If you can work remotely, West Virginia has a deal for you: $12,000 cash, plus free outdoor recreation for one year, access to a coworking space, and some local social events. That’s right. West Virginia will pay you to move there, work, and live the wild and wonderful life.

The source of this is a program is called Ascend West Virginia and it’s focused on three cities: Morgantown, where the program is now accepting applications, and Lewisburg and Shepherdstown, which will start accepting applicants in 2022. The program was developed by native son and Silicon Valley success Brad Smith, and it aims to leverage the pandemic-related boom in remote work by attracting people who can live anywhere there is internet access.

Morgantown, WV

Morgantown, the home of West Virginia University and its beloved Mountaineers, has a population of about 30,000 and is not far from Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, OH, Baltimore and Washington, DC. Located in the northern part of the state, Morgantown provides college-town amenities such as restaurants, museums, and, importantly, employment opportunities.

West Virginia attracts hikers, mountain bikers, and paddlers, owing to its mountainous terrain, forests, rivers, and trails. If that sounds like you or someone close to you, you might be asking, “Should I move to West Virginia?”

Moving to West Virginia – Is It For You?

As John Denver noted 50 years ago in “Take Me Home Country Roads,” West Virginia is a largely rural state with some country roads. Located in the Appalachian Mountains, the state offers a more relaxed pace of life, without the commuting-induced insanity you might be accustomed to.

You’ll find plenty of restaurants and cultural attractions, but don’t expect Manhattan or Washington, D.C. amenities. If you like small towns and a chill pace then West Virginia might fit the bill. You’ll find multitudes of historic sites, as West Virginia’s rich history extends back to the Revolutionary War era.

West Virginia Weather

West Virginia is blessed with four distinct seasons and abundant precipitation, making it lush and green in spring and summer. Autumn is stunning as the deciduous trees put on a show, followed by cool winters with moderate snowfall. Morgantown, for example, will typically see hot and humid summers with 12 days of 90°, and cold winters with only two nights below 0°. Strangely enough, the late 1800s saw the most extreme temperatures recorded: −25 °F on February 10, 1899 and 105 °F on August 26, 1893.

West Virginia Recreation

West Virginia offers more outdoor recreation that we can get to in a short article—or that you can get to in one season. You’ll have access to some of the best whitewater on the planet—literally—as well as excellent mountain biking, hiking on the famed Appalachian Trail and downhill skiing. America’s newest national park at New River Gorge offers whitewater, fishing, biking, hiking, climbing and many other activities.

West Virginia Education

West Virginia’s pre-K education has gotten high marks; the state provides Universal Pre-K to all 55 counties. On the higher education level, West Virginia University offers bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and professional degree programs, while Fairmont State University, Pierpont Community and Technical College and West Virginia Junior College are also on offer.

West Virginia Work Opportunities

Relocating to West Virginia may involve a job search for someone in your family, and the websites at wv.gov and workforcewv.org/ can provide some help there. Obviously, the larger towns, such as Charleston, Huntington and Morgantown, will have a larger pool of potential employers, but drivers, nurses, teachers and home health aides always seem to be in demand. Plus, this could be the time to tap your LinkedIn network.

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Why You Might Not Want to Move to West Virginia

The beauty of West Virginia is unmatched, but there is an ugly side too. Lax environmental regulations have contributed to poorer public health outcomes for its residents compared to other states. The state has the lowest average life expectancy, 74.4 years, in the country for men and women. Income inequality is another major issue facing West Virginians. The state has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation at 14.9 percent.

So, Should I Move to West Virginia?

Let’s put it all together: West Virginia will pay remote workers $12,000 to move there. Once there, you get gorgeous scenery, a relaxed pace and abundant outdoor recreation, making the state very attractive to many city dwellers reevaluating their post-pandemic living situation. With the economy improving and companies looking to hire remote workers, relocating to West Virginia has never looked better.

Steve Hansen