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Remote Control: How Remote Workers Are Reshaping Real Estate

Remote work has disrupted the employment landscape and appears to be here to stay; it’s also reshaped real estate as more and more workers are now untethered from the office. This month, let’s dive into how to take advantage of better affordability by relocating, moving for your lifestyle and not your employer, and what states will actually pay you to relocate.

Person Working From Tropical Location

The COVID pandemic has radically altered the employment landscape by rapidly expanding the remote work industry.

In the recent 2023 State of Remote Work report, compiled by Buffer, Remote OK, and Nomad List, 3,000 remote workers shared their thoughts about the changing marketplace.

The results were very interesting. People working remotely as employees accounted for 53% of the respondents (that’s more than double the pre-pandemic number), while 43% were independent consultants or freelancers, and 4% were business owners with at least one employee.

Most were male (61%). And 58% were millennials (born 1981-1996) working in either software/IT (41%), or marketing, media, and publishing (16%).

What I found not surprising at all is that 98% of respondents said they would prefer to work remotely, at least part of the time. This makes sense, considering the following chart, showing that most folks are pretty happy working remotely.

8-23 Remote work experience.jpg

I can certainly attest to that. I have been working remotely—at least part of the time—since the early 90s, and full-time since 2001. For me, it’s been a great experience. I’m not much of an office worker; I like working independently and get a lot more done at home than when I would be surrounded by chattering employees. And I am very disciplined, which is a requirement for remote work. What I love about it is the same thing that everyone else does:

Flexibility: 22% say in terms of how they spend their time; 19% due to where they live; and 13% due to the location of their work headquarters.

8-23 Remote work benefits.jpg

However, for those of us who work at home, not all is wine and roses:

8-23 Struggles with remote working.jpg

I can relate to the 21% who seem to stay at home more than we probably should and to the 9% who find themselves working more than a 40-hour workweek. But for me, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

In a wider survey, Forbes found that 12.7% of full-time employees work from home, while 28.2% work a hybrid model, featuring both at-home and in-office working hours. However, while remote work continues to expand, expected to increase to 32.6 million Americans in just two years (22% of the workforce), 59.1% of folks still work in an office environment.

But that office format is on the move also, with 16% of companies surveyed reporting that they are fully remote, especially in the computer and IT sectors. It’s interesting that with the advent of technological innovations such as video conferencing, advanced network infrastructure, collaboration tools, and virtual reality systems, almost any industry can be converted to a part-time or totally remote workplace:

Top Industries for Remote Work

1. Computer and IT

2. Marketing

3. Accounting and Finance

4. Project Management

5. Medical and Health

6. HR and Recruiting

7. Customer Service

Also, an amazing variety of jobs can now be handled remotely, including:

The Most Common Remote Jobs Posted

1. Accountant

2. Executive Assistant

3. Customer Service Representative

4. Senior Financial Analyst

5. Recruiter

6. Project Manager

7. Technical Writer

8. Product Marketing Manager

9. Customer Success Manager

10. Graphic Designer

You’ll note that many of these positions call for some sort of higher education. And the statistics bear that out. According to the Census Bureau’s weekly Household Pulse Survey, 44% of respondents with college degrees or higher reported some hybrid work, compared to only 27% of those with a high school diploma or GED.

Before I move on to the real reason for this article—the geographic migration caused by the increase in remote work—let me give you one more reason why you might consider remote work: Remote workers make an average of $74,000, while in-office workers typically have an average salary of $55,000. That’s a pretty significant difference!

As you can see from the statistics, remote work did not die with the pandemic. While many companies are struggling to get employees to come back to the office, lots of employees are rebelling.

I guess it’s not surprising that both the employees and the bosses look at remote work from different perspectives. According to FlexJobs’ Career Pulse Survey, “87% of employees report that they are productive at work; at the same time, only 12% of the leaders say they have complete confidence that their team is productive.”

Yet, statistics indicate that employees are actually more productive if you look at hours worked, number of meetings, and other activity metrics, which have actually increased.

Bottom line, remote work is here to stay. And that is changing the landscape of our nation, as remote workers can choose where they want to live, and they are moving!

Are You Ready to Move? These States Will Pay You to Relocate!

I had no idea that some cities and states would actually pay you to move there! But according to,, and, you have a few to choose from. Let’s take a look at some of the top offers.


Each fall, the state of Alaska offers most residents a Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) payment. Last year, it also included an energy relief payment, which brought the total amount to $3,284. The payment for 2021 was $1,114.


  • Must reside in the state for a full calendar year
  • Must establish residency in the state and remain a resident for the entire calendar year. If you were absent for more than 180 days, it must be an allowable absence. You also can’t claim residency in any other state or have certain convictions or be incarcerated.

