For those who are looking for a fresh start in life, to work remotely and like cold winters, Vermont is the place to go. The state in the northeastern United States is known for its natural landscape and 19th century wooden bridges. Within the past decade or two, Vermont has been struggling with its population count. The new measure aims to tackle the state’s aging population and provide the state’s tax base a much needed boost. So, if you are someone who is willing to move or is already looking to pack up and start with a clean slate, then Vermont wants you.
On May 30, 2018, Governor Phil Scott of Vermont signed a bill, that awards up to $10,000 for those who wish to move to Vermont and work remotely.
According to Vermont News, the state is awarding up to $10,000 over a period of two years. However, those wishing to move to the state have to be full time employees of a company and willing to work remotely. “We have a demographic problem in the state. We need more people,” Gov. Phil Scott, said in supporting the measure. By paying people to relocate to the state, Vermont is hoping to attract new residents and provide a much needed boost to its population.
The state started accepting applications as early as Jan. 1, 2019, for the program, and grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
When Gov. Phil Scott signed the bill in 2018, a $500,000 grant was allocated for the program. Basically, the state will use the grant to cover the costs incurred to the new residents during their relocation process. The grant will also be used to cover any costs that would be required for computer software and hardware updates during the transition.
“We hope it will help recruit workers to our state and serve as a solid building block in developing solutions to the demographic challenges we face,” Republican Gov. Phil Scott said in a statement.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Vermont has the nation’s third-highest median age, which is 42.7 years. With a population that is just over 600,000, the state has not seen a rise in the count for a while, which is why the new measure was taken. Although lawmakers have set aside $500,000 for the program, Fox Business reports that the Remote Worker Grant Program has received more response than they have anticipated. As of now, more than $125,000 out of the grant has already been used.
Officials anticipate that thousands more inquiries and interested parties would soon drain the entire funds.
Fox Business also reports that as of now, another $375,000 is still available for the program. “It’s a great outcome,” Joan Goldstein, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Economic Development, told Route Fifty. “People are moving from metropolitan areas all over the country, and moving into rural areas and small towns, just spreading out throughout the state”.
So, why is Vermont going through all this trouble to recruit people from all over the country?
First of all, the state has an aging population and second, the state wants more workers as well as taxpayers. So, the program is perfect for those seeking a new adventure in life or for those who simply want to try something new. So far, the program has been taken advantage of by software developers, digital designers and financial professionals, who are comfortable working from their own homes. According to a report by Route Fifty, a book editor as well as an architect has managed to take advantage of the Remote Worker Grant Program.
Although there are thousands of applicants rushing in to grab a chance at becoming a resident of the state, there are some stipulations. For instance, an applicant must be a full-time employee for an out-of-state business, work primarily from home or a co-working space in Vermont, and become a full-time resident on or after January 1, 2019. There are also some tax implications since you will be working for a business that is located out of state while living in another.
“You will have to pay income tax in Vermont even if you earn it outside of the state,” said Goldstein. “The whole idea of getting more people is because we need to broaden the tax base … but if you are moving from New York, taxes are less here.”
At the same time, not all Vermonters are happy with the state’s decision to bring in new residents from all over the country.
“A lot of people, they’re concerned or they’re not getting it. They’re like, ‘Why are you paying people from outside and you’re not paying Vermonters?'” Goldstein says. “But I think they understand that there is an issue about getting more people, and the more people that come to the state, the more we can share the tax burden.”
For those who are not quite ready to book the one way ticket to Vermont, there’s another program called the Stay to Stay program, that was launched in March 2018. With the Stay to Stay program, people have the ability to sign up for a trip that connects visitors with local employers and realtors. The program is kind of a mix of a vacation and a way for people to decide if they want to move there. Guests who arrive on Friday evenings are greeted by local officials who also provide a welcome reception. The guests can then utilize the next two days to explore the state. On Monday, they are invited to local businesses’ open houses and can even meet with realtors to find a potential new home.
According to Goldstein, the Stay to Stay program is also a huge success. She states that the last time a Stay to Stay program was hosted, more than 140 guests showed up, 7 of whom moved to the state and became Vermontians.
Vermont isn’t the only place in the U.S. offering to pay people to move there. According to an analysis by Bankrate, cities such as Tulsa, Oklahoma; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Hamilton, Ohio; have also had similar programs to attract new residents.
According to Forbes, Vermont is the eighth most entrepreneurial state in the country, with 390 startups per 100,000 adults. However, the state has had about 16,000 fewer workers than they did in 2009, which is why the new programs had to be established.