The Flood of 'Amenity Migrants'

Scenic resort towns are increasingly attracting older residents, creating a population boom that far surpasses growth rates in many cities and urban areas.
August 20, 2008, 6am PDT | Nate Berg
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"More and more Americans are flocking to resort-like cities, places like Flagstaff, Ariz., a quaint college town near the Grand Canyon. For some, it's a move to paradise. But it can come with a steep price."

"Newcomers like Stone have been flocking to Flagstaff and other picturesque resort and college towns since the 1970s. But in the past decade, their numbers have exploded."

"Kenneth Johnson, a senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute, has a name for people like the Stones: 'amenity migrants.'"

"'Like many of us, they would say, 'Boy, when I can, I would really like to live in one of these beautiful, scenic areas,'' Johnson said. 'And as they get close to retirement, they can fulfill those wishes' - either in full retirement or by working a more flexible schedule."

"Johnson has identified 300 recreation or amenity regions attracting new residents, from Western ski towns to New England and the lake country of the upper Midwest."

"While other small towns are struggling, these communities are booming. They're growing two to three times faster than other rural areas, even faster than many metro areas. And as the baby boomers retire, Johnson says, the migration will accelerate."

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Published on Tuesday, August 19, 2008 in NPR
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