You can apply here.

An additional incentive (besides the exceptional beauty in the state) is there’s no state income tax, and you can buy a home for an average of $352,900, compared to the national median price of $400,528.

Alabama (Shoals Area)

The Shoals area includes the cities of Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia. The Shoals is only a two-hour drive from Birmingham, Nashville, and Memphis. If you decide to move there, your total compensation will be $10,000: 25% upfront, 25% after six months and the remaining 50% after one year.

There are a few eligibility requirements:

  • 18 years or older and eligible to work in the U.S.
  • Minimum annual income of $52,000
  • Have full-time remote employment or be self-employed outside of Colbert and Lauderdale Counties
  • Must be able to move to the region within six months.

Submit your application here.

The average sales price for a home in Alabama is $270,300 and the median rent is $1,395/month.

Northwest Arkansas

This is Walmart territory, as the company’s headquarters is in Bentonville. The state is offering its Life Works Here Initiative in Northwest Arkansas, in either Benton or Washington counties. The initiative is worth $10,000 in cash or cryptocurrency, and also offers support in finding community, housing, and jobs.


  • Willing to move to Benton or Washington counties in Arkansas for at least twelve months
  • Must remain for at least a year in order to get the full benefit of the incentives.

You may apply here.

Housing prices are very favorable in this part of the country, with the median home price at $251,400.

Newton, Iowa (outside Des Moines)

This city is offering a $10,000 cash incentive to residents who build a home valued at $190,000 or more (as long as funds last). The payment is received at your home closing.

Other requirements:

  • The $190,000 does not include the land cost.
  • The home must be owner-occupied as a residential, single-family home, so no investment properties are allowed.

You can apply here.

The median home price for homes for sale in Newton is $133,500, and the median rent is $700 per month.

Topeka, Kansas

Topeka is offering up to $15,000 in cash incentives, depending on your work status.

If your employer participates in the program and you purchase or rent a home in Shawnee County within a year of moving or starting your position, you can get $10,000 in the first year for rent or $15,000 for a home purchase.

If you’re a remote worker with an employer outside of the county, you can get up to $5,000 toward rent the first year or $10,000 toward a home purchase.

Eligibility requirements:

For on-site workers, your employer must participate in the program, and you must be eligible to work in the U.S. For remote workers, you must wait three months after moving before you can apply and meet other requirements.

You can learn more about the program, including some of the more complex rules, by visiting the Choose Topeka program website.

You can apply here.

The median home price in Topeka is $147,000, about 36% of the national average! And the median rent is $903/month.

Lincoln, Kansas

Maybe you don’t need cash (OK, who doesn’t), but you’d like to have some land. Then Lincoln, Kansas may be just where you need to move. The city is offering free land, with lot sizes from 14,000 to 35,000 square feet, located within a fully decked-out residential development within the city limits.

Of course, you will need to build your own house. Other than that, the only requirement is that you must be an individual or family relocating to or flipping a home in Lincoln, Kansas.

If building a home isn’t your dream, you might want to know that the median sales price for homes in Lincoln is just $79,000.

You can apply here.

Rochester, New York

The Greater ROC Remote program is offering up to $19,000 to future residents.


  • You must live more than 300 miles from downtown Rochester, New York
  • You must move within six months of application; at which time you will receive $10,000
  • After that, you can apply for another $9,000 if you decide to purchase a home in Rochester.

By the way, Rochester was named the fifth-best city in the U.S. for remote workers by Ownerly. You may not realize it, but Rochester is the birthplace of technology companies Eastman Kodak, Bausch & Lomb and Xerox, and Rochester remains STEM-heavy today. So remote workers who rely on fast internet have no need to worry in Rochester.

The median home value is $274,338, and the average monthly rent is $1,295.

Hamilton, Ohio

This program is for recent college graduates with eligible degrees and includes a “reverse scholarship” worth up to $15,000 ($400 per month) from the Hamilton Community Foundation if you move to the area.


  • You must move to or live in one of the Urban Neighborhoods or in Armondale or Highland Park neighborhoods in Hamilton
  • You must have graduated within the past seven years from a STEAM program, which includes science, technology, engineering, the arts, or mathematics
  • You must work full-time within Butler County or have a full-time remote position in a professional role.

The program further states, “While not required, people who have a desire to give back to the community are preferred. If you leave the area or cease employment before you receive the full incentive amount, you’ll forfeit any remaining monthly payments.”

You can apply here.

