On 31st January, in the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe, a discussion was held with and about newcomers to the countryside, where Latvian Rural Forum shared results of interviews and surveys held with newcomers within the framework of PoliRural. Regional remigration specialists, representatives of Latvian Local Action Groups, researchers and newcomers themselves with their own experience stories took part in the discussion.
The discussion covered the reasons why people choose to move to the countryside today; the challenges they face in changing their lifestyles and places of residence; how to integrate into local communities; what are the factors determining the successful integration of newcomers. Also, the benefits of local communities through the accession of young people to the established traditions of small village communities were discussed.
During the discussion, it was concluded that the contribution of newcomers is multifaceted and, in a sense, still underestimated. Newcomers to the countryside bring both new small business models and new cultural and social expressions. Newcomers are indicators of community vulnerabilities, but at the same time they work as catalysers of alternative directions for local development.
Although the reasons that motivate young families to move to the countryside are often also romantic, in the face of the challenges of real rural life, mostly connected with practical issues like road quality, access to services, they do not lose optimism and deal with everyday life creatively and innovatively, which also gives an important aspect of rural attractiveness.
Whether the countryside will be overcrowded in 50 or a hundred years, this will be shown by time, but the fact that the contribution of newcomers to rural communities has been very strong in recent years is undeniable. The results of this discussion were also published on the platform of Conference on the Future of Europe.