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Max had it all. In the beginning, not only he had to get to know his home, but also his home had to get to know him.

Even the lighting system had his health in mind.

So, he had to do a short analysis and his circadian rhythm and chronotype (sleep type) were determined.

From now on, the lighting system would change the light color of his home at specific times of the day to adapt to his sleep type and rhythm.

And this was only one of the many functions of his healthy home. How lucky he was.

Right during his first night of relaxed sleep, he was suddenly awoken by a woman and a man shouting at each other. It was so loud that even his well-isolated walls couldn’t cover this kind of noise.

It was the neighbors who, as it emerged later, had had this abusive relationship going on forever.

“Great, now I have a healthy home, but a toxic neighborhood!”, he said to himself.

I am not sure if someone buying or investing in wellness lifestyle real estate would not analyze the neighborhood beforehand.

But this short story of Max illustrates a bit that you can own wellness real estate or a healthy home but this doesn’t mean that you will automatically experience wellness community living.

In today’s article, I will dig a bit deeper into the differences between wellness real estate and wellness community living.

I also will look at how you can transform wellness real estate into wellness real estate communities.

What is Wellness Real Estate?

In one of my first articles I already gave a definition of wellness real estate, but let’s just do a short recap for the sake of this article.

Wellness Real Estate is defined as homes that are designed and built to provide and help their residents with their health goals.

It includes investments, buildings, transactions, master-planned communities, single family and multi-family housing.

It also includes residences that are built alongside destination spas, wellness retreats (e.g. timeshares and second homes) and hospitality projects.

What is wellness community living?

You can consider something as “wellness community living” when a group of people pursues the common goal, interests and experiences of wellness across its many fields and live in near proximity.

A wellness community connects people by their shared culture, lifestyle, and neighborhood feeling.

You don’t necessarily need the purpose-built physical space like healthy homes in one neighborhood to call it a wellness community. It can be also rooted around a shared culture or social network.

3 Examples of Wellness Communities existing without wellness homes

 

1) Blue Zones

An example of a wellness community without wellness homes are the so-called “Blue Zones”.

Citing a part of the Blue Zone mission statement:

“We improve street and park designs, public policy, and social involvement so that it’s easy for people to make healthy choices.”

“We don’t just rely on individual behavior change. We improve community health by making permanent and semi-permanent changes on multiple levels. We improve or optimize city streets (smoking policies, bike lanes, sidewalks), public spaces (parks, lakes, walking paths), schools (cafeterias, safe walking paths to school), restaurants, grocery stores, employers, faith-based organizations, and community involvement.”

Some of the positive health impacts of Blue Zones include:

  • Double-digit drops in obesity, smoking, and BMI.
  • Measurable drops in employee absenteeism.
  • Savings in healthcare costs (millions of dollars)

 

2) Village to Village Network

This community approach rather focuses on seniors. Volunteers help them reduce social isolation and improve health and self-sufficiency.

The Village to Village Network started around 2003. Today, there are more than 200 open Villages and more than 150 in development in 45 states.

According to their mission, they see themselves as the essential tool to enable community members to build and sustain thriving Villages.

3) The Wellness Valley in Romagna, Italy

There are wellness communities which resulted from a mix of public and private policies and initiatives.

One of them can be found in Italy, namely the Wellness Valley in Romagna.

It is a self-branded wellness district that links thousands of local businesses, organizations, and individuals together to provide programming, services and events.

Most of the time, these events support exercise, sports, slow food, mind-body health, and connections to nature and culture.

The whole idea of the Wellness Valey was launched in August 2002 by Nerio Alessandri (Founder and President of Technogym).

In October 2009, the Wellness Valley received the best rank for quality of life in Italy.

The rank was calculated based on the well-being index by Nobel Prize winner John StiglitzThese results were published in the “Il Sole 24 Ore” newspaper.

From Wellness Real Estate to Wellness Community

How would you estimate Max’s chances to form a connection with his toxic neighbors?

Exactly, it’s not very likely and very likely it would not be a healthy one.

So, the pre-requisite to form a wellness community or any other type of community is through trust, shared interests, goals, and experiences.

Somehow, you always know if it exists or not or if it is strong or weak.

A community is a very intangible thing. It satisfies the human need to connect with other people and to belong somewhere and to someone.

Like Max, you can live in the perfect wellness home but still feel somehow isolated or in the wrong place.

Personal or individual activities are important to individual wellness, but so are the people around you.

If you are surrounded by toxic people most of the time, you may be the best “biohacker” or “wellness specialist” in the world.

At some point, the toxic people around you may drain your energy and endanger your personal health goals because the persons surrounding you can influence your daily motivation, behavior, and lifestyle.

