5 Affordable Places That Will Pay You $10,000 or More to Move There

A photo to accompany a story about places that will pay you to move there Josh New Photography
Chris Horton, 30, and Ellen Horton, 30, were some of the first participants in the Tulsa Remote Program.

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Ellen and Chris Horton were looking to settle down in a new place — and they happened to find a city that paid them $10,000 to put down roots there.

The husband-and-wife team were some of the first remote workers to join the popular Tulsa Remote program, which offers $10,000 cash and other perks to new residents, in a bid to attract people to Oklahoma’s second-most populous city.

The real draw for the 30-year-olds went beyond the financial benefits. They were looking for a community they didn’t have in Los Angeles, California, and found it in Tulsa among new friends. “We kind of had this unspoken rule where we didn’t talk about what we did for a living,” Ellen says. “I was friends with people for almost a year before I even knew what they did for their job. It was more just about connecting with people [not professional networking].” 

An increasing number of cities are offering money to entice digital nomads to move there, especially after the pandemic has changed nearly every industry’s perspective and reliance on remote working. If your job has loosened the rules on coming into the office, you might be weighing your options. 

Pro Tip

Talk with your employer before applying. Just because you can work from home doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be allowed to work from out of state.

If you’re looking for a sense of camaraderie and a little adventure, you may be able to get both with one of these programs, along with the extra financial boost. Many areas are offering huge sums of money, which can make the application process competitive. The immediate popularity of the early Tulsa Remote program was a clue that workers were in favor of the remote lifestyle. “They were initially only going to accept 100 people in the remote program. But they received 10,000 applications … for the first grouping, in the first couple months,” Ellen says.

The programs for each state have varied requirements, but they’re all set up with the goal of bringing in workers that might not have otherwise moved to that area. “These communities really think about this as economic development. So they’re trying to target out-of-state dollars and bring them in state,” says Evan Hock, co-founder of MakeMyMove.com, a website dedicated to tracking programs that will pay you to move. In order to earn the incentives, you typically need to follow certain guidelines and have full-time remote employment.

Before you decide to pack up, here’s what you need to know about these types of incentives and which areas are offering the biggest perks.

What to Do Before Applying to These Programs

If you’re able to work remotely at your current job and are looking to move somewhere with a lower cost of living, a relocation program might be worth considering.

Just remember that it’s not a small commitment, and qualifying for these incentives isn’t as simple as telling your boss you’re moving.

1. Talk to your employer

Even if your employer allows you to work remotely, this doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be able to work from another state. “It’s always a good idea to talk to your employer, just make sure that they are able to sort of facilitate paying taxes in the new locale,” Hock says. “In a lot of states, the company will need to set up a tax nexus in order to operate in that state, or have people that operate in that state.”

Communicate with your employer about what you would like to do so you can get ahead of any logistical or bureaucratic issues.

2. Figure out what you want before committing to moving

As more cities begin offering incentives to attract new people, it’s important to narrow down what you want in a community ahead of time. “Have a list of things that you’re looking for in the next place you move to — know your priorities,” Ellen says. “For me, I want a community and I want an airport [nearby] because I love to travel.”

Getting paid to move sounds like a great perk, but you are committing to move to a new destination, often for at least a year or more. So you’ll want to make sure your lifestyle aligns with everything else the area offers outside of the cash benefits.

3. Understand what you’re getting and what you’re losing

The big payouts may grab headlines, but you’ll want to pay attention to the fine print, too. Eligibility requirements for these programs vary. Typically, you’ll need to live in the area for one to two years, and the payout is usually doled out in increments over that time. “Most of [the eligibility requirements are] going to get handled before you even get approved for the incentive … So there shouldn’t be much ambiguity,” Hock says.

5 Places That Will Pay People $10,000 or More to Move There

There are several programs designed to attract or retain residents to specific areas, some of which are meant as incentives for people looking to buy or build a nearby home. Other states offer tax credits for specific types of careers if you move to a new area. 

But if you’re a remote worker looking for some extra cash and a major move, these five programs are for you.

1. Morgantown, West Virginia – $12,000+ 

Benefits

  • $12,000 cash: $10,000 in the first year, $2,000 after the second year
  • Two years of free outdoor gear rentals (a $2,500+ value, according to the program) 
  • Free coworking space
  • Social events

Eligibility requirements:

  • 18+ years old and U.S. citizen
  • Must not currently live in West Virginia
  • Can work remotely full-time with a company not located in West Virginia

Website: Ascend West Virginia

2. Topeka, Kansas – Up to $11,000

Benefits

  • Up to $5,000 for renting in the first year; Up to $10,000 for a home purchase
  • Jimmy John’s is offering an extra $1,000 if you relocate to one of its three delivery zones (yes, really)

Eligibility requirements:

  • Your employer must be located outside of Shawnee County
  • One relocation incentive per household
  • Eligible to work in the U.S.

Website: Choose Topeka

3. Tulsa, Oklahoma – Up to $10,000

Benefits

  • $10,000 cash in the first year
  • Free coworking space

Eligibility requirements:

  • Full-time remote employment or self-employed outside of Oklahoma
  • 18+ years old
  • Eligible to work in the U.S.
  • Can move to Tulsa within the 2021 calendar year

Website: Tulsa Remote

4. Northwest Arkansas – $10,000

Benefits

  • $10,000 cash incentive
  • A street or mountain bicycle to take advantage of local trails or an annual membership to a local art or cultural institution

Eligibility requirements:

  • At least 24 years old with two years of work experience
  • Full-time remote employment or self-employed
  • Currently live outside of Arkansas
  • Can move within six months
  • Eligible to work in the U.S.

Website: Northwest Arkansas Council Talent Incentive

5. The Shoals, Alabama – $10,000

Benefits

  • $10,000 in the first year

Eligibility requirements:

  • Minimum yearly income of $52,000
  • Can move within six months
  • Full-time remote employment or self-employment outside of Colbert and Lauderdale Counties
  • 18+ years old and eligible to work in the U.S.

Website: Remote Shoals