5 Places That Will Pay To Work Remotely

From discounted karate lessons and low-interest mortgages to relocation assistance and free cappuccino for a year, cities and towns all over the country are offering generous incentive packages to attract remote workers just like you.

Hanging out with well-caffeinated martial artists in Iowa may not be your idea of a good time, but some of the deals may be too good to pass up.

Believe it or not, before COVID-19 most workers actually commuted to offices.

But now that’s changing, and the perception that remote workers are lifeless slackers is too.

By some estimates, nearly 5 million Americans work remotely at least some of the time, and that number could quadruple in the next few years.

In fact, many companies are considering making remote work the new norm, and a unique service called Make My Move is leading the way.

Before moving on, check out these helpful resources –

  • Best Interstate Movers – The moving industry is full of shady players. With so much at stake, hiring a top-rated long-distance mover with verified customer reviews is imperative.
  • Moving cost calculator – Just enter your move dates, origin and destination cities, and the estimated size of your move, and the magic algorithms will do the rest.
  • Best moving container companies – It’s simple. You load and unload, they drive, and you save big bucks.

The “Pay-to-Move” model

If you’re considering taking advantage of one of the following offers, it’s worth noting that the best perks usually go to

  • Homebuyers (as opposed to renters)
  • Those with above-average salaries
  • Individuals and families willing to relocate long-term
  • Workers in hot sectors like tech, health, and aerospace (this isn’t always the case)

That said, some locals get upset when their tax dollars are spent wooing “well-heeled” outsiders instead of filling potholes, building bike paths, and improving schools.

Wherever you fall on the issue, municipal relocation incentives for remote workers are here to stay.

Now, 5 places that will pay you to live there and work remotely.

1. Newton, Iowa

Known for its big farms, small towns, friendly people, and wide-open spaces, Iowa has a lot to offer remote workers willing to trade urban bustle for country bliss.

The cost of living is significantly lower than in neighboring states like Illinois, and though Newton is decidedly rural, it’s just 35 miles east of Des Moines.

Newton at a glance –

  • Population – about 15,000 (evenly split between males and females)
  • Median family income – $53,800
  • Average age – 40
  • Median rent – about $700
  • Median home value – $104,000

Known as the Newton Housing Initiative, Newton’s program to attract remote workers provides cash and other perks for in-town home buyers.

Introduced in 2014, the initiative sought to grow Newton’s tax base, improve local services and recharge the listless housing market, but since then the program has expanded.

Incentives –

  • $5,000 cash when purchasing a home valued between $100,000 and $179,999
  • $10,000 cash for homes worth more than $180,000
  • No cash for homes under $100K, but property tax breaks may be available
  • “Get to Know Newton” welcome package for new home buyers ($2,500 value)

Eligibility requirements –

  • Rental properties aren’t eligible for home buyer incentives
  • Payments are made at closing (with proof of financing)
  • Proof of home value (excluding the value of the land itself) must be provided through an appraisal or assessment
  • Each home must have a radon remediation system installed
  • Home construction must be complete and the owner must have a Certificate of Occupancy from the City of Newton

TOTAL INCENTIVE VALUE – $12,500

2. Morgantown, West Virginia

Wild. Wonderful. West Virginia.

If you’ve ever been, you already know that West Virginia is full of natural beauty.

In the past, the state’s economy was largely driven by manufacturing and coal, but these days West Virginia is changing with the times.

To that end, a number of cities and towns – including Morgantown – are doubling down to attract remote and tech workers who love the Great Outdoors.

Morgantown at a glance –

  • Home of West Virginia University
  • Population – about 30,500
  • Average age – 25
  • Senior citizens make up about 10% of the population
  • Average commute time – less than 20 minutes
  • More than 17% of workers walk or bike to their jobs
  • Average January temperature – about 30 degrees
  • Average July temperature – about 80 degrees

The brainchild of West Virginia native and Silicon Valley mogul Brad Smith and his wife Alys, the Ascend West Virginia program aims to create an environment that fosters innovation, productivity, and a healthy work-life balance without leading to premature burnout.

Ascend West Virginia is currently accepting applications for those willing to relocate to Morgantown, and other cities like Lewisburg and Shepherdstown are scheduled to join the roster in 2022.

Incentives –

  • $10,000 distributed in monthly payments during the first year of residence
  • $2,000 during the second
  • Free outdoor recreation (including some gear) for a year
  • Access to free coworking spaces (because working in your bedroom gets old)
  • A host of professional and social development opportunities

Payment checks are distributed in person at the coworking space, probably because the savvy folks at Ascend West Virginia want to make sure you’re actually there.

Eligibility requirements –

  • At least 18-year-old
  • Full-time remote workers currently residing in another state
  • US citizen or Green Cardholder
  • Provide proof of employment and income
  • Must love mountains, trees, lakes, and rivers

Click here for additional terms, conditions, and eligibility requirements.

