West Virginia is now offering remote and self-employed workers $12,000 (£8,705) to move to the state for at least two years.
Earlier this week, the state government alongside West Virginia University and former CEO of Intuit, Brad Smith and his wife Alys, launched the initiative to lure remote and self-employed workers to the state.
The programme has been funded by a $25m (£18m) donation from Mr Smith and his wife, who wanted to invest in the CEO’s home state. The couple partnered with the university and state government to get the programme launched.
The workers who choose to participate in the programme will be given $10,000 (£7,255) in the first year and $2,000 (£1,451) in the second, alongside a year-long “no strings attached” pass for free outdoor activities in the state, including skiing, whitewater rafting and rock-climbing.
Participants will also be provided with access to a co-working space and continuing education programmes at West Virginia University during their two year stay, while welcome activities with other remote workers will be set-up to help them settle in.
CBS News reported that the programme is planning to convince participants to remain in the state after the two years, as it hopes that the significantly cheaper cost of living compared to other areas in the US will be the main argument for staying.
The programme’s website includes a comparison function that allows users to compare the cost of living in West Virginia to their home town and other areas of the US.
The state’s website states that its average cost of living is 139.69 per cent less than New York City and 121.89 per cent lower than Los Angeles.
In a statement accompanying the announcement of the programme, officials wrote: “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.”
While West Virginia governor Jim Justice added in a separate statement: “Today, we are rolling out the red carpet and inviting remote workers from across the country to make Almost Heaven, West Virginia their new home.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the dream team that we’ve assembled to get this program off the ground.”
The governor added: “This collaboration has developed a program that will leave a lasting impact on our great state forevermore.”
West Virginia is not the first state to offer a cash incentive for people to move to it, as several states have similar initiatives, including Vermont, which has a long-running state-funded programme offering new remote workers up to $7,500 (£5,440) to relocate.