From Big City Hustle to Small Town Serenity: Ayenna's Journey to Lincoln, Kansas

By Natalia Wolting • Jul 2, 2024

In an era where remote work has opened up new possibilities, more people are reconsidering where they call home. For Ayenna, a former Atlanta resident, the dream of a quieter, more affordable life led her to an unexpected destination- Lincoln, Kansas. Thanks to the MakeMyMove program, Ayenna found not just a new home but a welcoming community and a fresh start.

Ayenna's story begins in Atlanta, where the fast-paced city life had begun to lose its charm. "I was living in the Atlanta area and it has become so overpopulated, there’s too much traffic and construction and things of that nature," Ayenna recalls. "The cost of living was skyrocketing too as far as home and rental prices and I wasn’t happy there."

With her children grown and her job allowing for remote work, Ayenna realized she had the freedom to seek out a new lifestyle. "I knew I wanted a small-town vibe," she explains. "I wanted that Hallmark type of life that you see in the movies, or just a place where it's peaceful and laid back and not so stressful."

Her search for a new home led her to an unexpected discovery - the MakeMyMove program. "I googled states that pay you to move andMakeMyMove popped up," Ayenna says. Intrigued by the concept, she explored the website and found information about Lincoln, Kansas. The program offered incentives for remote workers to relocate to smaller communities and Lincoln caught Ayenna's eye.

Cautious but curious, Ayenna decided to apply. "I wasn't sure if it was legit or not at first," she admits. "However, I decided to move forward with the application process and within two or three days I received notification that I was pre-approved for the program."

Before making her final decision, Ayenna took a trip to Kansas to get a feel for the area. She stayed nearby in Salina, Kansas and commuted to Lincoln daily, so she could experience the community firsthand. "I met with Kelly, my point of contact here for the program. She has a gym so I took a yoga class and all the other ladies in the class I met were really nice. Then we had dinner and I had a great time. My visit gave me a really good feeling about moving there."

During her visit, Ayenna also toured potential rental properties and fell in love with a loft apartment right on the main street. "I'm so glad I chose this loft because it's right on the main strip so I can look out my window and see people outside. I'm not so remote and I don’t feel lonely," she says.

The move itself was a testament to the welcoming nature of the Lincoln community. Ayenna describes the incredible support she received upon arrival:

"When I got here, I was met by Kelly and my landlord and they immediately welcomed me. Then my landlord's husband took my car off the trailer it came on so that I could get around town right away. The next morning, they had a crew of about 15 townspeople help move my items off the moving truck and into my apartment.It was so nice because I’m not on the ground level and it would have been difficult for me to have to move everything up the stairs on my own."

This warm welcome set the tone for Ayenna's new life in Lincoln. She quickly found herself part of a tight-knit community, connecting with other MakeMyMove participants and locals alike. "I have two good friends that are also part of the program. One lady is from Nashville and the other is from Texas and we like to get together and hang out whenever we can," Ayenna shares.

The small-town atmosphere provided Ayenna with the sense of community she was seeking too. "There’s a senior center right next door. Since I don't have a yard, I have to take my dog Gabriel on walks and the people at the center wave at me when we walk by and have invited us to have coffee or even breakfast with them several times."

One of the most significant changes for Ayenna has been her improved quality of life. She says the convenience of small-town living has made a big impact: "Since I work remotely, I don't have to drive to a lot of places. The bank is only two doors down, the post office is a few blocks away and the grocery store is really close too. It makes running errands so convenient."

The move has also allowed Ayenna to focus on her health and well-being. "When I’m walking my Gabriel, I'm getting exercise in. And across the street from my apartment is the gym that Kelly owns so I’m more motivated to work out. Plus, the MakeMyMove incentive package for Lincoln came with a free gym membership."

While the transition hasn't been without its challenges, particularly being far from family, Ayenna has found ways to adapt. She's made trips back to Georgia and is learning to navigate the new realities of travel from a small town.

Looking to the future, Ayenna sees Lincoln as more than just a temporary stop. "I would like to stay here and purchase a home. I'm working with a realtor and looking for a home to purchase because homes are very affordable here. I can almost guarantee that I won't be returning to Georgia long-term, only to visit family. So, this area or somewhere like this will probably be my forever home."

Ayenna's story is a testament to the power of programs like MakeMyMove in revitalizing small towns and offering new opportunities to remote workers. Her journey from Atlanta to Lincoln showcases not just a change of scenery but a transformation in lifestyle and outlook. As more people seek alternatives to big city living, stories like Ayenna's highlight the potential for finding community, affordability and a higher quality of life in America's small towns.

About MakeMyMove

Remote work has freed millions of Americans to live where they want, and many are making the move to places that better match their lifestyle. In turn, cities and towns across the country are offering incentives like cash, perks and programming to remote workers who move and work from their communities. At MakeMyMove, you can explore all the places, get personalized help to find the one that’s right for you, connect with locals, and access support to make your move a piece of cake.