Yep, you read that right! Whilst migrant life may sometimes feel like a hopeless rabbit hole of visas, taxes, bureaucracy and restrictions, there are some places that will actually pay you real cash to move there. Check out our digital nomad series for all the latest inspiration.
Whether it be to save dilapidated houses from ruin because of a declining rural population, or to draw in young, talented professionals to rejuvenate the local economy, many countries, states, and villages are truly offering money to get people to move there. Here’s the lowdown:
Save Our Villages!
These places are all suffering the effects of a declining population, after a generation of young people have moved out to the cities. Generally set in spectacular rural locations, these crumbling, historic houses are crying out for talented renovators or resourceful individuals to bring them back to life.
Whether to live permanently, sell on after renovating or to hire out as a holiday let, this could be an amazing investment opportunity for the right person.
Ponga Village – Spain
This gorgeous mountain village in Northern Spain looks like something out of Middle Earth. Nestled into the lush green mountainside, the village is a sea of red sunken roofs and little chimneys. If you’re willing to settle there, the government will offer you a €3000 grant, with a further €3000 for every child you have! There is a bit of a catch, since in order to qualify, you must stay for five years. Still, not a bad way to enjoy your first few years of parenthood!
Sicily - Italy
This is your chance to live the Sicilian dream. In the small town of Sambuca di Sicilia, the government has launched a new initiative to save the stunning village and its romantic brick townhouses from ruin by literally giving them away to anyone who wants them! For €1, the house is yours to renovate, however you wish. The small print is that this renovation must be funded yourself (often costing between €10-20,000) and it must be done within three years.
The government also take a €5000 deposit off you when you buy the house, which will be returned once you have successfully renovated it, so unfortunately no chance of grabbing a home for the hell of it! This has been a highly popular scheme, and the beautiful town is already starting to thrive again, as creative migrants descend on Sicily, rising to the challenge.
Albinen – Switzerland
This scheme has the biggest pay-check, but it also has the biggest catch. If you can commit to a pretty hefty 10 years of full-time residence, the council will offer you €21,500 with an extra €8,500 for each child you have!
Sure, the 10-year commitment is likely to put off all but a few choice individuals, but for those who had been looking to make a move to a beautiful rural location anyway, that free pot of money (the equivalent of a year’s salary), might be highly tempting. Albinen is also a particularly beautiful alpine town, in typical Swiss style. Get yourself one of the town’s stunning wooden lodges, with its long balconies and staggering views and enjoy a life like Heidi.
Kaitangata – New Zealand
Another place giving out free land is the small coastal town of Kaitangata in New Zealand. On the banks of the Clutha River, “Kai” is a beautiful yet declining town, in need of new residents to fill the workforce. If you’ve ever craved a bit of security, here’s where you can get it, since new residents will be given a quarter acre of land (worth $165,000), set up with a job with a solid salary package and welcomed into a friendly, open community. With over 1,000 job vacancies and a population of only 800, you’ll never have to worry about getting a job again.
The following places are specifically looking for talented young entrepreneurs and are willing to offer competitive benefits to any new business willing to make their base here. Whether you run a small, profitable remote start-up, or have a killer idea for a business, these places will not only pay you to move, but will also significantly invest in your company.
Investing €48m into 125 start-ups in 2020 alone, Enterprise Ireland (Ireland’s state-run development agency), is a highly exciting opportunity for any ambitious entrepreneur. By moving your business to Ireland, you can benefit from generous funding and endless financial advice.
Ireland is also a popular choice because of its connections as an EU member state, as well as the amazing culture and natural wonders of the emerald isle. The application is, of course, fairly tough, with a long list of required criteria to be eligible. For example, the businesses must make at least 10 jobs for local Irish residents to qualify.
Are you a young, female entrepreneur, looking to start a business and work in paradise? This could be the one for you. Start-Up Chile, another state-run business development programme, has a very competitive funding scheme to any business willing to make Chile their base. Having promised a 50-50 gender split in approved applications, this could be a great place to apply as a woman. With nearly 2,000 start-ups funded already, the initiative is thriving, and the country is currently ranked 6th in the global index for women entrepreneurs.
By basing yourself in Santiago or La Serena, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy an incredible standard of living at much lower prices than North America or Europe. Not only that, but with jaw-dropping mountain scenery, excellent cuisine and wine, Chile has a world of wonders to unlock.
Countries like Thailand and Vietnam are always looking for English school teachers and will offer you a placement in a school with very little bureaucracy, fuss or even training! Simply get your TEFL (even this isn’t necessary in some places) and apply through an online jobs board, or in person when you arrive. Salaries are unexpectedly high, and even untrained teachers can expect to earn around €20,000 a year. Compare that to the cost of living (rent can easily be as low as €200 a month), and you’ll come away with a year of amazing memories and a nice chunk of savings too!
Starting from Skratch? Here’s a Few Tips to Get You Started:
https://www.startupchile.org (Chile's start-up programme)
https://www.comune.sambucadisicilia.ag.it/Case%20a%202%20Euro/Index.htm (full list of €1 houses in Sambuca di Sicilia)