Work-from-Anywhere San Franciscans Goaded by SF Chronicle to Take “$20,000” Offered by “Small Towns” and Move there to Escape High Housing Costs

Here are the towns that offer the biggest incentives to remote workers who make the move. I’m rooting for Tulsa, which has been able to attract hundreds of “remoters.”

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

It’s a mix of hilarious and peculiar that this theme is now being promoted in the San Francisco Chronicle, the theme being that a number of towns and cities around the country are offering cash payments and/or other incentives, with a combined value of up to $20,000, to people with full-time work-from-anywhere jobs who make the move and bring their income with them.

It’s hilarious and peculiar because San Francisco is the epicenter, so to speak, of suffocating housing costs, the switch to work-from-home, and the Techsodus where companies are leaving, putting their vacant offices on the sublease market, triggering a historic glut of office space in San Francisco, and heading to cheaper pastures (screenshot from the SF Chronicle).

Now the San Francisco Chronicle is telling strung-out stayers-behind that there is a great deal out there for them, that they can escape the suffocating housing costs, if they just take their high San Francisco income and move to these low-cost towns and get paid to make the move. Some nice towns too.

It’s also funny that the Chronicle calls these places “small towns.” While some of them are decidedly small towns, such as a couple of contenders in Iowa, each with fewer than 3,000 souls, others are not, such as Tulsa – the granddaddy of this promotion, which it started in 2018 – with a city population of 400,000 and a metro population of 766,000. I used to live there. It’s hilly, and the Arkansas River and River Parks snake along the edge of it. And it’s decidedly not a “small town.”

Among the cities that offer incentives and that should complain about the “small town” moniker is Baltimore. But its incentive isn’t no-strings-attached cash, but $5,000 in form of a forgivable loan for the down payment on a home purchase.

So the San Francisco Chronicle reports:

“Small towns across America have a message for the new crop of remote workers: We’ll pay you to move here.

“From Maine to Michigan, communities are dangling incentives ranging up to $20,000 in cash and perks for out-of-state folks who relocate and stay at least a year, while continuing their existing jobs from a distance. Besides the money, the main lures are lifestyle amenities — a slower pace, affordable housing, less traffic, access to nature, close-knit communities.”

The idea is that the people bring their big-fat San Francisco income with them, and spend this income in their new low-cost city, that they go out and splurge and form a household and make babies and circulate their high income and get these cities some much needed growth.

There are currently 38 towns that offer cash and/or other incentives, ranging from $20,000 to nearly nothing, to attract people with full-time remote jobs, according to MakeMyMove. Don’t forget to read the small print before you decide to move from San Francisco to Northwest Arkansas – which includes the cities of Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville (Walmart headquarters), Benton, and others.

Here are the cities with the highest “total incentive value,” which in some cities does not include any cash but is limited to tax credits, aid for home construction, forgivable loans for down payments, etc. If your smartphone clips the six-column table on the right, hold your device in landscape position (data via MakeMyMove and from program websites):

City/metro State Pop Median home price Cash incentive Total incentive value
Morgantown WV 137K $198,000 $12,000 $20,000
Southwest MI 10K $200,000 $15,000 $20,000
Augusta ME 19K $270,000 $15,600
Montpelier VT 7K $273,000 $10,000 $15,000
Newton IA 15K $108,000 $10,000 $12,500
Harmony MN 1K $161,000 $12,000 $12,000
Topeka KS 125K $131,000 $10,000 $11,000
Tulsa OK 766K $138,000 $10,000 $11,000
Northwest Arkansas AR 206K $229,000 $10,000 $10,750
Bloomfield IA 3K $148,000 $10,000
The Shoals AL 72K $165,000 $10,000 $10,000
Britt IA 2K $93,000 $10,000
Ontario OR 11K $169,000 $10,000
Natchez MS 15K $90,000 $2,500 $8,500
West Lafayette IN 55K $252,000 $5,000
Baltimore MD 2,325K $162,000 $5,000
Bemidji MN 16K $155,000 $2,500 $4,000

There is a reason why these places offer incentives to get work-from-anywhere folks with big incomes to move there.

Tulsa experienced some phenomenal oil booms in the 20th century, when oil wealth was running knee-deep in the streets. But all that ended with the oil bust of the 1980s, when the oil companies there packed up their headquarters and moved to Houston. Gone were the high-paying jobs. A long depression followed. But work-from-anywhere is Tulsa’s moment. They sure make it sound appealing.

Tulsa – whose rents are in 98th place among the top 100 rental markets with a median asking rent of $630 for a one-bedroom – started this in 2018. It put up a website, Tulsa Remote, and promoted it to the media, and finally during the Pandemic, when work-from-anywhere became standard operating procedure, they got some traction with their deal.

This is aimed at people with full-time work-from-anywhere jobs that are tired of trying to buy a $1.5 million starter home in San Francisco, or paying $2,500 in rent for a basic apartment.

The program pays $10,000 in cash upfront – which takes some risk out of the move. This can also be applied to the down payment of a home (median home price is $146,000 in Tulsa, according to Zillow). In San Francisco, the entire home price in Tulsa of $146,000 might not even be enough for a 10% down payment. They also offer all kinds of other incentives.

The number of movers is not huge. Tulsa Remote announced on April 22 that it had 153 “remoters” from California, 95 remoters from Texas, 62 from New York, 39 from Colorado, and 24 from Florida, among others. So actually, the majority is not from California.

And given California’s population of nearly 40 million, the missing 153 work-from-anywhere folks who moved to Tulsa don’t make a huge dent in California. But if this picks up momentum, it could make a difference for Tulsa.

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  130 comments for “Work-from-Anywhere San Franciscans Goaded by SF Chronicle to Take “$20,000” Offered by “Small Towns” and Move there to Escape High Housing Costs

  1. MCH says:

    So, let’s get this straight here. SF Chronicle is writing an article about other cities encouraging people to leave SF and offering incentives. Is there an editorial actively encouraging this?

    I guess it would certainly help to bring down SF real estate prices to something less insane.

