Incentives for remote workers: Get paid to move to a new place

The other day my mom sent a text about how West Virginia is paying remote workers $12,000 cash to move to the state. I must admit – it got me thinking. About a few things.

Right now, I’m a digital nomad, so I can theoretically live anywhere. But getting paid to move would surely sweeten the deal.

a woman on a paddle board on a lake

Could I really live in West Virginia?

I pondered it for a couple of days and even looked at houses online. Then I saw there are no Costco or Whole Foods stores in the entire state. But then I was like – so what? 

The biggest drawback would be living in a snowy place again. I’m not ready for heavy coats, frigid mornings, and driving on ice just yet, especially after my Texas experience.

Then I discovered there are many other places offering incentives for remote workers. It could lead to all new ways of living and traveling.

Incentives for remote workers

I poked around a bit and found several other similar programs. Here are a few that got me thinking (and dreaming). It’s fun to imagine yourself in a new place, isn’t it?

1. West Virginia

What it is: $12,000 cash – $10,000 paid monthly in monthly installments of ~$833 per month during the first year, and another $2,000 at the end of the second year. Also includes $2,500 in outdoor gear rental, free coworking space, and social events.

They’re currently accepting applications for Morgantown (an hour south of Pittsburgh) through May 2021, and opening up two more cities – Lewisburg and Shepherdstown – in early 2022.

Home to the newest National Park and situated close to Virginia (duh), Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania for day trips and travel, but definitely isolated enough to have outdoor adventures and plenty of room to roam. Housing is cheap, too.

a map of the state of virginia

The three towns part of Ascend WV

The state has its share of social problems (obesity, poor education, economic dependence on fossil fuel, high suicide rate, high meth/opioid addiction rate, plus that whole red state, anti-LGBT thing going on), so it’s interesting to see this type of offer. They position the state as a springboard for whitewater rafting, hiking, mountain climbing, skiing – pretty much anything outdoor adventure-related. Excellent marketing.

Not gonna lie, I thought about how great my Insta feed would look.

2. Northwest Arkansas

What it is: $10,000 cash – $2,500 when you move, $500 per month for 12 months, and $1,500 at the end of your first year, a street or mountain bike OR annual museum membership.

incentives for remote workers

Live in the Ozarks and get $10K

I’ve always said Arkansas is one of the most underrated gems in this country. Northwest Arkansas includes the Ozarks, which are sooo beautiful. It truly is The Natural State.

And I’ll also say, the region has been growing a lot recently, especially around Fayetteville. I actually applied to UA’s MFA program recently but was rejected – so I was already willing to live here.

And again, the outdoor opportunities – hiking, biking, camping – are bountiful year-round.

3. Tulsa, Oklahoma

What it is: $10,000 cash (seems like it’s paid all at once through a grant?), free desk pace, access to perks and social events.

Apparently, this one is competitive to get accepted into. They’ve renewed the program since 2018 and attracted ~400 new people to the area through the program in 2020 – good stuff!

incentives for remote workers

Could you be an Oklahoman?

It seems like Tulsa (and Oklahoma in general) is growing, and it’s good to see the city working to promote themselves to new residents in this way. I’ve been through Tulsa a time or two, but it’s been, oh, years. Maybe $10,000 is reason enough to give it another look?

4. The Shoals, Alabama

What it is: $10,000 cash – $2,500 when you move, $2,500 after 6 months, $5,000 after your first year.

Wanna live in Northwest Alabama? You’d be a couple of hours from Memphis, Nashville, and Birmingham. Moderate climate, and a few cities in the area with plenty to explore.

incentives for remote workers

A great deal if you’re open to living in Alabama

I’m not familiar with the area, but their hilarious marketing video makes it sound like a great place to hang your hat – and they are clearly putting a lot into promoting this program to remote workers. $10,000 cash is a nice bonus, too!

5. Tucson, Arizona

What it is: $1,500 cash to move, access to coworking spaces, free internet, and support with career and housing.

