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6 Cities That Will Pay You To Live There

by - March 14, 2012 - 68 Comments

In the face of declining or slowing population growth, some cities have decided to get aggressive about their survival.

Some cities are giving away free land, while others are literally handing out stacks of cash to folks who agree to move. If you’re in the mood for a new town, why not have the town pay to have all of your awesomeness? :)

Here are the 6 cities that really, really want you to move…


1. Detroit, Michigan

We all know the trouble Detroit has had in recent years and it seems they’ve decided to do something about.

For starters, the town is giving away 100 beaten-down homes that are in need of some TLC. They’ll even give you $150,000 to help with the renovations. Some of the houses are pretty cool looking, but they’ll no doubt need more than $150,000 in repairs…

Another program in Detroit is offering college graduates a $2,500 first year allowance and a $1000 second year allowance towards the cost of renting an apartment/condo in the city. They’re also offering up to $20,000 in forgivable loans for new homebuyers who purchase a property in the city.

In order to participate, you’ve got to work for one of the companies that have partnered with the city to offer this program. Some of those companies include Compuware, Quicken Loans, and Strategic Staffing Solutions.

You can find all of the information on the city’s website: http://www.detroitlivedowntown.org/

2. Lincoln, Kansas

Anyone who’s ever driven cross country via I-70 knows that Kansas is in no shortage of open space. Kansas has had a declining population growth since the early 1900′s, so towns like Lincoln and Osbourne have taken to giving out free plots of land in order to entice new residents.

Depending on the city, there are different qualifications that you need to meet. You usually need to agree to build a single-family home on the land and live there for a set amount of time (5 years or so).

Check out all the cities that are giving away land at: http://www.kansasfreeland.com/

3. Anywhere, Alaska


Photo by DCSL

This is probably the most famous example of a city/state giving away cash. Since 1976, Alaska has paid its residents to live there via its Permanent Fund Reserve. The payouts are funded by Alaska’s oil royalties and are divided up evenly among citizens.

Over the years the payouts have varied from the smallest ($331.29 per person in 1984) to the largest ($3,269.00 per person in 2008 when a one-time $1,200 Alaska Resource Rebate was added to the dividend amount), but the average is usually around $1,250.

In order to be eligible for the rebate, you must not claim residency in any other state or country.

For more information check out: http://pfd.alaska.gov

4. Any City in Saskatchewan, Canada

In an effort to attract more college graduates, Saskatchewan is offering both Canadians and immigrants $20,000 CAD to live and work in the city for 7 years. You’ve got to be a recent graduate though (after 2006).

The “Graduate Retention Program” use to be just a tuition-reimbursement program for natives, but was expanded in 2008 to help entice graduates from all over the world. The $20,000 bonus is paid in chunks each year when you file your taxes.

For more information check out: http://aeei.gov.sk.ca/grp

5. Camden, Maine

Camden, Maine

Photo by Ian Brittion

If you’re a business owner in need of land, Camden will give you a prime 2.8 acres if you agree to create 24 new jobs in the city. The town recently spent $1 million dollars to restore the site and the land is currently valued at $175,000.

You have to put up the initial cash for the deal, but the town will refund you your money once you meet all of the requirements.

Get all the details and fill out an application at http://www.freelandinmaine.org/

6. Curtis, Nebraska

How’d you like a prime piece of golf course real estate for free? That’s the message currently coming out of Curtis, Nebraska.

The towns all-grass, nine-hole Arrowhead Meadows Golf Course (apparently one of the best in the state) has 8 plots of land left and if you agree to build a house, they’ll give it you for free. All of the lots utility ready and located on paved streets.

Claim your free land here: http://www.curtis-ne.com/amlots.php

Good luck Penny Hoarders!


  • Alice Gober

    Downtown Birmingham has several lots free to anyone who will develop a business there. No takers so far.

    • Jimelle

      Birmingham where?

  • http://havesippywilltravel.com Have Sippy Will Travel Mommy Blogger

    that’s it, i’m moving to canada….

  • Caryn

    Cool, I always wanted to live in Canada. Might be moving soon.

  • a Canadian

    uh, Saskatchewan is an entire province, by the way, it contains many cities and towns and villages…

    • The Penny Hoarder

      We apologize for the error. In retrospect, we really should have titled this article “6 Places That Will Pay You to Move There” Sigh…


      • Dale

        We know Americans are geographically-challenged.

    • trix

      Sask has many cities… THAT’S funny.

      • stefan

        yah if you would like to call a place with under 50 000 people a city LMAO!……the enite population of saskatchewan aint even 1 000 000…..Lots of work in the Oil patch though..i work in swift current, saskatchewan …good place to work..thats about it

        • Christina

          Well, in fact, any place with a population of over 50 000 IS by definition a city. Clearly you’re far too sophisticated for Saskatchewan. *eyeroll* By all means, feel free to leave!

