Would you move to a new city for $10,000?

That’s the hope of an organisation that wants to lure workers to Tulsa in Oklahoma, as it aims to bridge a widening gulf between large metropolitan centers and smaller ones at risk of being left behind.

 US employment by community size
Image: Brookings Institute

Funded by the Tulsa Community Foundation and the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Tulsa Remote says it's “looking for builders, hustlers and change-makers” to help foster the city’s growth. In exchange, it’s offering successful applicants moving expenses, monthly payments to help cover rent and shared work space.

The initiative aims to help Tulsa compete against bigger metropoles. While it’s the 47th largest city in the US, the population of around 400,000 is dwarfed by larger conurbations. Each of the largest 10 cities boasts more than 1 million people, and New York -- the largest -- has more than 8 million.

 This could be your new town
Image: Tulsa Remote

And these variations are also reflected in a gaps in politics and economics, creating two Americas, according to a Brookings Institution report, which outlines how progress that’s been made by digital technology has centered on “the most talent-laden” clusters.

“Big, techy metros like San Francisco, Boston, and New York with populations over 1 million have flourished, accounting for 72 percent of the nation’s employment growth since the financial crisis,” researchers Clara Hendrickson, Mark Muro and William A. Galston from the institution, wrote in the report. “By contrast, many of the nation’s smaller cities, small towns, and rural areas have languished.”

Bridging the gap between large and growing megacities and smaller urban centres is a challenge facing governments and policymakers around the world. As more and more people and resources migrate to metropolitan regions, a need arises to foster growth and avoid social decline in smaller cities and in rural areas.

 Moving to the city
Image: Statista

Such themes are explored by the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization, which estimates 68% of the global population will live in cities by 2050, raising the question of how to ensure what’s left behind continues to thrive. It calculates that more than half of the world’s population lives in cities and one-in-eight urbanites resides in one of the 33 “megacities” with more than 10 million inhabitants.

This isn’t just an issue for the US.

In the UK, a report from the New Economics Foundation notes how some urban centres are being left behind at the expense of larger ones.

“Far too many places in the UK fail to offer decent jobs and housing,” the report says. “Many towns serve only as satellites to urban centres where economic activity is concentrated. Other towns are left high and dry – disconnected, losing human and economic capital and going almost ignored in the UK’s current model.”

Similar dynamics have prompted other cities around the world to bid for workers.

The Italian town of Candela wants to boost its dwindling population by paying people 2,000 euros ($2272) to become residents.

And the initiative “Buying into Baltimore” offers a $5,000 incentive toward buying a home in the US’s 30th largest city in Maryland.

In Vermont, new remote workers can receive as much as $10,000 as a grant to move to the city.

Tulsa is cheaper than New York
Image: Tulsa Remote

To qualify for Tulsa Remote, applicants must be at least 18 years old and employed with a company that allows them to work remotely. A calculator on the initatives’ website offers the chance to compare current living costs and potential savings.

So would a cash incentive tempt you to move?