Attracting young people is one of the toughest challenges facing rural communities.
The outflow of young people from rural to urban hits small towns and rural regions in a variety of ways, including stripping communities of badly needed tax revenue, threatening the viability of local schools, depressing local and regional economies, and stripping fraying towns and regions of hope for the future.
However not all is bleak. Increasing numbers of urban Millennials are becoming dissatisfied with high housing costs and lowered quality of life. Rural communities with a critical mass of community assets — including a vibrant local culture, high speed internet, good schools, and adequate housing options — stand an excellent chance of attracting some of these disaffected young people, to places that combine affordable cost of living with a high quality of life. The key is to recognize and improve where necessary existing assets, to identify and work toward obtaining or creating key missing ingredients, and devise a plan with strong community buy-in to reach out to urban Millennials with an invitation to escape the city and embrace rural!
The following BC Rural Centre report provides thought-provoking reading for small town/rural champions who are looking for ways to revitalize their communities.
Retaining youth is also a near-universal rural problem. Here’s an engaging TedX talk on how one small, North Island New Zealand town dealt with it.