Sharing space with visitors: The servicescape of the commercial exurban home
Within the developed world, ‘exurbanisation’, the migration of urban residents to rural environments, has increased greatly since the 1970s. Often characterised as an ‘escape to the country’ or ‘rural dilution’ (Smailes 2002) exurban processes are usually associated with a post-productivist countryside in which ‘landscapes of production’ are transformed into ‘landscapes of leisure and consumption’ (Butler et al. 1998; Hall and Müller 2004; Williams and Hall 2000, 2002). ‘Primary residences there mingle with luxurious second, or holiday, homes and country acreages. These are situated in natural or countryside settings that have usually until recently been worked, but which, through their exurbanization, are increasingly entering the land logic of the metropolis’ (Cadieux 2006: 4). Such moves are often motivated by perceptions of an improved quality of life in rural or peri-urban locations, with such ideas seemingly reinforced by lifestyle shows on commercial television, ﬁlms and novels. In Australia and New Zealand, this has often been witnessed in the processes of ‘sea change’ or ‘tree change’ in reference to permanent and temporary (second home) lifestyle migration to high-amenity rural areas (Burnley and Murphy 2004; Walmsley 2003). Hospitality and tourism are deeply embedded in exurban processes for at
least two main reasons (Butler et al. 1998). First, tourism and hospitality have assisted in the promotion of particular images of rurality and rural idylls. Second, for many families and individuals that make the move to rural areas and the peri-urban fringe, hospitality and tourism becomes an important source of income. Tourism and hospitality is therefore simultaneously involved in the consumption and (re)production of idealised exurban spaces by both temporary and more permanent migrants. The development of so called ‘lifestyle’ businesses by exurbanites has been widely acknowledged in the academic literature. However, there is surprisingly little research on the home spaces of exurban migrants and the ways in which the commercial utilisation of private space may aﬀect perceptions and understandings of the exurban experience and the manner in which notions of home are managed.