These towns and cities will pay you up to $20,000 to move there

Believe it or not, there are some cities that will pay you to move there - ConsumerAffairs

AI can help you find the best deals based on your needs, too.

Running a town or city is becoming more and more competitive. With the right mix of people – professionals, families, artists, and business owners – towns can use their geo-demography as a lure for other similarly-minded folk to grow their tax base, and expand their services.

And the carrots these places are dangling are pretty impressive: up to $20,000, low-interest home purchases, free concerts, free internet, and more.

Taking a cue from The Homestead Act of 1862 -- which gave folks 160 acres to move and settle in the new West –Vermont went out on a limb in 2019 by launching its Remote Worker Grant Program, which offered grants up to $10,000 to remote workers who relocated to Vermont.

The state blew through a half-million dollars the first year but it grew its population base and the program had a positive economic impact, with new residents contributing to local businesses and communities. And once the word was out, other states fell in lock-step mimic mode.

You should understand one thing: Every one of these deals is compensation by objective – meaning you get paid when you check off certain boxes. Some will require you stay a certain number of years, some will give you part of the package in “valuable considerations” such as office space or a business loan, but all are going to have at least some element of quid pro quo.

These places will give you $10,000-$20,000 in incentives

West Virginia: $20,000. The “Almost Heaven” state is the most serious about this offer, with three areas offering $20,000 – Morgantown -- home of WVU -- the Eastern Panhandle, and Greenbrier Valley. All three deals start with $12,000 in cash and, then, flesh the other $8,000 out with things like free coworking space and a programming incentive program, which includes free outdoor recreation, including activities like whitewater rafting, downhill skiing, hiking, off-roading, and climbing, and free access to outdoor gear.

Texarkana Ark/Tex: $17,100. In this deal, you get $5,000 cash just for moving there, plus tickets to the symphony, breakfast with the mayor, 25% off tuition at Texas A&M Texarkana, a year’s membership to Texarkana’s Creator Space which could come in handy if you’re an artsy-techy type, etc.

Mattoon, Ill: $11,707. In ConsumerAffairs’ additional coverage of moving incentives, a move Mattoon begins with as much as $5,000 in cash for moving expenses, $2,555 in local business gift cards and a $500 restaurant voucher, alongside complimentary access to coworking spaces, YMCA facilities, internet services and storage solutions.

Poplar Bluff Mo: $11,000 total. That breaks down to $5,000 cash for relocation, plus another $6,000 in incentives like free internet and free golf for a certain length of time.

Deals of another kind

No free money, but how about “no taxes,” $750,000 to “reuse” an old building, or one of the lowest cost-of-living levels in the U.S.? 

This is a big country and there are many places that are loaded with advantages that are hoop-free. There are the best places in the country for first-time homebuyers, for example.

One of those – Provo-Orem Utah – has the added advantage of great outdoor experiences, a growing tech industry, which may offer job opportunities and potential for career growth, and a home buying assistance program, a 0% interest, deferred payment loan to assist first-time home buyers in becoming homeowners in Provo City.

With artificial intelligence (AI) at your side, you can create a prompt where AI engines can give you some pretty interesting insights. For example, when ConsumerAffairs asked Gemini “My wife and I are 32 years old, have two children, and both of us have nursing degrees. We live in Milwaukee Wisc., but want to move where it’s warmer, less expensive, has lots of outdoor activities, is near a college, and where the city or state has tax or home-buying incentives. Can you give me five towns that match our needs?” 

“Absolutely! Based on your criteria, here are five towns that might be a good fit for your family,” Gemini said, then listed Chattanooga Tenn., Tallahassee Fla., Columbia S.C., San Antonio Tex., and Colorado Springs Colo. as its choices. 

What Chattanooga offers

Its reasoning seemed pretty sound, too. For example, here’s what it likes about Chattanooga based on our imaginary family’s criteria:

  • Warmer Weather: “Chattanooga enjoys a humid subtropical climate with mild winters and hot summers.

  • Affordability: The cost of living is significantly lower than in Milwaukee, especially for housing.

  • Outdoor Activities: Chattanooga is known as the "Scenic City" with abundant opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, and more. It's nestled in the Appalachian Mountains and is near the Tennessee River.

  • College Town: The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) provides a college-town atmosphere with cultural events and sports.

  • Incentives: Tennessee has no state income tax, and there may be local incentives for homebuyers.”

There are lots of ways to skin this cat, too. When you’re writing your AI prompt, think of everything related to moving somewhere: Job market, school districts, and cultural fit are three good things to consider. And don’t forget to engage the AI platform for a deeper dive. 

Sticking with our imaginary family, we also nudged Gemini for an answer to this: “If we move, we want to put our children in a Catholic school. Which of your suggestions has the most and least expensive Catholic schools?”

And, again, the winner was Chattanooga with tuition rates about half of what Colorado Springs’ parochial schools are asking.

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