    Although some of the cities on that list, Baltimore being the top one, it’s a bit of a stretch considering the state of that city. Yes, I know very well that there are very nice parts of Baltimore, but literally, this could apply to 99% of the localities in the US, and the movers would be saving big bucks

    • Trent says:

      To paraphrase an old mediocre gossip columnist’s description of it as “Baghdad By The Bay,” San Francisco has become “Baltimore By The Bay”, as far as political corruption, affirmative action insanity and the worst schools west of the Atlantic.
      Quite a few of the techbros and techbras are from these small towns and cities anyway, so they are delighted to be offered cash to move back into Mom’s basement.

      San Francisco has been culturally suicided by the carpetbaggers from all over America who have infested its politics over the last several decades. Will they please go back where they came from and take their failed ideologies with them, along with their homeless travelers?

      • NBay says:

        Reminds me of bumper stickers I saw in the early 70s. “Keep Sonoma County Beautiful, move back to LA”

    • Mira says:

      So I googled real estate Baltimore ..
      6 bedrooms
      4 bathrooms
      2,711 square feet
      7500 square lot
      3004 Clifton Avenue Baltimore, MD 21216
      nice street
      let’s look inside .. it needs a lot of work .. for someone who’s handy it’s a bargain.
      There are lots of others .. some very nice indeed .. it looks most people left .. had to leave ??

      • Javert Chip says:

        6 bedrooms & 4 baths in 2700 sq ft gives you some pretty tiny rooms

        I’ve been all over the world in business meeting, but have only been to Baltimore once – took a wrong turn in rental car on way to airport…WOW talk about the ends of the earth…Calcutta is more upscale

      • Anon1970 says:

        Baltimore ranks in the top four cities in the US when ranked by homicides per 100,000 population. Its population is under 600,000.

      • Turtle says:

        Auction starting at $100K. Zestimate $115K. Doesn’t look half bad from the outside, but the neighborhood? Google Street View shows the houses on either side boarded up. “Keep Out Signs” plastered all over one of them. Chain link fence on the front yard across the street. Not sure I’d want to spend $100K to put another $100K into fixing it just to live in a lousy neighborhood in a dangerous city.

        For $200K in other places you can live in a decent neighborhood and not to have to spend a year working on the house.

    • Old school says:

      Real Estate prices are local and it’s kind of natural for people to migrate to locations that pencil out better for them. Economic changes happen in waves it seems. Necessity is the mother of invention or in this case the cause of migration.

    • Michael Gorback says:

      I grew up in Baltimore and then returned to attend med school. Baltimore has been offering incentives to move there since . . . Forever. When I was in med school they cleared out what back in the day was called the ghetto and then offered the houses for $1 provided you invested $50,000 into renovation.

      Worked for a while but then people realized that the remaining pieces of ghetto were 2 blocks away.

      They renovated the Inner Harbor as a tourist attraction. It’s the hole in the donut surrounded by crime.

      Stay away from Baltimore!

      Baltimore County is a different animal. Very nice, as reflected in the rate of house price increases in the past year. I was in Baltimore County last week to visit family. Someone asked me if I’d consider moving back to Maryland. I told them I’d rather live in America. Way too blue for me.

      Of all the places on the list I would consider Tulsa. It kind of reminds me of San Antonio.

      • Escierto says:

        I have lived in Tulsa and San Antonio. Tulsa does not remind me of San Antonio in the slightest.

    • c1ue says:

      It is highly unlikely that non-home owning workers moving to Tulsa or elsewhere would make any difference in San Francisco real estate prices.
      For one thing, Prop. 13.
      For another – I’ve heard from several credible sources that roughly 40% of San Francisco is owned by a handful of families.
      And most importantly: San Francisco is a trophy town. Independently wealthy people can trivially afford a $5M property in SF for when they feel like the West Coast – to go along with their other multi-million dollar properties elsewhere in the US and the world.

  2. Seneca's cliff says:

    My son took advantage of the work from anywhere to move from Williamsburg NY to Eugene Oregon ( where his fiancee is from). They were thinking of settling there permanently. But after 9 months he is ready to get out and move to the Portland Metro area ( where our family lives). In his words, ” There is no good food, no good coffee, no diversity and the people are boring.” So it will interesting to see how many people can handle the change from San Fran to Little Rock.

    • MonkeyBusiness says:

      That’s the thing. As a Japanophile, I don’t think Japanese food in the US can compare with the ones in Japan, but sometimes I do crave it. If I live in Nowheretown, USA, I can just imagine eating a burger for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

      “If you’ve seen the ocean, there’s no way you can return to the river”

      • Wisdom Seeker says:

        ” in Nowheretown, USA, I can just imagine eating a burger ”

        Glad you’ll be keeping those thoughtless stereotypes in your current location. Everywhere is somewhere to someone. And there’s nowhere in the country where people eat nothing but burgers.

        Then again, for what you’d save on rent by living in “Nowheretown”, you could probably afford an annual month of vacation actually in Japan, plus get all the authentic Japanese food you want shipped in frozen… an extra $2K/month goes a long way…

        Of course, in “Nowheretown”, you might find that your values are subject to change, that Japanese food isn’t the sole purpose of human existence, and that there’s plenty to enjoy all around you, wherever you live…

        • MCH says:

          But what would I do without my sushi… 😱

          Seriously though, it is one of the interesting things that keeps the coasts interesting, the abundance of various non European centric cuisines. Although things have changed a lot in the last twenty years in the rest of the country.

          You make an excellent point about finding value where you go, after all, for every perk, you have to give up something. For example, in exchange for the opportunities and the variety of food in the Bay Area, you’d have to put up with high cost of living, traffic from heck (at least before).

          All part of the trade off.

        • moosy says:

          it’s a build in safety — those towns really don’t want to get arugula eating woke veggy eaters .

          But on a more serious note: The story in Sf Chron seems fishy to me.

          As a remote town, you want employment for local people.

          Importing people from other places does not increase employment opportunities except for a few more low-fat-gluten-free latte’s to be sold at the local diner.

          Anyone with a high income will not get lured because of that incentive which is peanuts compared with other incentives like no 13-15% California income tax and a fortune to rent a dog house.

