Urban to rural elderly migration: renewing and reinventing Australia's small rural towns
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As Australia’s baby boomer population enters ‘seniordom’ they are increasingly consuming and producing new rural spaces. Australia has a particularly mobile older population, with many people choosing to move at, or shortly after, retirement (Davies and James 2011). Rural destinations, and in particular small towns, are high on the list of sought after retirement localities. It is this movement of older people into ‘desired’ rural localities that is reshaping the social, economic and physical character of rural towns (Connell and McManus 2011). For some towns, the in-migration of older people has underpinned a new phase of growth and socio-economic transformation, with vibrant new economic activities and social cultures generated (Davies 2009). Others, however, view this population growth in somewhat more negative terms, citing the upward pressure on housing prices, congestion, increased burden on local health care resources and a loss of the traditional character of places (Costello 2007, 2009; Gurran 2008; Ragusa 2010). This chapter looks at the reasons why older people are moving to rural Australia, what areas they are moving to and, how this movement is underpinning changes in the character, function and form of some of Australia’s small rural towns.
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