Wellness Real Estate: The New $134 Billion Industry

The world of wellness is rapidly expanding into a new section of the global market, and the term wellness real estate is becoming more and more of a buzzword. The United States, Asia and Australia, in particular, have taken an interest in developing more homes, offices, and communities in general that are geared towards improving not only the health of the individual, but also the health of the community and the environment. Generally speaking, the way most buildings are designed and constructed is focused on the comfort of the person who was to live inside, and a holistic perspective of how it fits into the whole of the person’s environment was not taken into account.

Now, however, The Global Wellness Institute – a non-profit organization with a mission to empower wellness worldwide – makes the case for what is being called “wellness communities”.

“Our existing built environment has a massive and increasingly negative impact on our physical and mental health, explained Ophelia Yeung, GWI Sr. Researcher. “We will never address skyrocketing chronic disease and health costs without dramatically transforming where and how we live. We’ve got to shift investment into the places that give us the most outsized health returns…our homes and communities.”

This is a concept GWI predicts will become increasingly popular with wellness clientele. Since 2015, wellness real estate grew with 6.4% and reached $134 billion last year. Predictions is that it will expand a further 6% yearly through 2022 and subsequently reach $180 billion.

“Collectively, we must shake up our thinking: healthy homes are as important as immunizations; parks, paths, and plants are as beneficial as prescriptions; friends and neighbors are far more important than Fitbits,” said Katherine Johnston GWI Sr. Research Fellow. “All the industries that create our home environments – real estate investors, urban planners/designers, architects, transportation planners, the construction industry – play a massive role in human health. And they need to partner to meet the desperate need – and fast-rising demand – for healthier homes and communities.”

It’s growing fast

According to GWI, in just five years, the pipeline for wellness lifestyle real estate and communities has gone from a handful of projects to over 740 built, partially built, or in development, across 34 countries today.

How is wellness real estate different?

1. It incorporates strategic co-location and integration of homes, co-working facilities and wellness programming. This is done to address the sharing economy, increasing freelancing, the rising issue of loneliness and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

2. It is not just for the wealthy. GWI predicts that developers of wellness real estate will increasingly collaborate with governments to bring more wellness-infused residences to lower-income populations.

3. It encourages multigenerational and diverse neighbourhoods. This concept caters to people seeking communities with different social classes, life stages and ages – thereby providing a more integrated community so that the inhabitants can “age in place”. It acknowledges the fact that we need to be exposed to people who are at different stages than we are, and that this is important for our mental wellbeing. For example, at the Interlace in Singapore, senior homes are being integrated with mixed-age family neighbourhoods.

4. More high-quality hospitals and health services are built into communities and made available to inhabitants. Moreover, homes and neighbourhoods are designed to be more focused on wellness.

5. The inherent nature of these communities is to be net positive for both the planet and those living on it. They are designed to produce their own healthy food and renewable energy, clean the air and recycle their water.

6. It incorporates technology to greatly improve the health of those living in the communities. Telemedicine, artificial intelligence, sensors and smart homes are some of the main features of these communities.

7. There is a return to natural and thermal hot springs. For example, Kemeri Park in Latvia is focusing on the renovations of a Soviet-era health resort in order to “regenerate the nearby village following wellness community design principles”.

Click here to find out more about The Global Wellness Institute.

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