Malopolska residents prefer calmer country living to noisy city life

Thousands of Poles across the country are moving from big towns to small ones because it’s “Better to live in the village in a house than in the city in a tiny apartment.”

Escapes from cities to villages have become a popular trend in Malopolska, reported Dziennik Polski, local daily newspaper. According to 2006 figures from the Warsaw-based Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS), the biggest group of people, 42 percent, would choose villages as a place to settle, 21 percent want to live in a small city, and 18 percent prefer a city of average size. Big cities are the least favored among those questioned with just 16 percent of Poles with that preference.

The situation was completely different in 1998, when only 30 percent respondents favored countryside living. Many people are searching for a “new rhythm of life,” one where the pace is slower and the rat races scarce. Others observe that apartment rental prices have reached what many consider absurd prices that don’t offer a corresponding lifestyle.

Krakowians started the boom toward suburban estates. Now inhabitants of Tarnow, Nowy Sacz, Olkusz and other cities of the Malopolska region are following in the quest to get away from the crush and noise of big-city life.

In the last year Malopolska cities shrunk by 3,000 residents. Some 4,200 new inhabitants have been registered in the villages. In 2006, Nowy Sacz lost half of its 1,000 inhabitants, and Tarnow more than 800.

“Earlier Tarnow city counted 121,000 inhabitants, but now only 116,000. This phenomenon aches,” said Henryk Slomka-Narozanski, vice mayor of Tarnow. “We are lucky that people who moved out into villages do not give up work in Tarnow. They may even work more efficiently as they are more relaxed.”

The situation in Krakow is slightly different because the city is still considered an attractive place to live. As some people leave, others arrive, leaving Krakow with a stable population of 670,000 people.

“This is normal,” said Marcin Helbin, spokesman of Mayor of Krakow. “The richest move out. But they do not break relations with the city. Their business is still here and of course they send children to Krakow schools.”

Another argument for moving out is that Krakow has run out of room for residential constructions. New areas for such buildings are ready but they are outside city borders.

Krakow inhabitants have chosen mainly the western areas of city growth far from Nowa Huta’s factory chimneys. The most popular locations are Zabierzow, Zielonki, Mogilany and Michalowice.

Many one-family homes are available, said Jaroslaw Medynski, spokesman of Olkusc Municipality. He also pointed to the city’s stone landscape, which he said attracts many Krakowians.

Based on the Opinion Research Center’s figures it is apparent that symptoms of “village renaissance” have appeared in Poland, where the majority of people have country roots. The countryside is more often perceived as an attractive place to live. However, many point out that the younger generation does not show the same desire to live in villages as many of their elders.

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