(NEXSTAR) – Tired of working remotely? How about working extremely remotely?
A growing number of regions across the U.S. are offering financial incentives for remote workers to pack up and relocate, with offers not only including cash, but also credits toward a new home, or even discounted shopping, dining or outdoor activities.
The idea itself is nothing new: Smaller cities and towns have long offered incentives to lure new residents. But the coronavirus pandemic — and the widespread work-from-home trend that came with it — has only persuaded more workers to consider taking advantage.
A 2020 survey of over 4,400 working professionals, conducted by Blind, indicated that 66% of those workers (mostly in tech, finance, media or e-commerce jobs) would be open to relocating if they knew they never had to return to the office. New Yorkers, specifically, showed the highest interest in leaving the state, while Californians living in the Bay Area showed the most interest in leaving their particular metropolitan area.
Employers seem to be amenable to the idea, too. A separate 2020 poll, conducted by Gartner, found that approximately half of the employers surveyed had planned to allow remote work on a full-time basis.
“For the first time ever, millions of workers are free to choose the place that is right for them,” said MakeMyMove co-founder Evan Hock in a press release for his website issued earlier this year. “People who can take their jobs with them are taking serious looks at a move.”
Hock, together with Bill Oesterle, the creator of Angie’s List, created their MakeMyMove website as a way to help remote workers find an incentive package — and potentially a completely new home — that works for their lifestyle.
Visitors to MakeMyMove can currently peruse dozens of offers for remote workers, from places such as Augusta, Maine, which is offering over $15,000 in tax credits for new residents; Topeka, Kan., which offers $15,000 toward the purchase of a new home and $1,000 worth of Jimmy John’s sandwiches (for real); or Morgantown, W.V., where new residents are offered $12,000 in cash and up to $8,000 in “gifts and incentives,” including free outdoor activities.
“We built this marketplace so communities could compete for new residents, and we expect that competition to drive value to the worker,” Hock said at the time of MakeMyMove’s launch.
Many of these offers, however, come with stipulations for those who wish to relocate. Some require workers to maintain residency in their new town for a year before they can claim their incentives, while others require new residents to buy a home. Those ready to take advantage may also have to prove their availability to work remotely, or move within a certain time frame.
Still, a move might be worthwhile for the right candidate. Even before the pandemic, many of the towns trying to lure residents were boasting lower home prices, taxes and costs of living than their major metropolitan counterparts. Even some international locales were getting in on the act in 2019, specifically in Italy and Greece, both of which offered monthly payments to qualified candidates who relocated to help strengthen the local economy, according to WGHP and Narcity.com, respectively.
“These relocation packages for remote workers aren’t a tough sell to the communities that understand talent attraction is the engine for economic growth,” Hock said in January. “It’s just math.”