If you could move anywhere in the country where would it be?
Now that a large fraction of the United States workforce has switched to remote work many are reconsidering their location since their job no longer influences where they live. This pandemic also has people craving wide-open spaces over cramped apartments since everyone is staying closer to home these days. For those of you sharing a small expensive apartment in San Francisco or New York City with 5 other roommates all working from home — my deepest sympathies — and I share this incentive with your best interests in mind.
Some folks moved closer to expensive metropolitan areas to cut down on their commute to work every day but since that commute is reduced to a hop skip and a jump to your work from home office on the couch — this is no longer a determining factor in where young professionals decide to set up shop. With a brand new incentive to diversify lowly populated areas with a more dynamic workforce, cities like Topeka, Kansas, Hamilton, Ohio, and Newton, Iowa are offering career-minded people $10,000 dollars to relocate.
Northwest Arkansas is pouring over 1 million dollars into what they are calling their “Talent Incentive.” You can check out their website here to see what other relocation benefits they will offer you should you decide to move there. Essentially, over a period of 6 months The Northwest Arkansas Council is investing this money through the Life Works Here initiative highlighting the myriad benefits to moving to a region rich in culture, a low cost of living, ample outdoor recreation and more. Definitely do some research into cities offering to pay you for your big move if you’re tired of sharing a small apartment with 5 other roommates like Jaleesa Garland aired in her recent interview with NPR, “I shared a bathroom with at least three other people at any given point in time,” she says. “Yeah, it was rough.”
Tulsa, Oklahoma is where Jaleesa Garland ended up moving to since the program Tulsa Remote gave her an offer she couldn’t refuse. The George Kaiser Family Foundation set up this program offering migrating young professionals benefits such as $10,000 cash to cover moving expenses, free access to a large coworking space in downtown Tulsa, help to find affordable housing, and offer community events to help you get situated and meet like-minded people in your neighborhood to start building your new life with friends by your side.
Tulsa also boasts a pretty low cost of living compared to other cities. Jaleesa paid over $1,200 to share a small room in a 5 bedroom apartment in Berkley, California and now she has her own one-bedroom apartment with a fireplace, patio, and ample room for her two dogs for only $940 per month’s rent. How does Jaleesa Garland feel about her decision to upend her life and start over in a new city? “I was pretty amazed at the quality of life here and what you can get for the money. So it was kind of a no-brainer.” Doesn’t sound like she has any regrets.
The flexibility afforded through a remote work lifestyle is the driving force behind why more than 23 million Americans are rethinking where they call home and their eager desire to move to greener pastures according to an Upwork survey. Urbanist Richard Florida noticed this trend and has bent to the desires of the ever-growing remote workforce by making this decision an easier one by working with Tulsa and Northwest Arkansas’ on their relocation incentive packages that offset the huge costs of moving. Obviously, money isn’t the only thing that will bring remote workers to these communities in need of a more diverse population. The incentive campaigns will help pump funds into stagnant cities in the heartland of America but those cities must also have other things that appeal to the needs of the kind of people they want to attract. If they’re trying to influence remote workers from large metropolitan areas focusing on creating a robust culture around food and entertainment should be something to consider.
Once these communities highlight all of the reasons why settling here would behoove your career, lifestyle, hobbies, and overall quality of life pretty soon the cash payouts won’t be necessary and folks will move to these new locations on their own accord. Richard Florida puts it best in the following press release, “I think it certainly pays off a lot better than paying millions upon millions of dollars in tax incentives for big companies. The small-scale incentive to a human being is better. Eventually, some of these places won’t need to dangle cash anymore.”
If the pandemic has you considering a move to a new locale to start over I would look into the incentives mentioned earlier and keep an eye out for more cities to start doing the same, (before they stop offering to pay you that glorious $10,000!)