Some U.S. Cities and Towns are Rewarding New Remote Workers

August 16, 2022

A growing number of small towns and cities across the United States are attempting to convince knowledge workers to relocate to their small towns, by rewarding them with cash, tax incentives, and assistance with buying or renting homes.  In some cases, the total value of these incentives approaches $20,000, although the value of each incentive program varies from place to place. 

These relocation programs can offer an appealing option for remote workers who have been effectively priced out of expensive home prices in many of the country’s major metropolitan areas and have jobs that can be performed anywhere. And for others, simply moving away from busy, congested urban centers to find a different or even better quality of life in smaller cities is an attractive option. 

In some locations, the incentives go beyond the town covering closing costs on a new home or providing discounts for shopping at local businesses. Some of the more unusual offerings suggest a desire to build relationships in the community. In Greensburg, Indiana for example, relocating parents can take advantage of the town’s “Grandparents on Demand” package, which provides applicants with babysitting hours free of charge provided by local senior citizens. 

Communities across the U.S. spend billions annually to grow their economy, frequently directing funds to incentivize companies to relocate or to expand operations in their local areas. But now cities and towns can go straight to the remote employee instead, with targeted incentive packages designed to attract these workers to the community. 

Additional cities who have experimented with these remote worker relocation incentives include Morgantown West Virgina, Noblesville, Indiana, Montpelier, Vermont, and Topeka, Kansas. 

In a recent report Evan Hock, a cofounder of MakeMyMove, an online directory that connects towns and remote workers observed that – “Now that millions of workers are geographical free agents, many of those communities are redirecting their development funds to recruit the workers directly. These remote workers bring their families, their income, their spending power, and their taxes. For a modest investment, the returns are enormous.”  

For years small cities and towns, particularly in the Midwest and Northeast, have struggled to keep knowledge workers, as the lure of larger cities offering more plentiful job opportunities has been enticing. Not to mention, there has been a longer-term population shift towards warmer climates in the South and the Southwest. But with remote work becoming a normal way of life for so many, some of these smaller cities and towns now can better compete to attract and retain these knowledge workers, and possibly stave off population declines in the future. It is an interesting development for sure.

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