The median sale price for homes in Hamilton is $160,000.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa wants remote workers! And the city will give you $10,000 in cash, free desk space at a coworking community and other incentives. You’ll receive $2,500 upfront, $500 per month for the first 12 months you’re in the city and an additional $1,500 once you’ve completed your first year. You’ll also get a 36-month membership at a local coworking space, plus access to other resources to help you get settled.


  • Must move to Tulsa within 12 months of approval
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Must be eligible to work in the U.S.
  • Must secure full-time remote employment or be self-employed outside of Oklahoma.

You may apply here:

The median home value in Tulsa is $191,809 and the median rent is $1,273/month.


Vermont is offering two remote worker grants with awards up to $7,500 each:

1. The New Relocating Worker Grant requires that you fill a qualified position with a state employer.

2. The New Remote Worker Grant requires that you work remotely with a company located outside of Vermont.

You can apply for either program here.

As an aside, Vermont also offers lower-than-average home prices, with the median sales price at $373,000.

West Virginia

If you’d like to move to the Morgantown area, Greenbrier Valley or the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, the state has a deal for you! You can receive $12,000 in cash plus a full year’s worth of free outdoor recreation valued at over $2,500 (including vouchers and gear rentals) and free access to coworking space in the host town.

You’ll receive $10,000 over the first year in monthly installments, then $2,000 after completing your second consecutive year in the state.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must be at least 18 years old and be a U.S. citizen or have a green card
  • Must relocate to West Virginia within six months of being accepted by the program
  • Must either work full-time remotely or be self-employed outside of West Virginia with the ability to work remotely
  • Must be able to relocate within six months of acceptance.

The average price for a home in West Virginia is $155,773.

The Best Cities for Remote Workers

If you have the ability to move right now, it’s great to know that there are some cities and states that WANT YOU! However, incentives and housing prices are not the only considerations when you take this big step.

I left Florida 22 years ago, where everything was convenient (except the traffic and weather!). There were more restaurants than I could ever eat at, shopping was plentiful and educational opportunities were ample. I then moved to California, which was like Florida on steroids. Traffic was horrible and housing was out of sight. But, boy, the call of the outdoors was amazing! I love to hike, backpack, ski, snowshoe, and bike, and I really enjoyed my time in California.

Fast forward to my move to Tennessee. I have to tell you, it was a culture shock at first. I initially moved to a small rural resort community, where golf and boating were plentiful, but shopping and dining out were not. And the internet service was tricky. However, I moved to help care for my mother, so that was my primary consideration.

After some years there, I relocated to a town near Knoxville, Tennessee, where I can enjoy the outdoors, as I’m only minutes from some great hiking and kayaking. And, mercifully, there are plenty of restaurants and shopping. Best of all, average housing prices, at $330,000, are still reasonable.

As you can see, the choice of relocation depends on what is important to you.

Fortunately, there are abundant lists to provide you with an array of “Bests” that will, hopefully, help you make that decision. Here are a few of them:

From Forbes Advisor:

The Cities With The Best Earning Potential For Remote Workers

Rank Metropolitan Area

  1. Omaha, NE
  2. Miami, FL
  3. Ogden, UT
  4. Minneapolis, MN
  5. Kansas City, MO
  6. Madison, WI
  7. Lakeland, FL
  8. Colorado Springs, CO
  9. Harrisburg, PA
  10. Denver, CO

The Cities With The Best Internet Speeds And Availability Of Free Wi-Fi Hotspots

Rank Metropolitan Area

  1. Spokane, WA
  2. Richmond, VA
  3. Austin, TX
  4. Springfield, MA
  5. Greenville, SC
  6. Tucson, AZ
  7. San Antonio, TX
  8. Charleston, SC
  9. Rochester, NY
  10. Columbia, SC

The Cities With The Best Access To Arts, Entertainment, And Dining Establishments

Rank Metropolitan Area

  1. New York, NY
  2. Miami, FL
  3. Chicago, IL-IN-WI
  4. Dallas, TX
  5. Atlanta, GA
  6. Philadelphia, PA-NJ-DE-MD
  7. Seattle, WA
  8. Houston, TX
  9. San Francisco, CA
  10. Boston, MA

And here’s a link to the list of the Top 100 Cities for Remote Workers in the U.S., based on 11 categories.

Now, if you can stand one more list: home valuation and consumer resource company Ownerly, recently released its 2022 America’s Best Cities for Remote Workers: The Great Outdoors report.

Here are the results.

