This Oklahoma city is paying people $10K to move there

Earlier this year, the city best known for birthing ’90s boy band Hanson announced the Tulsa Remote program.

Designed for folks who can work (full-time) from anywhere, accepted applicants would live in Tulsa — population: 401,000 — for at least a year in exchange for $10,000.

In the past, other cities have stimulated their economies by luring business and development. But Tulsa Remote hopes to energize the local economy by targeting individual workers, giving program members housing assistance, invites to speaking engagements and special events to promote bonding, and membership to a local co-working space. It’s all funded by a grant from Tulsa’s George Kaiser Family Foundation.

Tulsa Remote attracted 10,000 applicants and selected 100 participants for the first year of the program.

“They’re looking for people doing interesting things with their life, who have interesting stories and have started interesting businesses,” Kate Yanov, a 38-year-old former “digital nomad” who runs a company that provides protection to Airbnb hosts, told Curbed. “This is about finding people who are very into trying new things.”

Remote workers are a rapidly growing group with serious money-making potential. A quarter of the roughly 4 million remote workers in the US make more than $100,000 a year, according to Curbed, compared to just 7 percent of the total in-office workforce.

After living in the city for only 3½ months, Yanov has already purchased a home and credits the ease of the transition to the program’s built-in community building.

“I’ve moved all over; you rent an apartment, maybe meet your neighbor, and then you go to work and the gym and that’s your circle for a couple of months,” she tells Curbed. “This has been a lot quicker. We never would have met so many people if we moved to Phoenix.”

Curbed also describes two other participants in the first year of the Tulsa Remote program who have committed to the city by buying houses: Ron Walz, a 64-year-old who works in IT for Wells Fargo, and Carrie Hawkins, a 37-year-old Cisco customer-experience designer. Hawkins “had been living in an Airstream trailer with her husband, Zach, and their dog, Kyla, when other office-free colleagues told her about Tulsa Remote. After three years and 48 states in a trailer, they were also looking to get off the road.” In fact, of the 100 participants in the program’s first year, a dozen have already purchased real estate.

It helps that Tulsa, a former oil hub that is Oklahoma’s second-largest city, isn’t the backwards town that so-called “coastal elites” might perceive it to be. Offerings like the Philbrook Museum of Art and a thriving creative district are attractive to newcomers. Plus, there are plenty of coffee shops and bars, as well as new dispensaries that opened after medical marijuana was legalized in the summer of 2018.

Applications for 2020, the second year of the Tulsa Remote program, will be available in the fall of 2019.

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