Working remotely? Here are 16 places that will pay you to live there

·12 min read
Working remotely? Here are 16 places that will pay you to live there
Working remotely? Here are 16 places that will pay you to live there

Millions of Americans have discovered the joys of remote work during the pandemic, trading the office for the backyard or the beach.

If you're eager to keep it up — and most remote workers are, a Pew Research Center survey found — why bother living near the office at all? Especially if moving lets you cut down the cost of your mortgage payments.

In fact, several places in the U.S. and around the world are so desperate for residents that they’re willing to bribe you to come and settle down.

If you need an influx of cash to help pay down debt or achieve your long-term goals, consider one of these 16 locations.

1. Sicily, Italy

An aerial view of the a village on a hill at Castropignano, Campobasso, Molise in Italy
Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock

Priced out of the real estate market in your hometown? Or maybe your credit score is holding you back from the best mortgage rates?

Settle down in one of these quaint Italian hamlets, and you can buy a place of your own for about $1.20.

The Sicilian town of Troina has several abandoned buildings on the market for a single euro. They’re not exactly turnkey properties — far from it — but the local government’s willing to help pay for renovations.

Successful applicants can get a “restyle bonus” of up to 15,000 euros (about $18,000 U.S.), plus another 10,000 euros ($12,000 U.S.) for energy efficiency upgrades. You will need to put down a 5,000 euro deposit ($6,000 U.S.) to get started, but you’ll be paid back once renovations are complete.

If you’re not handy or patient, you can buy a non-crumbling property with a discount of up to 8,000 euros ($9,651). And if Troina doesn’t appeal, the Sicilian towns of Castiglione di Sicilia, Mussomeli, Castropignano and more have also offered ruined homes starting at one euro.

2. Topeka, Kansas

Kansas field

The capital of Kansas is offering up to $15,000 to lure workers — and if you really like sandwiches, you can get even more bread.

Through the Choose Topeka program, remote workers can receive up to $10,000 for a home purchase or $5,000 to rent within Shawnee County. On-site workers can get up to $15,000 for a home or $10,000 to rent, but your employer will have to chip in as part of a transfer.

And thanks to a deliciously dumbfounding deal with a fast food franchise, you can get a $1,000 bonus if you relocate to one of three delivery zones for Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches.

Topeka is particularly tornado-prone, however, so make sure you have a good home insurance policy that covers any potential storm damage.

3. Hawaii

People with their surf boards in Hawaii
@brendanmonahanphoto / Twenty20

People spend thousands to vacation in this lush island state — but you can visit for free as you work remotely through Hawaii’s Movers and Shakas program.

If you already have a job and live outside Hawaii but within the U.S., you can enjoy a month’s stay in the Aloha State with a free roundtrip flight, discounted hotel stays and other perks.

The only catch is that you’ll need to give back to the community while you’re there. This entails at least 15 hours of volunteering with nonprofits, mentoring local startups and taking part in cultural education.

4. Saskatchewan, Canada

Girl in yellow field in Saskatchewan
@meganrc89 / Twenty20

Here’s a creative way to demolish your student debt.

Saskatchewan’s Graduate Retention Program was initially designed to convince young people to stay in the prairie province once they finished school. However, it’s now being used as a recruitment tool to bring in grads from across Canada and around the world.

The province offers a tax rebate of up to $20,000 to its residents. The amount depends on what degree you earned and will get paid out over seven years. If the rebate ends up being higher than what you owe, you can apply it toward future tax years for up to 10 years after graduation.

5. Japan

Girl standing under umbrella in Tokyo, Japan
@carlo_vstek / Twenty20

If you’re fascinated by the Land of the Rising Sun, you’re in luck — the country wants to learn more about you, too.

The government-sponsored JET Programme promotes cross-cultural understanding by recruiting people to live in Japan and work as Assistant Language Teachers.

Eligible candidates just need to have a bachelor’s degree (or three-year teacher training certification) and an interest in the country. You’ll be expected to pick up some Japanese during your stay, but you don’t need to be fluent to qualify.

