The Gentrification of Rural America

<p>Rural communities being "discovered" by investors is turning out to be a mixed blessing for some small towns.</p>
January 24, 2008, 5am PST | Nate Berg
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"The word 'gentrification' conjures up images of once-poor urban neighborhoods invaded by cappuccino bars and million-dollar condos. Now, broad swaths of rural America -- from New England to the Rocky Mountain West -- are being gussied up, too."

"Affluent retirees and other high-income types have descended on these remote areas, creating new demand for amenities like interior-design stores, spas and organic markets. For many communities, it's the biggest change since the interstate highway system came barreling through in the 1960s and 1970s."

"With the Internet allowing people to work from almost anywhere, the distinction between first and second homes has become blurred. Many people are buying retirement property while they're still employed. Millions of soon-to-retire baby boomers, say demographers, will propel this trend for years to come."

"'What we're seeing is a class colonization,' says Peter Nelson, an associate professor of geography at Middlebury College and an expert on rural migration."

Thanks to Jon Cecil

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Published on Wednesday, January 23, 2008 in The Wall Street Journal
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