        • NBay says:

          Ignoring the usual tribal cultural insults (disguised or not), and also any calculations using that most important “purpose of human existence”, MONEY, my 2 cent comment now becomes simply, this society is getting WEIRD AS HELL, and I had NO idea such bizarre things were going on. At the corporate level, sure, and for a long time, but now with individuals?

          Note to self: Quit wasting your time trying to figure out what is going to happen even a year from now. As the man said in “Saving Private Ryan”, “things have taken a turn to the surreal”.

      • Mira says:

        Shame on you ..
        Men make the best cooks.

      • Mira says:

        google .. Japanese food recipes youtube

    • Anthony A. says:

      “no good coffee!”

      What! No Starbucks in Eugene??

    • Old school says:

      So much of economy is distorted. My son teaches in NYC community college system. It’s on-line and probably will be for 9 months more. He is back home with me. Not paying $2200 rent in NYC. He is so cash rich now he is spending about half that on what I would call frivolous stuff including a lot of exercise gear.

      I suspect the extra spending he is doing is being booked in the economy, but the economic losses of his landlord are not being booked or are being shifted to government.. Economy is very distorted for an investor. Hard to see clearly until new normal arrives.

  3. Artem says:

    The SF chronicle has articles on “baby bust” and “$20,000 to relocate to small towns”

    I guess SF is a ghost town sans the homeless.

  4. Petunia says:

    Is Tulsa also trying to attract retirees? Is there an income limit?

    It’s nice to see a place appreciate their people instead of actively trying to drive them away.

    • Mira says:

      Why would they drive them away ??
      Here .. they are building town houses .. one matchbox on top of another .. as may as they can cram onto a block.
      I assumed that the local councils give them permits to build these dwellings .. for skinny people .. to maximise rate collection.
      I would actually by 2 story .. with living up stairs .. I can’t sleep of the ground, electromagnetic forces, yep .. if they had a lift / Compact Lifts .. but .. there is no imagination on the part of the developers .. it cost just the same as stairs if not less & it’s easier to install.

    • West One says:

      I don’t think these “small towns” actually want these people though. They just want the income from those who are willing to relocate, not their “liberal coastal elite” politics or pricing out local residents by driving up local home prices and property taxes. Just ask the cities that are already reeling from coastal transplants.

  5. Wisdom Seeker says:

    Worth a reminder that relocating to work-from-anywhere isn’t all perks.

    If you relocate, your employer may demand a slice of your new lower cost-of-living – by adjusting your salary downwards.

    Due to the complexities of the tax code, your employer might not be able to support tax withholding so some states may be off-limits altogether. (Hopefully this can be fixed, but government action is sloww…)

    So check carefully the terms of your employment.

    Also consider: how will your proposed new location impact your ability to get new employment when your current job runs its course?

    • lenert says:

      Will companies need to negotiate employee health insurance plans in states they don’t currently operate but have employees move to?

      • MCH says:

        Not a problem if everyone works for Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, or Tesla. The taxes and insurance are not an issue. The pay on the other hand, and the inevitable time when one must move on…

        That’s I think one reason that certain states like WA and TX are better off in the long run, they have a base for people so that the future isn’t as much a concern.

        • Trucker guy says:

          Don’t buy into the whole no state income tax deal personally. Lived in georgia and now in idaho. Florida, at least anywhere that is worth living there eats up any savings in state income from insurance, housing, retiree money, tourist locales, etc.

          Washington has a million smaller taxes that eat you alive. In idaho real estate across the border is often double that of washington simply because everything is vastly cheaper. Gas alone in washington runs 30-50 cent more a gallon than in idaho.

        • Turtle says:

          It depends on what your income is and how expensive your house is – and where you’re coming from. Moving from CA to TX saves me an enormous amount of money and the main reason for that is no state income tax. If you count earthquake insurance then literally everything is cheaper (or no more expensive) for me in TX than CA, except maybe some produce.

          People get this idea that they can sell their $800K house in CA and move to Texas to buy a 4,500 square foot “palace” behind a gate, next to a lake. That’s when the property tax kills them. They only needed to spend $300K for a house better than the one they had in CA. Only very well to do Texans buy $800K houses, so when a teacher or retail manager from CA starts imagining they’re rich because they has some CA equity, they get into trouble – and then people start saying “watch out for those Texas property taxes!”

      • Kenn says:

        Health insurance is not a problem. I’ve spent almost all my career as a remote employee. As long as the company’s insurance is in a major network like Blue cross, Cigna, etc, the insurance will work wherever you live. State income tax is also not a problem. The payroll company will deduct the tax for the state where you live.

    • Jos Oskam says:

      This.

      I’ve been involved with multiple multinational companies over the course of my career. All of them used the “balance sheet approach” for salaries abroad, aiming to equalizes purchasing power across countries. So, if you were working in a “cheap” remote locale, your remuneration would be lower compared to the home locale.

      I really do wonder, if lots of workers moved from expensive SF to cheap Hicksville or even abroad, how long their employers would continue to pay their SF level salaries. Especially if one works for a multinational company that already has experience with “home based” versus “host based” compensation.

      As WS says, one might very well end up in Hicksville with a Hicksville-level salary job, and the question of how to get out of that hole when the job ends.

      In my view, the incentives offered do not at all compensate for that risk.

  6. Xavier Caveat says:

    Green acres is the place to be
    Twenty grand givin’ is the VC life for me
    WFH spreadin’ out so far and wide
    Keep your SF $1M fixer upper, just give me wi-fi

  7. RoundAbout says:

    If you can work from anywhere, I’d wager that is a job that can be outsourced. The situation just might boomerang back once management figures it out.

    • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

      People keep saying that.

      It’s not true for a lot of us who have been WFH for decades.

      Perhaps it’s true for some jobs but people need to stop w/the huge lie that “All WFH jobs are going to China, India, etc.” It’s simply not true.

      If you ever WFH, all the advantages would be so obvious to you, that only an insane person would want to go back to a stifling, pointless “workplace” surrounded by buffoons and incompetent management?

