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December 5, 2020

Hawaii is offering free round trips to remote workers who want to live there temporarily

What better way to survive a pandemic than to do it on a beach in Hawaii?

For anyone who finds the idea dreamy, Hawaii is offering free round trip tickets to Oahu to out-of-state remote workers who want to live and work there while contributing to the state's economy.

The state launched the temporary residency program, known as "Movers and Shakas," in collaboration with schools and businesses. It's accepting its first group of applicants until December 15.

"Movers and Shakas is a small step towards economic recovery and diversifying our economy," Jason Higa, the group's founder, told CNN.

"The pandemic," he said, "has normalized remote work for the foreseeable future, so we believe this situation presents an opportunity for local residents to return home, and for out of state professionals to experience Hawaii, not as tourists, but as contributing members of our community."

Fifty people will be chosen for the first cohort. Later applicants will be accepted on a rolling basis. To apply, you must be a remote worker and at least 18 years old.

Participants must move within one month of being selected and are required to spend at least 30 consecutive days in Hawaii.

"Hawai'i currently has the lowest rate per capita of Covid infections in the country, also making it one of the safest places to live and work," according to the program's news release.

So far, Hawaii has reported over 18,000 coronavirus cases, and more than 200 people have died.

Giving back to Hawaii

While spending your days off soaking in the sun may sound like heaven, "Movers and Shakas" is specifically looking for individuals who want to contribute to Hawaii's local communities.

Those accepted into the program are required to commit a few hours every week to a nonprofit where they can use their knowledge and skills.

Though the program will accept remote workers from across the United States, it's also geared towards former Hawaii residents who want to return.

Among those people is Richard Matsui, a Movers and Shakas founder who recently returned to Hawaii from San Francisco.

"As someone who was born and raised in Hawaii, I always dreamed of moving back home," Matsui, 35, told CNN. "The pandemic normalized remote work, and I took the opportunity to relocate home."

Matsui also pointed to one of the program's central goals: to help diversify the economy.

"Beyond bringing in valuable dollars into our local businesses, the real value is bringing talented knowledge workers who will both help to build our communities through volunteer work and to make our economy more resilient," Matsui said. "While the pandemic is an enormous crisis, it also presents Hawaii with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to diversify our economy."

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