One of the more overlooked benefits of remote work is the ability to live (almost) wherever you want. Beach house, city penthouse, or rustic cabin, as long as you’ve got a reliable internet connection, you can choose your location.
And though remote employees can technically pick up and move whenever they want, it’s not as simple as throwing a dart at a map and moving wherever it lands. There are moving costs to think about, as well as rent, cost of living, and what kinds of activities are available wherever you decide to go.
To make your decision easier, several incentive programs have popped up in the last few years. One of these programs, Remote Shoals, encourages you to move to their communities while you work remotely. And, to make it worth your while, they’ll pay you up to $10,000 to do it.
Remote Work on the Rise
Before the pandemic, remote work was on the rise. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of people working remotely grew by 7.9%. That’s just one year! When you consider that between 2007 and 2017 the number of remote workers grew by 91%, it’s clear that remote work is no longer just for a select few in the technology field.
In 2018, 5 million U.S. employees worked remotely. That’s about 3.6% of the total workforce. And though the number of remote work employees was not predicted to rise dramatically in 2020, COVID-19 changed all that.
During the first few months of the pandemic, anyone who could work remotely did—nearly 50% of the working population! And, given how well remote work is working, some companies have decided to make the shift and become remote companies permanently.
Working From Anywhere
Working from home, though, isn’t synonymous with working from anywhere. This is an important point, as many remote jobs have residency requirements. Some employers that allow remote work say you must be U.S. based or even live in one of several specific states. The reasons for this are varied, and often have to do with tax requirements, legal and employment matters, or the ability to attend local meetings or see local clients.
However, employers that have a work-from-anywhere policy allow you to live anywhere in the U.S. or sometimes the world, but still work for their company. While this seems like the kind of arrangement that a digital nomad might prefer, working from anywhere can appeal to remote employees who aren’t into the nomadic lifestyle but want to live closer to family or someplace cheaper, or just want a change of scenery.
Attracting People, Not Companies
Thanks to the rise of both remote work and work-from-anywhere policies, some cities are taking advantage of this shift to attract new life to their communities. However, instead of trying to attract entire companies to their area, some towns have shifted their strategies and are focusing on attracting remote employees instead.
Though it may seem like a piecemeal strategy to go after individuals instead of corporations, in reality, the shift to luring remote employees is a win-win for everyone.
The town attracts new people across a variety of industries, increasing their diversity. There is also the added benefit of not having to grant entire companies massive tax breaks at once, instead spreading out the incentives in smaller amounts across a number of people. And, of course, the hope is that as the towns attract more remote workers, they become invested in the community, staying there and making positive contributions for the long term.
Program participants reap rewards as well. For starters, there are plenty of financial incentives for participants. This might take the form of tax breaks, tuition reimbursement, help with moving expenses, or even a cash payout. The participants also get to move somewhere new, often with a lower cost of living, which usually has a growing community full of remote workers like themselves, but across a multitude of industries and professions.
Remote Shoals Alabama
Remote Shoals is one of several programs that exist to lure remote employees. Located in Northwest Alabama, participants can receive a stipend of up to $10,000 to move to the Shoals and work remotely for 12 months.
How Does It Work?
Participants in the Remote Shoals program agree to relocate to the Shoals (Lauderdale or Colbert counties in Northwest Alabama) and agree to live there for at least 12 months. During that period, participants can receive up to $10,000 based on their earned wages, which is paid out over the 12 months.
To be eligible for the program, you must be at least 18 years old and have an annual income of $52,000 or more. You must be either a full-time employee with a remote employer or work as a freelancer or business owner outside of the Shoals. To stay eligible for the stipend, you must be physically present in the Shoals for at least 75% of the 12 months you’re in the program.
Once you’re accepted to the program, you have to move to the Shoals within six months.
Why You Should Try Remote Shoals
Residents of big cities might be wary of relocating to a smaller town. They may be concerned that the town doesn’t have the same professional, cultural, or personal opportunities as larger cities do.
However, Remote Shoals participants are very happy with their new hometown. John Whitney relocated to the Shoals from Roseville, California. “I couldn’t be happier with my choice,” he says of his move. “I don’t hesitate to recommend to others that they come enjoy and support the area while experiencing the friendly people and vibrant culture of the Shoals. It’s a great place to be!”
There are more benefits than friendly faces and lively culture. Relocating to smaller metropolitan areas like the Shoals saves remote workers money on top of the program’s financial incentives. In 2019, the median home price in the Shoals was $138,646. And, the cost of living was, on average, 22% less than in a “big city.”
For anyone worried that relocating or working remotely means career stagnation, fear not! At FlexJobs, we hear from members who work remotely, live where they want, and achieve career success on their terms:
Apply to Remote Shoals Today
Applying is simple. If you have a remote job and the Remote Shoals program sounds right for you, head over to the Remote Shoals website and click “apply now.” Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Answer some questions, and in six months, you may be at the start of an exciting new adventure.
Want to join the program but don’t have a remote job? Check out these resources:
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