Top 10 Cities

Rank City, StateScore
1Santa Cruz, California72.92
2Auburn, Washington69.14
3Beaverton, Oregon68.9
4Bellingham, Washington68.25
5Portland, Maine68.19
6Napa, California67.22
7Fort Collins, Colorado66.97
8Hillsboro, Oregon66.72
9Lancaster, Pennsylvania66.24
10Thornton, Colorado66.1

Regional Winners


Rank City
1Portland, Maine
2Lancaster, Pennsylvania
3Kingston, New York
4Quincy, Massachusetts
5Pawtucket, Rhode Island


1Livonia, Michigan
2Ann Arbor, Michigan
3Madison, Wisconsin
4Iowa City, Iowa
5Ankeny, Iowa


Rank City
1Alpharetta, Georgia
2Charlottesville, Virginia
3Greensboro, North Carolina
4Alexandria, Virginia
5Washington, District of Columbia


Rank City
1Santa Cruz, California
2Auburn, Washington
3Beaverton, Oregon
4Bellingham, Washington
5Napa, California

Okay, now we are getting to the nitty-gritty. You have a handle on some of the amenities available, nationwide, but now we need to talk about money. How much does it really cost to live in a particular area?

Cost of Living Is a Critical Aspect of Making a Move

Taxes should be a huge consideration when making a move. I moved from a no-income-tax state (Florida) to a crazy tax state (California) and back to a no-income-tax state (Tennessee).

Right now, there are eight states that have no income tax in the U.S.: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

And New Hampshire does not tax earned income, but it does impose a 4% tax on dividends and interest.

The following graphic shows each state and its income tax burden per capita. You can see that the highest taxes are in California, New York, and Connecticut, and the lowest are in the no-state-income-tax states, as well as Arizona, Louisiana, and New Mexico.

You’ll note that Tennessee shows a slight tax burden, but that was due to an investment tax that has since expired.

8-23 State Tax Burden.png

If you’d like to find out how the cost of living of your potential relocation city compares to others, just go to this site.

The site will ask you to enter the city in which you are now residing and the city you want to move to. It will then calculate how much money (based on your current salary) you will need to earn in the new city to enjoy the same standard of living.

The site also offers price comparisons for groceries, housing, utilities, healthcare, transportation and miscellaneous costs.

Honestly, I tried a couple different cities, and I was pretty shocked. I found out that the cost of living in Seattle is almost 74% higher than where I now live. Alternatively, if I were to move to Jackson, Mississippi, it would be 1 ½% lower. Very interesting!

Anyway, recently compiled a list of states with the lowest cost of living. Here are the Top 5:

Mississippi; however, the state came in #48 in Best States Overall, #36 in Opportunity, and #1 in Affordability.

Alabama is #44 in Best States Overall, #32 in Opportunity, and #2 in Affordability.

Kentucky is #39 in Best States Overall, #13 in Opportunity, and #4 in Affordability.

Arkansas is #45 in Best States Overall, #29 in Opportunity, and #3 in Affordability.

Iowa is #7 in Best States Overall, #3 in Opportunity, and #6 in Affordability.

I also checked the states I first mentioned that are rewarding folks who relocate there. A few are mentioned above, but here are the rest, ranked by cost of living:

Alaska: #43 in Cost of Living, #49 in Best States Overall, #33 in Opportunity, and #40 in Affordability

Kansas: #12 in Cost of Living, #27 in Best States Overall, #10 in Opportunity, and #11 in Affordability

Ohio: #19 in Cost of Living, #34 in Best States Overall, #11 in Opportunity, and #16 in Affordability

Oklahoma: #8 in Cost of Living, #43 in Best States Overall, #24 in Opportunity, and #7 in Affordability

West Virginia: #9 in Cost of Living, #46 in Best States Overall, #18 in Opportunity, and #5 in Affordability

Vermont: #34 in Cost of Living, #9 in Best States Overall, #2 in Opportunity, and #31 in Affordability

New York: #48 in Cost of Living, #20 in Best States Overall, #49 in Opportunity, and #47 in Affordability

And I guess we aren’t too surprised to find that Hawaii had the highest cost of living, followed by California.

Does Your State Charge an Exit Tax?

Before you make a move, it’s a good idea to find out whether your state will charge you a tax, an exit tax, to move away! Sometimes, they call it a transfer tax. But either way, you should be prepared, just in case.

For many years, here in Tennessee, we attracted mostly midwestern relocators—folks coming from Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. But with the high cost of living in places like Chicago, California, and Washington state, we are now seeing transplants from those areas.

And I’ve heard some pretty crazy stories from people who have moved from these states who have told me they had to pay an exit tax.

Now, according to, it’s not really legal to charge someone for moving from a state. But states can certainly make up taxes and fees that may make it more difficult to move to another state.

For example, California charges a tax of 0.4% of net worth over $30,000,000 in a tax year, no matter whether your wealth resides in another state or country.