This one isn’t as “much” as the others and applications are currently closed at the time of writing, but you can subscribe for when they open again.

incentives for remote workers

Arizona is amazing

I was actually surprised to find this option, because Arizona has been booming with growth for the last several years. So to find any incentive at all is something worth a mention.

This package offers $1,500 cash plus help getting settled through a variety of other initiatives. If you’ve never been, it’s only about 90 minutes from Phoenix, depending on where you’re heading in the huge metro area and a quick day drive to California beaches.

If you’re interested, it wouldn’t hurt to have a little cash and access to resources when this one opens again.

Other considerations and resources

If any of these sound appealing, be sure to read up on them. They all have their own age limits, residency requirements, and terms. That said, all of them do offer what’s advertised. So if your feet are itchy, you’re ready to move, or open to living in a new place, any of these would make excellent options to get you going.

There’s also MakeMyMove, which has many more opportunities like this. I included a few that were interesting to me personally and offered cash incentives to remote workers. Others offer down payment or rent assistance, a plot of land to build on, or some other type of exchange.

If you’re a remote worker, this might be the little push you need to take some action and get going. I know it certainly stirred up a lot of ideas within me and a little inspiration is sometimes all you need.

The website is also fun to explore just to see which areas are trying to attract new residents.

Personal note

I am a white man, and I’m also a gay man. A lot of these places are red states where I wouldn’t feel comfortable being out with a partner or friends for fear of being targeted. I’ve had my share of incidents and have lived in many conservative places – after all, I’m from Mississippi so I know how these places work and familiar with the coded language people to disguise their hatred and bigotry. I always keep my head down and try to not look “too gay” in public. You never know who’s looking for a fight. Or who will say something. This is why I mostly stick to cities, which tend to be more liberal.

As much as I’d love to explore Alabama, West Virginia, Arkansas, etc., I don’t picture myself having a great time with always watching what I say or wondering about the type of people I might interact with.

That’s everywhere, but ya know… conservative places and all. Some of these places also have horrific histories of racism, lack of worker protection, politics actively targeting women’s bodies and stripping rights away from people, and use religion as a justification for it all. Stuff like that – you know the drill by now. So it’s no wonder they want to attract people – and will even pay people to show up.

And while people should show up, it’s always hard to be the first to lead any measure of change. So I’ll just offer that up as food for thought and leave it at that. I was going to apologize for sounding bitter about these opportunities, but I’m not.

Bottom line

If you can make use of these programs, though – wow, what a boost to get you going. It takes courage to make a big change and cash in hand would certainly help.

And to end on a bright note – yay remote work! It seems like that part of the whole covid experience is here to stay. As it should. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to the way it was before. And that’s a good thing. Change is good, inevitable, and constant.

Stay safe and scrappy out there!

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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  1. I think you have a typo. WV is not likely “$10,000 paid monthly during the first year”.

    A big plus for WV is affordable land. A nice 10 acre buffer zone makes all the difference, but you better have your 4 wheel drive for the snow. I’m about 30 minutes from Winchester VA and there’s a Costco there. Since I’m retired most of the problems don’t affect me, and I can be overweight anywhere,

    Tuscon is nice, but like you said it is not nearly the offer of the others,

    • Yes, I added more clarification to that point – it’s $833 per month over a year, which adds up to $10,000.

      I’m sure it’s a gorgeous state with all four seasons. I’m just not ready to battle snow again – yet. And lol yes – anyone can be overweight anywhere. The WV offer in particular really spoke to me. I don’t know if it’s a path for me or not, but I’ve always felt sort of drawn there. I’m thinking about spending a few weeks just to see what it’s like. Maybe it’s growing? Or maybe people will eventually start to go there?

      I love how it’s “wild and wonderful,” but not sure about the 2-year commitment required. Maybe I’ll apply and just see what happens. My curiosity is piqued.

      Thanks for the notes and for reading and commenting!

  2. Now that I’m retired I look at the snow differently. If I get snowed in so be it. I don’t really have to go anywhere (like work) if I don’t want to. I can just look out and enjoy it. Maybe throw another log in the wood stove.

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