A hundred years ago, 54% of Americans lived in rural areas of the country. Today, only 19% of us do. As a result, some rural towns (and states) in the country are offering incentives to city dwellers as a way to attract new residents. These incentives can be anything from cash grants to paying off student debt to free land.

Here is a list of places in the country that offer incentives to people as a way to encourage them to put down their roots in more rural areas:

Tribune, Kansas – Tribune is one of 77 participating counties in Kansas that offers a Rural Opportunity Zone program. This program helps recent college graduates pay off their student loans up to $15,000 over five years.

Curtis, Nebraska – population 896; median home value of approximately $79,000. This program is designed to attract people who want to build their own home. A free lot is offered to those who construct and pay for their own single family home within a specified time frame.

Marne, Iowa – population 115; median home value is approximately $73,500. Marne is 45 minutes from Omaha. In this Land of 10,000 Lakes, a free lot (80’ X 120’) is yours if you build a conventional construction or modular home that has a minimum of 1,200 square feet. Apply to the town of Marne.

Harmony, Minnesota – population1.015; median home value of approximately $94,000. A cash rebate program that ranges from $5,000 to $12,000 incentivizes new home construction in Harmony. There are no restrictions on age, income level or current residency. Apply to the Harmony Economic Development Authority.

Baltimore, Maryland – population approximately 622,000; median home value of $123,000. “Buying Into Baltimore” offers a $5,000 forgivable loan program over a 5-year period. The “Vacants to Value Booster” program offers $10,000 towards a down payment and closing costs to buyers of distressed properties.

New Haven, Connecticut – population 130,000; median home value of $158,000. New Haven offers a suite of programs that totals up to $80,000 for new homes, which includes a $10,000 forgivable loan package over 5 years to first time buyers, $30,000 renovation assistance, and/or up to $40,000 for college tuition.

Alaska – population approximately 750,000; median home value of $269,000. Move anywhere in Alaska and there will be an incentive program. There is an interest rate reduction program for people financing new or existing energy efficient homes or improvements. There are incentives for veterans and live-in caretakers of mentally/physically disabled residents. There is an incentive program for manufactured homes. There are affordable housing enhanced loans, rural owner0occupied loan programs and closing assistance programs. All through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.

Colorado – population of 5.6M; median home value of $338,000. Colorado offers a suite of programs. There are those that assist with down payments and low interest rates. There is a down payment assistance grant that provides funds of up to 4% for a first mortgage with no required repayment. There is a program for first time permanently disabled buyers to help finance a home. Apply to the Colorado Housing Financial Authority.

Wyoming – population approximately 586,000; median home value approximately $196,000. The Wyoming Rehabilitation and Acquisition Program provides incentives directed to foreclosed/abandoned homes that have been rehabbed and put back on the market for households with low incomes and directed to older homes that need +$15,000 worth of repairs.

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