Want to settle in a new city? Then consider Topeka, KS. Although it might not be the top dream destination on your list, a new program will pay you up to $15,000 to move there.
The program, Choose Topeka, hopes to attract young professionals to live and work in this Kansas capital city. Forty to 60 residents will be eligible for this award, which gets distributed only after you’ve been living there one year (to ensure you don’t just take the money and run).
Renters are eligible for receiving $10,000, while those who put down deeper roots by buying a home get showered with $15,000.
So far, Topeka’s sales pitch seems to be working: Since launching last week, hundreds of applications have reportedly rolled in from across North America (and even from Europe, Asia, and South America).
Granted, if you’re selected as a lucky winner, much of that reward money will go straight to covering moving expenses. The average professional interstate move costs around $5,630 (that’s for 7,100 pounds of furniture).
Still, whatever money you’re paid to move there is just the beginning of your financial gains, since the cost of living and housing is also low there. Here’s more of Topeka’s sales pitch, and whether it’s worth it to make the leap.
Should you choose Topeka as your new home?
Topeka isn’t the first city to try this tactic by a long stretch. A variety of locations across the U.S. have offered to pay new residents as an incentive to move there. They include Tulsa, OK; Baltimore; New Haven, CT; and the states of Vermont, Nebraska, and Alaska.
The main goal for all of these programs is to provide a much-needed boost to the local population and economy. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Topeka, about 125,900 in 2018, fell 1.4% from 2010.
On the bright side, Topeka does boast some large companies, including AT&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Goodyear, Frito-Lay, and Washburn University.
“Topeka has some great companies that employ a huge number of people in banking, financial, and manufacturing industries,” says local real estate agent Chen Liang.
The cost of living here is also 10% below the national average. The average monthly rent will run about $762, while the average cost of a single-family home is only $125,000.
“Our homes are generally lower priced than our surrounding towns’,” says Michelle Aenk, a real estate agent with Realty Professionals of Topeka.
Homes are so affordable that, according to Justin Gilbert, a real estate agent with GreatMoveTeam Topeka, it’s possible to live a “high-quality lifestyle with a medium income or extremely grand lifestyle with an upper income.”
What life in Topeka is like
So what exactly would this “grand” lifestyle in Topeka look like?
For starters, Topeka’s downtown area is “up-and-coming,” with fine dining restaurants, an arts district, a retro arcade bowling alley, and (last but certainly not least) the Evel Knievel Museum. If you’re the outdoorsy type, you can enjoy more than 100 parks, 30 miles of paved bike pathways, and 27 miles of hiking trails. If you’re a beer aficionado, you can imbibe at no less than five breweries that call Topeka home.
“We are big enough for big-city amenities, but small enough you can help in the community, build relationships, and make a business impact,” Gilbert says. “It’s easy living.”
And as for your life at home? Check out some homes currently for sale below to get a sense of what your money can buy there.
This 1,600-square-foot classic home in the Elmhurst neighborhood was built in 1927. The four-bedroom, two-bathroom features kitchen and bathroom updates, an enclosed front porch, and back deck. It’s priced at just $43 per square foot.
Located in Central Topeka, this three-bedroom, two-story was built in 1928 and features hardwood floors and an updated kitchen. It has a private backyard with a deck. Right across the street is Gage Park and the Topeka Zoo. The nearly 1,700-square-foot home is $59 per square foot.
This nearly 1,500-square-foot home in Highland Crest has four bedrooms, a formal living room, and a spacious living room with fireplace. It also comes with an in-law bungalow on the property.
This new-construction, ranch-style home is located in a popular school district, Washburn Rural Schools. It’s a spacious 3,200 square feet and has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a three-car garage, and an open kitchen.
This three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in the Oakland neighborhood was built in 1925. It has refinished hardwood floors, refurbished kitchen, and newly landscaped yard. The home is nearly 1,700 square feet.
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