Dreaming of a Fresh Start? These U.S. Cities and States Will Pay You to Move There

Whether you’re a pensioner looking for a fresh start or a digital nomad looking to change up your environment for a bit, the U.S. is full of cities, towns, and states that are offering incentives to those who are willing to relocate.

From cash payments to forgivable loans to free housing, there are a number of American cities that offer incentives to those who are willing to relocate.

But it’s a pretty big country so how to narrow it down? With so many choices and so many different enticements, it’s probably best to first consider climate and geography.

Do you like scorching hot summers? Go Southwest. Do you like long snowy winters? Go upper-Midwest. Do you like a healthy rainy season? Go Northwest.  Do you like spring-like balmy temperatures year-round? Head to the Southeast. Are you a lover of four seasons splashed in garish colors? Definitely consider the Northeast.

Way-Western Locale Offering Cash & Incentives

 If you’re a nature lover looking for plenty of outdoor adventures, head west, well, way west and way north actually. Due to a shortage of residents, Alaska has a program that pays all residents a dividend of $1,600 per year.

To qualify, for its Permanent Fund Dividend, you must reside and remain in the state for a full calendar year from September to September, be absent no more than 180 days, have no other U.S. state residency, and be free from certain criminal convictions.

In 2022, the payment also included an energy relief payment, which brought the total amount to $3,284!

For a specific city recommendation with additional perks, consider Ketchikan, a scenic coastal city near the southernmost tip of Alaska that is a 90-minute flight from Seattle.

In addition to the state dividend, the Choose Ketchikan program offers free Internet and discounts on Alaska Airlines tickets for remote workers and other tech-based entrepreneurs.

In addition to having no state tax and 8,436 miles of pristine coastline, Alaska is home to world-class skiing and fishing, as well as endless hiking trails, wildlife, glaciers, scenic drives, and opportunities to unplug and make a fresh start.

Too cold for you?

If you’re looking for a more tropical climate, head south off the mainland and way further west until you land in culturally rich and sun-drenched Hawaii.

In order to “integrate and retain key talent, especially returning kamaʻāina, to tackle brain drain, grow the economy and build community” the Aloha state created its Movers and Shakas program.

The program, which doesn’t require a semi-permanent or permanent commitment to the area, is funded by a number of local businesses and organizations that are offering to pay the airfare of anyone looking to work remotely from Oahu.

To qualify for its perks, including discounted hotel stays and local networking opportunities, you must be a remote worker over the age of 18 who can commit to spending at least 30 consecutive days in Hawaii and be willing to volunteer in a community service activity for a non-profit.

On your days off, don’t forget to explore the endless beaches, South Pacific Cuisine, sightseeing adventures, dramatic mountain ranges, and lush waterfalls in between year-round golfing, tennis, hiking, and swimming.

Exhale in the Toasty Southwest

Tucked in the middle of the old wild west, Tucson, Arizona, is inviting remote workers to discover unexpected adventures in its “creative, quirky, and delightfully affordable community.”

Developed to lure remote workers to the area, its Remote Tucson program offers relocators $1,500 toward moving costs, one year of free internet, free trials at local coworking spaces, membership to a local cultural institution, networking opportunities, and more.

To be eligible, you must be over 18 years old, have full-time remote employment outside of the area, and be able to move to Tucson within six months.

Known as a thriving arts and cultural scene in the desert, the perpetually sunny city is also home to the University of Arizona and boasts some of the best golf courses in the Southwest.

There’s No Place Like Home

Click your heels, head east to the middle of the country, don’t pass go and collect up to $15,000 in Topeka, Kansas.

In its Choose Topeka program, remote workers (whose employers are outside of Shawnee county) can receive up to $5,000 in cash toward rent in the first year and up to $10,000 in cash toward a home purchase.

On-site workers (employed within Shawnee County) can get up to $10,000 toward rent in the first year or up to $15,000 toward a home purchase.

Considering the city has a 10% lower cost of living than the average state capital and the median home price in the Sunflower State is also well below the national average, at $125,000, the five-figure incentive will go far.

As an added bonus to the program, Jimmy John’s sandwich franchise will throw in an extra $1,000 for anyone who moves within the delivery range of one of its shops.

As the Kansas state capital, Topeka offers several exciting cultural and lifestyle attractions; however, if you’re not looking to rent or buy and want to build your own home, consider moving to Lincoln, Kansas.

In its Free Home Site program, the city is offering homebuilders free lots ranging from 12,000 to 35,000 square feet.

Described as the county seat of a 720 square mile area “with buffalo, farm animals, and wildlife scattered across picturesque hillsides,” Lincoln will grant free lots to anyone willing to build a home, move in, and establish roots in the bucolic town of 3500 residents.

In addition to set guidelines and restrictions for new building projects under the program, there is a design criterion as well as an application process for those looking to take that dream home from blueprints to construction.

