Escape to the Country: A Reaction-Driven Rural Renaissance on a Swedish Island Post COVID-19
Conceptualising the Role of the Landscape in Rural In-Migration
2. The COVID-19 Pandemic as a Possible Reaction-Driven Incitement for a Rural Renaissance
- Östergarnslandet: A peninsula, located around 40 min from the city. The peninsula is experiencing a high percentage of part-time residential property estimated to be 68.8% of all housing. Property prices were also estimated to the be the second highest in the rural parts of the region. Östergarnslandet has the lowest average age (53.77 years) out of the selected areas; however, it still has an age average that is average of 8.77 years higher than the whole island.
- Sudret: A peninsula, located around 80 min from the city. The peninsula is experiencing a high percentage of part-time residential property estimated to be 66.7% of all housing. Property prices were also estimated to the be the third highest in the region. In Sudret the average age is 54.47 years.
- Fårö: A small island reached by a transportation ferry. The island is located about 1–1.5 h from the city depending on the ferry. The small island is experiencing a high percentage of part-time residential property estimated to be 74.5% of all housing. Property prices were also estimated to be the highest in the rural parts of the region. Property prices on Fårö were only exceeded by those of the inner-city in Visby. Fårö holds both the highest average age and also has had the most evident increase over the last 20 years. There is an average age of 57.46 years, which has increased by 11.13 years since 2000.
4.1. The Landscape as a Pull Factor for Regrowth
“I’ve been waiting for a renaissance, for there to be a new “group” arriving. Maybe now is the time: I’ve talked to some people and yes, young people come here but they move to the town [Visby], they do not actually come here. But now with this connection [fibre-optics network], things are possible. If you have children, it’s fantastic to live like this.”(Long-term resident, 65+)
“When I got here, it was empty. There were not people. […] Here it is free. It is a big thing. Yes, I think it is that [sense of freedom].”(Part-time resident, 50+)
“It [the difficulty of reaching the area] has an isolating effect. It [the area] is well preserved because it’s hard to get here.”(Part-time resident, 35+)
“There are more cars outside houses. And that was noticeable already last spring. And I have spoken to people who have said “we are working from here now and it is working really well.”(In-migrant resident, 35+)
“There are more people coming to learn more about nature where I work. But a lot of people do not seem to know how to behave in nature. They tell me things that they’ve done or where they’ve been, and these are not good things in accordance with how one should behave in nature.”(Long-term resident, 50+)
“We are used to tourists this time of the year. Maybe not this much. Now it is almost all day around. If you can put it like that. Usually this is the day when it (the tourist season) is all over, almost like cutting something off. There is usually literally no one out here. But this year….”(Long-term resident, 50+)
4.2. An Inaccessible Housing Situation
“Housing is too expensive here for young people. We were many that came during the last green wave, and this may be another one. But I’ve been speaking with people and the younger people are moving to town [Visby], not here.”(Long-term resident, 65+)
“the problem is finding somewhere to live… that’s what it is … that it is too expensive.”(Long-term resident, 65+)
“I must say that it is a very strange age composition here. Surely, there are families during the summer holidays. But then, there are only elderly left.”(Part-time resident, 50+)
“I am afraid of where we are heading. I am myself a part of the mass tourism. That is undeniable. But at the same time, it must be steered somehow.”(Part-time resident, 50+)
4.3. Infrastructure and Service Could Open New Doors
“We have a completely new infrastructure that opens new doors. During the pandemic now, there are many who are here all year around and work and live, even though they may have their office in Stockholm or other cities. So that’s just the start of something, maybe …these are opportunities that now we have thanks to the new fibre-optic connection, solar panels, and the desalination system.”(Part-time resident, 25+)
“[name] was here until Saint Lucy’s Day since we have better WIFI connection here than in central Stockholm. With WIFI you can be connected to the entire world from here. But you can also go down to the beach. That is something one does not have in a city.”(Part-time resident, 65+)
“That’s why we could sell land, there was water and sewage, fibre-optic internet connection, electricity, everything. This was not there five years ago. Then we couldn’t have sold it, in this way… but we have to be careful with the housing development. Densification where it is suitable but no more than this….”(Long-term resident, 65+)
“If it wasn’t for the transportation, one would be here much more…given also better prices…it is cheaper for a family to go on holidays abroad than to come here. Therefore, there are only people with money that can get here.”(Part-time resident, 65+)
“People are expecting working infrastructure, even if they don’t live here fulltime.”(Part-time resident, 65+)
7. Limitations and Recommendations for Future Studies
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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Åberg, H.E.; Tondelli, S. Escape to the Country: A Reaction-Driven Rural Renaissance on a Swedish Island Post COVID-19. Sustainability 2021, 13, 12895. https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212895
Åberg HE, Tondelli S. Escape to the Country: A Reaction-Driven Rural Renaissance on a Swedish Island Post COVID-19. Sustainability. 2021; 13(22):12895. https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212895Chicago/Turabian Style
Åberg, Hanna Elisabet, and Simona Tondelli. 2021. "Escape to the Country: A Reaction-Driven Rural Renaissance on a Swedish Island Post COVID-19" Sustainability 13, no. 22: 12895. https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212895