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These small cities are offering hefty relocation packages to attract remote workers

Posted by Kanika Sinha

September 22, 2021    |     5-minute read (973 words)

Some small cities and certain states in the U.S. are capitalizing on the growing number of remote workers by offering incentives to entice them to relocate there. 

These localities, traditionally off the radar of the legions of newly remote-working professionals, hope that talented newcomers could help boost their economies in the post-pandemic era. And workers themselves can benefit from a variety of hefty relocation perks. For instance, moving to West Virginia can bring $12,000 in relocation grants alone.

But it’s not just money on the table. Free memberships, gift cards, access to affordable housing, student-loan debt assistance and other bonuses are being extended to lure professionals working from home to consider relocation.

What cities are offering

The list of options proffered is ever shifting, As some programs hit their caps, new ones get announced each month. Here are seven of the most intriguing offers:

Northwest Arkansas

The region is popular for its cycling trails, which is why remote workers who relocate to Northwest Arkansas are gifted free street or mountain bikes. Those selected under the Finding NWA talent incentive program receive an additional $10,000 in cash. And for those not interested in the free bike, the City Council provides an annual membership to a local arts and culture institution.

Communities: Bella Vista, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Lowell, Rogers, Siloam Springs, Springdale

Eligibility: Applicants must be at least 24 years of age with a minimum of two years of work experience. They must have a full-time job and be ready to relocate to the region within six months of acceptance.

West Virginia

West Virginia’s Ascend program is offering $12,000 in cash (provided over two years), access to a co-working space and free outdoor recreation gear rentals. Invitations to various social events and programs are also provided to those who relocate.

Communities: Lewisburg, Morgantown, Shepherdstown

Eligibility: Applicants must be 18 years or older with a full-time job and be able to verify their employment details and remote working status.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Already well-known to startups, Oklahoma's second-largest city is upping the ante with its Tulsa Remote program that provides $10,000 in cash upfront to every remote worker who moves here. The program also offers space at the city’s top coworking community, 36 Degrees North, and access to a series of affordable housing options as well as regular community-building opportunities.

Communities: Tulsa city

Eligibility: Applicants must be at least 18 and U.S. citizens or eligible to work in the U.S. 

Kansas

Kansas's capital, Topeka, is incentivizing more workers — remote as well as on-site  — to move to the American heartland. Those who rent housing in Shawnee County can receive up to $5,000 in funds from the Choose Topeka program, while those who purchase homes can get up to $10,000 for relocating. Additionally, a $1,000 bonus from Jimmy John’s is awarded to workers who move into one of the chain’s three Topeka-area sandwich delivery zones. 

Communities: Shawnee County (Topeka)

Eligibility: Aside from being eligible to work in the U.S., applicants must either have their remote employer located outside Shawnee County or rent/buy a home in Shawnee County within a year of relocating and being hired in the area.

Georgia

The Savannah Technology Workforce Incentive is specifically for tech workers. Selected employees can receive up to $2,000 for moving to Chatham County, the home of Savannah, Georgia. The money is meant to offset relocation expenses, such as moving service charges, vehicle rental, utility deposits and gas.

Communities: Chatham County (Savannah)

Eligibility: Applicants must have at least three years of tech experience and have resided in Chatham County for 30 days before applying for the program.

Iowa

Newton, Iowa, has come up with the Call Newton Home program to lure workers to relocate. Under the program, a cash incentive of either $5,000 or $10,000 is offered for those who buy or build a home in the area. The $5,000 stipend is for those whose new home is valued between $100,000 to $190,000; the $10,000 stipend is for those whose new home is worth at least $190,000/

Aside from the financial incentive, which is provided at the time of closing on the permanent financing of the home, Newton also tosses newcomers a welcome package featuring gift cards for local art classes and Skiff Medical Center, photography sessions, pool passes, YMCA memberships, subscription discounts and more.

Communities: Newton

Eligibility: Applicants must have begun construction of the single-family home in 2020 or 2021 and fully complete the construction. 

Hawaii

Hawaii’s Movers and Shakas program provides free roundtrip flights and facilitated accommodations (discounted stays in hotels or short-term rentals) to select remote workers who stay for at least 30 days in the state. The program also gives assistance to workers in finding a reliable coworking space.

In addition to committing to a minimum 30-day stay, attendees must also commit to at least 15 hours a month of volunteer work for two months, along with ensuring participation in cultural orientation classes and local networking events. In case the stay is only for a month, the workers can complete the compulsory volunteer work remotely.

Applications for the program's Cohort 2 have been closed at the time of publication; dates for the next group have not been announced yet.

Communities: select Hawaiian islands

Eligibility: In addition to current legal authorization to work in the U.S. and having full-time employment, applicants must be fit to participate in team-based volunteer projects and other organized programs. 

More relocation incentives could be coming

The culture of working remotely, or at least hybrid work arrangements, is likely to continue even after the pandemic. With an increasing number of communities finding remote worker transplants enormously valuable, odds are many more relocation incentive programs will continue to roll out.

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