Vermont and Maine may be onto something, and local real estate agents should take notice.
Vermont recently announced its Remote Worker Grant Program, in which it will pay the first 100 people up to $10,000 to live and work in the Green Mountain State beginning in 2019. The initiative will continue in 2020 and each year thereafter for the first 20 people that become Vermont residents. The perks within the $10,000 are worth noting: moving expenses and working space among others.
About two years ago, Maine launched the Live and Work Maine program to have a similar effect: bring past and new residents back to Vacationland to stay. The 25 reviews on the liveandworkinmaine.com website signal the effort is enjoying continued success. Wisconsin kickstarted a similar program in January to lure residents from Chicago and other midwestern cities.
States that initiate these types of programs are doing so to combat labor shortages. And with recent economic growth, those labor shortages will just be exacerbated. Also, it's generally assumed that recent graduates and millennials prefer the urban lifestyle to rural living. It will be very interesting, however, to see if programs like these will have a material impact on growth in the coming years in those states.
Why local real estate agents should pay attention
Behind initiatives such as Vermont's Remote Worker Grant Program and Live and Work Maine are a host of mixers, meet-and-greets and lunch-and-learn events to attract remotely working professionals who might consider a move to a less congested state. These events are held several times a year in major cities such as Boston, New York and Chicago to entice young professionals to give rural states a shot.
We think that local real estate agents are wise to attend events like these, and perhaps to even sponsor their own. They offer a great resource to make contacts.
The advantages of living in a rural state
We recently read a study that predicted that the percentage of U.S. citizens living in rural areas will decrease from 46 percent to 34 percent by 2050, with more people opting for urban and suburban settings. With more and more Americans working remotely, however -- combined with states such as the aforementioned recognizing this -- we're thinking that figure of 34 percent might be low. Besides that, many other factors may come into play in the next 30 years that will undoubtedly impact that number.
Rural living has its benefits:
- Cost of housing: Every state varies, but home prices are usually significantly lower in states such as Vermont and Maine opposed to Greater Boston. But even in otherwise expensive states, property away from the major cities is always priced lower than those closer.
- More space: Houses and property lots are usually more spacious as well. For example, a two-bedroom condominium in Greater Boston would cost nearly the same as a four-bedroom ranch in rural Maine.
- Better chance to own (and not rent) a home: Vermont is among the states with the highest percentage of home ownership (74 percent), second only to Michigan, according to recent U.S. National Census Bureau findings.
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