How people move to rural areas: Insights in the residential search process from a diary approach
Journal of Rural Studies
Given the ascribed importance of in-migration for the development of rural areas, it is remarkable that little attention is paid to how people end up in a specific rural place. This paper closely addresses the way in which the decision-making process of rural in-migrants takes place during their residential search. To do so, we experiment with the diary approach; a novel method in studying the residential search processes. Our findings indicate that the search process of home seekers in rural
... eas in the northern Netherlands is not always linear, and that based on their search process, different groups of searchers can be distinguished. The search areas of local, regional and distant searchers not only seem to differ in scale, but also in the extent to which they change over the course of the process. Whereas local movers began searching in their own or in neighbouring villages, and continued to do so throughout the search process, most regional and distant searchers started their search in one region but ended up somewhere completely different. Previous contact with an area, resulting in positive perceptions, appears to be essential for including an area in the search space. Our findings also suggest that more attention needs to be paid to the role of perceived social characteristics of rural areas in residential choice. Following searchers over time with a partly qualitative diary approach shows the non-linearity of the process, the role of representations, the more emotional aspects of residential decision-making and the influence of coincidence on the process.