Ready for a Change of Scenery? These 9 Cities Will Pay You to Move There


If you could use a change of scenery, why not get free money to move somewhere?

In the face of declining or slowing population growth, some cities have decided to get aggressive about their survival.

Some are giving away free land, others free tuition, and still others are literally handing out stacks of cash to folks who agree to move their metropolitan area.

Here are 10-plus places that really, really want you to move there…

Places That Will Pay You to Move There

If you’re already looking for a new place to call home, but you don’t have your heart set on a specific area, there are plenty of ways to determine a good fit for you.

If you’re just starting out your career, we’ve found the top 10 cities for wage growth. And if it’s closer to quitting time, we’ve found 11 surprisingly affordable cities for retirement.

But if you’re simply looking for a change and welcome a financial incentive, we’ve found 10 cities — and two states — that are offering deals worth thousands of dollars to entice you to make their communities your home sweet home.

1. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s second largest city is offering to pay remote workers $10,000 cash to relocate there through its Tulsa Remote program.

You’ll get some upfront cash to help with relocation expenses, then a monthly stipend for your first year. At the end of the year, you get the remaining dough. And they’ll throw in a desk at a coworking space so you don’t have to work out there on the plain all by your lonesome. 

The only requirements are that you must be 18 years old, eligible to work in the United States and, you know, want to live in Tulsa.

The 2019 application has closed, but you can sign up to receive an alert as soon as the 2020 application opens. FYI: You’ll need to be ready to move to Tulsa within six month if accepted.

2. Hamilton, Ohio

Hoping to boost its college-educated quotient, Hamilton, Ohio, has a “reverse scholarship,” which pays successful applicants up to $10,000 to move to this small city outside of Cincinnati — paid out in 30 convenient $300 installments.

To qualify, you must have graduated within the last seven years from a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts or Mathematics) program. And you can’t currently live in the city of Hamilton, but you must demonstrate employment within Butler County (where Hamilton is located). 

The city’s website also states a preference for those with a desire to give back and engage with the community, so perhaps this is your shot to stage that community theater production of… “Hamilton.” Just sayin’.

3. Marquette, Kansas

Anyone who’s ever driven cross country via I-70 knows Kansas has no shortage of open space.

The state has experienced declining population growth since the early 1900’s, so towns like Marquette have been giving out free plots of land in order to entice new residents.

Marquette’s free plots are located on the west side of town in the Westridge Addition, and the website promises beautiful sunset views over the open fields.

To qualify for the free land, you must agree to build a home on the land within one year, and commit to living there for at least a year after your home is completed.

4. Lincoln, Kansas

Here’s another Kansas town offering free land to qualified inhabitants. According to its website, you’ll be able to see the buffalo roam from your home on the range, should you take them up on their offer.

Again, you’ll have to comply with the city’s requirements for building and inhabiting a home within set time parameters. Contact Lincoln City Hall for full details.

Even if neither Marquette nor Lincoln quite suits you, you might be able to take advantage of Kansas’ Rural Opportunity Zones elsewhere. They cover 77 counties, and benefits include tax waivers and student loan repayments.

5. Curtis, Nebraska

How’d you like to build your dream home — without spending a dime on the land itself?

It’s possible in Curtis, Nebraska.

Construct a home in Curtis within a set amount of time (and according to certain specifications), and you’ll receive the land free. All of the lots come utility ready and are located on paved streets.

And in Curtis, it’s the more the merrier — and more lucrative. The family incentive program awards $500 for the first kid, $750 for two and $1,000 for three more children who move to the city and enroll in the Medicine Valley Public Schools.

6. New Richland, Minnesota

Life’s simpler in the Midwest — especially when you can get land for free.

If you build a home within a year of receiving the land’s deed, your new property in New Richland’s Homestake subdivision will be 100% free of charge.

Plus, the town’s in proximity to a golf course, lake and bike trails.

7. Harmony, Minnesota

Want to move to the “Biggest Little Town in Southern Minnesota”?

The town of Harmony will provide home-builders a cash rebate of up to $12,000 to cover costs of construction — and the program has zero age, income or residency restrictions.

8. Niagara Falls, New York

Need help repaying your student loans?

Who doesn’t?

It might be as easy as moving to scenic Niagara Falls, New York.

The city will reimburse you for student loan payments up to nearly $7,000 if you agree to live in specific neighborhoods for two years.

Plus, you’ll live right next to one of the seven natural wonders of the world. 

9. Baltimore, Maryland

Ready to give a little love to an underloved property — and get paid for it?

Baltimore’s Vacants to Value Booster incentive gives $10,000 to buyers of Vacants to Value properties in an effort to address the blight caused by abandonment in the area. The home must be your primary residence, and you must be willing to invest at least $1,000 of your own resources. Also, the $10,000 must go toward your down payment and closing costs.

If that’s not enough reason to Old Bay country, the city also has a Buying Into Baltimore program that offers a $5,000 incentive to use toward buying a home anywhere in Baltimore. You must attend a Trolley Tour event to be eligible; 30 individuals are selected on a lottery basis.

Still not convinced? We have two words for you: crab cakes.

Bonus: Anywhere in Alaska or Vermont

A view of Chena Hot Springs Road in Fairbanks, Alaska. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Why limit yourself to just one city when Alaska and Vermont will pay you to live anywhere in their states?

Since 1976, Alaska has paid its residents to live there via its Permanent Fund Dividend. The payouts are funded by Alaska’s oil royalties and are divided up evenly among citizens.

Yearly payouts vary, but the 2018 dividend was $1,600. Not too shabby just for being there!

To be eligible for the rebate, you must not claim residency in any other state or country. Check out the full details here.

Vermont, on the other hand, is making its case for remote workers to relocate to the land of maple syrup.

The state’s Remote Worker Grant Program will pay for “qualifying remote worker expenses” up to $10,000 — $5,000 per year for up to two years. And in 2020, the program will expand to those who work for employers based in-state.

After all, a fresh start in a new place is easier with a little financial boost.

Tiffany Wendeln Connors, a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder, contributed to this article.

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