Independence and having control over one’s own life are important factors for residential satisfaction. In rural areas, the mobility of people is based on owning a private car, due to the lack of public transport. Furthermore, planning in rural municipalities is highly car oriented. Small municipalities with shrinking and aging populations have many challenges to ensure access to services for their residents. This paper focuses on a case study of a small municipality with less than 2000 inhabitants. The objective of the study was to enhance sustainable change in shrinking rural areas and maintain them as good places to live even in the future. Access to local services and social activities is a major challenge for older people, who no longer have the possibility to use their own car. The problem with relocation is the lack of suitable apartments for older people. A dense and walkable municipal centre with accessible apartments may help municipalities provide for their older populations. Moreover, in Finland, second homeowners are an important resource for small municipalities. Spaces for social intercourse between residents and between permanent residents and second homeowners may enhance vitality and community building in these municipalities.
- older people, shrinking municipalities, services, mobility