          • Ali

            He said under 50000.. Soo wouldn’t that mean it’s NOT a city..

  • Cayman

    Also would be interested to talk to people about free lots / job creation. We establsh multilingual pre-schools worldwide and offer partnerships and financing. Might be a great combination…a free plot and creation of jobs! Regard Pe. Cayman islands.

    • Michele D’Acosta


      I just came across your offer and would be very interested to hear more. I’m a BBC trained journalist with a background in documentary and educational films. Thank you for time and attention. Best wishes, Michele

  • Pma

    We are also interest to communicate with people about free land. We invest in multilingual pre-schools worldwide. Might be a great combination, land and job creation! Regards, Pe. Cayman islands.

  • Linda B

    Have a question for you. You wrote about pennies. I have a 1909 penny with special marking on it. The internet says it is worth about $400. How do I find a reptuable place to sell the penny to with out getting cheated?

    • http://wabashchaplain.org Van W

      Linda look close and see of it says “VDB” Victor David Brenner, the designer of the coin, had placed his initials prominently on the bottom of the coin’s reverse. I always called them “Wheat Pennies” because the wheat stalks on the back side.

  • DeanPM

    Saskatchewan is NOT a city…..It is a provence!! Similar to a state…but bigger than Texas. Saskatoon and Regina are cities in Saskatchewan…Hard to spell…easy to draw!!

    • BD

      It’s not a provence, either – it’s a province.

      • http://Citiespayyoutolive Sheryl

        I am sorry, and don’t mean to sound exactly like I am about to suggest…..when you reply to a comment….like a misspelled word as I may do….instead of writing corrected spelled word and then writing not their writing of the word….it never hurts to say something nice like OPPS….you misspelled whatever it is they did and then give the correct. It is like a smile…..even if you don’t want to smile at someone, you will be amazed how it helps your attitude if you do smile at them and it could also help their daily attitude as well….just saying…”big smile at everyone”

        By the way….love this site….anything to help us who need it…

  • Adam

    Saskatchewan is not only huge, but it’s the prarie state. Flat, vast and thousands of miles from the sea. I think a european might go insane living there.

    Look me up when British Columbia is taking on.

    • A

      Saskatchewan also has 100 000 thousand lakes, beautiful Northern aspects of the province that include waterfalls, and much of the Canadian shield. The southern part of the province in the stereotypical flat prairie fields or rolling hills. As Sask. and its Northern parts are beautiful and largely untouched I am ok with few people knowing of its beauty as it will help to preserve it so those who appreciate nature can enjoy it..

  • http://afroeuroforum.com Afromania

    interesting! Cities now paying people to live there, Waoh!!! I guess they are scared of loosing their city status!!!

  • http://yes joe

    Goodluck on Saskatchewan.40 deg in summer 40 or 50 below winter time.If you dont mind your ass getting cold.

    • Buttergon

      You might want to clarify that these temps are in celsius. Americans use Farenheit. 40C is the same as 104F; -40C is the point at which celsius and farenheit meet: -40 for both.

  • http://AngelLightInc.org Susan (Angel) Cleveland

    At the end of each piece is the website you can click on. :)

  • Shaba Kawn


  • Pippi

    Good grief! WHO wrote this article?! The Alaska Permanent Dividend checks *haven’t* been “paid since 1976″. That’s when the Fund was *created*. Pay-outs didn’t start happening until 1982. The cost of food, gas, rent, electricity is astronomical there. The average monthly rent in Anchorage (where most people flock to) on a decent house in a decent neighborhood is well-over $1100 per month, that PFD check you’d get (which you don’t qualify for until you’ve lived there at least a year…and can prove it) wouldn’t cover even a month of expenses. The winters are long, and at times, frighteningly cold; the “pests” (brown bears) have been known to kill people; Anchorage has the second-highest per population murder ratio (second to NYC), and the life expectancy of the average Alaskan isn’t as long as you might think. That place is brutal! In addition (and speaking as a 40-year resident of the state), I can attest that if you move there and *don’t* have some sort of sustaining employment skills, Alaskans just *do not* want you there. Period. In fact, the only people who *really* are “paid to move” there are highly-educated and highly-skilled i.e.(engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc.) But as for The Average Joe? Forget it. You’d have a better chance at winning the lottery.

