P-1/07 The Dream of a Small-holding

Paper to the XXII ESRS Congress 20-24 August 2007 in Wageningen, The Netherlands Rural areas have undergone significant demographic, social and cultural changes throughout the last 50-60 years, and much research and policy interest has focussed upon rural-urban migration trends and the consequences of the urbanisation process for the sustainability of rural areas. In Norway, less attention has been given to the counter-trend, that is, urban people searching for a better quality of life in the countryside. Associating certain values with rural places – like a safe and clean environment, healthy lifestyles and strong community cohesion – might help to strengthen the attractiveness of the countryside for urban dwellers. For instance, in a Norwegian national survey, six out of ten people agreed with the statement that ‘life in the countryside is more fulfilling than urban life’. Further, 27 percent of respondents reported that they are interested in buying a small-holding in the countryside. While the majority of those surveyed expressed a wish to operate and/or live on the holding, a group of people also aspired to buy a small-holding as a second home. This paper explores the characterisitcs of the different groups who are interested in buying a small-holding and discusses the implications and potential for a future source of revitalisation for rural areas.

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