Fall 2013

The Problem of Amenity Migrants in North America and Europe

Cover Article

The Problem of Amenity Migrants in North America and Europe

In North America and Europe, a particular class of economically well-off homebuyers seeks permanent or part time residence in areas where they can gain access to high-quality natural and cultural resources. This class of homebuyers is the “amenity migrant,” who wishes to purchase either a primary residence or a second, vacation home, in an area that enjoys natural amenities that would not be available in that buyer’s previous place of residence. Economically affluent amenity migrants wish to establish residence in these special places due to a combination of tangible features (e.g., scenic landscapes, clean air and water, wildlife diversity, geographic formations and recreation opportunities) and intangible attributes (e.g., relative remoteness, community ambiance, housing proximity to shops and restaurants, cultural richness, exclusiveness, quality of life). Not coincidentally, such locations also often are popular tourist destinations. The purpose of this article is to generate an increased awareness of growing amenity migration issues related to housing and environmental quality—in America and elsewhere—and to suggest practical legal and policy solutions to address a rapidly escalating domestic and international challenge. As the economies of North America and Europe improve, there will likely be more and more amenity migrants re-locating or buying vacation homes in popular destination resorts. The local governments of these resorts should be ready to respond to the inevitable effects that these migration patterns have on housing prices, natural landscapes, and environmental sustainability.

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