Escape DC? Tackle student loan debt? Get paid to move to rural America

Loup City, Nebraska, is experimenting with new ways to attract people and grow its population. (Photo credit: Trulia)

WASHINGTON — Small towns in rural America are facing an economic survival crisis, and some are offering incentives to get people to move there.

Take, for example, Loup City, Nebraska, population: 1,000. Loup City has turned farmland into a small neighborhood near town, named John Subdivision, with roads and sewer lines, and is giving the lots away, free of cost, to anyone who commits to build a home there within a year.

And people are moving there.

“They’re down to one lot left, and they say they’re getting two to three calls a week from people who are interested,” Filipe Chacon, at real estate firm Trulia, told WTOP. “They are getting ready to expand it again.”

Camden, Maine, is trying to attract entrepreneurs. The town is offering any available lot in town for free to someone who moves there and starts a business in an environmentally-friendly industry that hires at least 24 locals.

Harmony, Minnesota, has a program through its Economic Development Authority that offers up to $12,000 to anyone who builds a new home in town.

The state of Kansas has established Rural Opportunity Zones that include 73 counties offering student loan repayment assistance up to $15,000 for people who move there.

Even towns that would not at first blush seem economically depressed or facing a declining population are offering incentives to draw new residents.

Niagara Falls, New York, which is a significantly larger area with a population of about 50,000, is trying to draw younger residents by offering $7,000 of student loan repayment, as long as they agree to buy or rent a house on the town’s main street,” Chacon said.

New Haven, Connecticut, home to Yale University, is relatively economically depressed outside of the school’s ivy-covered walls. It has grant programs of up to $10,000, interest-free, for a down payment or closing costs on a new home.

Find out more about these population-building incentives around the country on Trulia’s blog.

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