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7 states offering relocation programs for remote workers

Remote workers can rake in perks like cash, coworking space and more.

Even before the pandemic, economic development committees in lesser-known destinations throughout the US had created relocation programs to attract skilled workers. In most cases, it’s part of an effort to infuse the local economy with creativity, innovation and new faces, adding to the diversity of local culture.

If you have the freedom to work from anywhere and a hearty sense of adventure, these remote worker grant programs could be the sign you’ve been waiting for to start a new chapter of your life.

Northwest Arkansas

The Life Works Here initiative, spearheaded by the Northwest Arkansas Council, is offering remote workers $10,000 and a free bike for moving to the region — you can choose whether it’s a mountain or road bike. To be eligible, you must be at least 24 years old, with at least two years of work experience.

If you’re curious about how the cost of living differs between Northwest AK and where you are now, use the calculator on the council’s website to compare. For example, earning $50,000 yearily in Northwestern AK is equivalent to earning $87,366 in Los Angeles, with housing rates that are 70% cheaper, groceries that cost 22% less, along with savings in healthcare, transportation, utilities and more. 

Learn more

Savannah, Georgia

The Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) will pay tech workers $2,000 to reimburse moving expenses when you relocate to this charming southern city, known for its sweeping Spanish moss, rowdy river street and dynamic art scene. To be eligible, you must be self-employed, a remote worker for a tech company or relocating to take a job with a tech company based in Chatham County.  

The catch? You have to move on your own and live there for at least 30 days before applying for the incentive. 

Learn more

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa Remote will pay you $10,000 cash to relocate to this bustling city in Northeastern Oklahoma, right on the Arkansas river. You’ll also get a free desk at a coworking space downtown called 36 Degrees North, and access to other exclusive perks and events designed to help you settle in and connect with other techies.

Part of the cash is paid up front, and the rest will be sent to you as a monthly stipend throughout your first year. Anyone 18 or older that has full-time remote work or is self-employed can apply, as long as you’re eligible to work in the US and can make the move before 2021 is up. 

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Topeka, Kansas

The Choose Topeka program will pay remote workers up to $5,000 for signing a rental lease, and up to $10,000 for buying a home. Are you a fan of sandwiches? Jimmy Johns has pledged to throw in another $1,000 if you move into one of its three Topeka sandwich delivery zones. To be eligible for Choose Topeka remote, you have to be self-employed or employed by a company located outside of Shawnee county. 

  • The average monthly rent in Topeka, including utilities, is $762, and the cost of living is 10% lower than the national average. 

If you wouldn’t mind giving up your remote work lifestyle and are interested in getting a new job altogether, you could get up to $15,000 for moving to Topeka to take an onsite job. 

Learn more

The Shoals, Alabama

Move to The Shoals — an area that includes Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia in Northwest Alabama — and get $10,000 over the course of a year. The Remote Shoals program will pay you 25% upfront, 25% after your first six months and the remaining $5,000 after you’ve been there for a year. 

The Shoals is located about two hours from Nashville, Birmingham and Memphis for easy weekend getaways. But you may find that you’re happy spending free time locally, as The Shoals has a rich creative scene of its own. Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Otis Redding, Third Day and many other popular bands have made music at Fame Recording Studios, which is in Muscle Shoals. 

  • The cost of living in The Shoals area is 15.7% below the national average, and the crime rate is about 71% below the national average. 

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Tucson, Arizona

  • Remote Tucsan is no longer taking applications, but you can sign up to be notified when this program is available again. 

Startup Tucson, a committee designed to support entrepreneurial and economic development in the city, will provide $1,500 cash, moving assistance and other perks to eligible remote workers through its Remote Tucson initiative. Think of it like a sampler pack of vouchers for extras like coworking spaces worth $500 and a year of free GIG Internet. The total value of its package is worth about $7,650.

You’ll also be matched up with a community ambassador who can help you plug into the vibrant business scene. 

Learn more

Oahu, Hawaii

  • Movers & Shakas is no longer accepting applications, but the website states that it hopes to reopen for another round of remote workers in 2021. 

Its Movers & Shakas program provides free roundtrip airfare to Oahu and discounts on beachfront lodging. In return, you'll have to volunteer a few hours of your time each month to a local nonprofit. 

The Hawaiian government hopes that incentivizing tech professionals to come stay will help build a more resilient economy. To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years old, fully employed and able to work anywhere. 

Learn more

More relocation incentives for remote workers 

Rural counties in Kansas

In an effort to bring educated professionals to rural counties, the Kansas Rural Opportunity Zones (ROZ) program promises up to $15,000 of student loan payments, income tax waivers for up to five years, or both. To be eligible, you need to have a college degree, currently live elsewhere, and move to one of 77 rural zones after being accepted to the program. 

Learn more 

Harmony, Minnesota 

Harmony’s motto is “nice place to visit, even better place to live,” and it underscores the point by offering up to $12,000 when you build a house there. 

Learn more

Newton, Iowa 

Newton will pay you up to $10,000 to build a home there. You’ll also get a welcome package valued at over $2,500.

Learn more 

Manilla, Iowa 

Dreaming of your own little corner of the world? Manilla will give you a free plot of land, as long as you hold up your end of the deal — building a single family residence. To sweeten the deal, you won’t have to pay property taxes for five years. 

Call 712-654-2632 for information about moving to Manilla 

  • If the idea of homesteading in the rural midwest appeals to you, it’s worth researching other local governments that are giving away free land to incentivize new residents. Manilla isn’t the only town doing this. 

Utah 

Utah State University runs an online program that’s designed to help residents land a high-paying remote job and succeed in a virtual career. If you move to Utah, you can take the 30-hour course and earn the Master Remote Work Professional certificate for only $20.

Learn more 

Traveling during COVID-19

The CDC continues to advise caution when traveling within or outside the US, though it no longer requires self-quarantine or a COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated travelers as of April 2021. It recommends that you delay travel if you are not fully vaccinated to protect yourself and your family from getting or spreading the virus.

When traveling, follow safety measures that include wearing a mask in public, social distancing and washing your hands. If you are diagnosed with, have symptoms of or are waiting for COVID-19 test results — or are otherwise at risk of illness — do not attend gatherings or travel for 14 days.

Countries that offer remote work visas for digital nomads

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