    • Nikki

      That’s really great info…thanks :)

    • AKLover

      LOL you guys are a riot to read! As a life long Alaskan, I have had 3 brown bear encounters in all of my life. Only once, had we actually had to shoot TOWARDS it to get it to run away. It really comes down to what you would rather deal with. earthquakes here in Alaska, vs tornados or… We dont name our windstorms like your hurricanes, its just everyday weather. you guys have poisonous spiders and snakes, we have grumpy bears and hungry mosquittos. its all give and take. For the record, $1200 doesnt get anyone very far here- I have yet to have a PFD last more than a week. that will normally cover about half a winter’s heating oil. As Pippi stated, we are currenly spending more on everything. $4.00+ for a gallon of milk, $4.40 for a gallon of regular fuel. Just keep in mind that ANYWHERE that is paying you to be there, is likely not as FREE as you might think. And no, we dont like the city yuppies coming up here, bitching about winters being ‘snowy’ and how hard life is, this is as close to living the dream as some can get, and personally, I wouldnt trade it for anything!! If you dont love the great out doors, stay in the city!

    • shaibaaz

      oh, thanx for that, its about the Alaska right, what about Saskatchewan, Canada is it okay or Detroit, Michigan. is it really worth moving there Detroit.

  • Jen

    Lincoln, KS is a dump! There are NO jobs there, and if you’re looking for somewhere entertaining, you’re going to be driving a while to get anywhere. Lincoln is damn close to the middle of the state. KC is 4 hours to the East, Denver is about 4 hours to the West and WIchita is about 3 hours to the South. If you choose to move there, yes the land is plenty, but so are the opportunities for…watching grass grow! :P
    I lived near there most of my life. I wouldn’t go back if you paid me. **Pun intended!**

    • Euro Expat

      LOL Yeah and you would be dodging tornadoes every spring and summer. I left the whole Midwest years ago and will never go back. Settled in Europe. Might retire in Thailand or Spain or anywhere but Kansas (though KU was fun as a kid. Go Jayhawks. ;-)).

    • Rene Vignery Young

      I loved growing up in Lincoln. I guess I didn’t mind watching the grass grow. I loved that the people looked out for one another. Yes the closest larger town with many opportunities and restaurants is about 45min away, but it has other nice qualities. Has a nice theater which only costs $5. I’m not here to debate about all the great things about living in a small community. Everyone has their own opinions, which is great because how boring life would be if we all thought alike and lived in the same place. I love going to visit other places but there is nothing better than coming home to peace and quiet. :)

  • chelesa sims

    Detroit ha ha . you will $150,000.00 after walking down the street especially 8 Mile.and this just to name one of many streets.Good Luck living there. The worst though is Flint,Mi .what they aren’t offering any money ?oh yeah they cant .Flint is broke and crime OMG !there is so much crime that they don’t report.

  • df

    please see that the write wrote ANY CITY IN SASKATCHEWAN, how embarrassing one pretends intelligence by correcting the article is referring to Saskatchewan as a city.

    They already mention.. again, ANY CITY ……..

  • Ashley

    Too funny Kyle, these cities are awful places as far the weather and work opportunities are concerned…there’s no way I’d want to share my awesomeness there ;) Comments were amusing too.

  • Toby

    Just claim asylum in the UK. You’ll get a free $1m house fully furnished and state benefits of at least $50k per annum, double that if you bring the kids. Simples!

    • I_dislike_xenophobes

      You, sir, are a douche.

    • Kai

      Pretty much the same in AU.

    • Chasta

      Sign me up!

  • firsttimecommenter

    I live in Saskatchewan and I love it! Clean air, gorgeous summers, sunny winters, best lakes in the country. We also get paid to buy houses :) Gotta love Saskatchewan and Brad Wall.

  • Czarina

    For the US cities above, you have to be a US citizen to avail?

    • la femme

      Of course not. The more illegals the better !!

  • Jason

    Wow… the only problem with these deals is you’d have to live in Canada/Detroit/Kansas/etc

  • Tim Bits

    Plenty of work in western Canada for the skilled. The recession barely hit us.
    Saskatchewan is OK, very nice people. Alberta is booming.
    British Columbia is absolutely gorgeous — but Vancouver real estate is very expensive due to the so many wealthy people from around the world, particularly Asia, buying property there.

  • Jack Connolly

    I don’t care how much they’re offering. You can’t pay me to live in Detroit.

  • HI H8R

    You said Kansas has been declining in population since the early 1900′s. You are so wrong that it makes me wonder if you actually perform research for your “articles”? SInce 1900 Kansas’ population has doubled, from 1,470,500 to 2,886,000 (est) in 2012

    • Kyle Taylor

      Yeah, we meant declining population growth. I’ve updated the article to reflect that. If you compare the state’s population growth to the rest of the country, it’s clear they aren’t growing as fast. It’s also one of the reasons they’ve gone from 10 electoral votes to 6 in the last century.

  • Ty Conely

    Don’t you get it: that is your tax dollars paying people to live in selected areas! Where in the Constitution does it say that the role of government is to insure someone a place to live? Is this really for the “general welfare” of our society?

