Moving Bonus: Get Paid to Relocate to Cheaper Cities

Liam Gibson

Moving House

With inflation pressures biting and flexible remote work options broadening, relocating for affordability makes more sense in post-pandemic America. 

For those weighing up whether or not to move to a lower-cost locale, a cash bonus awaiting at the destination may make be enough to make the move.

More municipalities across the nation are luring remote talent with financial perks in a bid to reinvigorate their communities and local economies.

“Remote worker recruitment works so well…we help cities across America grow by attracting talent,” says Evan Hock, Co-founder of MakeMyMove, whose platform claims the number of cities offering these incentives is exploding and has more than doubled in recent years.

Which of these new talent hubs are offering the best welcome package, and which are in the best states to live in? By considering all variables and finding a balance between budgets and lifestyle, can have a better balance between, workers are in a better position to find a community that is good for them and their bank balance. 

Movin’ On

Housing affordability is at an impasse. A whopping 85 percent of Americans now say it is a bad time to buy a house, yet the vast majority of non-homeowners still want to buy one. Creative solutions may be needed. Looking beyond one’s immediate region can open the pivot to greener pastures and a fresh start.  

The road is calling out to the frugal. More people than before are willing to move for the sake of their wallets. 

A recent Fannie Mae’s report revealed “affordability” is the most important factor in finding a place to live, both for renters and homeowners. At the beginning of 2023, 22 percent of remote and/or hybrid workers confirmed they are willing to move to a different region or increase their commute. Only 14 percent were willing in the third quarter of 2021. 

More people are moving for financial reasons, but quality of life still weighs heavily in the mix, too. 

According to a recent survey by Home Bay, a real estate brokerage, the top reasons Americans moved in 2022 were to improve their quality of life (24 percent), while living in a cheaper area (23 percent), came in a close second. 

Suffice it to say that American workers are on the hunt for lower-cost destinations that don’t sacrifice quality of life if they can find them. 

Yet most liveable cities in the U.S., including Seattle, Washington DC, Austin, and San Francisco, are also among the least affordable in the country. This is causing folks to look elsewhere, and a number of mid-sized metropolitan areas offer financial incentives to help sweeten the deal. For instance, Topeka, Kansas, Hamilton, Ohio, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, each offer new remote workers between $10,000-15,000 to newcomers. 

Claremont, a town in Minnesota, wants to increase its population (currently 500) and is now giving away single housing lots to families with a roughly six-figure combined annual income. (Families who earn above the stipulated cap will need to pay just under $10,000 for the lot). 

As if that wasn’t a lot already, Manilla, Iowa, is giving away more free lots of land for anyone wanting to build a single-family home. As an added bonus, Manilla is waiving taxes on the newly-built homes for five whole years.

These programs have been developed in Europe in recent years. Remote communities on the continent are experiencing rapid depopulation and are looking to reverse the trend. Italy has the famous “one Euro house” scheme where local governments offer selected fixer-uppers to buyers virtually for free, on the condition they spend a certain sum restoring the decrepit homes.

Sardinia, one of ITaly’s Mediterranean island territories, will even throw in a non-repayable grant of up to 15,000 euros to those willing to move to villages with fewer than 3,000 people. Meanwhile, Ireland now offers over 80,000 euros to those willing to take up a derelict abode on its remote islands. 

Similar grant schemes exist in local municipalities in Spain and Switzerland.  

Platform Effect 

Back in the U.S., the growing market for luring new talent has now gone beyond remote jobs like software engineers, graphic designers, or accountants. Local municipalities are desperate to fill traditional in-person roles too. 

“Communities have begun expanding their programs to address other talent gaps, adding incentives for remote workers who bring spouses or partners who are teachers or nurses,” says MakeMyMove’s Evan Hock. “At the same time, we’re seeing nurses, teachers and emergency responders spending more time on our website. It made perfect sense to expand the marketplace to address the need.”

Oklahoma Public Schools are paying bonuses of up to $50,000 for new teachers, while there are similar offerings in Minnesota for nurses. 

Law enforcement professionals are also in dire need. Jackson, Michigan, is offering police officers a $20,000 signing bonus when they move to the city. There are other possible perks, including help finding a new home.  

The platform claims tens of thousands of potential movers have applied for incentives on this year alone, as it anticipates further acceleration through next year. The search for an ideal community to thrive touches upon many personal preferences, including climate risk, proximity to family, and political and cultural factors. Yet there’s no getting around it – expenses vary wildly between regions and municipalities nationwide. With some research and patience, finding attractive communities that may cost $3,000 more than a month or less to live in is possible. Ultimately, living in a lower-cost area may prove decisive in achieving financial independence and an early retirement.

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