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Small Towns Are Offering Thousands in Cash and Incentives to Lure Remote Workers

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The widespread adoption of remote work during the pandemic caused millions of Americans to move away from big cities. From 2020 to 2022, New York City’s population declined by 5.3%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and San Francisco declined by 7.5%.

Now, some small towns across the country are trying to capitalize on the influx of remote workers, incentivizing digital nomads to relocate from big cities to more rural areas using cash and perks like gym and golf club memberships to entice, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Mariah Zingarelli, 29, and her husband, Chad, 34, told the outlet that they sold their home in Fresno, Calif. in February to relocate to Noblesville, Ind. The couple received $5,000 in cash along with memberships for a co-working space, gym, and golf club.

“You’re kind of getting paid to immerse yourself in the local community,” Mariah told the LA Times.

Related: 7 of the 10 Most Expensive Cities to Live in the U.S. Are in One State

Mariah and Chad Zingarelli are among the thousands of individuals who have used the platform MakeMyMove, which helps cities across the country recruit remote workers to relocate. While the Zingarelli’s move was mostly driven by the family-oriented nature of Noblesville (they have a three-year-old daughter), others make the move because of the exuberant cost of living in big cities.

Rudy Ramos, 41, a long-time California resident, told the LA Times he will be moving from Fremont to Muncie, Ind. this month, as his business is entirely remote and the cost of living has become unsustainable.

“Honestly, it’s just way too expensive here,” Ramos told the outlet. “All I’m working for is for my housing. I don’t have an opportunity to reinvest in my business.”

Although MakeMyMove is contracted by cities and towns to set up the relocation programs, some cities have their own, independent remote recruitment programs.

Tulsa Remote offers $10,000 in relocation cash to eligible workers who move to Oklahoma.

Ascend West Virginia offers new residents $12,000 to move across the state — “no strings attached.”

Related: This Is How Much You Need to Earn to Rent in the Most Expensive U.S. Cities

According to MakeMyMove, individuals who have relocated with their site save about $20,000 yearly. The platform features relocation offers from all over the country — from the Great Plains of Kansas and Iowa to the Southern charm of Kentucky and West Virginia.

Typical relocation packages feature about $5,000 in cash plus memberships to local community centers, gyms, and co-working spaces, with some relocation packages offering up to $12,000 in upfront money. Others feature incentives beyond the norm, like theater or orchestra tickets and beers with the mayor.

The applications for each city vary, but standard requirements are that you are moving from out of state and at least 18 years of age. While many cities on the platform want individuals with fully remote jobs, not all have it as a requirement.

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