Dutch rural areas have changed into a post-modern countryside and have become marketable commodities. The demand for rural space and rural amenities has increased, with concomitant tensions on the rural housing market, tensions which are enhanced by the restrictive spatial policy in Dutch rural areas. The demand for rural residential environments appears to be large. This paper reports the results of our research into the preferences of urban households for living in a rural residential environment. These preferences will be linked with images and representations of the countryside. It is assumed that individual images of the countryside (whether idyllic or not) affect residential preferences and these preferences have, in turn, their effect on migration behaviour. Empirical evidence suggests that perceptions, preferences and behaviour pertaining to rural residential environments are indeed interrelated. The Dutch countryside commands a very positive image and the demand for residential environments with rural characteristics is considerable. Consequently, a rural idyll can be identified in the Netherlands.