      Lots of jobs can be done in any building. Why go to a special building when I can sit in my home office and do a BETTER job because I’m happier as an employee WFH?

      One day a week? Sure. But FT? No way…not unless there’s no other choice.

      • Tom Pfotzer says:

        There are many companies whose management recognizes talent, and will pay the necessary premium to get it.

        People that can handle the extra responsibility of managing themselves and “finding a way to deliver value” are going to be in demand, and paid well, wherever they live.

        There still remains, after all the efforts to stamp it out, some spark of innovation, creativity, and self-actualization in we Americans, and WFH is but one (very good) mechanism to facilitate it.

        Remember the big debate between Hamilton and Jefferson re: the artisan farmer economy .vs. the centralized industrial economy?

        It looks to me as though we’ve harvested the main advantages of the high-capital-concentration economy, and are now moving toward a more decentralized-creativity construct.

        WFH offers a lot of benefits to the highly creative. And creativity pays good wages.

    • fajensen says:

      Management wont figure anything out before flying restarts again: They get all of their bestests and most creative ideas from the magazines on aircraft!

  8. SaltyGolden says:

    Ok Wolf, how cool is Tulsa?

    It genuinely looks reasonably cool to me. How can I tell? Farmers markets, avocado toast, and decent walkscores. All 3 exist and according to the Google machine can be had in the area in between I-244 and US Route 66.

    What am I missing? Tulsa downsides?

    I don’t imagine I’d leave town now, but Tulsa for a weekend? Hell yea.

    We could do it and according to Zillow buy a nice house, but what’s on the other side of this fiasco seems the problem. I’d love it if the experience of the last year ushered in a golden era of remote work options, but seems dicey right now.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Every city has its downsides. It’s just a question of what matters most to you.

    • MarkinSF says:

      Well besides their fair share of tornados and the like there are a lot of fundamentalists living there and tons of churches. The home of Oral Roberts U. Its beautiful in the fall and really hot in the summer. If you dig symphonic music, opera, professional sports, the beach or cultural diversity you’ll be out of luck.
      I’ll bet most people who live there are happy enough.

      • Trent says:

        “Cultural diversity”, what a crock that is. Nothing wrong with exotic food, a varied landscape, with different weather in every county, with educated foreigners that are family oriented, but that dog’s vomit of “diversity” is just a cover for being forced to live around poor foreigners and making the best of it with a meaningless adjective that turns a negative into an alleged positive.

        Mark, did you go to grade school and high school in San Francisco? I did.

        • MarkinSF says:

          Hey. I’m happy you found a place to live better suited to your temperament and biases.

      • Javert Chip says:

        MarkinSF

        On the flip side, SF has enough “downside”activity (heroin shooting as you walk your kid to school, and worse) to give you the heebie jeebies; watching people rot in homeless camps, tolerating petty theft (under $1000).

        In Tulsa, you’ll easily find parking, probably have enough money to travel the world as you wish, hardly anybody will care that you’re hideously bigoted about religion, and I bet Tulsa also has that sophisticated music you like so much – except you won’t have to walk thru human excrement to get to your seat.

        What’s not to like?

        • SaltyGolden says:

          My grandmother was well read and travelled, especially for her time. She had been to countless spots all over the US and eventually the world. After she retired in the early 90s, she volunteered for the Red Cross disaster relief. That took her to various spots across the country where she obviously saw people in very vulnerable states.

          I asked her one time what place she’s ever been impressed her the most. Her answer: Oklahoma. As a teenager I didn’t really know enough to be astonished, but I asked her why. She said the people, who in many cases were left homeless were orderly, extraordinarily thoughtful to each other, and appreciative about the help they were receiving. This contrasted her experience in other places (wink South Florida). It’s anecdotal but it stuck with me.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Javert Chip,

          “What’s not to like?”

          Lots of homeless people. You just have to get out of your car a little to see them.

        • MarkinSF says:

          Javert Chip
          Why are you so angry (and hostile). I thought you were happily retired. Instead you imagine the worst interpretation of every thing I wrote. Have you ever even been to San Francisco? Sure doesn’t sound like it. Your comments are just so off the charts ludicrous. Apologies I really didn’t know you were a fundamentalist. I’ll be more PC in the future.

        • Javert Chip says:

          MarkinSF

          Actually I lived & worked in SF for over 20 years, so you’re wrong there.

          You’re also wrong about my being a fundamentalist, an amusing comment, especially since I’ve said absolutely nothing to cause you to think that.

          I suspect you’re used to creating incorrect strawman arguments to be snarky about, so I won’t attempt to dissuade you; just setting the record straight.

          Generally speaking, as long as a group isn’t killing people, sending gangs to beat them up, limiting free speech or burning down the neighborhood, I’m inclined to be tolerant (fundamentalists included).

  9. David Hall says:

    I saw Baltimore, MD on your list. It is about 2 hours from DC and 2 hours from Philly. The violent crime rate is 5 times the national average.

    Detroit has a higher crime rate than Baltimore. Not many cities are as bad. There is cheap property in the big city, but the streets are mean.

    • MarkinSF says:

      Baltimore is 39 miles from DC. So yeah if you’re going 20 MPH

      • Clete says:

        @MarkinSF: I’ve done that drive (Balto to DC) many times. You HOPE to get up to 20 MPH.

        Also, the parts of DC that you’re driving towards are a long way from where 95 hits the city. Add another half hour for each 10 blocks.

  10. KGC says:

    I have lived or worked (or both) in and around 80% of the towns on that list, and lived in Napa, Saratoga, and Cupertino as well. I don’t know who’s going to have the greater culture shock; folks from SF moving to one of them, or the locals. I do wish I could be around to watch.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      A lot of the folks in San Francisco came from towns like these. Lots of folks in San Francisco weren’t born in San Francisco.