Lakeside Living in the Snow

For remote workers needing some visual inspiration of the natural beauty of a serene lakeshore among the woodlands, Bemidji, Minnesota, is offering an attractive relocation package, including up to $2,500 toward moving expenses.

In addition to moving costs, the city is offering free internet service, a one-year membership to a coworking space, a one-year membership to the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce, and free access to community programs and events.

To qualify for this fresh start program geared toward telecommuters and entrepreneurs, you must work primarily from home and be relocating from at least 60 miles away.

If you’re looking for a bigger lake, let’s say a Great Lake, consider the incentive program offered by Southwest Michigan.

Only 90 miles from Chicago, several cities and small towns along Lake Michigan in the Southwestern section of the state are offering attractive perks to move there.

Looking to attract new residents from bigger cities, the Move to Michigan program will grant qualified applicants up to $15,000 toward a mortgage and over $5,000 in additional benefits, including athletic club memberships, driving range access, coworking spaces, and other perks.

To qualify, you must be willing to purchase a $200,000 home within several zip codes in southwest Michigan, obtain a driver’s license to demonstrate full-time residency, and have a current full-time remote job out of state.

Touted as a great family alternative away from the big city hustle and bustle, the region includes the coastal towns of St. Joseph, Benton Harbor, Lake Charter Township, and the Village of Stevensville.

Southern Living in the Bible Belt

Affectionally known as Dixie, the southeastern region of the U.S. has several states that are offering incentive programs to attract new residents.

The Shoals in Alabama, which includes the cities of Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia, will give eligible remote workers $10,000 in cash – $2,500 upfront, $2,500 after six months, and the remaining $5,000 after one year of continuous residency.

To be eligible for this fresh start, for the Remote Shoals program, you must be at least 18 years old, have a minimum annual income of $52,000, and have full-time remote employment (or self-employment) outside of Colbert and Lauderdale Counties.

Located near the border with Tennessee and Mississippi, the four cities are just a couple of hours from hubs like Memphis, Nashville, and Birmingham.

Antebellum-rich Natchez, Mississippi, is also luring remote workers with cash upfront plus more money each month for a year.

Its Shift South program grants up to $6,000 to remote workers who commit to buying a home, including up to $2,500 in relocation costs, plus $300 a month for up to a year.

Further east, Savannah, Georgia has established the Savannah Technology Workforce Incentive that offers up to $2,000 in reimbursement for moving fees to remote workers.

There are similar cash, perks, and enticement programs in the region, including Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Want Four Seasons and Shorter Flights to Europe? Go Northeast.

 When you think of leaf-peeping in the fall, perhaps no other two states come to mind than Maine and Vermont.

Maine is luring remote workers by offering to help pay student loans for relocators through its Opportunity Maine Tax Credit program.

Maine is offering eligible first-time homebuyers with student loan debt up to $40,000 in student loan forgiveness.

Regardless of where your employer is, if you live in Maine for the tax year and graduated college after 2008, you are likely eligible for a tax credit that could total up to $377 per month to go toward student-loan payments.

A booming restaurant scene and breathtaking locations like Acadia National Park make Maine an option for lobster lovers looking for a new locale.

A little bit to the west, Vermont is also looking to attract new residents to the picturesque hills and valleys of the Green Mountain State.

Vermont’s Remote Worker Grant offers up to $7,500 in relocation expenses to those willing to live in Vermont and seek employment with a pre-approved local business and to new residents that work remotely for an out-of-state employer.

Bordered by New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Canada, Vermont is a world-renowned destination for cross-country skiing, bed and breakfasts, autumn leaf-peeping, and countryside vineyards. A great place for a fresh start.

Several Other U.S. Destinations Have Similar Programs

As you can see, there are plenty of cities and towns across America that are willing to pay you to move there for a fresh start. Many other locations are also offering everything from cash payments to tax breaks to forgivable loans, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Plenty of incentives are out there if and when you’re ready to take the plunge and move to a new city or town but you just have to decide on the right location that best suits your needs for this important fresh start.


The views expressed in this article are not to be construed as personal advice. You should contact a qualified and ideally regulated adviser in order to obtain up to date personal advice with regard to your own personal circumstances. If you do not then you are acting under your own authority and deemed “execution only”. The author does not accept any liability for people acting without personalised advice, who base a decision on views expressed in this generic article. Where this article is dated then it is based on legislation as of the date. Legislation changes but articles are rarely updated, although sometimes a new article is written; so, please check for later articles or changes in legislation on official government websites, as this article should not be relied on in isolation.


Chris Lean

Chris is a Chartered Financial Planner who writes blogs and articles to simplify and explain some of the financial issues that affect UK expats. Subjects include; hot topics, regulation and the ever-changing world of finance.

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