Where would you move, for $10,000? Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
I included a link in the “7 other things” section yesterday about the governor of Utah, at a national conference for governors, saying that too many people are moving from California to Utah, and that if it were up to him, they’d stop.
Here’s what happened in another place where they’re trying like heck to get more Californians to move there.
The story starts in 2018, when a group of people in Tulsa apparently saw the future.
During that pre-pandemic period, they came up with an idea. Why not try to recruit remote workers from across the United States, and boost Oklahoma's second-largest city by getting them to move there?
Reduced-price housing (if desired) in "new, fully furnished apartments in the heart of the Tulsa arts district." It worked out to three months of free rent.
A year's free membership at 36 Degrees North, which is a co-working space in Tulsa.
And the big kicker: $10,000 in cold, hard cash, divided up into $2,500 for relocation expenses to Tulsa, a $500 per month stipend for one year, and a $1,500 balloon payment at the end of the first year.
Would it work? Would workers with no ties to "T-Town" (I admit that I just looked up that nickname on the Wikipedia page) be willing to relocate?
A little over four years and one global pandemic later, the answer is apparently a resounding yes.
More than 22,000 people applied for the Tulsa Remote program during 2022, and at least 2,000 have actually picked up stakes and relocated to Tulsa since the program began.
What's probably even more impressive is that fully 90 percent of the people who relocated stayed longer than the required one year.
I wrote about this program for Inc.com when it launched. The real draw is the idea that if you're working remotely anyway, maybe it makes sense to stretch your money by ditching high-cost-of-living cities for a lower-cost place to live a little south of right smack dab in the middle of the country?
And lower-cost it is.
The median Tulsa apartment rents for $1,274. Compare that with $3,050 for Los Angeles, which is the number one city from which Tulsa Remote participants have come—followed by Dallas, San Francisco, Denver, and Seattle.
The average sale price of a home in Tulsa was $210,000 in December, compared with $388,100 across the United States.
(It's worth noting that it's going up, though: When the Tulsa program launched in 2018, the median price for a home—which isn't an apples-with-apples comparison, but is still interesting—was $157,200.)
Moreover, a study published by the Brookings Institution last year found that Tulsa Remote workers not only had a higher chance of staying in their communities than peers who didn't participate in the program, but they also had "higher pro-social engagement in the community" and "higher real income growth without a (perceived) drop in productivity."
Another study cited in a Harvard Business Review article on Tulsa Remote found that for every two remote workers who moved to Tulsa as part of the program, one additional local job was created, and that "every dollar spent on the program creates $13 in economic activity."
I've never been to Tulsa, so I can't speak with first-hand authority on whether it's a good place to live and work. (Do any of my readers live there? Chime in!)
By the way, the estimated $20 million in cash payments along with other financial support for this program comes from the George Kaiser Family Foundation in Tulsa.
While Tulsa was apparently among the first places to come up with a program like this, it's been tried elsewhere, and we saw a clear trend during the pandemic of people leaving high-cost-of-living locations, given that they no longer had to commute or be near their former places of work.
But, Harvard Business Review points out, there are a lot of other small, comparatively inexpensive cities in the United States, and a question for Tulsa is how it can compete with, say, Wichita or Omaha if everyplace creates a program like this.
My tip? Find a way to add some California sunshine and water views.
7 other things worth knowing today
President Joe Biden fired the embattled Architect of the Capitol, Brett Blanton, the official who oversees the U.S. Capitol complex. An inspector general report released last year found “administrative, ethical and policy violations” by Blanton, including that he abused his government vehicle and misrepresented himself as a law enforcement official. (WTOP)
In the "news I would have thought would have happened a year ago" department: The U.S. has told citizens to leave Russia immediately due to the war in Ukraine and the risk of arbitrary arrest or harassment by Russian law enforcement agencies. "U.S. citizens residing or travelling in Russia should depart immediately," the U.S. embassy in Moscow said. "Exercise increased caution due to the risk of wrongful detentions ... Do not travel to Russia." (Reuters)
Amazon-owned autonomous vehicle venture Zoox said on Monday that it is now testing its self-driving robotaxis on public roads in California with passengers on board. The vehicles have no steering wheel or pedals, and they have bidirectional driving capabilities and four-wheel steering, enabling them to change directions without the need to reverse. Zoox executives said the company began the tests after it received approval from the California Department of Motor Vehicles last week. (CNBC)
Did you know that Americans are about half as likely to be taking vacation in any given week as they were 40 years ago? Neither did we! When we spotted this alarming trend in an obscure government time series, our eyebrows shot up so far our ears popped. (WashPost)
In places where recreational use of marijuana is now legal, smokers are tossing the remains of joints in the street. Dogs are eating them and getting sick in increasing numbers, veterinarians and poison-control centers say. “I was taking her out of the car, and I saw her little head bobble. That’s when you know your dog is stoned.” (NYT)
Forty years ago, it was the plot of the Eddie Murphy/Dan Aykroyd movie, Trading Places; now it's reality: Orange juice futures—contracts to buy and sell OJ—have almost doubled to $2.60 per pound over the last year, up from $1.40 a year ago, leading to price surges in stores. (The Guardian)
Some readers of Understandably found their way to the newsletter as a result of my 2010 book, The Intelligent Entrepreneur. (Aside, how is 2010 now 13 years ago?). One of the main characters in that book is Chris Michel, who created some pretty cool companies back in the 2000s and 2010s. He's now a full-time photographer. Here are 100 amazing photos he took while on a recent assignment for Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions in ... well, Antarctica. (ChristopherMichel.com)
Thanks for reading. Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash. I wrote about some of this for Inc.com. See you in the comments.
"Well I've never been to Tulsa,
But I kinda like their oil,
It's nice and easy,
Not real greazzy,
It never spoils..."
Our neighbor's dog got super stoned a year or so ago. They suggested someone must have dropped a gummy in the park or something, but we always assumed the dog had gotten into their teenaged son's stash.
Could have just been dropped roaches I guess! Now I feel badly for being so suspicious 😀