So, as you can see you might build or invest in the perfect healthy home or wellness real estate project which supports your health goals or the health goals of future buyers, but it does not automatically create a wellness community.

Let’s take a look at the gated wellness lifestyle real estate projects, for example.

Their residents can hide in the “wellness caves” that are their homes. That doesn’t qualify as wellness community living.

How you can transform Wellness Real Estate into Wellness Community Living in 4 Ways

Wellness Real Estate can provide an important foundation for creating a wellness community.

Sometimes, this can happen automatically by design when, for example, the built environment helps to build connections and when real estate is designed in a way that encourages a wellness-centered culture and lifestyle.

Of course, this will not happen when you do what Max in the beginning of the article did. He might have built something in the middle of a bad neighborhood somewhere .

Creating a wellness community provides the value a lot of retail buyers are looking for in wellness lifestyle real estate.

The emergence of a wellness community is not automatic.

You need to slightly push it with intention and with design and operational rules.

All that is not typical from the conventional real estate standpoint.

You can transform wellness lifestyle real estate into a wellness community in 4 ways.

 

1) ”Avoiding sick homes” becomes “optimizing wellness”

Do you remember my article about the wrong built environment and sick buildings?

The first step is avoiding “sick buildings” with unhealthy building materials.

However, to create a wellness community this wouldn’t be enough.

You need to build a home that helps optimize your health and wellbeing.

For example, you can optimize your sleep, vitality, mental health, and mood by using elements such as sound- and light-proofing, increasing exposure to nature, maximizing natural light, using circadian lighting, incorporating technologies to monitor and optimize indoor air quality and many more.

2) Passive Becomes Active Wellness

When your built environment helps and motivates you with proactive habits that drive wellness, it’s active wellness.

As you may already know from your experience with others, a lot of people like taking short-cuts.

They would rather take a pill to drop 100 pounds, get 1% body fat, get 12-packs and have a 100-inch biceps within 24 hours and keep sitting on the couch than get proactively involved with their health.

The thing with wellness is, it requires self-responsibility and active participation.

You need to take charge of our own health.

A home with only some filtered water, circadian lighting, sound-proofing, purified air and greenery would qualify as passive wellness, but not as active wellness.

Active wellness would motivate their residents to walk, cycle for transport, exercise, keep a pet, do gardening and composting, participate in community activities and socialize with neighbors.

The active wellness behavior makes the transformation into a wellness community possible.

3) Hardware Becomes Software

Since I am a real estate investor myself (soon also in the U.S.) and have been doing luxury real estate in Costa Rica for some time now, I know first-hand that structures and buildings are and should largely be static.

From the physical view point, they are hopefully static and not too flexible (some need to be more flexible than others because of earthquakes).

A wellness community does not only need static building structures (the hardware) but needs to be dynamic (the software).

What do I mean by dynamic “software”?

The 4 dynamic elements (software) to use are:

  • Policies: Recycling etc.
  • Programming: Fitness/wellness classes, arts, culture, music programs, car/bike sharing, family and children events, farmers market
  • Active Management: A Wellness Director
  • Communications: Portal, Intranet etc.

4) ”Me” becomes “We”

Don’t worry I am not a fan of coerced collectivism enforced by the state or political movements and ideologies.

That’s not what I mean here.

I rather refer to something that comes in a voluntary form when creating a wellness real estate community.

By connecting with others and with something larger than yourselves, you can become a wellness community.

You can recognize a real community by its members being aware of:

  • The connection between the people.
  • Choices and lifestyles having an impact on the environment around them.
  • Having a voice in the community and being able to influence the wellbeing of others.

As you can see, it is important to emphasize the group or non-individualistic aspects of wellness.

By doing so, you can transform the wellness lifestyle real estate into a wellness community.

Short Recap

Wellness Real Estate does not equal Wellness Community.

A wellness community can exist without the physical structures of wellness real estate.

But wellness real estate creates an important foundation for creating a wellness community.

You can intentionally transform wellness real estate into a wellness community by:

1. Going beyond just avoiding sick buildings and building a home that intentionally helps optimize your health and wellbeing.

2. Motivating residents to do active wellness (e.g. walking, keeping a pet, cycling as transport, exercising regularly, gardening and composting, participating in community activities and socializing with neighbors, etc.).

3. Using 4 dynamic elements: Policies, Programming, Active Management and Communications.

4. Emphasize the group or non-individualistic aspects of wellness in different manners.

Imagine if you had your own healthy luxury home in paradisiac Costa Rica…

Check out these wellness upgradeable high-end listings with top views!