You’ll receive about 2,800,000 yen ($25,666 U.S.) in your first year, 3,600,000 yen ($33,000) in the second, 3,900,000 yen ($35,749) in the third and 3,960,000 yen ($36,300) in the fourth and fifth. You’ll also get insurance and transportation coverage for your flights to and from Japan.

6. Baltimore, Maryland

Spring time in Baltimore
@raqwell / Twenty20

Baltimore is notorious for its steep housing costs, but you could get a little help if you’re willing to give a run-down home a second chance — or you get a little lucky.

The Vacants to Value Booster program offers $10,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance in the form of a five-year forgivable loan. You can access the money if you choose to buy a busted-up home that’s being renovated by a developer or you choose to do the rehab yourself.

Not too keen? Get to know the city through one of its Trolley Tours and you might still be able to win $5,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance. The Buying Into Baltimore lottery randomly selects 20 homebuyers from among the pool of applicants.

For either program, you’ll need to contribute at least $1,000 of your own money toward your home, and your mortgage amount can’t exceed $517,500.

7. Northwest Arkansas

Hiking in Arkansas
@LouisianaTraveler / Twenty20

Got a job? Live outside Arkansas? You can get $10,000 — and a free bike — just for moving here, the nonprofit Northwest Arkansas Council announced last year. That's more than enough to jump-start an impressive investment portfolio.

The council is investing more than $1 million over six months. The money is coming from the Walton Family Foundations — yes, the Walmart Waltons.

And if you’re not much of an outdoor enthusiast and plan on forgoing the free bike, you can opt for an annual membership to one of the area’s arts and cultural institutions instead.

Nelson Peacock, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council, told Forbes that the region wants to attract more talent and remote workers, especially to fill in the shortage of employees in the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) fields.

8. Hong Kong

Woman taking selfie in Hong Kong
@Naetikarn_j / Twenty20

If you’re a city mouse stuck in the country, all you need to do is hop on a free flight to one of the most densely populated places in the world.

Native English speakers can relocate to Hong Kong with their family and work as a primary or secondary school teacher for a steady salary and benefits like medical insurance and travel coverage.

You may be eligible to receive $20,989 in Hong Kong dollars ($2,700 U.S.) a month as your “special allowance,” get your family’s airfare and baggage expenses reimbursed and receive medical insurance.

Once you’ve completed a year at your school, you may be awarded with a salary increase depending on your performance.

9. Alaska

Vacation in Alaska
@kristenholbrook / Twenty20

No special requirements here: The frigid yet breathtaking state up north pays all of its residents royalties from its oil and gas industry.

The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend was introduced in 1982 and doles out a good chunk of money to residents each year from its $54 billion nest egg.

All that said, the Frontier State’s oil industry hasn’t been booming like it used to, in part thanks to the decline in gas usage and prices brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. US News said each Alaskan’s yearly check was expected to hit just $1,000 in 2020 — however, with gas prices on the rise, that may improve for 2021.

Another factor to consider: While Alaska has no income or state-imposed sales taxes, it’s notorious for its pricey utilities and groceries.

10. The Shoals Area, Alabama

Man sitting on a boat in an Alabama beach area
@brandondeebaker / Twenty20

In The Shoals, you’ll enjoy affordable housing, low property taxes and close proximity to the beach. But if that’s not quite enough, a program called Remote Shoals is offering thriving remote workers a $10,000 bribe.

You need to make at least $52,000 a year and be able to move to the area — which encompasses the cities of Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia — within six months to get accepted.

Participants get 25% of the money upfront to help pay for relocation costs, another 25% after spending six months in the region and the rest once they’ve lived there for a year.

11. Chile

Plaza de las Armas square in Santiago, Chile
f11photo / Shutterstock

Looking to take your tech start-up to the next level? Do it in the gorgeous, cosmopolitan city of Santiago, and you’ll get free funding to scale up.

