GO Topeka‘s Choose Topeka Relocation Initiative has partnered with Airbnb, the online marketplace for lodging, to provide potential new residents with free opportunities to visit the city. Choose Topeka provides up to $15,000 for people that relocate to the Kansas capital of nearly 200,000 people.

“As some consumers think through relocating, local, hosted stays enabled by Airbnb provide a fantastic option to explore neighborhoods before making a decision,” said Barbara Stapleton, vice president of business retention and talent initiatives at Go Topeka. “Through this partnership, potential residents will be able to ‘try before they buy,’ prior to making the commitment to the Choose Topeka program – and can truly experience what life could look like here if selected.”

Airbnb will be featuring Topeka in its new ‘Online Experiences’ section, designed to introduce Topeka to anyone who may be considering relocation and can answer questions on local life, events and more.

“In a new Airbnb survey, 44 percent of consumers across five countries are interested in trying out a new city before buying a home there, including 47 percent of Americans,” said Chris Lehane, senior vice president for global public policy and communications at Airbnb. “Specifically, 62 percent of U.S. survey respondents who identify as Latinx and 50 percent who identify as Black — as well as 50 percent of Californians — are open to the idea of ‘try before you buy.’”

To date, 40 people making average wages of $85,000 per year participated in the Choose Topeka program, relocating from cities across the U.S. including New York City and San Francisco. Twenty-one workers purchased a home in Topeka and 19 are renting housing; many brought family members with them.

Kristy Blake, who was hired as director of the New Life Center at The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus, moved to Topeka in late April with her husband. They came to the capital city from Arlington, Tenn., and ended up buying a house here.

“It really has been a very good transition for us. It really feels like a family here,” said Blake. She and her husband are getting to know their neighbors. And the city, she added, is a great size — “small enough, yet big enough for what we enjoy doing.”

The Topeka community boasts the thriving “NOTO Arts District,” a newly revitalized downtown district and Evergy Plaza, a $9.5 million revitalization project inclusive of gardens, performance spaces and a splash park. Topeka is also home to breweries, inventive eateries, live music venues, luxury hotels and top-quality museums like the Evel Knievel MuseumThe Equality House and the Brown v Board of Education National Historic Site.

“Airbnb is thrilled to partner with Choose Topeka, to help remote workers discover life in the Golden City and consider making their new home here,” said Lehane. “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic — and the rise of remote working — we are now empowered to live anywhere, and many are looking to try out a city before making a move. Working with Choose Topeka, we hope to provide their community with the opportunity to do exactly that, as part of a new vision for flexible living.”

Since launching the Choose Topeka program in late 2019, the Greater Topeka Partnership has received thousands of requests from across North America as well as international interest from potential candidates in Europe, Asia and South America.

To see Airbnb options for stays in Topeka, visit Airbnb.com or select one of the following listings:

“We encourage anyone that is considering taking advantage of all that Topeka has to offer to come check it out yourself. We think you will be surprised with all that the city has to offer,” continued Stapleton.

Airbnb will be donating $15,000 to Choose Topeka as part of this partnership.

The Choose Topeka program reimburses individuals with job offers in Topeka up to $15,000 when buying a home, and $10,000 for renters signing a one-year lease. Employees who work remotely for companies based outside Topeka can receive up to $10,000 if they purchase a home, and up to $5,000 toward a one-year lease.

Interested candidates can learn more about the Choose Topeka talent recruitment initiative and apply for incentives here.