And New Jersey makes folks vacating the state withhold either 8.97% of the profit made on their home sale in New Jersey or 2% of the sale price, whichever is higher.

While Pennsylvania does not have an official exit tax, it does have a “deemed sale” provision that can result in a tax liability for some residents who move out of state. I tried to figure out how much this was, but couldn’t wade through the governmental jargon. Here’s the website, in case you can read legalese.

If you live in Illinois, be prepared to pay a transfer tax at a rate of $0.50 per $500, or $500 per $100,000 of property value, when you sell your home. Additionally, certain counties may apply an additional tax of $0.25 per $500.

The following states do not have real estate transfer taxes:

  • Alaska
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Kansas
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon -rates change by county
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Wyoming

One interesting note, the U.S. actually has an exit tax. If you try to sell all of your assets and want to move out of the country, you’ll be subject to some very high taxes. Here’s where you can find out more.

Bottom line, check with your accountant to see if an exit tax may apply to you.

The 10 Most Affordable Cities for Buying a Home (That May Surprise You!)

Forbes is just great at compiling lists, and this one was very interesting to review. Here are their results, showing the median home price in each city:

  1. Detroit, Michigan: $270,000
  2. Cleveland, Ohio: $248,480
  3. Toledo, Ohio: $239,900
  4. Memphis, Tennessee: $327,275
  5. Baltimore, Maryland: $365,875
  6. Rochester, New York: $274,338
  7. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: $239,900
  8. Montgomery, Alabama: $299,224
  9. Buffalo, New York: $277,697
  10. Kansas City, Kansas: $453,363

Now, if a smaller city is more to your liking, offers these ideas for “Under The Radar Cities To Buy A Cheap House,” including their median home prices:

  • Palm Bay, Florida: $196,528
  • Brownsville, Texas: $110,164
  • Evansville, Indiana, $139,217
  • Clarksville, Tennessee, $209,288
  • High Point, North Carolina, $156,907

One more criterion that may be important to you when making a move from your current location is education. Let’s look at the results from Forbes survey of:

The Top 10 States with the Cheapest College Tuition

They are:

  1. Wyoming*: The University of Wyoming, both in-state and out-of-state.
  2. Florida: The University of Florida
  3. Montana: The University of Montana
  4. Utah: The University of Utah
  5. North Carolina: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for in-state residents.
  6. Idaho: The University of Idaho, for in-state residents.
  7. New Mexico*: The University of New Mexico, for both in-state and out-of-state residents.
  8. South Dakota*: The University of South Dakota, for out-of-state residents.
  9. North Dakota*: The University of North Dakota, for out-of-state residents, as well as Minnesota residents.
  10. Nevada*: The University of Nevada, for out-of-state residents, with special scholarships for residents in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, the territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

*These states also have the most affordable out of state colleges.

The 10 Best Places to Live in the U.S.

Now, drum roll, please, finally, I am wrapping up all of these lists with the latest from U.S. News & World Report, in what the magazine considers the ultimate, best places to live in this country, out of 150 “populous metro areas.” The criteria include: good value, a desirable place to live, a strong job market, and a high quality of life.

Here they are:

CityPopulationMedian Home PriceMedian RentMedian AgeAverage SalaryUnemployment Rate
Green Bay, WI326,590$278,558$85138.9$51,5106.20%
Huntsville, AL483,366$349,778$91239$61,1404.70%
Raleigh & Durham, NC2,034,246$434,741$1,19737.5$61,7596.70%
Boulder, CO328,713$881,147$1,69437.2$73,3606.90%
Sarasota, FL824,160$387,630$1,35953.1$49,7606.90%
Naples, FL372,797$823,196$1,44051.5$50,8207%
Portland, ME547,792$501,164$1,18043.6$57,0605.90%
Charlotte, NC2,625,282$390,713$1,14737.7$52,2707.80%
Colorado Springs, CO747,343$515,694$1,34935$57,5308%
Fayetteville, AR538,063$369,179$92734.4$51,5904.70%

I’m out of lists (I know you must be thankful!). But seriously, if you are lucky enough to work remotely and are looking for your next moving adventure, I think it pays to be prepared.

For me, it’s essential to live in a place that offers great amenities, but also a reasonable cost of living. I hope you find this helpful, and I wish you good luck with your move!

Nancy Zambell has spent 30 years educating and helping individual investors navigate the minefields of the financial industry. She has created and/or written numerous investment publications, including UnDiscovered Stocks, UnTapped Opportunities, and Nancy Zambell’s Buried Treasures under $10. Nancy has worked with for many years as an editor and interviewer for their on-site video studios.