Want $15,000? Move to Topeka, Kansas.

The state capital is ready for some fresh blood

Get Paid to Move to Topeka
By Tanner Garrity / December 16, 2019 1:43 pm

In the last nine years, the population of Shawnee County, Kansas has barely fluctuated. It’s only dropped by about 500 people, the size of a long high school graduation ceremony, due to stagnant growth in the state’s capital city, Topeka. In an effort to pump some blood into the region, and some people into the seats of restaurants and new brewing companies in the city’s buzzy (or buzzier, of late) downtown, local officials are launching a pay-to-move plan, whereby people willing to relocate and work in Topeka or Greater Shawnee will be paid up to $15,000.

You might remember Vermont trying its hand at a similar method last year. The Green Mountain State tried to give its census a kick in the pants in 2018 with $10,000 stipends for anyone willing to move and work there — and the stipends were even awarded to those who relocated but still worked from home for an out-of-state employer. So far, it’s working; 300 people have moved to Vermont since the plan announced, 120 of them are workers, and the average age is 37, which helps combat the state’s senior citizen reputation. Vermont plans to re-up the plan next year (albeit with a little less cash) at $7,500 per person.

The Kansas program, which is called “Choose Topeka” is a joint effort between GO Topeka, the Greater Topeka Partnership, and the Joint Economic Development Organization. The coalition will match employer funds for new residents ($10,000 for renters, $15,000 for new homeowners) as part of a larger plan to build an “intentional community.” They’re hoping for 50 to 75 families, which might sound light if you’re from New York or California, but in Shawnee County could help catalyze the region.

And if you’re feeling isolated in a big city — according to the data, over half of residents often do — Great Plains living might be for you. The cost of living is a huge boon, for starters. Apartments in Topeka average $750 a month, while homes run for $140,000. Kansas City is only an hour’s drive east. Your vote will also matter, which seems important coming up on next year.

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