Wellness Communities: Pickleball, Yoga, and Lattes, Oh My!

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For some homebuyers, it’s not about the size of the backyard, the proximity to the nearest Starbucks, or the commute to work. According to Realtor.com’s Kathleen Willcox, for decades now, a certain type of homeowner has yearned not just for a house in a nice town—but for one in a development with pools, tennis courts, and game rooms, among other amenities.

“More buyers want the benefits of an HOA plus a whole lot more,” she says. “Think pickleball courts, spas, blueberry picking (yes, you read that right), and Himalayan salt saunas.” Known as wellness communities, these developments offer a range of niceties in addition to fitness and recreational facilities, placing health and wellness center stage.

“But is wellness living just a buzz term?” asks Willcox? “Or does this new type of community signify a true shift in the way people want to—and can—live their lives?” So she reached out to developers, real estate experts, and residents in these communities to find out more.

First off, wherever you find these developments, you will find a focus on physical and mental health. “The residents of wellness communities are encouraged to engage in regular exercise, which helps boost energy levels and minimizes the risks of disease,” points out Nevada-based Realtor David Tully. “There are also often programs and facilities dedicated to meditation, yoga, or mindfulness, which helps increase self-awareness and minimizes stress.” He adds that there are also opportunities to engage in group activities, events, and classes, where residents can connect.

While wellness living is still fairly new as a category, the forms it takes can vary considerably. Some boast miles and miles of paths and wooded trails, parks, open spaces, parks and playgrounds, resort-style pools, and even cafes and bistros. Others offer community gardens, wash-and-play dog centers, and a dedicated clubhouse with bocce ball courts for residents who are 55+

Willcox points out how wellness living doesn’t necessarily mean a home in the country with a mention of The Park in Santa Monica, which offers a range of luxury amenities focused on wellness. “While most of these extras feel fairly standard for a particular type of upper-echelon, 1% lifestyle, others kick it up a notch,” she says. They also offer valet parking, on-site storage, and car washes, while also offering a Himalayan salt sauna, meditation rooms, a working library, a 1-acre rooftop with a pool, garden, and dog park. There are poolside Saturdays, happy hours, movie nights, and other events, all designed to promote stronger social and mental wellbeing.”

So what’s it like to live in one of these wellness communities? While idyllic is the goal, are they simply the equivalent of an exercise bike? Willcox asks, “Once a new resident moves in, are these developments’ amenities used for a few weeks, only to slowly fade into the background as residents return to more sedentary habits?”

In some cases that might be true, but often residents insist they’ve seen changes in their physical and mental health as a direct result of where they live. “Opportunities to escape into deep woods and trails right in our own backyard are a big draw for us,” notes one such resident when explaining his and wife’s attraction to a wellness community in Georgia, where they enjoy spa amenities such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, cryotherapy, and red-light therapy.

So if you’re into doing the pro/con thing, Willcox admits that while there are not many disadvantages to having easy spa and hiking-trail access, there could be a few unexpected drawbacks to life in wellness communities. A lack of diversity is one of them, as these upscale communities typically attract individuals having similar demographics, interests, and lifestyles. They also often have stricter rules and regulations than other residential areas, including the appearance of properties, guidelines regarding noise levels, and restrictions on various activities.

And then there is, of course, a cost to living in one of them. “If you suspect that living a wellness lifestyle doesn’t come cheap, you are right,” says Willcox. “Renting a unit in a wellness community starts at around $2,500 and soars into the $10,000-a-month range. Meanwhile, buying a home in one of these developments will start in low- to mid-six figures and can climb well into the multimillion-dollar territory.” And no one is even talking about monthly homeowners’ fees for all these perks.

Bottom line? Willcox admits that wellness living won’t appeal to everyone; but for a certain homebuyer seeking a direct conduit to health and social connection, it’s the future.

Realtor, TBWS


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The Mortgage Whiz

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Brian Voytko

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Mortgage Advisor

NMLS: #437292

Cell: 215-407-3832


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