A city will pay me to live there? How is that possible, you may ask. Well, it’s true. There are cities in the United States that will pay you to live there. Will they always be your first choice for where you would live? Maybe and maybe not. But getting paid to move and live in a community, if even for a short while, can be quite an adventure. It can save you money and might even surprise you with how much you enjoy living in that city. But before you make any final decisions, sync up with a financial expert through SmartAsset’s matching tool to get paired up with a professional who can guide you through the ins and outs of such a big decision.
Check out these five cities that will pay you to live there (plus one entire state!).
If you are looking for some free land in a picturesque county, consider Lincoln, Kansas. This city offers free home sites to those who meet its demands. Applicants will need to physically build the homes so this city may be best for someone who is willing to take on a project.
According to the city of Lincoln’s website, Lincoln has the benefits of a smaller town, including no serious crime, but big city benefits like medical care and broadband internet.
Like Lincoln, Kansas, the city of Curtis, Nebraska offers free lots to build a home on. If you can construct a single-family home within a specified time, the lot is yours. All lots come with paved concrete streets and utilities so that’s two hassles you won’t have to worry about.
One attraction to living in Curtis is the annual pageant held on Palm Sunday. In fact, this pageant is how Curtis got its nickname, Nebraska’s Easter City. Learn more about the Roll’n Hills Addition here.
Detroit, Michigan has seen its fair share of rough times over the past few decades. Abandoned neighborhoods are scattered throughout the city. While this may seem like a depressing prospect for some, it can be seen as a great challenge for others. Challenge Detroit is a program designed to “attract and retain” college-educated individuals, specifically new career seekers and entrepreneurs, to the Detroit metro area.
Through its recruitment efforts and programs, Challenge Detroit hopes its fresh new talent will stay within the city and help bring it back to life. The nonprofit organization also creates jobs by partnering with top companies. In turn, Fellows spend their weeks working with their host companies and working with area nonprofits on “challenge” projects to provide actionable solutions to some of the city’s most complex issues and opportunities such as food security, education and economic development.
Chattanooga, Tennessee is quickly becoming a hub for young “geeks” who are willing to relocate. The city was recently named a GigCity. This means that Chattanooga is the first Western Hemisphere city to have gigabit per second fiber Internet accessible to the entire city grid.
With this designation, Chattanooga has created GeekMove. It is an incentive program designed to financially assist computer developers who are interested in relocating to newly revitalized communities.
Does a place billing itself as “nice place to visit, even better place to live” sound enticing? That’s how the city of Harmony, Minnesota describes itself and it’s willing to give you a cash rebate for building a home in its “big little town.”
In fact if the home you build has an estimated market value over $250,000, you’ll get a cash rebate of $12,000. There are also no age, income level or residency restrictions so get applying! Learn more about Harmony’s Residential Home Construction Rebate program here.
It’s not just certain cities in Alaska that will pay you to live there, it’s the whole state. The state of Alaska developed the Permanent Fund Dividend in 1976 and started paying money out to residents of Alaska in 1980. This essentially pays people to permanently live there. Investment earnings on Alaskan mineral royalties are paid out to Alaska residents.
It is an annual payment. The amount varies every year but in 2015, 637,014 residents got $2,072 each. Since 1988, the payment has been higher than $800. The state feels that it is an investment in their current population as well investing in future generations in hopes that they stay in Alaska. To be eligible for the dividend, you need to have lived in Alaska for one year, not be a convicted felon and be present in Alaska for at least 190 days in a calendar year.
This financial incentive can help make up for the higher cost of living that many pay in Alaska. It does vary from year to year so it’s a good idea to not rely on it as part of your budget. But it can be helpful for making other financial goals – like establishing an emergency fund, saving for a home down payment or setting aside money for retirement.
The Bottom Line
While the fact that a place will pay you to move there might seem like reason enough to pack your bags immediately, there are a lot of factors to consider. For instance, the state of Alaska will pay you to live there but the cost of living in the state is notably high. It’s also worth considering whether you’re moving to the place simply because of the financial incentive or whether you can actually see yourself making a home there.
Before making any major life changes like a cross-country move, it’s always a good idea to talk to a financial advisor. A matching tool like SmartAsset’s can help you find a professional to work with to meet your needs. First you answer a series of questions about your situation and your goals. Then the program matches you with up to three advisors who meet your needs. You can then read their profiles to learn more about them, interview them on the phone or in person and choose who to work with in the future. This allows you to find a good fit while doing much of the hard work for you.
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