West Virginia offered $12,000 to remote workers looking to relocate – there were so many applicants that the state is giving them all $2,500 off their mortgage

Woman and man hike on rocks at top of mountain in West Virginia
  • West Virginia announced a program earlier this year that offers $US12,000 ($AU16,287) if remote workers relocate.
  • The program was flooded with 7,500 applicants – 53 were selected.
  • The rest of the applicants will be offered $US2,500 ($AU3,393) to help purchase a home in the Mountain State.
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Earlier this year, the state of West Virginia offered remote workers $US12,000 ($AU16,287) in cash if they relocated there for two years. Unsurprisingly, it was flooded with applications.

The talent attraction and retention program, dubbed Ascend West Virginia, was created by the state’s tourism department and Intuit Executive Chairman Brad D. Smith and his wife, Alys. Ascend WV announced Thursday that it has selected 53 people for its first “class” of remote workers moving to West Virginia.

Those workers, who hail from 21 different states as well as countries like Germany, will receive $US12,000 ($AU16,287) in cash, plus free outdoor recreation, the option to earn certifications through West Virginia University, and access to coworking space and networking opportunities.

Those who were selected for the program will be moving to Morgantown, home to West Virginia University. Ascend WV said most of those workers are bringing family with them, meaning more than 110 people total will be relocating to the Mountain State.

They will receive the $US10,000 ($AU13,573) paid in monthly installments for the first year and the additional $US2,000 ($AU2,715) if they stay for a second year.

But it appears to have been a competitive selection process: Ascend WV received 7,500 applicants for the program.

“As soon as I heard how many applications were pouring in, I knew the team had to think bigger,” West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said in a statement. “If this many people wanted to live and work in West Virginia, we had to do everything we could to make that a reality.”

The state decided to partner with Rocket Mortgage to offer all 7,500 applicants $US2,500 ($AU3,393) off their closing costs if they purchase a home in West Virginia.

The program is also accepting applications for its next host city, Lewisburg, which is located in the southern part of the state, near the border of Virginia.

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Ascend WV is funded by a $US25 ($AU34) million donation from the Smiths with the goal of luring remote workers to West Virginia by promoting the state’s access to hiking, rafting, rock climbing, skiing, and more.

“Modern technology and changing assumptions about work are finally liberating large numbers of knowledge workers from the office. When workers have geographic freedom, they look for a place that offers quality of life and experiences that make their lives outside of work more meaningful,” Smith said in a statement, adding that he believes this new class of workers is the “first step in establishing West Virginia a top remote-work destination.”

West Virginia is one of a handful of placed hoping to entice new residents as remote working continues to be the norm for many American office workers. Late last year, Tulsa, Oklahoma, announced a similar program that grants workers $US10,000 ($AU13,573) to relocate to the city. And in early 2021, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez partnered with Softbank Capital to invest $US100 ($AU136) million in making the city friendlier to tech startups hoping to relocate.