Is it a trend when more US citizens move to Canada, hitting a 30 year high last year? I like to think that as we all become interconnected that it will be easier to choose where we live and how we do our work, making obligatory daily commutes a thing of the past. Much as I want that, most people don’t have that option and few employers are willing to offer it. Rob Paterson notes that some professionals are moving to PEI for the lifestyle and bringing their work with them.
I’m now in my fifth year as an independent consultant working out of a very small town. There are several others choosing to work from the home office and doing business anywhere. We’re still the minority though. The big question is whether this will become a trend and develop into the norm – people choosing where they live first. If it becomes the norm then there will be some fundamental societal and economic shifts; perhaps nine shifts.
Small towns are attractive to certain types of people. I think that they appeal to young families as well as the newly retired or semi-retired, who want a slower pace of life. The challenge for small towns will be to offer what these folks really find important. High-speed internet or even free municipal WiFi may be important. Access to a good passenger train service (with wireless Internet) may also be important.
There is an opportunity for small towns to position themselves as preferred locations for an Internet economy but the race may get fierce, as communities see their tax base leaving for greener pastures. The Canadian Maritime provinces need to establish the infrastructure that will attract knowledge workers and keep them here. Companies like FatKat Animation in Miramichi are setting the example. However, our communities will also need good restaurants, multi-cultural experiences, openness to alternative lifestyles and all those other things that educated folks seek out.
It will be a big challenge to move from our not so distant agrarian economy to a knowledge economy, but if we miss the boat, we’ll end up as an economic backwater. What would attract you to move to a small town in Atlantic Canada? [by international standards, there are only small towns in Atlantic Canada]