Mar 7, 2023
We know moving to a new city, state or locale can either be a huge hassle or a seamless experience. And moving isn’t for everyone, but sometimes a few perks and incentives can ease the load and inspire certain movers to go somewhere they’ve never been before.
Take MakeMyMove member Kelly Banuelos, for instance. The 29-year-old Las Vegas native can live wherever she wants while working remotely in tech for a California healthcare company. She’s lived in five different states over the past six years, most recently landing in Owensboro, Kentucky.
“I think once you get out, it makes it easier to move,” Banuelos says. “I don't think I would have ever left Vegas, but I finally just made that decision.
“It was like, ‘Okay, I got to move.’ Then it's like, ‘Oh, I can move anywhere. Nothing's holding me back.’ I don't have kids. I'm not married,” she adds. “So, it's very easy to just grab your stuff and move.”
While Banuelos relocated without assistance during her previous moves, she learned about our program to pay remote workers to move after reading a magazine article.
“I did a little bit of research, and I’m like, ‘Oh, wow! They’re literally paying you to move. Let’s move to Kentucky!’” says Banuelos, who then convinced her remote-worker boyfriend, Michael, to pack up all of their belongings into two vehicles and make the trek to the Bluegrass State — sight unseen.
The MakeMyMove perks, she says, is what sold her on moving to Kentucky. In addition to a $5,000 moving stipend, Banuelos received a one-year gym membership, free tickets to festivals, concerts, and museums, free banjo lessons with a local instructor, as well as one free coffee and donut per week from a local coffee shop for one year.
“I love food, and I love coffee, so they had me with that!” Banuelos exclaims, but says Kentucky really spoke to her when she learned about the bourbon, country music, and free banjo lessons. “I'm a huge music person. I love festivals. And I get a free banjo lesson! That’s something I've always wanted to do.”
With the Owensboro downtown riverfront overlooking the Ohio River as a backdrop, Kelly Banuelos and her boyfriend, Michael, take a moment to enjoy their new surroundings.
The options for affordable housing in Kentucky, along with bourbon, bluegrass, barbecue, and a variety of other amenities, immediately sold Banuelos on the idea of moving to and working remotely from Owensboro, a smaller city with a population of about 60,000 — as compared to Durham’s population of 285,527.
“We found something more homey and relaxed, so I think Owensboro works,” Banuelos says.
She’s employed as a remediation specialist, making web documents 508 compliant or accessible for people with disabilities. Her boyfriend also works from home as a cryptocurrency trader.
When combining lower rent, food, and gas prices, Banuelos estimates she’ll immediately be able to save $1,000 or more each month by working remotely from Owensboro. In Durham, rent costs range from $1,800 to $2,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, as compared to only $1,000 to $1,100 per month in Owensboro.
“I've noticed all the food places I go to are a lot cheaper, too. Gas is a lot cheaper. So, I think it's going to be very affordable for us,” Banuelos says. “And it's kind of nice, because you have more breathing room to be able to go out and do this, go here, and travel more. For me, it's a good thing.”
And even better? Her boss is perfectly fine with the plan.
“She's super supportive,” Banuelos says of her supervisor at Alignment Healthcare. “She said, ‘I don't care where you work, as long as the work's getting done on time.’ That's a great thing to find in a company, to be honest.”
Working remotely for the past three years, Kelly Banuelos easily makes herself at home while working from another coffee shop, The Creme Coffee House in Owensboro.
When it comes to making new friends and finding ways to fit into a new community, Banuelos advises looking for like-minded people who enjoy doing the same things you do.
“When I first moved to Tennessee, I didn't know anybody,” Banuelos says. “And then I met a bunch of friends. I think you just have to put yourself out there.”
She’s getting to know Owensboro better by joining a local yoga studio, signing up for a library card at the local library, checking out the free gym membership, participating in bingo and trivia night at a local brewery, attending the much-anticipated Romp Fest in June, kicking it up at some local line dancing places, and learning how to do some finger-pickin’ on a banjo. And that’s just for starters.
For other remote workers interested in moving to a new locale, Banuelos highly recommends checking into our MakeMyMove program to see which city, economy, and activities match your interests better. Then, absolutely, take advantage of the incentives that make you happy.
“It has to match your lifestyle, whatever your lifestyle is,” Banuelos says. “You need to do some research on those cities. Discover something that will make you feel that sense of community, where you feel comfortable and where you feel like that's going to fulfill your life. It's really about making sure you fit in, prior to actually making the move.
“If you do a little self-discovery, I think you'll find whether that place is good for you or not,” she adds.