7 Places in America That Pay You to Live There
When searching for a new home where your family can put down roots, you might consider the cost of living, crime rate or public school rankings. In seven American cities and states, local governments try to sweeten the deal by offering cash incentives, just for living there.
Find out where you can get paid for being a resident, and decide if these incentives are enough to convince you to move.
7 places that pay you to live
|What these places are paying for you to live there|
|Monetary benefit||What sets it apart|
|Alaska||Annual dividend that fluctuates based on the oil market; paid out $1,606 per resident in 2019||Dividend is paid out annually to each qualifying resident, including children|
|Baltimore||$5,000 for down payment and closing costs on a home||The city offers more than 50 financial incentives to homeowners and potential homebuyers|
|Harmony, Minn.||Up to $12,000 rebate after the purchase of a qualifying home||There are no income, age or residency requirements|
|Newton, Iowa||Up to $10,000 cash upon closing on a qualified home||Program recipients will also receive a Get to Know Newton welcome package worth $2,500|
|Topeka, Kan.||Up to $15,000 toward buying or renting a home||When you fill out an application, the city will pass your resume to local companies that are hiring|
|Tulsa, Okla.||$10,000 cash upon relocating to Tulsa to work remotely||Remote workers will also receive a free desk rental at a co-working space and join a community building program to meet other newcomers|
|Vermont||Grants up $7,500 for workers relocating for employment at a Vermont-based business; grants up to $5,000 for remote workers who relocate||You have the choice of bringing your remote job with you or finding a new job in Vermont|
The state of Alaska is the trailblazer when it comes to paying people to live there. It pioneered this concept with the permanent fund dividend (PFD), which redistributes oil revenues to its residents.
In 1982, the state of Alaska issued its first dividend refund check, amounting to $1,000 per person. In 2019, every eligible Alaskan received just over $1,600 from the fund.
“Every eligible Alaskan” includes children, too. Parents and guardians may file an application on behalf of their children.
The PFD has become a model for other social services programs, including former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s $1,000 per month universal basic income ー just replace “oil revenues” with “tech revenues.”
Requirements to qualify:
- Live in the state for at least one calendar year
- Fill out an application before March 31 of the calendar year during which you plan to apply
- Must be a citizen of the United States, an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States, an alien with refugee status under federal law or an alien who has been granted asylum under federal law
Maryland is famous for its blue crabs and the succulent crab cakes they’re used for. If that’s not enough to convince you to move, then perhaps you can be swayed by a homeownership incentive. Baltimore offers more than 50 financial incentives to homeowners and potential homebuyers.
For example, the Buying Into Baltimore program grants 10 lottery winners $5,000 to use toward a down payment or closing costs when you buy a home anywhere in the city of Baltimore.
The money is distributed through a five-year forgivable loan that appears as a second lien on the property. The lien will reduce by 20% each year until five years is reached. Residents who wish to move before the five-year period is up will be responsible for the leftover balance.
Requirements to qualify:
- Attend Live Baltimore’s Trolley Tour event
- Earn a homeownership counseling certificate
- Resident must live in the home they purchase
- Resident must contribute at least $1,000 to the home
- Mortgage cannot exceed the current FHA limit ($520,950 as of March 2020)
- Resident must apply for the program prior to closing on the home
- Fixed-rate mortgages only
- No cosigners, cash sales or owner financing
New homebuyers, it’s music to your ears: Harmony is offering cash rebates ranging from $5,000 to $12,000 for people who build a new home in this small town. According to the city’s Economic Development Authority (EDA), this rebate is designed to “spur new construction and community growth.”
Thus far, this program has been a success, according to Chris Giesen of the Harmony EDA. Between 2018 and 2019, seven applicants were approved, and at least 40% of the rebates awarded directly resulted in new residents moving to Harmony. That’s a lot for a town with a population that hovers around 1,000 residents.
- Applications must be approved by the EDA before construction begins
- The minimum estimated market value of the property must be $125,000 for a $5,000 grant, or $250,001 for a $12,000 grant
- Rebate is paid when 100% of the exterior features are complete
Make your dream of becoming a homeowner in 2020 a reality. Newton was once known as the Washing Machine Capital of the World before Whirlpool bought out Maytag, taking 1,600 factory jobs and hundreds of office jobs away from the area in 2007. Shortly after this, the Great Recession and housing crisis doubled the blow on Newton, so the local government decided to step in, introducing a homebuyers incentive program in 2014. By the end of 2019, the city of Newton has issued 78 single-family unit permits.
For 2020 and 2021, new home buyers will receive:
- A $10,000 cash incentive for homes valued at $180,000 and more
- A $5,000 cash incentive for homes valued between $100,000 and $179,999.99
In addition to the cash incentive, recipients will receive a welcome package worth $2,500.
