Purpose - Virtually all nations in the world have 'urbanized' in most or all of the last 50 years. However, urban-to-rural migration has become a recent and prominent occurrence in many developed countries. This change - known as 'counter-urbanization' – typically observes the movement of urban-based businesses and professional people to rural areas to live and/or work for improved quality of life. A much less common form - emerging to be taking place in Canterbury, New Zealand - is demonstrated in the form of population increases in more remote rural areas, typically underpinned by new entrants into 'bona-fide' farming and related occupations. This research is designed to identify the ebb and flow patterns of such rural population drift and then ascertain how the impacts (particularly property value effects) of such phenomenon can be determined.Design/methodology/approach - Having completed a literature review, the study conducts an exploratory study of the primary data, and then proceeds to examine the value and process of devolving to a longitudinal (correlational research) study using panel data, i.e. time series data with some cross sectional referencing involving property values and population demographics measured over time (multidimensional econometric analysis).Findings - This study questions whether the 'counter-urbanization' phenomenon in Canterbury is being driven by the advent of dairy conversions and the labour force required to locally provide related goods and services to that industry. Whilst the drifting patterns can be readily determined, less apparent are relationship dynamics between human population drift and property values which might be better explained by variables outside those specifically examined in this study.Research limitations/implications - This research is designed to specifically exclude 'peri-urban' area analysis relating to the growing popularity of lifestyle blocks, particularly in the proximity of urban areas where daily commuting is possible, i.e. rural areas with moderate to high urban influence.Originality/value - The observation, recording and analysis of rural drift impact in remoter areas have important implications in terms of infrastructure framework and community development. There are also significant inferences with regards financial and corporate restructuring for business operating in these areas.