Having freelanced full-time for nearly four years, I’ve endured burnout, the inevitable feast and famine cycles, and tackled budgeting woes that come with inconsistent income. Every perk is an earned one. And one of my most cherished perks is the option to work from anywhere.
I’ve worked from trains bound for Chicago, on the road to New Orleans, and at a coffee shop in Honolulu. However, depending on where you’re traveling to and for how long, the digital nomad life, despite its obvious allure, can burn a hole in your pocket.
What if you could live and work elsewhere on someone else’s dime? Believe it or not, there are relocation programs in the U.S. and beyond that give a stipend for your moving expenses, housing, and possibly even help pay off student debt. The idea behind such programs is that by working and living in these places, you’ll help revitalize their communities.
Here are a handful of cities that offer relocation programs for self-employed freelancers and remote workers:
If you’re fully self-employed or a remote worker, the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, through its Tulsa Remote program, is offering a bunch of awesome perks for moving to the “Oil Capital of the World.” To uproot from your current stomping grounds to Tulsa, you’ll be given $10,000 in cash and a free desk at a co-working space. Plus, you’ll receive a housing stipend. To receive the entire amount, you’ll need to live in Tulsa for the full year.
What’s more, chances are you’ll be enjoying a lower cost of living. According to the cost of living comparison site Best Places, If you’re moving from Los Angeles to Tulsa, overall it’s 42.6% cheaper to live in Tulsa. So let’s say you currently earn $50,000 in the City of Angels. You’ll only need to make $28,700 to enjoy the same standard of living.
Niagara Falls, New York
If you’re like most Americans and have student loan debt, you could get some help paying those loans off. If you’re willing to relocate to Niagara Falls, New York, that is. Here’s how it works: Through the city’s Downtown Housing Incentive Program, you can be reimbursed for up to $3,492 a year and up to $6,984 for the entire two years. The requirements include living within certain neighborhoods: specifically, within walking distance Niagara Falls State Park and the Niagara Gorge.
Before you leap for joy and book a plane ticket to upstate New York, you’ll want to comb through the fine print of the program. Only certain types of student loans qualify. Plus, you’ll need to show proof of good standing with your student loan agency and landlord.
If you’d like to become a homeowner and are willing to relocate, Baltimore offers a handful of incentives. If the burden of student loan debt is hindering you from buying a home, you could receive some help through the Maryland SmartBuy Program.
While not exactly a relocation assistance program, it could help you reap similar benefits should you move to Maryland. Through the program, your student loans could be paid off during the buying phase of your home. The assistance you receive could equal up to 15 percent of the cost of the home, with a payout capped at $30,000. Not too shabby!
And if you’re open to what are identified as distressed or formerly distressed properties, you can scoop up $10,000 to put toward down payment and closing costs for Vacants to Value (V2V) properties. As the median price for a home in Maryland is $114,800, depending on the home you have your eye on, that could add up to about 10 percent.
If you’re itching to go abroad, Chile has a new visa system for entrepreneurs and workers in the technology sector. Through Visa Tech Chile, the process to obtain a visa is streamlined. In turn, you can get a work visa within 15 days.
To qualify, you’ll need to be a professional in science or tech with some experience under your belt. For the enterprising and innovative, there are also a handful of start-up accelerators that can provide cash, equity, or perks to get your venture underway.
Want to escape the bustling city life for more tranquil environs and pocket up to $10,000? Look no further than Vermont. In 2018 Vermont passed legislation that offers $10,000 in tax breaks for those who work remotely.
You just need to live there for two years. It’s an effort to persuade younger workers to move to a state that has a median age that is nearly five years older than the national average. To be considered, you’ll need to be self-employed or work full-time for an employer that’s outside of Vermont. Plus, you’ll need to work out of a co-working space or from home. One hundred grants will be awarded to 100 people from 2019 to 2021, and they’re up for grabs on a first-come, first served basis. You can apply through the state’s Remote Worker Relocation Program.
If you’re an entrepreneur, remote worker or full-time freelancer, you can potentially net free cash, student loan payment assistance, or help with buying a house by moving to another place. If you’re at a place in your life where you’re able to try out the digital nomad life, these relocation programs could be worth your while.
Jackie Lam is a personal finance writer. Her work has appeared in Investopedia, Magnify Money and The Bold Italic, and she’s been featured in Money, Kiplinger, Forbes and Woman’s Day. She runs Cheapsters.org, a blog to help freelancers and artists with their money, and to balance their passion projects and careers.