09 July 2024

The Wellness Revolution: How Health-Focused Communities Are Reshaping Residential Living

Submitted by: Sam Bartlett
The Wellness Revolution: How Health-Focused Communities Are Reshaping Residential Living

In recent years, a new trend has been quietly reshaping the landscape of residential real estate: the rise of "wellness-centric" communities, innovative developments designed with the holistic health and well-being of residents at their core, offering a range of features and amenities that promote physical, mental, and social wellness.

“As the global population becomes increasingly health-conscious, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, these wellness-focused communities are gaining significant traction among homebuyers and investors alike,” says Yael Geffen, CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty.

The implementation of wellness-centric communities is happening through both new construction projects and the retrofitting of existing developments,” says Geffen.

“Developers have begun to create wellness-centric communities from the ground up. These projects allow for the integration of wellness features at every level, from the master planning stage to individual home designs.

“And, recognising the demand for wellness-focused living, many existing residential areas are being upgraded to incorporate wellness features. This might involve adding community gardens, converting unused spaces into fitness centres or meditation areas, or upgrading building systems for better air and water quality.”

Geffen says that over and above the benefits for residents, the rise of wellness-centric communities is having a significant impact on the real estate market.

“Wellness features are increasingly seen as luxury amenities, allowing developers to command premium prices and, in turn, the focus on health and sustainability can lead to better long-term property values for buyers, especially as changing buyer preferences indicate a growing prioritisation of wellness features.

“It also gives these developments a competitive edge as those with comprehensive wellness offerings stand out in a crowded market and opens up a world of new investment opportunities. In 2022, the Global Wellness Institute valued the wellness real estate sector at $398 billion, projecting further rapid growth.”

Geffen attributes the emergent trend to a convergence of several factors:

  1. Increased Health Awareness: The global health crisis has heightened people's awareness of the importance of maintaining good health and building strong immune systems.
  2. Work-Life Balance: With remote work becoming more common, people are seeking living environments that support a healthy work-life balance.
  3. Aging Population: As the population ages, there's a growing demand for communities that support active, healthy aging.
  4. Mental Health Focus: There's an increasing recognition of the importance of mental health and the role that one's living environment plays in psychological well-being.
  5. Environmental Concerns: Growing environmental consciousness has led to a desire for sustainable living spaces that promote both personal and planetary health.

These new generation, health-focused developments are going far beyond traditional amenities like gyms or swimming pools and incorporate a wide range of features designed to promote comprehensive wellness:

  1. Fitness and Physical Health: State-of-the-art fitness centres, yoga studios, walking and biking trails, and sports facilities.
  2. Mental Health and Relaxation: Meditation gardens, quiet spaces, and areas for mindfulness practices.
  3. Social Wellness: Community centres, shared spaces, and programs that foster social connections and combat loneliness.
  4. Nutrition and Healthy Eating: Community gardens, farmers markets, and farm-to-table dining options.
  5. Environmental Health: Green spaces, parks, and nature trails that provide access to the outdoors and fresh air.
  6. Clean Living: Advanced air and water filtration systems, non-toxic building materials, and EMF (electromagnetic field) protection.
  7. Preventive Healthcare: On-site health clinics, telemedicine facilities, and wellness education programs.

There are several noteworthy and pioneering wellness-centric communities have emerged around the world, including Serenbe in Atlanta, Rancho Sahuarita in Arizona Blu Habitat in India that other developments are using as a reference.

Although the presence of wellness-centric communities in South Africa is still in its early stages, Geffen says that there are clear signs that this concept is beginning to take root in the country, with several of the country’s luxury developments incorporating wellness-focused amenities and design principles.

“Val de Vie Estate in the Western Cape has a strong focus on wellness, offering facilities like a gym, yoga studio, and various sports amenities. They also emphasise connection with nature through their extensive green spaces.

“Steyn City in Johannesburg promotes an active lifestyle with extensive cycling and walking trails, sports facilities, and green spaces and Zimbali Coastal Resort in KwaZulu-Natal incorporates elements of wellness through its integration with nature, spa facilities, and outdoor activities.

“While these developments may not yet fully embody the comprehensive wellness-centric approach seen in some of the leading international examples, they do indicate a fast-growing awareness of the importance of health and wellness in residential communities and a growing demand for such properties.”

Looking ahead, Geffen believes the wellness-centric community trend is likely to continue growing and evolving.

“We’re likely to see more affordable versions of these communities, greater integration of technology for personalised wellness experiences, and an increased focus on mental health and social connection in community design.

“As our understanding of the profound impact our living environments have on our health continues to grow, wellness-centric communities are poised to play an increasingly important role in shaping the future of residential real estate.”

Bartlett Communications

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