Are you one of the millions of students who are struggling to make their student loan repayments? The first things you need to be aware of are the options available to you to improve your financial situation. See our SURVIVAL GUIDE for ways to beat the student loan crisis. Let’s assume that you‘ve considered all the survival tips we offer and already taken advantage of Obama’s Forgiveness Plan (if not – why not?), but you’re still struggling with your repayments. What’s next?

Well, maybe it’s time to take your destiny into your own hands and consider making a drastic change in order to prosper? We’ve previously touched upon the idea of moving to a new city to obtain increased assistance with your loan, and that could be a solution that you need to seriously consider. In this article we will look at exactly how a change of scene could dramatically improve your life.

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself”

Andy Warhol

The thought of uprooting and making a fresh start in a new city, is of course, somewhat daunting. Leaving behind the familiarity of your home town and the comfort of being close to your friends and family is a big step, and not something that anyone would do without serious thought and consideration. However, staying in your comfort zone is often all too too easy and unchallenging. If you really want to conquer your student debt, you will need to make sacrifices, pursue your personal goals and make important life decisions. A change of city may actually be just the challenge that you need.

Your life is defined by the big decisions that you take. In this article we will evaluate the process and the advantages of making a geographical change to improve your economic welfare. Our aim is to help you decide if the ‘big move’ is the right decision for you.  

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”                                              

‘Socrates’ (actually a gas station worker, given this nickname by Dan Millman)

Later in this piece we’ll examine three examples cities and what incentives they offer new citizens. But first let’s address why these cities are trying to tempt you make that move. The first thing to be aware of is that you yourself are an asset. You are a smart, educated and (hopefully) motivated individual. Any machine (or city) is built from its components (or infrastructure and citizens) and that machine is only as good as the quality of those components and the way in which they combine and contribute to its end product. The essential point here is that YOU ARE AN ASSET! You can contribute to the success of a city with your talent and to its economy with your taxes.

Some cities are looking to recruit citizens with specific qualifications and others are more interested attracting all types of graduates who are prepared to make changes in order to be successful. Know your own worth and be prepared to adapt yourself to achieve your goals, and you could be just what they are looking for!

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading”

Lao Tzu

Don’t start packing your suitcase quite yet – here are the factors you should consider before deciding to change cities…

  • What stipulations are attached to the offer? Is there a minimum time you need to live in the new city for? Are you required to live in a specific part of that new city?
  • How do you really feel about moving to a new city and rebuilding your social and professional life from scratch?
  • How do the living costs compare with where you currently live?
  • How is employment in the new city? Would you be able to find a job in your industry? How would the wages compare with what you currently earn?
  • Do your research before the move. Look at what infrastructure and entertainment the new location offers. Research, climate, crime statistics and the local economy.
  • Will your new work be close to your new home? Can you rely on public transport? Will you require a car?
  • Consider the worst possible case scenario.  If you are unhappy in the new city, you lose your job, or need to return home because of a family emergency, what is your contingency plan?

“Sometimes if you want to see a change for the better, you have to take things into your own hands”

Clint Eastwood

So once you’ve weighed up the pros and cons of making the big move, and you decide it’s the right thing for you to do, your next task is to decide where to go. Here are three examples of cities looking for graduates, and what they can offer you.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN www.detroitlivedowntown.org

Offer: Up to $20,000 loan forgiveness towards the price of buying a house. If you decide to rent,  $2,500 rental aid in year one and $1,000 for year two.

Pros: Detroit loves the performing arts and has many theatres in addition to two of the biggest live music venues in the US. It was also the home to one of the world’s most famous record labels – Motown. Detroit has a proud sporting tradition and is home to four major teams, The Pistons (basketball), The Tigers (baseball), The Lions (football) and The Red Wings (ice hockey). The Detroit International Riverfront is another extremely popular feature of the city,  home to many of the city’s hotels, shops and restaurants as well as a cruise ship passenger terminal and dock, marina, events centers, several parks and elegant high-rise apartments.

Cons: Detroit ranked as the 6th most dangerous city in the US (Neighbourhood Scout).

Requirements: You’re required to reside in stipulated neighbourhoods and be employed by specific companies (for example: Strategic Solutions, Quicken Loans, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Compuware, DTE Energy or Marketing Associates).

KANSAS www.kansascommerce.com

Offer: If you move to a Rural Opportunity Zone, you can cash in forgiveness of up to $15,000. The program will pay 20% of your outstanding loan debt with a limit of $3,000 per year (for a period of up to 5 years). Some zones also offer free lots for construction of a new house and a reduction of 50% on percent property tax (for the first ten years). Additionally you may qualify for a waiver on Kansas income tax depending on circumstances.

Pros:  A great variety of different locations to choose from. Typically the cost of living is low with a relaxed lifestyle in small and safe communities. Plenty of open space, good food and locally produced beer and wine.

Cons: No big city bright lights and culture.

Requirements: You’ll need to settle in one of the 77 counties listed as Rural Opportunity Zones.

SASKATCHEWAN, CANADA www.saskatchewan.ca

Offer: Forgiveness of $20,000 of tuition fees through the Graduate Retention Program (payed over 7 years).

Pros: A relaxed lifestyle in a safe area with an abundance of fresh air and open spaces. Saskatchewan hosts annual arts and culture festivals, great sports facilities and a high quality health care system including free kindergarten provision. The taxes and living costs are amongst the cheapest in Canada.

Cons: Take a jacket, it gets pretty chilly in winter. Be prepared to make your own entertainment, a lack of big city shopping malls and culture.

Requirements: You need be a graduate from a list of approved programs and colleges. In addition to residing in Saskatchewan, you’ll need earn a salary and pay income tax in that province.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving

Albert Einstein

Author: Jim Davies

Photo: Courtesy of Uwe Krella / Flickr

Call (855) 795-6100 if you want to be considered for loan forgiveness.

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