Are you tired of living in the city where you’re currently located? Do you wish you could just pick up and move somewhere new, but you’re not sure where to go?
You may be surprised to learn there are some cities that are incentivizing residents of other cities and states to move within their city limits. The incentives can vary as to what they are, but more often than not, these anxiously waiting cities will give you cash for moving there.
There are hundreds of cities in the United States that offer these moving incentives, and the good news is you can qualify for them whether you’re buying a home, renting-to-own a home, or renting a traditional establishment like an apartment.
Two of the places that are currently offering the best incentives to move there are Topeka, Kansas, and the region of Northwest Arkansas.
Are you a fan of sunflowers? Then you may be interested in moving to the Sunflower State of Kansas, specifically the capital of Topeka. In fact, the city has created the Choose Topeka Relocation Incentive Program (1).
About the Program
The Choose Topeka Relocation Incentive Program is designed to bring up to 60 out-of-town candidates per year into Topeka and Shawnee County via incentives so they can live in the area, become residents and work within the city and county lines (2). Consequently, these new Topekans will give back to the community primarily by paying taxes in order to support schools and give the city more resources to help improve its quality of life for its citizens.
Aside from just needing more taxpayer dollars, Topeka is also looking to simply expand as a city and Shawnee County is looking to become home to more people. Since 2000, the county has only seen its population rise by 4% to 177,000; currently, Topeka’s population alone sits at just over 126,000 people. That’s just over 20 years of having essentially the same-sized population which means there’s not a ton of diversity in terms of new and innovative thinkers, cultures and ideas.
Plus, 40% of the people that work in Topeka do not live in Shawnee County, so the both the city and the county are eagerly hoping to attract new residents within their borders as well.
What Are the Incentives to Move to Topeka?
Topeka and Shawnee County are looking for new residents to work at specific employers within their borders (also known as on-site workers) as well as for remote workers to move somewhere inside their boundary lines (5).
To be eligible for either the on-site program or the remote program, you must:
- Move to Topeka in order to work a full-time job
- Purchase or rent a home and live in it as your primary residence in Shawnee County within one (1) year of your hire and/or move date
- Having the option to purchase or rent a home allows you decide which type of residence is best for you. It also allows for you to be eligible for the program if you decide to rent-to-own a home.
- Be eligible to work in the United States
To be completely eligible for the on-site program, you also need to confirm with your employer if they participate in the relocation program.
To be completely eligible for the remote program, you need to currently work remotely somewhere outside of Shawnee County and you must then live in Shawnee County for at least three months.
Keep in mind, both the on-site and remote programs are limited to one relocation incentive per household.
If you’re selected to be part of the on-site program, you can receive:
- Up to $10,000 in funds if you decide to rent (or rent-to-own) a home in Shawnee County or
- Up to $15,000 in funds if you decide to traditionally purchase a home in Shawnee County
If you’re selected to be part of the remote program, you can receive:
- Up to $5,000 in funds if you decide to rent (or rent-to-own) a home in Shawnee County or
- Up to $10,000 in funds if you decide to traditionally purchase a home in Shawnee County
What’s So Great About Topeka?
It’s only natural to wonder why so many people are living outside of Topeka and Shawnee County even when they work there, especially when you hear all the benefits that come with living in the area, regardless of the incentive program.
The cost of living in Topeka is a 91.7 on the official index, which is more than 10% below the national average (3). In turn, the median cost for a home in Topeka is $149,900 as of March 2022, according to Realtor®.com (4); though this price is up from the $128,000 it was before the housing prices began to rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, the median annual household income in Shawnee County is $54,667. If you’re working remotely (more on that later) and make a lot more than the median household income, you’ll be able to afford a bigger house or more property in Topeka or Shawnee County than you most likely could in your current hometown.
Unrelated to the financial aspects of living in Topeka and Shawnee County, there’s also a ton to enjoy about the area. There are over 30 miles of paved paths and 27 miles of trails to explore for the outdoors enthusiasts. For the fine arts community, Topeka offers the NOTO Art District which you can walk through, the nationally-recognized Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library to utilize, along with major festivals, events and public performances to attend in downtown Topeka.
For the foodies and drink enthusiasts, there are plenty of nationally-recognized coffees to try along with five breweries and three wineries.
For those individuals that value their own education and their family’s education, the Topeka area is conveniently located within 60 miles of four major universities: Emporia State University, Kansas State University, the University of Kansas and Washburn University. Plus, there are six technical schools in the area to help support an up-and-coming diverse workforce when it comes to skill sets.
