It Is Time to Treat Our Homes as an Investment in Our Wellness
Updated: Aug 25, 2020
Imagine living in a place where you belong and where you feel safe. Your home is a sanctuary that calms your senses, where you enjoy restful sleep and rejuvenation. Yet, within it, you also feel connected to what exists outside – to nature, people, and the universe. It even beckons you to engage with the world: to take a walk, work in the garden, spend time in nature, chat with neighbors, or participate in your community.
Imagine a life where you live in a neighborhood with abundant options for affordable, fresh foods and activities that enhance your health and wellbeing, where wellness seems effortless because it is the community norm and your daily lifestyle. In times of challenges, big or small, you know you can depend on your network of neighbors, friends, and family for support – and they can depend upon you.
For many, this idyllic scenario may seem out of reach, like a utopian fantasy. Or, it may be associated with a special vacation destination or resort, but not part of daily life. Yet, slowly and steadily, a movement is taking shape and gaining momentum to bring this vision of wellness into our everyday lives, homes, and communities.
Demand for wellness lifestyle real estate and communities is rapidly accelerating. Consumers are seeking out healthy places to live and are ready to pay for them. The confluence of recent developments means that wellness lifestyle real estate is poised to go from niche to mainstream. Eventually, building for wellness will become the norm.
But what is wellness? What is wellness lifestyle real estate? What is a wellness community? Are they the same thing or are they different? These terminologies can be confusing because they have no commonly recognized definition. They are often used inconsistently and interchangeably for a wide range of projects and marketing purposes. To add to the confusion, a similar term, wellness real estate, is often used to describe commercial real estate, offices and workplaces, public buildings, hospitality developments, and medical facilities that have a wellness focus. In this blog post, we focus on wellness lifestyle real estate and wellness communities – specifically, residences built for people, and the homes and neighborhoods where we live.
Wellness is the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.
Wellness lifestyle real estate is defined as homes that are proactively designed and built to sup- port the holistic health of their residents. It includes the buildings, investments, and transactions associated with projects and properties described above, including master-planned communities; single family and multi-family housing (e.g., condominiums, apartments); residences built alongside hospitality projects, destination spas, and wellness retreats (e.g., second homes, timeshares); as well as the residential component of mixed-use commercial projects.
Wellness community is a group of people living in close proximity who share common goals, interests, and experiences in proactively pursuing wellness across its many dimensions. A wellness community incorporates the type of lifestyle, neighborhood feeling, and shared culture that connects people together. A wellness community can be rooted in a purpose-built physical space, or it can be cultivated around shared culture or social networks without purpose-built structures.
Wellness lifestyle real estate and wellness communities are not the same thing.
People don’t live in “real estate.” The place where we live is a home, a neighborhood, and a community. A community is formed when people develop connections with one another, through trust, shared interests, goals, and experiences. A community is intangible, yet we always know whether it exists or not, and whether it is strong or weak. A strong community satisfies a fundamental human need to connect with other people and to feel a sense of belonging, especially in this age of loneliness and social isolation. This connection is critical to our wellness, because the people around us can influence our daily motivations, behaviors, and lifestyles. If we live in a place where a culture of wellness is the norm, we are much more likely to live a well life.
Real estate can be built in a manner that helps or hinders our wellness, through the choice of particular materials, architecture, design elements, and facilities and amenities. Building wellness lifestyle real estate can be beneficial for our health in many ways, but it does not automatically create a community. In fact, some wellness lifestyle real estate projects that are designed to be exclusive and gated, or that encourage residents to hide within the “wellness cocoon” of their homes and not interact with neighbors, may be antithetical to the development of community – thereby missing out on the crucial impact that a community can have on personal wellness. on the other hand, a wellness community can also exist without purpose-built wellness lifestyle real estate.
Wellness lifestyle real estate can transform our lives by fostering wellness communities.
Because our behavior and lifestyle are intrinsically linked to our built environment, wellness lifestyle real estate can provide the important foundation for cultivating a wellness community. Some sort of “magic” can happen when our built environment fosters a sense of place and connection, and when real estate is designed and operated in way that encourages a wellness-centered culture and lifestyle. This potential is one of the reasons why consumers and developers are interested in wellness lifestyle real estate. However, as elaborated above, the connection between real estate and community is not automatic. Creating and strengthening this connection requires an intention to do so, coupled with design and operational principles that may not be typical from a conventional real estate perspective. We have identified four pillars through which wellness lifestyle real estate can have a transformative impact in fostering wellness communities.
From “do no harm” to optimizing wellness: Beyond just reacting to “sick buildings,” we must intentionally build homes that help us enhance our health and wellbeing.
From passive to active wellness: Our built environment should encourage proactive behaviors and habits that drive wellness.
From hardware to software: Hard infrastructure (“bricks and mortar”) needs supporting policies, management and programming that build social connections and nurture healthy behaviors.
From “me” to “we”: Create awareness that our individual health and wellbeing is intrinsically linked to our broader environment and the people around us.
Hin Fah is more than a hilltop. It's a powerful community. The development team recognizes the importance of sustainability and wellness lifestyle and is working to incorporate it into every aspect of the property’s design, from on-site planning to architecture and building management. The goal of this project is to preserve and enrich Koh Samui’s physical and cultural identity while fostering an ever-improving quality of life for residents. In alignment with the vision of becoming Koh Samui’s first genuinely sustainable resort community, Hin Fah will benefit from the use of the highest quality environmentally friendly materials for building and maintenance. The property’s managers are also committed to implementing cutting-edge best practices in recycling, waste management, energy conservation, rainwater usage, and more.
Residents of Hin Fah can take pride as members of Thailand’s most responsible, eco-friendly leisure community, living in harmony with the island’s sparkling green jungles, turquoise waters, and tangerine sunset skies.
Contact us for further information or to arrange a private viewing.
(Source: Global Wellness Institute, Build Well to Live Well: Wellness Lifestyle Real Estate and Communities, January 2018.)