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Bridging (im)mobility decisions, place attachment and rural well-being with insights from fieldwork in Albania

25 April 2023

In April 2023, Dr. Arjola ARAPI-GJINI completed a one-month research stay in Albania as part of the RuWell project. She studied people's attachment to places, specifically their place of residence, and how it influenced their decisions to move (or stay) and their well-being. In rural villages heavily affected by depopulation, she conducted semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. Furthermore, she talked to rural migrants residing in urban areas, in an effort to explore the effects of multiple place attachments (i.e., both attachments to rural childhood places and new places of residence) on their well-being.

Initial findings suggest that limited livelihood opportunities, including employment scarcity, poverty, and inadequate education and recreational infrastructure, motivate rural residents, especially women and young people, to migrate. Their decision is driven by their perception of overall well-being, which encompasses economic stability, security, harmonious family and social life, and good health. Rural-to-urban migrants maintain a connection to both their rural childhood places (hometowns and villages) and their new urban residences. While some feel isolated and disconnected in the city, most believe that the advantages of moving to the big cities outweigh these sentiments. The upcoming phase of fieldwork will encompass additional Southeastern European countries, namely Kosovo, Moldova, and Romania.