      • polecat says:

        Or, to phrase Wolf’s statement other way -‘Tis a Gold Pan in every westward suitcase. ‘;]

  11. Yort says:

    “Move there to Escape High Housing Costs”

    Screw housing mania, where can we move to escape insanely high Healthcare Cost—> American Exceptionalism? Housing inflation sucks, yes…yet housing inflation will not get you killed easily, yet lack of affordable healthcare can absoluetely put you 6 feet under…

    For example of how crazy healthcare costs currently are in America, a friend of mine who makes $140/hr just told me she vacationed in Mexico last week, and got some dental work done that was about quoted at 6x more money if performed in the USA. Ended up saving thousands with a free vacation by escaping Inflation Nation USA. She lives in Texas where 29% of residents have zero/nada healthcare, according to CNBC article posted today. I’m guessing even fewer have dental coverage, vision, etc…

    See the CNBC states percentages without healthcare chart link below:

    https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/21/unemployed-americans-struggle-to-get-free-health-insurance-in-pandemic.html

  12. Paulo says:

    Pretty grim options all around, imho.

    The hidden gems are places that no one is talking about, at least that has been my experience. With the internet for data/information, and Google Earth for impressions, it would be easy enough to plan a recce road trip to suss things out. A town/city that pays people to move there? Tulsa? I remember once driving through a place called Gusher….(Utah). Sure, some people live there but…… looked like living hell to me. But hey, I once met a guy who threw a dart at a map…then moved there.

    The article reminded me of the old handbills in Grapes of Wrath. Dustbowl days, let’s go to Californy. :-)

  13. polecat says:

    Bemidji MN. … Ha ha! I don’t know about that. I hear there’s great ice fishing though, so there’s that. Just be damn sure of the company you keep!

    “Lester?”.. “Is THIS what you REALLY want?”

  14. Rcohn says:

    So Wolf when are you leaving SF?

  15. polistra says:

    Tulsa is a beautiful city. It has always been a center of serious culture, aided by oil money. I hope the Calis don’t spoil it.

    • Anthony A. says:

      polistra,

      Tulsa’s crime rate:

      With a crime rate of 63 per one thousand residents, Tulsa has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes – from the smallest towns to the very largest cities.

    • MarkinSF says:

      Don’t worry man. That ain’t gonna happen.

    • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

      You can blame all the recent earthquakes on Fracking.

      I personally don’t like my tap water flammable, so I’ll pass on the Fracking.

  16. Yort says:

    Where are people escaping from and going to???

    This map from Bloomberg shows which states lost and which states gained House of Rep seats via the last 10 years of census data. This shows where people are leaving and moving to/from. Hint—>TX gained two seats….CA & NY lost seats

    https://assets.bwbx.io/images/users/iqjWHBFdfxIU/iO1ZkMeDcjhQ/v0/-1×600.jpg

    At some point, if American Inflation exceptionalism continues, people will start moving out of America in large numbers, verus moving state to state to escape the Fed induced Inflation Nation.

  17. Brent says:

    Oh Baltimore,here I come !!!
    Gimme $162K when I am still alive !!!

    Before moving outside of safe San Fran confines it is recommended to take a long,hard look at the real-time crime map:

    https://spotcrime.com/

    Every WFH-er has personal preferences.Some like burglaries,other gravitate toward theft 😁

    Personally,I do not know why but the sight of sneakers dangling from the power lines always puts me in a serene mood…

    Even if,depending on the area,it means completely different things:

    1.Dope den
    2.Another one bites the dust
    3.Everything is f… pointless.Just like sneakers dangling from the power lines

  18. RemotelessInSeattle says:

    Hi,

    Great article!

    I work (remotely) at one of the largest tech Companies in the World, just a few miles from my office which I haven’t visited in over a year. They have allowed us to work remotely from anywhere in the world even after the Pandemic is over. Unfortunately, they also said our salaries will be adjusted based on where we live.

    So, while I’d love to take my “big fat” paycheck out of town, and into, say Tulsa (or even Costa Rica), I can’t because my salary will be a lot smaller to adjust for cost of living.

    I think in the end, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    I ‘m not sure if these remoters have realized that their salary will eventually be adjusted and all of a sudden, there’s no more palm trees in their dreams. Or maybe they’re doing something to defeat the system.

    P.D. there’s a small mismatch in the numbers. The last paragraph says “153” remoters from California, the paragraph before, 135.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      153 is the correct number.

    • Artem says:

      Remoteless, how does your employer know where you are actually living, and where you have a part-time residence?

      • fajensen says:

        There is a web-service for that, it is called IP Geolocation.

        For example this one: https://www.ip2location.com/ (It gets the zip code a few streets wrong in my case).

        Meaning, it is trivially easy to check the VPN logs and see where people are logging in from*. They probably won’t check for quite a while yet.

        At “my place”, with infections still running rampant, we are ordered to work from home until further notice. After the “notice”, they will probably begin checking and reorienting, however, there is a significant difference in costs of living: With what I make “extra” by working “here”, I figure that by the time of reckoning, I will have paid off my summer house “there”, and I get out clean.

        *) One could run a private VPN endpoint on a Raspberry PI at the address where one is supposed to be, and tunnel the work traffic through from there. In a few months, I bet this will be available as another service :).

  19. Trucker guy says:

    Any place throwing money at people to show up and live there probably isn’t an amazing place to live. I’ve been to about a third of the places in this list and they are all what I’d consider unpleasant places at best.

    Morgantown is nothing but methheads and tweakers stealing everything in sight. Tulsa is just a depressing casino and alcoholism trap. Baltimore is possibly the worst city in the United States. Also home to the worst truck stop in the country, Jessup TA. Topeka is just Tulsa basically. There is nothing good in Arkansas.

    Only town on the list I liked was Montpelier.

    But if rich californians want to crowd the Midwest then by all means. They’ve invaded every western state except Wyoming and Montana. And New Mexico if you consider that a state…

    • MarkinSF says:

      Nice one. You’ve got it about right. No love for Augusta Maine?

      • Javert Chip says:

        The difference between some bad stuff in some smaller towns and the heaven that is San Francisco, is you get all those things in San Francisco (plus other “amenities”) – sort of one stop shopping for depravity.

    • Depth Charge says:

      Oh, they’re in Wyoming and Montana now.

    • Mike G says:

      Montpelier VT is a charming place about half the year. The weather would drive me away for the other half.

