The governor of Vermont recently signed a headline-grabbing bill into law that provides $10,000 to people willing to relocate to the Green Mountain State and work remotely for an out-of-state employer.
Known as the Remote Worker Grant Program, the measure takes effect Jan. 1, 2019. The $10,000 grant can be used to cover the costs of moving and work expenses such as computer software, hardware, or broadband internet.
The new offer comes in response to the state’s aging population. One in six Vermont residents is over 65 according to a U.S. Census Bureau report and the population is getting older faster than most other states in the country.
Perhaps compounding the problem, Vermont has one of the smallest populations in the country. With just 623,657 residents, the only state with fewer residents is Wyoming, according to Census data.
The entire predicament seems at least somewhat surprising given all that Vermont has to offer when it comes to natural beauty and quality of life.
Yes, the state is mostly well-known for being a major producer of maple syrup and delicious ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s anyone?). But it’s also home to thousands of acres of mountain terrain crossed by hiking trails and skiing slopes, and one of the most stunning places in America to observe fall foliage.
With so few people living in the state (just 68 people per square mile) there’s plenty of room to move around. What’s more, U.S. News & World Report ranks Vermont among the best in the country for health care access (No. 4), and its public education system is also among the top 10 in the nation (No. 8).
So what if all of this sounds tempting and you might actually want to take Vermont up on its $10,000 offer?
The first challenge will likely be persuading an employer to let you work remotely from Vermont.
How to Convince Your Employer to Let You Work from Home
To begin with, Rebecca Knight at the Harvard Business Review helpfully points out that working from home increases productivity, efficiency, and employee engagement. Research supports all of this, so dig up those studies and keep them handy when speaking with your boss.
In one example, Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom studied two groups of call center workers at a company called Ctip over nine months, half of whom were permitted to work from home.
“Ctrip was thinking that it could save money on space and furniture if people worked from home and that the savings would outweigh the productivity hit it would take when employees left the discipline of the office environment,” Bloom told HBR. “Instead, we found that people working from home completed 13.5% more calls than the staff in the office did—meaning that Ctrip got almost an extra workday a week out of them. They also quit at half the rate of people in the office—way beyond what we anticipated. And predictably, at-home workers reported much higher job satisfaction.”
Knight also notes that you’re only likely to be given the opportunity to work remotely if you’re already a trusted and valued employee. In other words, be sure you’re in good standing with your employer before suggesting such a work arrangement.
It’s also important to reflect on your motivations for making such a request, Knight continues. Perhaps you feel like escaping from office distractions will allow you to be more productive, giving you the ability to concentrate more on what you’re doing. Or perhaps the reality is that you’d like more quality time with your children each day, or more time to exercise. Don’t assume those personal goals are irrelevant to your employer: Happier employees are generally more productive, too. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to be honest with your employer about why you’re seeking this arrangement, rather than pulling a bait and switch.
Before heading into your manager’s office to have a conversation about remote work, do some planning ahead of time, says Brie Reynolds, a senior career specialist with FlexJobs, a site devoted to remote, freelance, and part-time job listings.
“Think through the ramifications for your position, and the team that you’re on, because you want to present a good case to your boss,” Reynolds says.
And while you’re making your case for a life of remote bliss (hiking, skiing, planting a garden in your big back yard), keep your conversation business-focused, stresses Reynolds.
“Yes, you may want to move because of a lower cost of living and healthy lifestyle, but the main point to make with your boss is this will not hurt the team,” she explained. “But more importantly, this will help, because you’ll be less stressed, you’ll be healthier, and more productive.”
Think about other ways it might help your team, too. For example, if the move represents a time zone change from where you’re currently living and working, perhaps it will allow you to better serve clients in other regions, a point you’ll want to make to your employer or supervisor.
You also may want to make some concessions in order to secure the proposed arrangement. Would you be willing to come to the office for quarterly meetings, or even one day a week if it’s not too far away? (Brattleboro, Vt., is about a two-hour drive from Boston, and three and a half hours from New York City.)
One more bit of legwork to do before approaching your employer: Take a look at how much remote work is already being done by other staff members at your office. Then consider asking one of those remote workers to join you for a cup of coffee to discuss their work arrangement – to find out how they got started and what the parameters are.
The bottom line? “Managers understand that working from home is a great benefit for you, so you can touch on that fact a little bit,” says Reynolds. “But you really need to be prepared say, ‘Here’s why I really think it would be great for my role and for the team.'”
Other Places That Will Pay You to Move There
One last note: If you feel up for the task of convincing an employer to let you work remotely, keep in mind that Vermont is not the only place where such offers are available.
New Haven, Conn., is hoping to attract new home buyers with a $10,000 interest-free loan, which can be used as a down-payment on a home or to help with closing costs. To sweeten the deal even further, if you live in the home for five years, the $10,000 is 100% forgivable.
Meanwhile, Lincoln, Kan., is giving away free tracts of land to those willing to come and build their own home. Lot sizes range from 12,000 to 36,000 square feet and are not far from medical, educational, and recreational facilities.
And finally, for those who want to really get away from it all, Curtis, Neb., (population 896) is offering free lots to those willing to come and construct a home.