Requirements to qualify:
- New home must be built inside Newton city limits
- The incentive is provided upon closing on home financing
- The value of improvements must be validated via appraisal
- The home must be completed and with a Certificate of Occupancy by the City of Newton
- A radon remediation system must be installed
The financial benefits of moving to Topeka are numerous: Rent is low at $838, and home prices hover around $134,000. At $46,890, median income is more than enough to cover the cost of living. Plus, you could be eligible for thousands toward living costs just for moving there.
Through employer matching, the Choose Topeka program will pay up to $15,000 toward a home purchase and up to $10,000 in funds for renting.
People who live near a Jimmy John’s qualify for some extra cheese to sweeten the deal. The sandwich chain offers $1,000 extra to people who relocate into one of their delivery zones.
Requirements to qualify:
- Employer must match funds
- Purchase or rent a home in Shawnee County within a year of relocation
- Move to the area for a full-time position
- You must be eligible to work in the U.S.
The city of Tulsa is giving remote workers 10,000 reasons to move there through the Tulsa Remote program:
- $10,000 cash, including upfront money for relocation expenses and a monthly stipend
- Free desk space at 36 Degrees North, a co-working office in downtown Tulsa
- Networking and community engagement events for program participants
Plus, the cost of living is much more forgiving than other, bigger metro areas. The median home price is around $149,000 as of 2020, compared with around $245,000 nationally. On average, rent is $932, which is much lower than the national average of $1,602.
In 2020, the program aims to attract 250 remote workers to the Tulsa area.
Requirements to qualify:
- Ability to move to Tulsa in the next six months
- Full-time remote or self-employed outside of Oklahoma
- Eligible to work in the U.S. and 18+ years old
The Green Mountain State offers incentives in the form of grants for workers who choose to relocate for a job at a Vermont business or work remotely in Vermont. Grants can be used to reimburse qualified relocation expenses, including closing costs, moving expenses, first month’s rent and lease deposits, for example.
For the Remote Worker Grant, applicants can receive up to $5,000 per year for two years. New Worker Relocation Grant applicants may be eligible for up to $7,500, depending on the area in which they plan to settle.
Requirements to qualify for New Worker Relocation Grant:
- Gain employment for a Vermont business in an occupation identified by the Vermont Department of Labor
- Meet the minimum wage requirement, which varies by labor market area
- Incur qualified expenses, including relocation expenses
Budgeting for your big move
Moving costs alone can set you back thousands
Before you consider moving to a new city or state to save some dough, consider the high cost of relocating your family. It costs up to $1,650 for a local move and up to $5,700 to move cross-country, according to HomeAdvisor. On average, it costs $1,100 to move, and even more if you have to move bulky items like cars or a piano. Plus, you may need to factor in the costs of renting a storage unit or buying moving supplies into the final total.
In addition to the cost of hiring movers, you’ll also be on the hook for a security deposit, in addition to first and last month’s rent, if you’re renting a home. If you plan to buy when you move, you should budget for:
- A down payment on a mortgage
- A home inspection
- Closing costs, like an appraisal, attorney fees and lender fees
In many cases, the costs of moving may outweigh the potential financial incentives that an area presents to new residents. Make sure you have enough money to cover three to six months’ worth of living expenses to carry you through your move.
Using a personal loan for moving expenses
Less than half of Americans said they could handle a $1,000 emergency expense without taking on debt, a December 2018 survey from LendingTree found. So if you plan on moving in the near future, you may need to bide your time while you save up money or borrow the money you need for moving expenses. While it’s possible to take out a moving loan, there are few circumstances when it’s the best choice.
Your first strategy should be to budget and save accordingly for your move. You could also use a credit card with a 0% APR promotional period, as long as you pay off the balance before that promotion ends. If you can’t pay off the balance during this promotion, you’ll end up paying deferred interest and maybe even late fees.
You could consider opening a moving loan if you need the money fast and you don’t have access to a no-interest credit card. If you’re going to take out debt for moving expenses, you might as well choose the financing option with more favorable terms. Often, personal loans could have a lower APR than a credit card, particularly if you have a strong credit profile.
Borrowers with strong credit profiles will get the best terms on a personal loan. For subprime borrowers, the APR on a personal loan might be too high to consider using a moving loan.
LendingTree analyzed relocation incentive programs in the United States that are accepting applicants as of Feb. 21, 2020 or will open applications in the near future. This analysis includes cash or grant incentives, and it does not include cities and states that grant plots of land as an incentive.
Housing and rental costs are sourced from the January 2020 Zillow Home Value Index and the Zillow Rent Index.