  20. coboarts says:

    I’ve been having a nagging “je ne sais quoi” about the entire WFH boom. Not only did I manage remote software engineers in the late 90s, early 00’s I also worked from home for about seven years with my own business. My concern isn’t that “once it’s clear we can use someone from anywhere doing our tasks for businesses,” is a threat to a higher priced American workforce, up the food chain from the past. It’s that so much of our “work” is what might be termed BS jobs work. Watching a university I know well transition to WFH, it became exceedingly clear that they have not yet realized how much of the work can be centralized, automated and leaned and meaned. Once that realization hits, those jobs are also gone. A whole lot of PMC is going to catch this wave, too.

    • MarkinSF says:

      Exactly. The PMC will not be bailed out this time.

    • fajensen says:

      Managers need many people and complex processes to manage. Most of all, they need “rationalistion potential”, so they can strut their stuff when they are asked to find cost savings.

      The effective manager run things lean, and then he/she will be in the shit when the CEO ask for cuts of 20% across the entire business – Corporate Darwinian Selection therefor favours the “Fat, slow and bloated” kinds of organisation!

      At “my place”, f.ex., I’d say that one could cut out 3/5’th of the work, and the people, and everything would very much improve, except, that also means obliterating about three very dense layers of middle-management career aspirations!

      Those managers are also the ones the CEO and The Board are asking for insights in how the business should be organised. So it goes as it does!

      PS –

      We whine about CEO’s making un-informed decisions, but, there is no other way when every bit of information reaching “authority” is being filtered through layers and layers of vested interests.

      “Walking the floor” is still the only way to be somewhat informed.

  21. Cobalt Programmer says:

    1. The silicon valley of the west took jobs of lot of people in the midwest by tech based online shopping.
    2. Midwest towns provided one way bus ticket to the drug users to go to west coast.
    3. Silicon valley took more jobs away from the midwest towns. population drops in midwest
    4. Smaller towns now provide incentives to steal taxpayers to live in their towns

    There are lot of good towns in the flyover areas. Like Tulsa, NW Aarkansa is a good place to live. Walmart head quarters, JB hunt head quarters and KKK head quarters (Harrison, AR). No body watches duck dynasty there. Unlike the stereotypical media portrayal, there are lot of good women. If you are a nerdy programmer who makes only 67K in the LA, no women will look at you. Go to AR and start a new family. Cost of living is so cheap which offsets state, property and local taxes.

    • Javert Chip says:

      Why do I have the distinct feeling that your ditherings about “…good women…” are autobiographical?

      • NBay says:

        You had a “depraved moment”?

        • NBay says:

          Engel made me do it.

        • Javert Chip says:

          LOL.

          I certainly have some depraved moments (hell, even though I’m vaccinated, I INTENTIONALLY went outside yesterday WITHOUT MY MASK ON; I think I did that twice!!).

          I doubt I was depraved when reading COBALT PROGRAMMER’s comment – I was wearing my mask.

    • Mike G says:

      Arkansas is a good place to live…and KKK head quarters (Harrison, AR)

      Are they hiring? What’s their diversity and inclusion policy like? /sarc

  22. Depth Charge says:

    Buying a house is an anchor. Renting is freedom. In this day and age it makes little sense to buy a house, especially given prices. It’s a great feeling knowing you can give notice and just leave instead of having to repair a house and wait months to sell it in order to have freedom.

    It made sense back in the Leave It To Beaver days to buy a house. But times have changed. No longer do people work the same job their whole life near their house. Nowadays, everybody is moving everywhere. A housing anchor just makes moving miserable.

    • QuadQ says:

      Renting can be an anchor with a 1 or 2 year lease. You’re throwing away equity when renting. If you sell your house and have lived in it for 24 months within the last 5 years you can keep up to $250K, $500K if married of the profits tax free. Everybody isn’t moving everywhere.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        U might want to read again the ”tax free” part of the numbers for selling RE qq,,,
        Unless it’s changed in 5 years, it is ”tax free” as long as you buy RE again,,, and in spite of the/my clear memory loss due to excess liquidity recent decades, it seems to me there were and likely still are other ” catches” though I don’t remember the list right now, and will not be doing any such ”cashing out” again, even though our present home has, apparently, tripled in likely sales price.
        As usual with ”us” we will likely just give it away, again.
        Looking at you, various ”non profits” where their intakes/contributions do not go to any sort of ”administrators.”
        And there are a lot of them out there.

  23. nick kelly says:

    Is WR getting some promo grease from Tulsa?
    And does Tulsa’s money apply if you are within 24 hrs?

    Engel made me do it.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      nick kelly,

      I would have asked: Is Wolf trying to send some San Franciscans to Tulsa because it’s too crowded in San Francisco? 🤣

      Tulsa was in a depression for much of the time I lived there, following the oil bust. But in the early years I lived there, it was a boom town — the oil embargo of the 70s, skyrocketing gas prices, and gas lines in much of the US? BOOOOOM town Tulsa. But I was just in high school then and was too busy looking at girls to notice. I still have a soft spot for Tulsa. I enjoyed the years I spent there. And I’m happy to say nice things about it. But I also have my reasons for not ever going back.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      But now you’re giving me ideas. I should have tried to contact them and see what this is worth to them. Another opportunity missed. Darned.

  24. Anthony A. says:

    Also on the list on the second page (not posted by Wolf), is La Villa, Texas, “The Small City With a Big Heart”, population about 2,000 + or – 3 people.

    It’s really a nice place with a friendly Texas demeanor and is located in Hidalgo, County. The “move to” offer is $3,000! Median home value is $88,525. That’s less than a software coder pays for his car in SF!

    Some town facts:

    Distance to Target Shopping Center – 21 miles

    Distance to the Tractor Supply store – 16 miles

    (also has internet access)

    Incentive package from the town includes a free building lot (I kid you not)

    • Phil says:

      Google Maps – Street View is just an amazing thing. You can look at neighborhoods all across America, and even around most of the world, as if you are standing on the street there.

      I plopped “La Villa, Texas” into the Google Maps search, and then plopped my little man down onto a random street in that town. I was standing in what I would consider a run down lower income neighborhood, just barely a step up from a slum. Lots of small one story houses in disrepair on tiny lots. Yards full of trash, broken down cars here and there.

