Why You Should Earn to Give in Tulsa, OK, USA

post by NicoleJaneway · 2022-05-29T17:18:52.325Z · EA · GW · 6 comments

TL;DR: Tulsa Remote is a one-year program that offers $10,000 (before tax) to people who are willing to move to Tulsa and work remotely here.   

To qualify, you must be eligible to work in the US and have a remote job or full-time self employment outside the state of Oklahoma. If you apply and get accepted, you must move to Tulsa within 12 months.

Interested EAs could use the stipend to defray the cost of moving and put the rest into saving or donation.  Tulsa has all the things you would reasonably want from a mid-size city.  There's a burgeoning tech scene and a lot of entrepreneurial excitement. 

Acceptance into Tulsa Remote includes three years free access to a well-apportioned coworking space.  It is extremely easy to meet people there, in the bustling Slack community, and through Tulsa Remote events. 

Due to the low cost of living (83.2 versus US average score of 100), Tulsa is a great place to earn to give or work towards FIREA (Financial Independence, Retire, Effective Altruism, which is an acronym I just made up to describe the career of someone who has generated enough savings that they can comfortably shift to doing EA work full time). 

Tulsa is the perfect place for this kind of remote work incentive program.  Its infrastructure was mostly built during a brief mid-century oil boom, and the population never grew to projected levels. Tulsa Remote members grow the city's tax base with relatively less negative impact than in a space constrained city like Washington, DC where gentrification would be a concern.  

It's also worth noting that the program is largely privately funded, so it's not like the money is directly coming out of tax-payers' pockets.  I've been asking around and Tulsa Remote seems to be looked on favorably by the locals as a path toward economic development. 


Personal experience:  In January 2022, I started in the Tulsa Remote program as a frontend engineer.  My apartment, which I found through the TR Slack, is a two bedroom located in Midtown that I split with another transplant.  My rent is $425, which includes all utilities.  This is about a third of what I paid for a comparably sized apartment in Washington, DC (cost of living 152.1 versus US average score of 100).

I was surprised by how quickly I found friends and fun things to do after work and on weekends.  I go into the coworking space about once every two weeks, but I always find it to be an effective work environment.  I've gotten involved in Code for Tulsa and feel a sense of community at the local YWCA where I workout in the mornings.  

I bike commute and do not own a car.  If I need to get to the airport or run a major errand, I'll take an Uber or Lyft, which is much cheaper than car ownership.

Reflections on the bike commute:  I find it kind of funny that folks assume you must have a car to live in Tulsa.  When I tell people I've just biked to their event, they look stunned.  Getting covid tested in the winter was interesting because I kept being told to remain in my vehicle, and I had to keep explaining that I'd biked. I think the bike commuter infrastructure will continue to improve over time as more people move here from out of state and show that it's possible to live outside downtown without a car.

Culturally, Tulsa is very family oriented.  It seems like a lot of the native Tulsans my age are married with children.  Some businesses close surprisingly early (6pm) and/or aren't open on the weekends, which I guess reflects the fact that people may not work as much and can run errands during the work day.

This is highly subjective, but from my perspective, the only major downside to Tulsa that's truly insuperable is lack of access to nature.  Between Rock Creek Park and Kenilworth Gardens, I was really spoiled for choice as a resident of Washington, DC.  Tulsa's Turkey Mountain (ahem, large hill) and Keystone Ancient Forest are much smaller and less accessible.  


Summary:  Overall, I'm glad I devoted a year to Tulsa Remote, and I'm planning to renew my lease for at least another year.  It's exciting to feel that I'm at the start of Tulsa's rise as a "little Austin," and I feel it's much easier to get mentorship for the kind of work that I do here compared to in Washington, DC.  I'm able to bank a sizable portion of my remote income, so I can work towards FIREA faster while providing exposure to EA ideas to people who might not otherwise have encountered them.

