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Wellness Communities: Housing for Today – and the Future?

Live Your Best Life in a Residential Community Designed for You

 

Our environment affects the quality of life we have. Fast food restaurants now feature free Wi-Fi and co-working space environments that are open to the public – knowing that if you work in their space, you will eat their food. And they’re not alone! Throughout the country, restaurants and stores are catching on to the same thing: the sights, sounds, smells, and people you interact with and see on a daily basis become you. If merely being in a space affects your well-being, then think about what living in one does.

Many people don’t have the time to get to know their neighbors, let alone create relationships between them. Between commuting to work and transporting the kids back and forth between daycare, sports, and school, there is little time in the day for health and wellness. But what if your most significant investment – your house – was designed and in a place designed to promote your family’s health and well-being? That’s the idea that many architects are designing cities for.

Imagine a residential community where you can

• walk down the trail to your neighbor’s house for a chat and borrow a book.

• attend community yoga and meditation every day in the local park

• let your children roam free, unhindered by hoards of traffic and shady individuals

• work from home – or anywhere in the community – on a gigbit Wi-Fi network

• walk to retail stores, produce markets, the post office, and more

• make use of world-class athletic facilities like tennis centers – within walking distance

Instead of struggling to find time to work, interact with your family, and get to the gym, your whole life – from your house to your career – is in an environment that weaves health and relationships into your everyday life. It sounds like a Utopia found only in fairy tales, but some real estate communities are making it their reality.

More than 300 cities around the U.S. and other areas of the world are being built specifically to promote wellness. From well-attended community events to real estate designed explicitly around farmers' markets and parks, these cities have thought of everything. Although it sounds new-age and a little radical, is this where the communities of the future are headed?

Aerial view of Lake Nona, a wellness community in Florida

Lake Nona in Orlando, Florida, is a benchmark wellness community that incorporates a medical center, corporate park, recreational centers, multiple retail centers, and restaurants – in addition to single-family housing (courtesy of Tavistock Development Company).

 

 

Designed for the Community

These residential communities, which are interwoven with similar values, are no accident. Investors and developers have worked hand-in-hand to design the real estate to match the current research. That research shows that many people, the largest group among them being Millennials, are concerned about their health and well-being. Where people searching for stress-free environments in the past flocked to day spas and golf courses (and golf-course communities), many today are in search of a more holistic approach to living. As more individuals seek out homes and neighborhoods conducive to their lifestyles, these architects design what is known as wellness lifestyle real estate. Wellness lifestyle real estate is defined by the Global Wellness Institute as “homes that are proactively designed and built to support the holistic health of their residents.”

Many of these homes boast large kitchens, designed to encourage groups to gather in the kitchen and help prepare meals from produce sourced locally. The housing styles also promote large front porches and living rooms explicitly created for entertaining neighbors and guests. While many homes today boast the smartest technology, many of these types of communities promote fast Wi-Fi to get your work done quickly and efficiently and still have time to connect face-to-face with others in your community.

Don’t expect the homes to be cookie-cutter, either. Although each house focuses around promoting wellness physically, mentally, and even spiritually, the home types range from apartments to a few-thousand-square-foot single-family dwellings. And while most of the housing prices start in the mid $200,000 range, there are many options of homes to rent. This not only opens the doors of the community to more people but also allows for a diversification not found in cities that feature similar amenities.

Some of these communities emphasize a sports lifestyle, while others promote farm life or natural living. Each of these communities has their own flair and attentiveness to detail. For example, the village of Serenbe – just outside of Atlanta, Georgia – takes great care in managing the clutter and pollution of the area. Instead of taking the trash out to the road each week, you drop it down to a sublevel where it’s collected and disposed of. Other similar communities include Lake Nona and Shearwater, both in Florida, and Prairie Crossing, in Illinois.

Simple Colonial home in Serenbe, Georgia

Colonial house plan #116-1092 with Farmhouse flair

Main-level floor plan for house plan #116-1092

Top: looking for all the world like conventional suburban home in Anywhereville, this Colonial Farmhouse style house in Serenbe is part of a back-to-nature wellness community – designed and built with the well-being of the residents in front of mind (courtesy of Serenbe Real Estate). Center: This 5-bedroom, 4.5-bath home has a style similar to that of the Serenbe home but with an extended front portch. Bottom: The floor plan is wide open, with large kitchen and entertainment areas, just like many wellness community homes (House Plan #116-1092).

 

 

 

More Than A Place to Call Home

Although the residential communities are beautiful, just creating a few homes that attract like-minded individuals isn’t enough. The designers of these wellness communities dreamed of having the locals stay local – including for work. In most of these communities, high-speed Wi-Fi is included in every house, making it easy for the homeowners to really use that home office of theirs as their only office. With many other great features such as a daycare down the street, multiple pools throughout the community, and in some cases a stable full of horses for residents to ride on – it’s clear that the environment was well thought out and included in the project design.

Corporate park next to Lake Nona Wellness Community

This corporate park, a medical center, and a science research center are located adjacent to Lake Nona to provide residents the opportunity to work outside the home yet still be part of the community – and to attract residents who might want to work there (courtesy of Tavistock Development Company).

 

 

Is this the future?

Unlike  communes of the 1960s and '70s, these wellness communities are gaining a favorable spotlight that has them soaring in popularity. Wellness real estate is currently a $134 billion industry that continues to grow at 6.4% annually. Many investors still aren’t convinced it’s the most solid of investments, preferring to put their money toward commercial real estate and golf courses instead. As the numbers show, however, it won’t be too long before this niche in real estate becomes more of the norm.

The housing in these communities is going fast. Much of the real estate is snatched up as it hits the market – going via both lease and sales. With numbers and events such as this, you can bet we’ll be seeing more of them in theyears ahead.

Recreation center in Shearwater

Fitness center in Shearwater

Part of the attraction of – and demand for – wellness communities is the level of amenities they offer, such as recreation centers (top) and fitness (bottom) and meditation studios (courtesy of Shearwater).

 

 

What Does All of This Mean for You?

More housing developments that cater to those looking for a way to escape the stress and pollution of modern life are erupting all over the world. In fact, it may not be too long before you are a part a similar community. If you’ve ever considered living in an area such as this, you’ll soon have your pick of the more than 700 cities that are being built.

While wellness communities aren’t for everybody, designing your home to aid your lifestyle goals should be a priority. With such a large section of the average family’s budget spent on their house, it should be a refuge from the stress of everyday life and contribute to our well-being, don’t you think? If you are thinking about building a home, you can design it to fit your life, even if the community around it isn’t the one off The Truman Show. You may consider adding a library or making space for a small garden in the backyard. Adding a few features here and there that help you reach your goals is really what wellness communities are all about.

Farmhouse style house plan #117-1030

Even if you don't plan to live in a wellness community like Lake Nona or Serenbe, you can have a home that can improve your well-being – from the design, with large porches, open spaces inside, large kitchen, to the actual building using sustainable and where possible locally sourced materials. This 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath Traditional style home has large front and back covered porches, an expansive kitchen and two-story entertainment area, and a master suite on the main floor with direct access to the relaxing rear porch, all contributing to the "wellness" of your everyday life (House Plan #117-1030).

 

What do you think? Is wellness living a trend you can find yourself diving into?

 

 

Footnote: The upper lwft and lower right photos in the lead image are courtesy of Serenbe Real Estate.

July 20, 2018

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