A change isn’t always a holiday
Retiring to the country has pros and cons
A paper on the impact of Rural Retirement Migration (RRM) in Australia has been published in Australian Geographer.
Co-authored by BWA’s Bradley Jorgensen, it explores the issues of retirees choosing to relocate (usually from urban areas) to rural locations and the impacts that has on rural community sustainability. As the population ages, rural (and especially coastal) areas within 300 kilometres of capitals are feeling this tension, with rural councils facing the challenge of how to service older and retired people seeking cheaper housing, support or services.
The qualitative study involved focus groups in six rural local government areas. It looked at the benefits and challenges RRM presents on three fronts; equity (equal access to basic services), community (people’s ongoing interaction) and rurality (rural ways of life). While there may be clear benefits for some, the question is who?
While an influx of retirees can boost services to an area by increasing critical mass (and therefore demand), it can also affect a sense of belonging and community participation and put more pressure on existing services.
The paper suggests incoming retirees can make towns more heterogeneous but less equal, especially if they begin to outnumber those already depending on community services (such as younger or less wealthy cohorts).
How communities deal with RRM will affect their economic trajectories, say the authors (the majority of whom are located at La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus). Governments at all levels will need to monitor the impacts of rural migration to ensure the changes are sustainably managed.
You can read the paper here.