8 U.S. Cities and Towns That Will Pay You To Move There and Work Remote in 2021
Willing to give up big-city life? It could pay off.
The drive to leave big cities and move to smaller towns with a slower pace of life (and lower cost of living) has never been stronger than it is in 2021. But moving to a new city or state is a big change, and one that shouldn't be made lightly. That's why small towns and cities across the U.S. are increasingly offering moving incentives to remote workers to entice them to relocate (and buy homes, contribute to the economy and pay taxes, of course).
Websites like MakeMyMove regularly update all the towns and regions that offer relocation incentives and break down the fine print, but here's a list of eight places that will pay you to move there — along with some key characteristics to help you determine which one might be right for you.
Lincoln, Kansas and Mankato, Kansas
Moving to a town of fewer than 4,000 — or 1,000 — people isn't for everyone, but if it's something you're interested in, two towns in north central Kansas could be worth a look. Lincoln, Kansas (population 3,500) and Mankato, Kansas (population 900) both offer free plots of land to buyers who commit to building a home on them. It would be true small town living — Lincoln is about 45 minutes from Salina, the closest city, and Mankato is about an hour and a half away. But for the right type of person, the low cost of living could have real appeal.
Want to relocate somewhere with historic charm? Natchez, Mississippi might be the place for you. The historic river town in southwest Mississippi will make it worth your while, too. It launched its Shift South program in February for remote workers interested in small-town life. To qualify, you need to be able to work remotely and purchase a home valued at $150,000 or more in Natchez or the Adams County area. In exchange, the city will offer you $2,500 in relocation expenses and $300 per month for one year to further cover your costs of living.
Want small town life but don't want to be too far from a city or airport? Newton, Iowa might be the answer. The 15,000-person town less than 45 minutes from Des Moines is enticing people to move out of the city with a $10,000 incentive for buying or building a house in 2021. You'll receive $10,000 if you buy or build a home valued at $180,000 or more, and $5,000 for a home worth $100,000 to $179,999.99. You'll also receive a "Get to Know Newton" package valued at $2,500.
Thanks in large part to the Walton family, this corner of Arkansas has seen a surge in positive PR over the past decade. The region, which is home to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and Walmart global headquarters in Bentonville, has a plethora of outdoor activities, an increasingly impressive food scene and several world-class art museums, which were funded and founded by Alice Walton. In November 2020, the Northwest Arkansas Council launched the $1 million Life Works Here initiative to draw young people and families to the region by offering $10,000 to remote workers who moved there (and threw in $600 for a bicycle to take advantage of the region's many bike trails). The program received more than 26,000 applicants, and 25 were selected in the first round. Applications are still open at this point, but competition is fierce.
Are you a Southerner at heart? You could make up to $10,000 to move to the Shoals region of Northern Alabama, which includes the cities of Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia. To apply, workers need to be 18 or older, make more than $52,000 a year, be self-employed or able to work remotely and able to relocate within six months. This opportunity is perfect for people who want a slower-paced way of life — but never fear. Nashville, Birmingham and Memphis are all a two-hour drive away should you crave some city living.
In Kansas' capital city, 40% of the workforce lives outside Shawnee County, where Topeka is located. In an effort to draw more commuters into the city, and to attract job applicants from outside of Kansas, Choose Topeka and employers in the city are offering up to $16,000 to people who relocate there. The exact number you qualify for depends on what job you're applying for, who your employer is and if you're working for a Topeka-area company or working remotely (see FAQs here). To receive the full amount, you'll need to buy a house in Shawnee County within the first year of living there (you'll get a smaller incentive for renting), plus you'll need to live within one of three Jimmy Johns delivery areas in the city (the sandwich chain is kicking in an extra $1k).
Tulsa Remote offers one of the best-known, most well-publicized relocation incentives in the country. Since 2018 the nonprofit has offered remote workers $10,000 to move to Tulsa. Typically that amount is distributed over the course of a year, but in February the organization announced it would offer the $10,000 in a lump sum payment if people used it towards a down payment on a house in the Tulsa area. With a population of about 400,000, Tulsa is the biggest city on this list.