      On many deep dives in the US in Google Maps (I like to go randomly exploring around the country and world) I see those same kind of neighborhoods. All around the country really. I have to say, that almost seems like the most common kind of neighborhood in the US. Some look a little better, some look a little worse.

      The times when I find really nice looking places to live are the exception.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        10-4 P,,,
        After a while in ”flyover USA” one learns to just go ahead and throw the defunct and worthless washers and dryers and others like that out into the yard and leave them there to discourage all the riff raff coming around and trying to buy you out of the homestead…
        Also keeps the taxes down of course..
        Where are you people coming from??
        OK, got it, places where the taxes are double what you paid for the place a few years ago,,, RIGHT!!!
        Reminds me of driving through one of those places in 1999, where the vast and clearly new mansion across the street was looking right at the totally trash filled front yard of a house that appeared to have been there for eva…

        • Phil says:

          I can’t speak for other “you people” but I’m staying, from central CT. I would consider moving to a random TX slum for maybe a cool million. I paid $229,000 for my 1400 sq ft house on 1 acre in 2007 and Zillow say’s it’s worth $257k now. My bad luck to buy at the top of the market. My property taxes are about $4k/yr, up from about $3.5k/yr when we first moved in. Town population around 11k. Our public schools are among the best in the nation. It’s a nice place to live, but not for everyone. There is a fairly high level of social cohesion, which means if you want to leave trash in your yard, you’re basically going to find your family being shunned socially and to some degree economically. For example, the reputational damage would rule out working anywhere in a public-facing roll. Small town CT is insular enough that your reputation matters a lot. That’s the price to pay for living in a cohesive community. There are lots of benefits too.

      • Anthony A. says:

        So Phil, what you are saying with the Google Map Street View stuff is that La Villa is starting to look like San Francisco without the homeless people?

        Those maps are probably old and dated. La Villa has probably cleaned itself up now to welcome the new folks @$3,000/head. Plus the free building lot! And maybe their pick of a “good woman” for housekeeping chores.

        Heck, if I could tolerate the cost of another divorce, I would give La Villa a try! Well, after another divorce, that would probably be the only place I could afford to live anyway.

        • Phil says:

          No. SF looks very different. You should check it out yourself though. Type Maps.Google.Com into your browser’s address bar.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      AA, in spite of, or perhaps because of my respect for you as a similar ”old timer” on here,,, please do NOT encourage anyone to go anywhere in TX or any other of the areas of ”flyover”,,, especially ones such as this that appear to be home to common sense,, and likely equally home to folks with that now apparently rare component of human beings.
      Lived in such a place from 99 to 15, and absolutely loved it and most of the folks there: Real old timey folks who would (and did) ”bend over backwards” to help anyone,,, etc., etc.
      While many folks will eventually go there,,, IMHO, it is a very serious challenge to many folks from either coast who have been born and raised with the concept that they are privileged and must be pampered by any and all working folks as are the vast majority of the very viable and even vibrant communities of flyover USA.

      • Anthony A. says:

        VVN, you are probably right as those pampered coders from the perfect cities would have a tough time acclimating to the “good old country” way of life in a small flyover town.

        And the food would probably be hard on them, not having access to sushi and other delicacies.

        • Clete says:

          Don’t sleep on gas station sushi. It’s not as bad as you think, according to my late friend.

  25. drifterprof says:

    My father always used to tell me that the South was more violent (his mother fled Missouri to Oregon with four children, leaving her drunken abusive husband in the middle of the night and changing all their names).

    Oklahoma has the 14th highest violent crime rate (7 out of the top 14 are southern states). Maybe this is because murders and other violent crime increase in hot weather. Hot humid weather sucks my energy too much, so I would never willingly live in in a city like Tulsa unless it was a friendly culture.

    Also, it’s likely that violent culture is positively correlated with religious fundamentalism (holy rollers, Bible thumpers, etc.). Tulsa race massacre (1921) was among the worst in U.S. history. Destroyed a thriving black middle class.

    Add to that the United States probably high on the list (of civilized world countries) where one is likely to experience in-your-face angry and violent people.

    • Mojer says:

      drifterprof

      If we look in Europe between the Scandinavians and the Latin people of southern Europe there is a big difference in behavior in driving a vehicle while the former is always calm and peaceful and respects pedestrians or other vehicles by giving them precedence even if he had the right of way, the latter feels in perpetual war to finish first by driving on the road at the limit of the speed allowed or exceeded.
      It is also an excellent reflection to do when buying a house.

      • fajensen says:

        Eh!? Try driving in Denmark!

        Where Ever one has to join lanes and “get in front of someone”, they will block you off, because “Fuck You, there is a queue and you are not getting in front of me, bumboy”!

        On the motorway people overtake at “speed limit + 0.05%” just to block and annoy those intending to driving faster.

        And, Every goddam kind of vehicle has it’s own speed limit, to keep traffic (and arteries) clogged and drivers hating each other, so they don’t gang up on taxation or something.

        In Sweden everyone drives exactly at the speed limit on motorways then got nuts as soon as they are off the motorway, the shittier the road, the more daring their driving becomes!?

        Norwegians just drive huge SUV’s at the speed limit + 30%. Always. Kinetic energy has rights of way.

        My experience driving In Italy, Greece and Spain is that they fully expect everyone to be an un-fixable idiot and liable to do random things, so they are in their way much more relaxed drivers than the Danes, who *must* try to “teach the idiots a lesson”.

        In Palermo, they would just roll down the window and talk to the people in cars next to them while stuck in traffic, they would also undertake across the pavement in front of police and traffic lights are advisory-only. But they are mostly careful and slow doing it.

        I never saw any of the insane stuff, that I see in the roads of Denmark or Germany, every time I drive there.

    • Trent says:

      drifterprof

      Therefore you will put your money where your mouth is and undoubtedly enjoy renting in West Oakland where you can get mugged and shot at by in your face angry and violent perennial lower class that need a certain proportion of starry-eyed yokel wokels to feed on.