The city also boasts that its residents are authentic, genuine, friendly and real people, so it would easily become a community you would instantly like to join. Your furry, four-legged friends will also enjoy the area as there are plenty of dog parks and outdoor green space to explore.
Do you live in the hustle and bustle of a big urban area? Do you wish you had more space as well as peace and quiet, but you’re unable to afford a bigger place of your own in the city or its suburbs? Then you may want to look into moving to Northwest Arkansas thanks to its Life Works Here Initiative.
About the Program
Currently, the region of Northwest Arkansas, which includes Benton and Washington Counties, has more than 10,000 job openings to fill and only a 2.8% unemployment rate, which means there are not enough residents there to fill all the positions (6). Plus, there are many science, technology, engineering, fine arts and math (STEAM) jobs that desperately need filling in the region.
As a result, the Northwest Arkansas Council put together the Life Works Here Initiative to help entice top talent from across the country via incentives into the area in order to fill those positions as well as to build a more diverse, vibrant community and support and boost the local economy. The Northwest Arkansas Council is investing more than $1 million into the project.
The program is specifically targeting remote workers—especially those in STEAM and entrepreneurs—but is also hoping to attract some on-site workers—especially those in STEAM and entrepreneurs.
Northwest Arkansas has a lot to offer, but if you’re coming from a big city, the region will definitely be slower paced than living in the hustle and bustle of a densely-populated urban area. In fact, Fayetteville, one of the larger cities in the region, is only home to 85,000 residents (from a 2019 Census report) (7).
Some of the other larger cities in the region include Bentonville (50,000 residents), Springdale (79,500 residents), Rogers (66,000 residents), Bella Vista (28,500 residents), Siloam Springs (16,700 residents) and Lowell (9,000 residents).
What Are the Incentives to Move to Northwest Arkansas?
The Northwest Arkansas Council is offering some interesting incentives to individuals who would like to move to the region. To claim these incentives though, you must be eligible to apply for the program (6).
To be eligible for the Life Works Here Initiative, you must:
- Be able to relocate to Northwest Arkansas within six (6) months of your application being accepted
- Sign a lease or purchase a home in the Northwest Arkansas region
- This can also include signing a rent-to-own agreement
- Be at least 24 years old to participate
- Have at least two (2) years of work experience
- Currently be working as a full-time remote employee
- This can include self-employment
- Currently live outside of Arkansas
- Be a United States citizen
- Have the necessary credentials to legally work in the United States
If you are eligible and the Council selects your application, you can receive two types of incentives.
The first incentive you can receive is either $10,000 in cash or $10,000 in Bitcoin. The reason the Council gives you a Bitcoin option is the region has recently seen extreme growth in its blockchain-enabled technologies and the Council wants to help the region embrace the new cryptocurrency trend.
The other incentive you will receive is a new bicycle. This bike can be a brand-new street or mountain bike. The logic behind offering individuals with an incentive for a new bike is so they can explore and enjoy all the wonderful miles of bike trails that Northwest Arkansas has to offer (more on that later).
If you decide you do not want the free bike, you can instead opt to receive a free annual membership to one of Northwest Arkansas’ world-class arts and cultural institutions which include Crystal Bridges, Momentary, Amazeum, TheatreSquared, Walton Arts Center and Walmart AMP.
It should be noted only one person per household can receive the incentives from the Life Works Here Initiative.
What’s Great About Northwest Arkansas?
There’s a lot to like about the region of Northwest Arkansas. First of all, you can use your brand-new incentive bicycle to ride around the region’s 162 miles of paved trails, the 37-mile Razorback Regional Greenway and the 322 miles of world-class mountain biking trails.
In case you didn’t know, the mountains in the region are actually part of the Ozark Mountains, which you can also hike through and explore, even off your bike.
Additionally, the fine arts community is quite vibrant in Northwest Arkansas. There are nationally-ranked communities for the arts, culture and food in the area.
On the finance side of things, the per capita income in Northwest Arkansas is 14% higher than the national average (6) with a median household income of $61,674 as of a 2019 study (8). The area also maintains the lowest cost of homeownership in relation to income among similar regions.
As of March 2022, the median sold home price in Fayetteville was listed as $312,500 according to Realtor®.com, so home prices are much more affordable than in major cities and markets (9).
If you’re ready to pack your bags with the hope of signing a rent-to-own agreement, buying a home or renting an apartment in a new place, you may want to look into applying for Kansas’ Choose Topeka Relocation Incentive Program or Northwest Arkansas’ Life Works Here Initiative.
(2) — Choose Topeka FAQ Page