Remote Workers Fleeing Big Cities Get “Instant Raise”

  • Lower Cost of Living, Higher Quality of Life Fuel Exodus

Last fall, Taylor R., a senior designer for the Washington Post, and her husband, a contractor for National Geographic, packed up their bags and their cat and drove from Washington D.C. to their new home in Bloomington, Indiana. Taylor was one of 14 people accepted to Bloomington Remote, a remote worker recruitment program from The Mill, a nonprofit center for entrepreneurship and coworking.

“When we started this program, we got a few raised eyebrows,” said Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill. “We don’t offer a cash incentive, and most remote worker programs are run through municipalities. But we’ve found that remote workers are hungry for creative and human connection. Our startup and cowork community makes it easier for transplants to feel at home.”

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For Taylor and her husband, cost of living was a significant motivator. “Moving here was like getting an instant raise,” she told The Mill.

Program participants receive three years of free coworking at The Mill, an iconic historic space. Applicants must live outside of Indiana, have full-time remote employment, and move within the year.

“Bloomington Remote is bringing diverse, tech-skilled, creative people into our community,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “We look forward to welcoming this year’s cohort of new Bloomingtonians.”

Indiana is emerging as a competitive state for tech talent, and in 2021, Bloomington was named Indiana’s Rising Tech City. The city also received a $3.5-million federal grant to build a new technology center to support Bloomington’s burgeoning startup ecosystem.

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Tech community is attractive to Bloomington Remote participants Blake R., a cybersecurity engineer, and Pablo F., founder of a data science company. Others appreciate the arts scene and outdoor life. UX writer Lauren S. knew Bloomington by its improv comedy reputation, but had never visited. Neither had software engineer and rock climber Ritchel C. Fashion historian and YouTube influencer Abby C. remembered Bloomington fondly from college. Native Hoosiers Luke and Andi wanted to be closer to family after years in a tiny Bay Area apartment.

“The pandemic is driving remote workers to seek a fresh start and higher quality of life,” East remarked. “Bloomington offers cultural richness without big-city hassle or costs.”

Bloomington is home to Indiana University, with top-rated music, business, environmental policy, and informatics schools. A Democratic stronghold, Bloomington is known within Indiana for its progressive culture, college basketball, outdoor recreation, and 60-block entertainment and arts district.

Bloomington Remote provides relocation support through Century 21 Scheetz, concierge onboarding, networking events, banking discounts, and other benefits, with financial support from the City of Bloomington.

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