8 US cities that will pay you thousands of dollars to move there

View of Baltimore's Inner Harbor from Federal Hill Park.
 Jon Hicks

It pays to live in small cities. Literally.

As young people flock to large metropolitan areas like San Francisco and New York, some smaller towns face dwindling populations or even shortages in certain sectors, such as tech.

To remain competitive, these cities are doling out lucrative perks to get people to move there, such as cash handouts, student loan repayments and housing incentives.

While you may not the find the hustle and bustle you'd get in larger towns, the trade-off might be worth it for a shorter commute and a lower rent. Surveys show that smaller cities have far less traffic congestion, making a trip to and from work that much faster.

The cost of living is also cheaper in smaller cities, according to an analysis of the most and least expensive cities for renters by money advice site Earnest. While Los Angelenos fork over a median rent of $2,600 a month, those in Toledo, Ohio pay just $550 per month.

If, like many millennials, you're still figuring out where you want to settle down, consider these eight cities offering a host of incentives to entice you to move there. 

1. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Want to get paid to relocate and work from home? In Oklahoma you can, through Tulsa Remote, a program offering to eligible applicants who agree to live in Tulsa, Oklahoma for one year to work remotely.

To be eligible, you must provide proof of employment, be at least 18 years of age, work for a business that's based out of Tulsa County and pledge to live in Tulsa for a minimum of one year.

2. Baltimore, Maryland

Known for its harbor, fresh crabs and the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital, Charm City offers two housing incentives for would-be residents.

First, the Buying Into Baltimore program gives home-buyers a $5,000 forgivable five-year loan. And if you're game to move into one of Baltimore's abandoned homes, the Vacants to Value incentive offers $10,000 toward down payment and closing costs.

3. St. Clair County, Michigan

Got student loan debt? St. Clair County might be the place for you. Located north of Detroit, the Michigan county is targeting young people in their late 20s who have completed college and might be ready to settle down and start their lives.

Dubbed the Come Home Award, this reverse-scholarship will pay students who have completed a degree in a STEAM-related program (science, technology, engineering, arts or math). Those promising to live and work in the county could receive up to $15,000 to make the move.

This 30-year-old commutes 4 hours and 140 miles for work in San Francisco every day
This 30-year-old commutes 4 hours and 140 miles for work in San Francisco every day

4. Marquette, Kansas

This town offers rolling fields, open spaces and a tiny community of just 610 residents, according to the latest Census numbers. To draw more to the community, new residents are being enticed with free lots of land.

To qualify for this program, you must agree to begin construction on the home within 120 days and finish building the home within one year.

5. Hamilton, Ohio

Only about 15 percent of Hamilton residents are college educated. Hoping to bolster this number, the city is providing cash incentives of up to $5,000 to young professionals who move there.

To be eligible, applicants must have graduated within the last seven years, preferably from a STEAM program, and demonstrate employment within the city of Hamilton.

6. North Platte, Nebraska

With a population of roughly 24,000, this Midwest city needs skilled people to work in factories, warehouses, medical centers and the railroad.

In light of this, an economic development group penned a deal with local employers to match signing bonuses for out-of-town hires, up to $5,000. That's a total potential signing bonus of $10,000 total.

McDonald's is tripling its college tuition benefit for its employees
McDonald's is tripling its college tuition benefit for its employees

7. Grant County, Indiana

Grant County may be a small town, but it's serving up a big incentive to lure young, skilled workers. Through the Grant for Grads scheme, newcomers can receive up to $5,000 for the down payment and closing costs on a home.

If renting is more your style, the city offers a 20 percent reduction on monthly rent payments. The offer is available for minimum lease agreements of 12 months or more at rents equal to or less than what the Department of Housing and Urban Development considers fair market (around $558 for a one-bedroom apartment in Grant County).

8. New Haven, Connecticut

Home to Yale University, this New England metropolis is offering up to $80,000 in incentives for new homeowners.

First-time buyers can receive $10,000 in interest-free loans for down payments or closing costs and $30,000 in energy-saving upgrades for the home. Those who stay to raise families could be eligible for $40,000 for in-state college tuition provided their children graduate from a New Haven public school.

Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!

Don't miss: 10 brick-and-mortar stores that will match lower prices found on Amazon

This article was originally published September 22, 2018 and was updated. 

Here's how rent changed in 2017 in 5 major cities
Here's how rent changed in 2017 in 5 major cities