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7 Cities That Will Actually Pay You to Move There

From relocation money to student loan payments to free land(!), moving to these cities really pays off.

By Emily Handy on July 16, 2018

Ludington MI
Ludington / Photo Courtesy of Ludington Area CVB

As baby boomers leave the workforce and the demand for skilled workers rises, some cities and states are facing an unexpected situation: they need more residents, and fast. How do cities go about attracting new people? In some cases, cities are opting for an innovative (and generous) approach: offering incentives to people willing to relocate and revitalize their economies.

From paying off your student loans to handing out free plots of land or money for your business, it literally pays off to move to these seven cities:

1. Burlington, Vermont

Vermont is seeking to increase its small population and challenge the perception that it’s purely a scenic vacation destination. From Burlington to smaller cities like BrattleboroManchester and Rutland, Vermont offers new residents a fantastic quality of life, endless outdoor activities, great food – and a nice chunk of change for making the move. 

That’s right: Vermont is willing to pay new residents up to $10,000 towards moving expenses, a computer and a co-working space if you decide to move to the state and work remotely. The state is willing to shell out up to $125,000 on incentives this year – enough to relocate 25 lucky folks.

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2. Marne, Iowa

This quaint (and tiny!) town of just 120 residents is conveniently located in between bigger cities Omaha and Des Moines, and is offering new residents something unique: a free plot of land. Simply download the application, pick out your lot, and voila – you are free to build your new home in Marne. The free lots are averaging 80 feet by 120 feet, and brand new residents are allowed to build conventional or modular homes.

3. New Haven, Connecticut

New Haven has it all. A coastal city boasting Ivy League school Yale, New Haven is crammed full of culture, and, get this – a really booming pizza scene. But the city wants to give possible new residents even more incentives to live there. The city’s three-tiered incentive program, Re: New Haven, serves up up to $80,000 in incentives for new homeowners. First-time buyers can receive $10,000 in interest-free loans for a downpayment, $30,000 for energy-saving upgrades, and they even tack on $40,000 for college tuition to any in-state college for kids who graduate from New Haven public schools.

4. Baltimore, Maryland

The city of Baltimore is quickly becoming a burgeoning culture and arts hub. The Rust Belt city’s population has seen its fair share of struggles since the 1950s, but in recent years, young people have been flocking to the city, drawn by the affordable housing options and opportunities to start their own business. 

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Speaking of affordable housing, the Buying Into Baltimore program offers $5,000 to folks looking to live anywhere in the city. If you decide to work for the city, they’ll add on another $5,000 toward your first home. And if you’d like to go more of the fixer-upper route, the city’s Vacants to Value Booster incentive will give you up to $10,000 to purchase a vacant home and renovate it. 

5. Harmony, Minnesota

Like Marne, Harmony is a small, Midwestern town that was previously struggling to attract fresh, young faces. The city of just over 1,000 residents put an incentives plan into place in 2014, and has seen a serious uptick in the amount of newcomers since. Here’s the deal: the city of Harmony will literally give you cold, hard cash –up to $12,000, if you decide to build a house there. The one-page application takes minutes to fill out, and the city will cut you a check as soon as the exterior of your home is complete. 

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Hamilton OH
Hamilton / Courtesy of OZinOH under a CC 2.0 license.

6. Hamilton, Ohio

It was a shortage of skilled laborers that inspired the city of Hamilton to come up with a plan to draw in young college graduates. Currently, only 15% of the city’s residents have a college degree, and the city is trying to change that by offering up to $10,000 to new residents with student loans. 

Applicants must live in the city’s urban core and have proof of employment in the greater Hamilton area. This program has already begun drawing in young professionals and filling some of the 5,800 job opportunities available in the city. 

Ludington MI
Ludington / Photo Courtesy of Ludington Area CVB

7. Ludington, Michigan

If you have a startup and are struggling to find funding, a move to Ludington might be the best business decision you can make. This picturesque lakefront town of 8,500 is extremely welcoming to small businesses and startups – so much so that they hold an annual contest that awards one lucky entrepreneur with $50,000(!) for their startup idea. The winner of the Momentum Business Plan Competition must locate their business in Mason County, which isn’t a bad trade-off considering it’s an area known for its historic lighthouses and beautiful sandy beaches.

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