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West Virginia Is Offering $12,000 To Remote Workers To Move There

Cities and states have increasingly been offering moving incentives to entice new residents in recent years and the pandemic has prompted more governments to get into the game.

West Virginia became the latest place to do so this week and it’s offering one of the largest incentives yet: $12,000 cash to relocate to the “Wild and Wonderful” state for at least two years. Approved remote workers also get a year-long pass to the state’s grandest natural destinations, access to coworking space and continuing education programs at West Virginia University — all for free.

The full relocation package is valued at more than $20,000.

The program got a big boost from West Virginia native and former Intuit

INTU
CEO Brad D. Smith and his spouse Alys through a $25 million donation to start the effort in partnership with West Virginia University and the state government. The program is currently accepting applications for remote workers who want to live in Morgantown. Future slots will be available for Lewisburg and Shepherdstown.

Having a wealthy benefactor certainly helps when it comes to government moving incentives. Tulsa, Oklahoma’s remote workers program offers a $10,000 grant, a year membership at a local co-working space and support in finding housing. It’s sponsored by the City of Tulsa and the George Kaiser Family Foundation.

The state of Vermont also has a well-established, state-funded program to lure new residents, complete with a cash incentive. And let’s not forget about one of the oldest on the books: Alaska’s Permanent Fund, which gives a dividend check to every resident — kids too — each year. Most payments are between $1,000 and $2,000 per resident.

West Virginia’s program will give participants $10,000 the first year over 12 monthly payments. The final $2,000 is awarded after the second year. The Associated Press reported that the new program represents a more targeted effort than a bill proposed by Republican Gov. Jim Justice for a massive income tax cut, which fell apart in the Legislature just before the regular session ended Saturday.

The cash award is taxable, but considering that many grant applicants are likely to be transplants from more expensive areas, it’s still a deal. According to the Tax Foundation’s cost of living chart, the real value of $100 in Morgantown and Shepherdstown is more like $109. And it’s even higher in Lewisburg.

That explains why Sperling’s Best Places Index says that Morgantown is about 41% cheaper than Washington, D.C.

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