fit for you.

Initiative Talent Attraction Program (TAP)
Benefits & information If your application to TAP is accepted, you’ll receive $300 per month up to $10,000 total. That’s almost three years’ worth of monthly payments.
Program requirements Requirements for TAP are unique. To qualify, you must:

  • Have graduated from a collegiate/university STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) program within the last seven years
  • Not currently living in Hamilton
  • Plan to move to Hamilton
  • Have full-time, remote employment OR have employment within Butler County, OH. 
How to apply Check out TAP’s website

Final thoughts

With remote work becoming the new norm, many states are upping the game and offering enticing financial incentives for people looking to relocate. If you’re a remote worker moving out of state or looking for a fresh start and new job, you may find that moving to one of these places could be a decision that pays off – literally. And with the lower cost of living and median home prices in many of these cities, you’ll likely experience many more economic benefits in addition to the money you receive for moving.

*Median home sale price data from the Redfin Data Center during July 2022.

Original Post – Redfin