Amenity Migration

“Amenity migration” or ex-urban migration into rural areas can be another result of Amenity-based development. Peterson et al (2007) studied the influence of amenity immigrants on the Teton Valley, Idaho. Their study area ranked four out of seven on McGranahan’s amenity scale (1999), one rank below than the three counties of the current study. Despite this, the study area managed to attract a seventy-four percent jump in population in the 1990’s. On average these immigrants were less likely to have moved from a nearby location, and more likely to be college graduates than long term residents of the valley. The study found that amenity immigrants were more likely to participate in appreciative outdoor recreation (i.e. birding and hiking), and less depreciative outdoor recreation (i.e. ATV use, and hunting). Peterson’s study, like the growing collection of research on the subject, suggests that areas rich with natural amenities will attract educated immigrants.
Amenity-based development has found success, but the theory also carries many caveats. Maintaining environmental quality can attract businesses, educated professionals, and retirees (Freudenberg & Gramling 1994). Ecotourism, or tourism specifically dedicated to exploring areas rich in natural amenities, was extremely successful in Costa Rica, earning a fifth of the countries total foreign exchange. However, there is evidence that tourism dependent counties may experience employment cycles rivaling those of extraction dependent communities (Peterson et al 2007). Further, limited entrepreneurship from long-term residents accustomed to high-paying extraction jobs, rests the economic success of amenity-based development in amenity immigrants (Che 2003).