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New Research on the Booming Wellness Lifestyle Real Estate & Communities Market Released by Global Wellness Institute - Spa Industry Association
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Wellness-focused homes/communities are suddenly seeing high consumer demand, high premiums, and an incredible pipeline: from a handful of projects a decade ago, to 600+ built, or in development, around the world today

Palm Beach, FL – October 10, 2017 – Each year the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) produces an in-depth research report on fast-growing wellness segments, and this year the focus is on the wellness lifestyle real estate and communities market. Today, at the Global Wellness Summit taking place at The Breakers-Palm Beach, GWI researchers presented key findings from their report “Build Well To Live Well” – revealing that if the extraordinary consumer spending on “all things wellness” has been slow to come to the places where we live, that’s now changing fast.

Consumer demand for wellness lifestyle real estate and communities is on the rise globally: in the U.S. alone, there are an astonishing 1.3 million potential buyers each year. In addition, homes designed to improve people’s wellness are now commanding 10-25% higher price premiums. And if as recently as the mid-2000s, there were only a dozen projects under development, today there are 600-plus global projects built, partially built, or in the pipeline – each one with a unique “wellness proposition.”

“The home is the last frontier in wellness, and this is the most important research we’ve undertaken, not just because it’s a hot new industry market – but because it’s about where and how we live,” said GWI Sr. Researcher, Katherine Johnston. “Our homes and communities have had a massive, increasingly negative impact on our well-being, as they were designed following templates set up decades ago to meet the health and lifestyle needs of a radically different era. But now we’re at the beginning of a new movement in home and community design that tackles our uniquely modern problems: sedentary lives, unhealthy diets, stress, social isolation and loneliness, pollution, nature-deprivation, etc. – and it’s creating powerful opportunities.”  



Roughly 20% of all consumer spending is on housing (people’s largest, most important investment) – or over $8 trillion globally each year.* In 2017, the GWI pegged the wellness lifestyle real estate and communities market at $119 billion, growing at a fast 9% a year – and estimated that it would jump to $153 billion by 2020. While this is big, wellness real estate is still less than half the size of the green building industry ($260 billion), and less than 2% the size of the global construction industry.


The new research defines wellness lifestyle real estate as “homes and buildings proactively designed and built to support the holistic health of their residents.” A wellness community is “a group of people, living close by, who share common goals, interests and experiences, to pursue wellness in a holistic, multidimensional way.” Wellness real estate does not equal a wellness community; the magic happens when the real estate part provides the foundation that enables the wellness community part to thrive. 


GWI’s research puts a strong focus on the community component because it’s a fundamental human need to connect with other people in this age of loneliness and social alienation. Rebranding real estate developments as “wellness communities” by highlighting a few healthy features/amenities is “well-washing” and confuses consumers. To prevent this, the report highlights several key ingredients that move wellness real estate to a true wellness community.

– From passive to active wellness

Tackling the unhealthy home environment, using materials, technologies and design to improve air, water, sound and lighting, is crucial, if passive, wellness. To achieve active wellness, we need exercise facilities, and many design features (sidewalks, porches, stairways, strategic placement of parking, public space, etc.) that make it a “default” to engage in healthy activities: walking instead of driving, gardening, socializing with other people. Examples: The Interlace (Singapore) or Via Verde (Bronx, NY)

– From hardware to software

The hardware is the building, structure and facilities – the real estate. But a community is a dynamic, living organism. “Soft” infrastructure, including classes, programs, music, arts, and family events (activities that draw people together for a common purpose), is needed to nurture a real culture of wellness. Example: Serenbe, Georgia

– From ME to WE

Wellness real estate can support healthy individual lives, focusing on exercise, sleep, organic food, etc. – but ME-centric living can be a wellness cocoon. WE is the DNA of a wellness community, which is about social connectivity, and a broader awareness that our actions affect other people and our planet. It’s about designing housing and environments that are not only net-zero, but net-positive to the social and physical environment. Example: BedZED, UK


Global surveys (from India to the UK) show fast-rising consumer demand for healthier homes. For instance, American Lives’ recent survey of American households with incomes over $75K revealed that 25% are already “very interested” in living in a wellness community. GWI estimates that this translates into 1.3 million potential buyers in the U.S. who are looking for wellness communities each year…a number greatly exceeding supply.


While many wellness real estate/communities projects are positioned as affordable or market rate, this research is the first to reveal that homes positioned at the middle and upper ends of the market are currently achieving price premiums of 10-25% over comparable regional properties, based on a global cross-sectional analysis of sales prices of fully and partially built wellness-focused developments.


The pipeline of wellness living projects has accelerated dramatically and gone global over the last five years: from a handful of developments to over 600 today (and with more announced each month).

Every project is unique. Urban highrises that provide healthy indoor environments and wellness amenities for people living in crowded megacities (Muse Residences – Miami, Afiniti – Malaysia, Serein – India.) Suburban planned communities encourage active lifestyles and connection to nature, with walking/biking paths, organic farms, and extensive social programming (Harvest – Texas, Selandra Rise – Australia). Resort-based real estate gives residents 24/7 access to world-class spa and wellness programs (Canyon Ranch Living – Arizona/Massachusetts, Sangha – China, Tao – Mexico). Some communities integrate healthy residences with innovative wellness/health industry clusters (Lake Nona – Florida, Oceanside – Australia, Llanelli Wellness Village – Wales, WorldCare Wellness Village – Dubai). Some target singles, families, seniors, millennials, or healthy multigenerational living. Some cost millions of dollars while others target low-income people.

“People spend $3.7 trillion on their wellness every year, but they spend $8 trillion on homes that often encourage unhealthy lifestyles. Then we spend another $7.6 trillion on health expenditures to fix those problems. The math doesn’t add up: $20 trillion not working in the same direction: to make us healthier,” noted Ophelia Yeung, GWI Sr. Researcher. “We predict that in the next several decades, building our homes and neighborhoods for human wellness will become the default approach, not simply a trend.” 


These highlights were presented today from the 80-plus page report to be released in January at a NYC press event, packed with detailed info including updated market size data (globally and regionally), diverse case studies, full global pipeline info, a dashboard to measure the wellness impacts of these projects – and more.


The 2018 report, “Build Well to Live Well: Wellness Lifestyle Real Estate and Communities”, was underwritten with support from the following industry leaders: Canyon Ranch, Delos, Herbalife Nutrition, iGetBetter, Lapinha, LightStim, Rancho La Puerta Fitness Resort and Spa, Rezilir Health, Seabourn Cruises, Serenbe, Six Senses, The BodyHoliday, Two Bunch Palms and Universal Companies.

For more information, contact Beth McGroarty: [email protected] or (+1) 213-300-0107

*Euromonitor data, 2017

About the Global Wellness Institute: The Global Wellness Institute (GWI), a non-profit 501(c)(3), is considered the leading global research and educational resource for the global wellness industry, and is known for introducing major industry initiatives and regional events that bring together leaders to chart the future. GWI positively impacts global health and wellness by advocating for both public institutions and businesses that are working to help prevent disease, reduce stress, and enhance overall quality of life. Its mission is to empower wellness worldwide.