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You Can Get Paid Up to $20,000 for Moving to These U.S. Towns Trying to Attract Remote Workers

People logo People 8/9/2021 Rachel DeSantis
a person sitting at a desk in front of a computer: Getty © Provided by People Getty

Small towns and cities across the United States are capitalizing on the growing number of professionals working from home — and are looking to lure them in with a series of incentives, including cash.

With office commutes a thing of the past for many workers due to the pandemic, locations looking to boost their populations and pump money into their local economies have been doing their best to bring workers in from larger cities with the promise of money and, for some, a better quality of life, lower costs of living and less congestion.

a person sitting at a desk in front of a computer: Cities in states like Oklahoma, West Virginia, Tennessee and Michigan are offering incentives for remote workers to pick up their lives and move © Getty Cities in states like Oklahoma, West Virginia, Tennessee and Michigan are offering incentives for remote workers to pick up their lives and move

At least 45 communities are currently offering incentives to attract remote workers, some upwards of $20,000, according to USA Today, which cited data from MakeMyMove.com, a website that aggregates offers from various towns.

The reasons vary: some spots need skilled workers to fill job openings, while others hope to make themselves more attractive to larger companies, USA Today reported. Others, still, are trying to rebuild populations that have seen a decline in recent years.

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"A lot of these towns have lost population not because they're not good places to live but because people have gone elsewhere to find work," Evan Hock, vice president of TMap, the recruiting firm that runs MakeMyMove, told USA Today.


Video: Why these work-from-home workers are getting paid to move to small cities and towns (USA TODAY)

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He said that in many cases, the cash incentives are meant to cover moving costs, and make the move less risky for potential new residents.

Areas currently offering cash include southwest Michigan, Morgantown, West Virginia, Rutherford County, Tennessee, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the Tulsa Remote program first launched in 2018 thanks to the George Kaiser Family Foundation. Tulsa Remote currently offers prospective residents $10,000, plus a free year of co-working space and a network of other participants.

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"Every community is in a fight for talent," Ben Stewart, the program's executive director, told USA Today. "We believe there's lots of benefits to adding population. Our goal is to ensure Tulsa is a diverse and inclusive community."

Shanelle Sherlin was among those who made a big move during the pandemic, trading in her apartment in Los Angeles for a remote town in northwest Arkansas, she told USA Today.

Sherlin, 30, was able to buy a four-bedroom house for $405,000, something she was unable to afford in Los Angeles, and was given $10,000 and a mountain bike.

The area Sherlin moved to houses companies like Walmart, Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt Transport Services, all of whom are reportedly struggling to fill 10,000 tech-related jobs.

With the goal of filling those jobs, the nonprofit Northwest Arkansas Council launched a program last fall with a $1 million donation from the Walton Family Foundation, USA Today reported.

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"We're short of… tech talent, the type of people you need for future growth. We're not looking for just people. … We're being really selective," CEO Nelson Peacock told the outlet. "We decided to do the program to get ourselves put on the map."

He added that the program has received about 32,000 applications, and so far 43 people have been selected, including a digital marketing manager from Denver, a music producer from Los Angeles, and a San Francisco cloud technology manager.

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