  26. The Bob who cried Wolf says:

    Can we convince SF to incentivize all of the homeless in CA to go occupy all that empty office space. Call it a goo fund page or something.

  27. roddy6667 says:

    Wait until Tulsa and other cities trolling for WFH’ers find out that it stands for Woke From Home.

  28. Brant Lee says:

    Do yourself a favor and just visit northern Arkansas before making any judgments. It’s no wonder NW Ark is growing so fast. Unbelievable beauty and living opportunities in the Ozarks. No kidding.

  29. Turtle says:

    Nice try, Baltimore. LOL

    I think the only place on that list I’d consider is NW Arkansas. Never been, but seen pictures of those lake areas and Google Maps shows some very nice areas. No doubt there’s some money there and that means nice things. The other areas are too cold or just too lacking in amenities.

  30. The census report came out, and most of these states actively courting immigrants is on the list of states adding House seats in the Congress. They were making a big deal out of the shift, CA lost one seat. Now these red states invite blue state workers with money, for a visit, and the partisan wind shifts back. Remember when Texas and Florida were blue? Many of the locals in these outbound states have never seen the upper middle class. They were born to resentment (most of them) and fit perfectly into a Trump rally. Will they enjoy the spillover wealth, or become they become even more insular, and even poorer yet, which may become a national problem. Flyover America becomes destination America. I am moving there because it is poor and I can afford it. Nomadland II.

  31. Island Teal says:

    Only a few comments hit the nail on the head. A whole lot of the new WFH crowd are going to be 86’d as the corporate bean counters rationalize that we 1. Outsource the position to another country or 2. Eliminate the positions. 🤑🤑🤑

    • Anon1970 says:

      I have been getting tech support for my Dell home computer for $140 per year for several years. The techies are located in India but I can reach them via an 800 number from the US. Dell could not offer such a service at this price if it relied on US based techies. My next home computer will also be a Dell.

  32. Tim says:

    If you think that most companies are not going to adjust your salary based on where you’re working remotely, your sadly mistaken. Some companies such as Facebook have already announced this and others will follow. Just factor that into your analysis.

  33. Swamp Creature says:

    One thing I see happening is the office drone jobs that are moved to WFH will be changed to Independent Contractor status with no benefits. Then the management, or what’s left of it, will create a Web site where anyone with similar job skills can bid on the job at hand. A reverse bidding war will ensue where the LOWEST bidder gets the assignment. The others are SOL. Big win for the management. They will get an award for cost cutting. They’ve eliminated providing any employee benefits. The fact that the end user customer may get s$itty service because of outsourcing the work to the lowest common denominator is of no concern to the management. Another back door way of suppressing wages.

    By the way this already happened to us in 2002/2003 so the model is already in the pipeline.

    You should be careful what you wish for

  34. Mira says:

    Tulsa .. 3116 S. Owasso Avenue Tulsa, Oklahoma
    $299,000 .. A nice, solid little house .. street view .. wow !! look at the open space & look at all the lovely trees .. shucks !! lots of law to mow .. L30 Alex Robotic Lawn Mower AU$1899.00 or a ride on tractor mower owned by several taking turns to mow the street.
    Across the Arkansas River is the business & industry ..
    There was a house on a 4.25 acre block .. the trees were magnificent.
    Your land America is governed by a different energy force than ours.

  35. Auldyin says:

    Now, I need to get this straight, are you guys telling me I could get $20k for spending a year in a small US town somewhere, buy a $200k house and make another $20k selling it before coming home to UK with $40k in my pocket after a 12month holiday?
    Would being on a pension and knitting count as “having an income and working at home”?
    You guys must have the very best local government in the world, I’ll have to tell all my friends and relatives.

  36. Escierto says:

    For those complaining about Baltimore and who have no familiarity with Tulsa (I lived there for two years) here is this little nugget. Tulsa has one of the highest crime rates in the country. It is an extremely dangerous place. Don’t believe me? Just google Tulsa crime rate

    • roddy6667 says:

      There are several True Crime TV shows based in Tulsa because there is no shortage of program material (crime).

  37. Mira says:

    Minus 1 – just spoke to my irate daughter at AIA .. she is overwrought that she can’t get a hold of anyone .. “Hello, hello I can’t hear you” everyone is working form with shitty internet connections .. “They need to come into work & use the company internet service instead .. everyone is irate b/c of this.”

    • fajensen says:

      Hehehe. They are out of their home, enjoying themselves, and they don’t want to be interrupted – Mobile data *is* really shitty out in “Glaskogan”.

  38. Mira says:

    2 years ago I emailed the ABC & asked ‘could you send me please’
    I blinked 3 time & there were several links to what I needed.

  39. Czech Custodian says:

    Used to be an IT Manager in Silicon Valley. Those high Bay salaries will disappear at the next performance evaluation as tech salaries are tied to location. Move to a cheaper location, see significant slash to remuneration. These high tech companies had it figured decades ago.

  40. Swamp Creature says:

    All the WFH proponents may find that employers will soon require you to provide your own computers, broadband and Apple-I phone, all at you own expense. I’m sure you’ll enjoy tying up your home broadband connection with all that work related bulls$it.

  41. RangerOne says:

    I work in Software and fully work from home now, with the option to not return to in person work but I plan to at least 1 day per week. A lump sum payment from a small town is borderline meaningless. I mean 20k is nice but it wouldn’t impact my decision to move.

    On the one hand I am tempted to move further away from work to save money on housing. But I find that work is only one of 4 factors that decided where I wanted to live.

    1. Housing cost
    2. School Quality
    3. Distance to family activities
    4. Distance to work ( now doesn’t matter so much if I commute a 0-2 times a week)

    While I can definitely move further away to improve the first two, I am finding there is a limit on how far I may want to move as I still want access to activities in the city.

    I can find good schools and low home price almost anywhere. What I can ‘t always find are those two things mixed with a large variety of natural and man made activities. The big cities still offer that in spades. The only problem to solve is not being forced to live inside them and having easy access for nights and weekends.

    But I guess the option to live in a quiet town is good for a person who finds no appeal in city activities.

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