Country Roads, Take Me...Home? Would You Move To West Virginia For $12,000?

Em Unravelling

Photo by Jonathan Wheeler on Unsplash

Like a lot of people, I am thoroughly sick of my home right now. Not just my house, but my neighborhood, my hometown, the countryside around it, and all of the running, cycling, and walking routes that exist within a walking, running, or cycling distance from my front door. I am over all of it. Lockdown means that I have spent enough time in my local area to last me a lifetime, and I've never felt more inclined to move house than I do right now.

Perhaps it's this instinct that led Ascend WV - an initiative founded by a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who hails originally from the state - to choose this moment to make what looks, to me, like an unbeatable offer. Move to West Virginia to live, Ascend say, and they will pay you $10,000. If you settle and stay, you'll get another $2,000 the next year. That's $12,000 just to move location.

The package also includes passes for recreational activities and access to further university education and co-working spaces. The idea is that anyone accepted on the program will already be fully employed and set up to work remotely from the mountainous state, so they can seamlessly transfer to living their lives there.

I have never been to West Virginia, but like pretty much everyone alive, I had heard of it through the John Denver song "Country Roads". Denver was clearly a fan of the place, and from photos, I can see why. The terrain is rugged and mountainous

Brad D. Smith, the founder of the scheme who set it into being with a generous financial collaboration with West Virginia University, sets it all out clearly:

As if life in West Virginia isn’t prize enough, we’ll actually pay you $12,000 to move here. No strings attached. Over the course of the first year in your new mountain town, you’ll receive $10,000. That’s right. You’ll get $10-grand just for moving here. When you fall in love with Almost Heaven (and we’re sure you will) you’ll receive an additional $2,000 for your second year in West Virginia. Whether you put this $12,000 towards a new car for scenic drives down our country roads or a new mountain bike, it’s totally up to you. It’s true what they say: Money goes further in the mountains. - Brad D. Smith
There are, of course, conditions of application for the scheme. Anyone who wants to move to West Virginia and obtain the remote working incentive will need to be a US resident (living, of course, outside of West Virginia right now), and employed in such a way that they can easily work remotely. That rules me, a UK resident with an office, out of the running entirely.
But if I lived and worked in the US, I think I'd be tempted by what Ascend describes as "Almost Heaven" (an appropriate Denver quote). The towns to which relocating participants are invited to move are firstly Morgantown, then Lewisburg and Shepherdstown and the first relocations will begin this August (although accepted participants are given up to six months to relocate their lives to their new dream town). After the Morgantown wave, the next - in Lewisburg and Shepherdstown - will be taking applications from the start of 2022.
I think the scheme, from what I can see of it, looks like genius. Anyone who wants to set up similar in the UK would get an immediate application from me.

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A lover of horizons, hills, and words. Likes to write about uncomfortable things because too many people steer round those parts of life.


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