Do You Work Remotely? Get Paid to Try Out a New Town
Here’s the deal. Remote workers are in demand. They often possess specialized skillsets, they’re flexible, and they bring out-of-state dollars into local economies. Naturally, plenty of regions across the country welcome these employees into their labor pools, particularly if they’re struggling to attract tech talent through traditional channels.
In fact, remote workers are so desirable that some local governments will literally pay you to move there. Right now, there are two states offering juicy incentives to remote workers: Oklahoma (Tulsa) and Vermont.
What’s the deal with these incentive programs?
In two words? Brain drain.
It’s no secret that the economy (and the job market overall) is shifting from its manufacturing roots and into a tech-centric enterprise. According to the BLS, job growth in the fields of computing and IT is expected to grow 13 percent between 2016 and 2026—far outpacing the industry average for all occupations.
Some cities—such as Seattle—are benefitting from this push, while others are struggling to keep up with the outflux of young professionals leaving their home states in search of more competitive opportunities. This is brain drain; a growing issue that’s beginning to seriously hamper a region’s economic viability.
In response, a few local governments are taking a different approach and appealing directly to the growing remote worker population. They’re offering incentive programs that provide cash money, relocation perks, and other benefits to encourage qualified tech professionals to join the state’s ranks.
Want to live in Vermont?
Vermont was one of the early adopters in the remote worker incentivization push, with the Remote Worker Grant Program offering employees a $10,000 stipend over two years—provided they become full-time residents. The program takes effect on January 1, 2019, and features the following benefits:
- $10,000 paid to remote workers over a two-year period;
- Funds must cover qualifying expenses, such as relocation costs, internet access, computer costs, or memberships to co-working spaces. (It’s unclear whether other costs, such as rent, will qualify. The details are still being worked out, but it seems unlikely at this time);
- Workers must live in the state for the entire period and establish full-time residency to receive their reimbursements.
Vermont’s primary motivation is to liven up its aging workforce. Currently ranked second-to-last in overall state population (barely over 600,000 residents in the entire state!), Vermont has had trouble attracting youthful tech talent over the years. Its multi-year remote relocation program is just one effort to make the area more attractive to youthful tech workers.
Want to live in Tulsa?
Tulsa is one of the most populous cities in Oklahoma and is one of the latest regions offering incentives to remote workers. For those of you interested in a lighter commitment than Vermont’s two-year plan, Tulsa’s one-year program one might be for you:
- $10,000 in one year, divided into several stipends:
- $2,500 toward relocation costs
- $500 per month ($6,500 total) toward qualifying expenses
- $1,500 payout at the end of the 12-month period
- Like Vermont, recipients must live in Tulsa for the full-time period before receiving the reimbursements;
- Free membership to a local co-working space.
Tulsa’s program is structured differently than Vermont’s but offers the same basic benefits. The key distinction here is the environment: While Vermont is known for its gorgeous scenery and relaxed atmosphere, Tulsa is a bigger city with (arguably) more dynamic opportunities for nightlife and socialization. Plus, it asks participants for a shorter commitment, which might be more desirable to digital nomads interested in trying a few places out before settling down.
Which Program Is Better?
Overall, both options offer great benefits to remote workers looking to try on a new town. It comes to your personal preference, and what type of living situation you’re looking for.
And if neither of these options sounds like your cup of tea, don’t worry—the demand for tech workers is rising across the country, and we expect many more locations to pick up this type of incentivization model over the next few years.