TOTAL INCENTIVE VALUE – $12,000

3. The Shoals, Alabama

Tucked along the scenic banks of the Tennessee River in northwest Alabama are four historic towns known collectively as The Shoals.

Consisting of Tuscumbia, Florence, Muscle Shoals, and Shoals, they’ve always been big hits with history buffs, music aficionados, and art lovers.

These days, however, they’re popular destinations for folks looking to slow down and increase their quality of life while saving money.

The Shoals at a glance –

  • Average age – 39
  • Median home value – $158,000
  • Home of the University of North Alabama (the oldest 4-year university in the state)
  • Tuscumbia is the birthplace of Helen Keller
  • Blues legend W.C. Handy was born in Florence
  • 2-hour drives to Birmingham, Nashville, and Memphis

Administered by the Shoals Economic Development Authority, the Remote Shoals program offers up to $10,000 in cash for qualified applicants.

Incentives –

  • 25% ($2,500) upfront to help with relocation costs
  • Another 25% after 6 months in the Shoals
  • The remaining 50% at the end of your first year

Of course like all good things, restrictions apply.

Eligibility requirements –

  • Make at least $52,000 per year
  • Be at least 18-year-sold and eligible to work in the United States
  • Relocate to the Shoals vicinity within 6 months of being accepted
  • Be employed as a full-time remote worker (self-employed or independent contractor) outside Lauderdale and Colbert counties

TOTAL INCENTIVE VALUE – $10,000

4. Stillwater, Oklahoma

Located about halfway between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Stillwater is a tight-knit community of 50,000 that’s home to Oklahoma State University.

Sure it’s hot in the summer and brutally cold in the winter, but Stillwater offers abundant big-city attractions like museums, botanical gardens, and theaters, along with that cozy small-town feel you just can’t get in LA and New York.

Stillwater at a glance –

  • Median age – 24
  • The Median household income – $34,000 (well below state average)
  • Median rent – $805
  • The cost-of-living index is 15% under the national average
  • The median home and condo value – $193,000
  • Nearby regional airport

Like the other locales on this list, Stillwater is determined to attract remote workers, and they’ve put together a competitive package to sweeten the deal.

Incentives –

  • $5,000 for remote workers who buy homes within Stillwater city limits
  • Free coffee for a year at Aspen Coffee – Fountain Square (limits apply)
  • Free martial arts classes for a month for kids and adults (uniform included)
  • Generous gifts, discounts, and promos from other local businesses

Eligibility requirements –

  • Applicants must be first-time homebuyers in Stillwater
  • The home must be located within city limits
  • The home must be owner-occupied (no “flipped” or rental properties)

TOTAL INCENTIVE VALUE – $7,500

5. Savannah, Georgia

When it comes to the rich history, an idyllic coastal setting, and tons of activity options, Savannah is hard to beat. b

Located in northeast Georgia on the Savannah River across from South Carolina, Savannah has always been a regional vacation hotspot for beach lovers, foodies, and history, art, and culture buffs.

Savannah at a glance –

  • Population – 145,400
  • Home to a number of Fortune 500 companies
  • Strong healthcare, aerospace, and technical manufacturing sectors
  • Foreign-Trade Zone 104 makes importing goods relatively easy and inexpensive
  • Average January temperature – about 50 degrees
  • Average July temperature – about 84 degrees
  • You can get cocktails to-go

Established in the spring of 2020, the Savannah Technology Workforce Incentive was introduced to attract remote tech workers who enjoy “geographical freedom” in their jobs, whether they’re freelancers or actual employees.

Incentives –

  • Up to $2,000 for reimbursement of moving expenses after relocating to Chatham County

Wait…that’s it?

Just $2,000?

Admittedly it’s not much, so if you’re considering relocating to Savannah you’ll need to make a detailed moving budget.

Just keep in mind that Savannah has a lot going for it, which for some will more than makeup for the lack of freebies and incentives.

Eligibility requirements –

  • Must move to Chatham County
  • Reside in the county for at least 30 days before applying for payment
  • Provide three years of verifiable work experience with a remote technology employer located at least 60 miles away from Savannah’s City Hall
  • Take a position with a technology company in the region
  • Live in Chatham County for a minimum of two years
  • Sign a 1-year lease or purchase a property

You can download your application (PDF) here.

TOTAL INCENTIVE VALUE – $2,000

Frequently asked questions (faqs)

Why work remotely?

The benefits of working remotely include increased flexibility, autonomy, independence, and productivity, with less (or no) commute time and a better overall life-work balance.

Are remote workers happier?

Various studies show that in general, full and part-time remote workers are significantly happier than their office counterparts.

Which cities have the most remote workers?

According to CNBC, Cape Coral, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, and Orlando, Florida, as well as Charleston, South Carolina have the highest percentages of remote workers.

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