Migrants’ property ownership in their countries of origin is often understood through the prism of return: both intended and actual return mobilities. Applying a transnational optic, this article unpacks the relationships between migrants’ property ownership ‘back home’ and their reflections on future moves and stays, not limited to possible return. We draw on 80 semi-structured interviews conducted in 2020 with Polish and Romanian migrants living in Barcelona and Oslo. They left their homeland, sometimes following domestic migration or international migration to other countries, before arriving in Spain and Norway. Based on these case studies of East–West migration within Europe, we contribute to work recognising the ongoing complex and diversified nature of mobilities in Europe. First, we detail what migrants’ property ownership looks like in practice – forms of ownership, types of property, location. Second, we focus on how owning property in Poland or Romania intersects with migrants’ considerations about moving or staying in the future, beyond return. Considerations about future (im)mobility shed light on transnational relationships, as these evolve over time and across space. Furthermore, we find that transnational property ownership in their countries of origin reveals much about migrants’ relations with people and places ‘back home’ and reflects the known non-linearity of migration stories. Overall, however, transnational property ownership is a poor predictor of both return plans and intentions.
The article Living Here, Owning There? Transnational Property Ownership and Migrants’ (Im)Mobility Considerations Beyond Return can be read (open access) on the pages of the journal Central and Eastern Migration Review.