Looking to move away from the hustle and bustle of the big city? You can now take country roads, and a paycheck, to get home to West Virginia.
West Virginia this week launched a new initiative offering and self-employed workers $12,000 and a year-long pass for free outdoor activities — and all you have to do is relocate to the "wild and wonderful" mountain state for at least two years.
"There's a reason that 50 years ago John Denver coined West Virginia as Almost Heaven in his hit song Take Me Home, Country Roads, and we'd like to share it with you. Mountain living is just within your grasp, so take a look at what we have to offer," officials said in a statement.
At a time when many Americans are still, and spending plenty of time outdoors, the state is hoping for an influx of new residents. In total, the package is valued at over $20,000.
Participants in the program are given cash each month, with the first $10,000 given in the first year and the final $2,000 given in the second. Also provided is access to coworking space, continuing education programs and a year of free passes to hiking trails, whitewater rafting, skiing and rock-climbing routes — "no strings attached."
And if you're worried about making friends in your new state, the program is offering welcome actives like bike rides, paddleboard yoga and farm-to-table dinners to help you meet other members of the community.
And it's not just the initial incentives — the state is hoping that the lower cost of living will encourage participants to stick around. On its website, it lists a 139.69% lower cost of living compared to New York City and a 121.89% lower cost compared to Los Angeles.
The program is funded by a $25 million donation from former CEO of Intuit Brad Smith and his spouse, Alys, who wanted to invest in Smith's home state. It's in partnership with West Virginia University and the state government.
"I couldn't be more proud of the dream team that we've assembled to get this program off the ground," Governor Jim Justice said in a statement.
The initiative is currently accepting applications to live in Morgantown. Lewisburg and Shepherdstown will also be available in the future.
West Virginia is far from the first place to offer cash incentives to young people looking to move. Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and even have all promoted similar programs.,
The initiative comes as more companies are consideringin a post-pandemic world. Companies like Twitter and have said that employees can work from home 100% of the time if they choose, while others like Facebook and have introduced hybrid work models.
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