It wasn’t too long ago that affluent homebuyers looked to golf courses, country clubs or gated communities to buy or build their dream homes. The allure of pristine greens, maintenance-free living, large houses with luxurious finishes and 24-hour security perfectly catered to the wealthy Boomer and Generation X mindset of opulence and convenience. In the 1990s, buying a home here was an ultimate status symbol.
But, as they say, times they are a changing! Through our Conscious Consumer research, we’ve uncovered that American attitudes about wealth and community have shifted away from luxury and have become more focused on community, health and giving back.
Across the country, developers are tapping into this shifting Conscious Consumer by building developments that cater to people seeking community, sustainability and a “back to nature” experience. In fact, the Urban Land Institute recently coined the term “agrihoods” which is defined as “development-supported agriculture or residential developments that revolve around working farms.”
For example, in September, Signature Group Investments announced Walden Monterey, a luxury agrihood community set on 600 acres of the Monterey Peninsula. Each of the 22 lots, which will hold one house each, costs $5 million and features 20 acres of land. The developer had originally intended to create large Mediterranean homes surrounding a golf course. But, after spending a night in a tent and walking the property the next morning, he realized that the real asset was the beauty of the natural surroundings. Altering the landscape to accommodate yet another golf course felt like it would destroy the real value of setting.
These agrihoods – a.k.a. “agricultural neighborhoods” – focus their developments around working farms, outdoor community kitchens, greenhouses, fruit trees, barns and ample green space. The homes are built to the highest level of environmental standards with sustainability, energy and water efficiency, and composting as core components.
But, don’t confuse this trend with “living off the grid.” Instead, agrihoods provide the promise of the ultimate in fresh food, healthy living and preserving the integrity of the natural landscape. It’s not about sacrificing comfort or personal style to save the earth. It’s about having the freshest, healthiest produce just outside your back door with the comfort of living in an environmentally friendly but luxurious home. The ultimate luxury is having access to fresh food, beautiful surroundings within a community of like-minded homeowners.
Another key component to agrihoods is “community.” Some developments have taken away the ability to park your car right outside your door. Instead, people walk through common areas like community gardens, rain gardens and community spaces before reaching their home. The intent is to draw people outside of their homes and interact with their neighbors. Many have supplemental community programs like yoga, gardening, happy hours and canning/preserving classes. Beautification of the shared property is often done with edible plants and flowering fruit trees.
There are an estimated 150 agrihoods across the country and many are located just outside of cities like Atlanta, Phoenix and Seattle. (Click here to learn more) Leveraging mass transit and bike paths, agrihoods give Conscious Consumers the perfect opportunity work/life balance that caters to their values.
For marketers, agrihoods signal a systematic shift in what luxury means to an affluent family. It’s less about “accumulating more stuff” and more about the quality of life, their surroundings and reducing their impact on the environment. Privacy and the luxury of wide-open space is still a priority but it’s less about groomed environments and more about living in the perfect “garden of Eden.”