Bloomington, Indiana, is home to a growing trend across the country, where some small cities and towns are so eager to have you move to their community they are offering incentives (cash and otherwise) to seal the deal.
This latest innovation in the housing market helps those who might prefer less hustle and bustle and more green space. For a first-time homebuyer, these financial grants can help make a down payment, or make future monthly payments more affordable.
A placed call “The Mill” in Bloomington is a great example.
Housed in an abandoned furniture factory in the heart of Bloomington, The Mill offers away-from-home workspaces for remote workers and help to forward-thinking entrepreneurs in the tech field. For those who move to Bloomington and continue to work remotely, The Mill will offer a free lifetime membership, valued at $2,200 annually, through a program called Bloomington Remote.
“Bloomington is a terrific place for people who don’t want to give up the culture of the bigger city and want to go smaller,” said Gretchen Knapp, head of marketing and communication for The Mill. “If you want to be progressive, take advantage of great art, culture, outdoor living, great food and a city that’s a manageable size, Bloomington is a good fit.”
The Mill, a community nonprofit, also will provide personalized support to moving, resettling and acclimating to the town that is home to Indiana University.
Cities Offering Incentives to Relocate
The incentives range from $2,000 to $20,000 in more than 50 areas in the country – in areas as varied as Bloomington, Augusta, Maine, and Harmony, Minnesota.
» Find the full list of cities here
It’s a win-win-win situation. The communities gain residents and sell houses. The buyer gets to pick an area or city where they want to live, and the business keeps the remote worker thanks to technology.
“There’s no city that’s right for everyone,” Knapp said. “What’s attractive about the fit is Bloomington provides a high quality of life for the size of the city (population: 84,000) that we are.”
Some of the incentives are cash-based, which can help offset down payments and moving expenses, and some are more creative. Among the areas and offers:
- Tulsa Remote is offering up to $11,000 for those working out of state who move to Tulsa, Oklahoma. The funding comes from a local Tulsa foundation.
- Morgantown, West Virginia, is offering up to $20,000 to those who have a full-time remote job outside of the state.
- Montpelier, Vermont, has two state funded programs that could be worth as much as $15,000. The New Relocating Worker Grant is for those who stay two years and become a fulltime employee of a qualified Vermont business. The New Remote Worker Grant will be available in February of 2022 and goes to those working for an out-of-state employer who move to Vermont. Grants are reimbursed expenses like closing costs, a moving company (a big benefit as those who have moved themselves can attest) and the cost of moving supplies.
- Shift South is offering $2,500 in moving expenses and $300 a month for the first year to those who buy a home worth $150,000 or more in Natchez, Mississippi.
- Choose Topeka in Kansas offers up to $15,000 for those who rent or buy, and has a $1,000 bonus from Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches to those who move into one of their three delivery zones. That could mark the first time a sandwich shop paid its customers.
Those are just a few of the examples. Applications are required, and specific criteria have to be met. The details should be understood, but the opportunity is there.
These grants highlight the difference between finding an affordable home in an area of the country you’d like to live, and not being able to afford a home in one of the nation’s more populated areas (Seattle, Washington D.C., New York, etc.) where your work once required you to live.
Some of the grants are paid after a year or two, but handling the money properly can ease the strain on a monthly budget.
There are several ways to wade into the process of buying for the first time. It might be wise to get pre-approved for a mortgage; this will help you know what you can afford and what payments may be. Don’t think you have to buy a home that costs the full amount of the pre-approval; look on it more as a limit. It’s also wise to shop for a mortgage, and to understand the details of the process and what you will be signing. One loan may have an origination fee, another may not. Wise shopping avoids issues.
The process can be confusing, especially to first-time homebuyers. A nonprofit credit counselor can help assess your budget, and InCharge offers an online homebuyer education course that goes through all the details. The price — $99 – can be looked on as money saved from gaining knowledge of the process. You can also check out our free 13-chapter guide to homeownership.
If your present lifestyle isn’t doing it for you, there are several areas of the country that offer culture and community along with a more affordable cost of living. With some of those areas willing to pay for your presence, it might pay to check into the options.
Pat McManamon has been a journalist for more than 25 years. His experience has mainly been in sports, but the world of athletics requires knowledge of business and economics. He also can balance a checkbook and keep track of investments with Quicken quite adeptly. McManamon’s experience includes covering the NFL for ESPN, LeBron James for the Akron Beacon Journal and AOL Fanhouse, and the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes for the Palm Beach Post.