If you have any questions, please get in touch!  We're looking to kick off the EA Tulsa chapter very soon, and would love for you to be a part of it.

6 comments

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comment by rodeo_flagellum · 2022-05-29T19:56:29.293Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thank you for sharing this experience. It upweights the idea of me moving to another state, partially on the basis of grant relocation programs.

I remember seeing, in the past, that Vermont would pay remote workers 10k USD to relocate (here). I can't find much on this now, but did find that Vermont has a New Relocating Worker Grant (here)

QUALIFYING RELOCATION EXPENSES

Upon successful relocation to Vermont and review of your application, the following qualifying relocation expenses may be reimbursed:  

  • Closing costs for a primary residence or lease deposit and one month rent,
  • Hiring a moving company,
  • Renting moving equipment,
  • Shipping,
  • The cost of moving supplies

Incentives are paid out as a reimbursement grant after you have relocated to Vermont. Grants are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

There are probably states other than OK or VT that do such a thing.  

Replies from: NicoleJaneway
comment by NicoleJaneway · 2022-05-29T23:28:31.412Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for your thoughts, rodeo.   Anecdotally, VT discontinued their original program because of unpopularity with state residents.  It was funded with taxpayer money, therefore locals were essentially defraying the moving costs for out-of-state folks.

I've updated the article to reflect the fact that Tulsa Remote is largely privately funded, with some funding from OK for certain individuals (i.e., tech workers).

The other programs I know of are WV and northwest AR.   I'm tempted to maybe try one of these programs in the future (if they're not turned off by the fact I've already done Tulsa Remote).  Both states are beautiful, but offer less in the way of career development and urban amenities compared to Tulsa.   

comment by Kevin Kuruc · 2022-05-30T21:04:40.627Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'm glad you just coined 'FIREA'! I was running a similar strategy down the road in Norman, OK (though I've since gotten an EA job in Austin, TX). Though, I was only in Norman because I was working at the University of Oklahoma; the relocation grant is specific to Tulsa.  

I can second that the cost of living is an amazing perk. Aside from the low rent, energy and gas prices are low in OK, the lowest in the country according to this site. And compared to Northeast cities, the groceries are a bargain. I saved an impressive (to me!) fraction of my income the 2.5 years I was there. Would love to see a bunch of remote EAs take advantage of this and build a little Tulsa community. 

Replies from: NicoleJaneway
comment by NicoleJaneway · 2022-06-01T21:39:56.614Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

This is awesome, Kevin!!  I haven't gotten to Norman yet, but I hope you enjoyed your time there and that you also like Austin!

comment by drwahl · 2022-05-30T17:06:28.154Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

This is interesting, thanks for writing it up! I recently did an analysis of US cities (mostly looking for a wintering location, not a full move), and Tulsa ended up scoring relatively low, which was disappointing since I know there's a growing EA community there.

I'm really curious in your biking experience in particular, since that's the category where it fared the worst. I looked at bike commuter data, but I guess that's just a proxy for good commuter infrastructure, which is what I probably care about. Why do you think so few Tulsans bike at the moment?

Replies from: NicoleJaneway
comment by NicoleJaneway · 2022-05-30T17:26:30.352Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for your thoughts, Dr. Wahl.   As alluded to in the post, biking is my form of transportation > 80%  of the time, and I wish I could single-handedly make the bike commute popular!!

Theoretically, Tulsa is quite bikable because it's not too hilly or climatically extreme.   Traffic is not a big issue, and major roads tend to be wide / multilane.  

I do tend to see more bike commuters when I'm downtown.  Less in Midtown (where I live) or Kendall-Whittier (another downtown-adjacent neighborhood).

I think the primary barrier is cultural.   Tulsa is very tied up with the oil & gas industry, so it's not in the best interest of the elites to push green forms of transportation or increase the accessibility of public transit.  Accordingly, I think a lot of people take pride in having a nice car. 

There's decent bike lane coverage.  I don't think they're used as often as they should be.