Thursday, April 15, 2021

An Addition to the List of Things I Might Do if I was Young and Single*

* Or had a living or romantic companion in a similar situation to split housing/bills with.

West Virginia is offering remote workers $12,000 to move there

Quick note on the details:

  • The government of West Virginia is offering the money and administering its disbursement, which would normally be a no-go thing for me ... but the actual funding comes from  "a $25 million donation from former CEO of Intuit Brad Smith and his spouse, Alys, who wanted to invest in Smith's home state."
  • You have to commit to living there for two years.
  • The money is disbursed monthly and front-loaded -- $10k the first year, $2k the second. So $833.33 per month the first year, $166.66 per month the second year. Presumably they'll go to court to recoup the first $10k if you pack up and leave after the first year.
  • "Also provided is access to coworking space, continuing education programs and a year of free passes to hiking trails, whitewater rafting, skiing and rock-climbing routes -- 'no strings attached.'" Kinda cool ...
  • Only one city, Morgantown, is included in the program at the moment, but more are to be added.
It's hard to make an apples to apples comparison with my own situation, since I have a family, etc., but let's try.

According to the AdvisorSmith Cost of Living Index, the cost of living in Morgantown is 88.5% of the national average. Gainesville is at 97.3%.

According to CNN's calculator, groceries are 19% cheaper in Morgantown and housing is 31% cheaper, and I would only need to make $16,376 per year in Morgantown to live as if I made $20,000 per year in Gainesville.

A quick look at Zillow says I could probably rent a studio or small one-bedroom apartment for $600 per month or less.

So my guess is that for the first year, that $833 a month would cover my rent, utilities, and Internet access, maybe with a little left over for groceries and entertainment. If it was one bedroom, I could stick a sofa bed in the living room and split rent with someone (or, if the relationship was romantic, forget the sofa bed), too and then the grant would be covering my groceries and the occasional meal out as well.

Of course the second year wouldn't be nearly as easy, but perhaps I could swing a deal with the landlord where I got a lease for two years and I just signed the entire check over each month, bigger payments the first year, smaller the second, but they know for sure they're getting something that averages out to $500 a month for 24 months. I'd have to fend for myself on groceries, utilities, etc., but roof over head would be taken care of.

And either way, I'd be making as much as I make now on top of the subsidy. I can do the work I do from anywhere with Internet access, and that's kind of the whole point of the program, I guess: Get people to move in and generate income that is spent in the local community, and hope they stay after the subsidy drops off.

Seeing as how I've spent months living in the desert and weeks at a time living in a tent without major physical or mental damage, I could probably do two years standing on my head in West Virginia pretty easily even if I didn't like it that much -- but in fact, it's on my list of states where I'd definitely consider living. I've only spent a little time there, but it's beautiful country and fairly cheap on the living expense end.

Alas, I'm not young and single, so if I ever do move to West Virginia it will probably not be a matter of snapping up this subsidy.

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