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Shocking: Buying Homes Based on 'Wellness' Is Only a Trend for Rich People

The real estate market has caught on to the neat trick of selling people things based on vaguely defined "health" benefits.

by Katie Way
Oct 15 2019, 7:25pm

Construction Photography/Avalon via Getty Images

“Wellness” is a concept that’s as vague as it is popular. The term calls to mind a set of quasi-verified self-care practices that range from legitimate (meditation) to dubious (like “seed cycling”). We’ve grown to trust and rely on wellness practices in our daily lives, especially given the rising costs of, you know, actual healthcare. So, it’s not surprising to see companies capitalize on that trust any way they can. You know what millennials aren’t buying? Real estate, because we’re freaking BROKE. You know what industry is suddenly undergoing its own wellness revolution? Real estate, baby!

According to a new report by Curbed, a growing number of real estate developers are promoting a “healthier” home environment as the key to living longer. What makes a home environment healthier? Here’s what the developer of a wellness-oriented “condo project” in Florida who spoke with Curbed about the building’s in-unit amenities said: “Air purification systems, circadian living lighting, a Savant home audio system, and the Darwin system, a new smart-home solution that monitors environmental pollutants.” The starting price for one of these spaces? A casual $1.65 million.

OK. First of all, I didn’t know we had Smart House in real life now, which is what the “Savant” and “Darwin” systems amount to. Savant regulates things like air and water temperature, lighting, and in-home audio systems: “When you're entertaining outside, just tap your ‘Cocktail Hour’ scene to stream a playlist to the patio and fade up your pool lights as day turns to night,” the website advises. Yup, love to entertain at cocktail hour on my poolside patio! Can’t get enough of it! The Darwin system also regulates lighting, along with air and water quality, and “sleep environment,” which just sounds ominous. But honestly, it doesn’t really matter what I think about any of this shit, because it’s so prohibitively expensive that there’s no way in hell I’ll ever own a home with this equipment...not least because I’ll probably never own a home at all!

So, where is the real estate wellness innovation for normal people, people whose dad didn’t, like, invent blankets or whatever? Worry not, comfortable-but-not-loaded urban dwellers:

Check out the affordable, $1,000/month “Japanese-style” sleeper pods (perhaps like these?) at Haven, a Venice, California “wellness community” that touts community-building, yoga, and “the freedom to ‘cross-pollinate ideas’” among its benefits. Hmm, that totally doesn’t sound familiar.

And people living below the poverty line can reap the sweet, longevity-increasing rewards of wellness too, by, uh, living in housing projects that comply with the regulations in Fannie Mae’s healthy housing incentives program, which includes upgrading to Energy Star appliances, improving insulation, and installing solar lighting. I don’t want to knock attempts to make affordable housing greener and safer for inhabitants, but the disparity between these two efforts is so obvious that it’s a little insulting.

Per this vision of wellness-oriented real estate, the rich suck in pollutant-free air, shielded from “magnetic fields” and under-sink chemical emissions, while poor people might get to live somewhere that doesn’t actively give them asthma, and the chunk of Americans stuck in the middle will get to live in bunk-beds and “collaborate” until the sun burns out. Seems like the secret to optimizing wellness in your living space is the same as the secret to losing weight quickly and painlessly: Just have an immoral amount of money. Why didn’t I think of that? I could’ve been rich!

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Tagged:
Real Estate
eat the rich
water purification
wellness real estate
wellness industry
air pollutants