The Chilean government is trying to cement Santiago as the entrepreneurial hub of Latin America. To that end, Start-Up Chile provides up to $78,000 in equity-free funding through several support programs, which ask you to remain in the country for anywhere from four months to a year while you expand your business.

The program also offers plenty of other perks, including training from mentors and investors, free coworking space in Santiago and a one-year working visa.

12. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma
val lawless/Shutterstock

Tulsa Remote, an initiative backed by local billionaire George Kaiser, is offering $10,000 grants to people outside Oklahoma who agree to move to the city for a year and work remotely.

The money usually comes in stages — but if you’re ready and able to buy a home, the $10,000 grant can be received as one lump sum after the sale is finished.

Aside from the cash, you’ll get access to exclusive perks, events and desk space in downtown Tulsa’s coworking community. The organization says past participants were drawn to the city for its open spaces, low cost of living and lack of pollution and traffic.

13. South Korea

Autumn in South Korea
@wang72624 / Twenty20

Whether you have a deep reverence for the South Korean countryside, or you just really like K-pop and kimchi, you can live here for free while making money with your language skills.

You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree and potentially more certification to qualify for the English Program in Korea (EPIK). Pay starts at 2 million won (about $1,775 U.S.) per month, but the gig comes with plenty of perks, including free housing.

All EPIK teachers also receive 300,000 won ($268 U.S.) within the first month to help them get settled, 1,300,000 won ($1,154 U.S.) within the first one to six months and will get affordable medical insurance for the length of their contract. Even more bonus money is available when you complete or renew your contract.

14. Newton, Iowa

Woman checking out the fields in Iowa
@lanagarmon / Twenty20

If you’re open to buying a home in Iowa, you can get up to $10,000 just for skipping over Des Moines and settling a few minutes to the east instead.

The Newton Housing Initiative provides the cash (plus a “Get to Know Newton" Welcome Package valued at over $2,500) to anyone buying a brand new home this year.

The full $10,000 applies to homes valued at $180,000 or more, while you can get $5,000 for buying a new home valued between $100,000 and $179,999. If you spend less than that, you can’t get any cash, but you still might be able to get a break on your property taxes.

(If you’re priced out of homeownership entirely, consider using the power of crowdfunding to invest in the red-hot real estate market with as little as $500.)

The initiative, which used to offer bonuses to builders as well, was approved in 2014 to help improve the quality and quantity of Newton’s housing inventory. Rural Iowa is currently facing a dearth of affordable housing, but cities like Newton are exploring new ways to attract builders.

15. Maine

Female hiker and dog at Jordan Pond and The Bubbles, Acadia National Park, Maine
Michael Carni / Shutterstock

Life is looking up for college grads burdened by student loans. President Joe Biden has eliminated taxes on any debt that gets cancelled over the next five years — and if you’re willing to move to Maine, the state may reimburse your monthly payments.

The Opportunity Maine Tax Credit is available to Americans across the country who earned a bachelor’s or associate’s degree after 2015. (If you graduated earlier, or got a graduate degree, you might still be eligible if you went to school in Maine.)

So long as you live and work in the Pine Tree State, you can get a tax credit of up to $4,500 per year. And if you got a bachelor’s degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) field, then your credit may be refundable — meaning you get a check for whatever you can’t apply to your taxes.

16. Lincoln, Kansas

Woman in sunflower field in Kansas
@clholle / Twenty20

The small city of Lincoln (population 3,500) isn’t offering cash or tax rebates to attract residents to its rolling hills — but it is offering free land so you can build your dream home.

The Free Home Site Program spent about two-thirds of a million dollars to create a new subdivision and is giving away the building sites to the first 21 eligible applicants.

You’ll also get reduced special assessments for building, and the lots qualify for a 10-year property tax rebate program.

While Lincoln is known for its farms, buffalo and other wildlife, the subdivision falls within city limits, and is near a baseball field, city park, high school and medical complex.

Once you’re ready to fill your new home with furniture and decor, make sure you download a free browser extension to ensure you get better prices when you shop online.

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