Seeking trees or escaping traffic? Socio-cultural factors and 'tree change' migration in Australia

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Tree-changers, those who move from the city to inland country areas principally for 'lifestyle reasons', are a newly identified social group in contemporary and popular Australian culture whom are affecting demographic change in Australia's country towns. This chapter presents images of tree-changers found in Australian news media and findings from 28 qualitative, in-depth interviews conducted in 2007-2008 with tree-changers who moved to rural New South Wales and northern Victoria to addresses a knowledge gap about why individuals are leaving Austra-lia's cities for the country. Prior migration research has been largely geographic and produced location-specific, aggregate data on Australia's inter- and intra-metropolitan population migration trends explained by life-cycle. In contrast, this sociological study examines the inherently socially-derived factors, beyond age, which contribute to urban-rural migration. Findings reveal urban stresses (traffic, commuting and high population density) are key 'push' factors and stereotypical expectations that country life is less stressful, more spacious, and less expensive are key attractants. Data failed to support perceptions that tree-changers expect city-quality amenities, found most did not relocate for cheaper real estate and the majority moved to suburban homes in country towns, not 'the Bush'. Unantici-pated realities of country life (i.e., more commuting and higher living expenses) show discrepancy exists between urban-rural migrants' expectations and experi-ences.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDemographic change in Australia's rural landscapes
Subtitle of host publicationImplications for society and the environment
EditorsGary W Luck, Digby Race, Rosemary Black
Place of PublicationNetherlands
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9789048196548
ISBN (Print)9789048196524
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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