The global pandemic changed the landscape of work, in turn impacting migration and mobility. In fact, we've always know that migration is fluid and this is simply part of our genetic composition. Interestingly enough, while our community keeps a pulse on countries opening Digital Nomad visas, there are notably a handful of U.S. States/Cities offering incentive programs to attract remote employees. Albeit the intent is to stimulate the economies by attracting a new workforce into these largely left behind places in hopes to rewrite their fate in a post COVID-19 era.
Keep in mind, you must have valid U.S. residency to qualify for any of the below programs.
While the wild and wonderful state is full of natural beauties at a low cost of living, it unfortunately ranks as one of the poorest in the nation. The mountain state's vastly rural landscape and lack of infrastructure appears less than ideal for business aside from the fading coal industry. However, it may offer exactly what remote workers seek — an abundance of nature, hospitality and low taxes. Ascend WV is backed by WV native, Brad D. Smith, Silicon Valley CEO of Intuit. He traces his success back to his West Virginia upbringing and now wants to give back to his roots and contribute something substantial.
The Ascend program offers a generous incentive package of 12k in cash over a period of two years along with a year free of outdoor recreational activities - plus access to co-working spaces and events for the Ascend relocation community. The offered areas are the charming WV towns of: Morgantown, Lewisburg and Shepardstown. The state has similar programs aside from Ascend for Marion county, Charleston — the states capital, and Beckley which you can find on the Ascend website. The program is partnered with AirBnB so those considering a move to West Virginia can take a trip to determine if it will be their "almost heaven."
According to the Ascend website:
“The ideal candidate is someone who can work from anywhere and is looking to find a better work/life balance. We’re looking for folks who long for a sense of community, thrive with new adventure, and enjoy the great outdoors.”
There is an application process with a ranking system, interviews are arranged with top-scoring applicants and best fits for the program are selected. Each town opens applications on a non-rolling basis with Shepardstown being the next available community.
Downtown Street in Shepardstown, WV
The Tulsa Remote program grants $10,000 to full-time remote employees or self-employed individuals outside of Oklahoma who can relocate to Tulsa within the next 12 months. (Reminder: Applicants must be eligible to work in the U.S. for all programs mentioned in this article.)
A portion of the stipend is given up front to ease relocation costs, then smaller portions are paid out monthly, with the final sum settled at the end of first year. However, a new addition to the program gives its new remote residents the option to receive the full $10,000 as a lump sum upon the purchase of a Tulsa home. Successful applicants are connected to a hot co-working space in Tulsa and granted access into the relocation community; also, the program recommends vetted housing at affordable prices. If you’re looking for somewhere new and affordable to settle with ease and support, this program offers just that.
Hosting the Life Works Here Initiative, the region seeks to drive both talent and vibrant community members to its spacious lands. Candidates must be at least 24 and have two years of work experience to qualify for the initiative; as well as, hold full time remote work or self-employment outside of the state and be able to relocate to the area within six months of acceptance. Experience in the STEM fields and entrepreneurs are most desired, however the initiative welcomes all types of new talent.
Recipients receive a $10,000 grant along with a gift of either a free bike or an annual membership to one of the areas arts and cultural institutions.
Remote Tucson is aiming to build a community base for remote workers who bank more than 65k a year. Tucson's population is transient and the economy is growing slowly. This program is a strategy to increase growth through a new community of remote workers to bring Tucson up to par with other Arizona cities.
A number of eligible candidates will receive money for relocation costs and other perks such as, free internet and connection to the Tucson community ambassadors. Submissions have closed for the second cohort, but you can subscribe on the Remote Tucson website to receive notifications about when the next round opens.
Remote Shoals invites remote workers to join the Shoals community. The shoals consist of Alabama cities of Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia spanning the counties of Colbert and Lauderdale. Remote employees must make at least $52,000 yearly in their full-time remote position or through self-employment outside of the program’s areas. Candidates must move to the Shoals within 6 months of being selected.
Applications are now open and candidates are promised $10,000 cash to be paid out over the course of one years residency.
Choose Topeka differs in the sense that they pair with Shawnee County employers to participate in the relocation program along with individuals who work remotely for employers outside of the county. The program accepts 60 candidates a year.
While Topeka has a stable job market, over 40% of the employees working in Topeka do not live in Shawnee County, the program hopes to attract those employees to live in the areas which they work. As well as bring additional new talent. To clarify, this program has an on-site work component where the employer matches the programs funds. The incentive is said to go up to $15,000, but how this is distributed isn’t clear.
Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) offers a Creative Technologies incentive designed to help grow and attract creative tech jobs into Chatham County. The incentive is available to tech talent who are self-employed, remote workers of technology firms located elsewhere or relocating to take a position with a tech company in Chatham County. Applicants must have three years of verifiable work experience.
Based on the website, incentives are a range of tax breaks both locally and on property.
There are additional cities and states which offer incentives to relocate into them, however they are not directly related to remote work. When relocating to the U.S. it is important to dig deep into the area you wish to live. Check for incentives, especially on housing.
In the daily hustle of the typical 9-5 Americans are packed into overpriced cities and their surrounding suburbs, suffering from long daily commutes and poor work-life balance with little option to move elsewhere because that is where the best jobs are (were). The switch to full-time remote opened doors for many people to consider relocation to nature packed locations offering lower living costs, larger housing and growing communities.
The long term impacts of these programs are yet to be determined. A hopeful scenario is that they will boost socio-economic levels and drive in further talent to these locations. All while embracing the new world of work and its impact on national and global migratory trends. Additionally, the remote work professionals will build appealing communities with a healthy work-life balance and zest for nature, eventually resulting in new U.S. hot-spots to live. Only time will tell if candidates will bask in their newfound home and set roots creating a boom in these locations full of forgotten potential or flock back to more established destinations soon after their required stay time has ended. For now, it is indeed a clever scheme to quickly embrace the future of work with relocation incentives as a means to revamp economies and communities.
Learn More About Immigrating to the United States
Read up on major U.S. Cities and immigration pathways.
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This article is a Relocate Community Article written by Kathryn Funk, Content and Community Director at Relocate.