Remote workers looking for inexpensive housing and a change of pace might want to check out Mississippi. The city of Natchez is serving up $6,000 with a side of Southern hospitality to digital professionals who move to their “charming and historic community.”
The Shift South program, created by economic development organization Natchez Inc., provides remote workers with $2,500 in moving expenses and a $300 monthly stipend for one year.
To grab one of the 30 available spots in the initiative, applicants must:
Be at least 18 years old
Have remote employment with a U.S. company outside of Natchez
Establish primary residency in Natchez
Buy and live in a home valued at $150,000 or more for 12 months
The city hopes the program will pay for itself within two years by increasing property values and sales tax revenues.
“We are excited to be the first and only city in the Deep South to offer an incentive like this to remote workers,” Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said during an interview with CNN.
Gibson noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has “been a wake-up call” for Americans who are tired of big cities, high living expenses and daily commutes.
“With this offer, you can live in a beautiful, historic small town where everything is convenient and affordable,” Gibson said.
Natchez, which has a population of approximately 15,000 people, is a picturesque city nestled on the banks of the Mississippi River. It boasts over 600 Civil War-era houses and buildings and has a walkable downtown area filled with restaurants, shops, museums and historic sites.
Best of all, the city’s housing is very affordable. The average cost of a U.S. home is more than $250,000, but the median home in Natchez is just $96,000.
Other affordable cities are also trying to siphon remote workers away from wallet-crunching places like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. For example, Tulsa, Oklahoma, is offering $10,000 to digital professionals who move within the city limits and stay for a year.
Meanwhile, metropolitan Houston, Texas, is attracting digital professionals without the help of a specific initiative. A late 2020 migration report found that remote workers are flocking to the area because its cheaper, quieter, roomier and warmer than cities in New York, California and the Midwest.
It’s easy to understand why cities view remote workers as a hot commodity. A Pew Research Center poll released in December 2020 found that 71% of respondents were working part-time or full-time from home during the pandemic, compared to just 20% before the coronavirus outbreak occurred. Most importantly, it found that 54% of respondents want to continue working remotely after the pandemic ends.