    • Kirbee

      I’m pretty sure that the American government has done this in the past and found it wildly successful in growing a population. Also, just going point out… The Constitution does not anywhere state that the local or federal government can not help you by helping themselves or the areas afflicted.

      If you own a house, and the house on either side are abandoned, your property value is decreased. Now if you have not purchased these 2 houses to increase your own homes value and the local government came in and gave them to someone and gave them some (not all) of the money to renovate. And in 2 years your property increased in value by 30% with no extra cost to you in time or money. How is this a bad thing? Your taxes up until this point have not been raised to pay for this endeavor. They were the same they were the entire time those houses were in disrepair. Now your net worth is higher, your neighborhood is nicer, and your local economy is being stimulated by the 2 new families that just moved in. They saved 100k on repairs so they have 100k more to spend where you or your wife work. Thus paying your bills. They had to get the repairs done, and I doubt they called Mexico for some migrant workers, so your brother in law just fixed the roof and can now afford to fix his. Quit complaining and enjoy the fact that you have a safe place to live with people that want you to prosper. Even if it is for them to prosper.

  • http://none Van

    Never read some many people opion that had no clue what is going on in the world today. wow

    • informus219

      Van, no offense, but learn how to spell. Your sentence should read, Never read so many people’s opinions that had no clue what is going on in the world today. wow:}

  • Tom

    You couldn’t pay me enough to live in any of those places. This article is a joke.

  • Nataly Carbonell

    Hey you forgot to mention that one must be police officer to move to Detroit and get the 150k for renovation!

  • kj

    wow some people are too rude when it comes to hiding behind their computer screen

  • http://www.professionalslippers.com Nicole

    Wow! This is very interesting. Makes me wanna start packing. LOL. Great info!

  • http://tonofmoney Mary Best

    2013-The truth is Detroit is a city that is greatly declining. I was born and raised their. I moved 50 miles out of the city. Its very dirt. There are miles of empty burned out houses with crack dealers. It is true after the 67 riots they had white flight. It is predominately AFRICAN American. My very best friend is African American……………but still what SOME PEOPLE did to these people is a disgrace ! Perhaps that stinky negative thinking is still present there. I WISH TO SEE PEOPLE MOVE THEIR AND LIVE IN HARMONY AS IT SHOULD BE !….but sadly it is a very dangerous place. When the politicians remove the blighted HOMES…..perhaps the dealers will be gone. ONLY DEALERS AND GERIATRICS MOSTLY LIVE THERE ! RENOVATE A HOUSE ! LOLO—-WHEN YOU COME BACK,,,,,everything will be taken out …pipes furnace etc.
    They have to buy their own towelettes. The street lights ………..many are burned out !.

  • http://tonofmoney Mary Best

    ( continuation )DETROIT – was once the most beautiful city ! We need good honest people to run it ! MOTOWN HAD THE BEST singers in the Nation ! Detroit also had some of the most brillant people in AMERICAN LIVING HERE ! It can be the best again. WE the people need to do our best to attract business to this area !

    • https://www.facebook.com/JohnCLindsay John Lindsay

      Once the White corruption machine came to town, Detroit went down,

      • Jim Gunslinger

        You mean the Democrats? Once the Democrats took over the city went down the drain. Look it up.

  • http://yahoo.com cyndyc.

    If this is so??? I most definetely wan to re-locate my bit to the cold front because it is a nice adventure…especially liken the “texas tea”, it’s got to be the best move to make for that corner place….and who doesn’t love to eat seafood…I have read a lot about the fisheries there, not including the pipeline nearby that’s soon to be upcoming with j.o.b.s.!!
    Nearer to “Santa”, close to home and beauty and a different strokes for other folks!!

  • Josuemental

    According to Firefox your 3. Alaska link is untrusted

  • https://www.facebook.com/JohnCLindsay John Lindsay

    I don’t care how much they’re offering. You couldn’t pay me to live in Lincoln, Kansas.

    • Rene Vignery Young

      Mr. Lindsay, have you ever been to Lincoln KS. I grew up there and it is a wonderful place to raise a family. A place where neighbors look out for one another. :) Love my state!

  • Russell B. Stevens IV

    If it came with a job on the police or fire department, I would move just about any where in the west. To clarify
    Any city in
    New Zealand
    USA or territories
    Please let them know, I will gladly leave the USA for such a deal.

    • Donald Helsel

      The Detroit one I assume comes with a police dept job. It says the home with 150k remodel cash is for law enforcement choosing to relocate to Detroit.

  • JJ

    They should help the people who live there so they won’t move out of state like me,giving Money to other people out of Detroit Michigan really Sucks,so start Helping the ones who are there first

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