Think about your last visit to your favorite body of water, whether it was an ocean, lake, or river. Upon seeing this calming body of water, did your mood improve? Were you relaxed? More at ease?
If you felt happier or calmer when being around the water, there’s a reason why! When our mind connects with water, we enter a state that Wallace J. Nichols, PhD, explains as blue mind – “a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment. It is inspired by water and elements associated with water, from the color blue to the words we use to describe the sensations associated with immersion. Blue mind gives us a chance to escape the hyper-connected, over-stimulated state of modern day life in favor of a rare moment of solitude.”
Through beach vacations, water sports, long baths after a tough day, and living close to lakes and oceans, we, in some cases subconsciously, turn to water to achieve blue mind. In addition, our bodies require a healthy dose of 64 ounces of water per day, and 60% of our body composition is made up of water. It is in our bones and blood, literally. Plus, 71% of our earth’s composition is water. Earlier settlers tended to migrate on or around waterways because of the ease of travel, trade, and transport. Evidently, water is a primary component to our general well-being and livelihood, and we are drawn to it.
Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.
— W. H. Auden
As Nichols continues to explain, we’re “paying for this feeling.” The feeling that draws us away from the strains of modern life and into a trance of relaxation and purpose. And the proof in the pudding is in the eating. When planning a getaway to escape from the stresses of everyday life and work, many people escape to water – the deep blue Pacific beaches or bungalows over the crystal waters of Bora Bora.
Think about your last beach vacation. When booking your hotel room, you probably booked one with water views, right? You’re willing to pay a premium to look at, let’s say, the deep azure Caribbean waters from your balcony. Dolphins can be seen dancing in the close distance while you’re in your Marriott robe enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Studies have shown that “we’re willing to pay 10-20% more for the same room with a water view in a hotel.” Understandably so because it makes us feel calmer, at ease, and more relaxed. We’re paying for the feeling.
Because being on the water is so desirable and because of the limited inventory, there are big premiums added to the values of waterfront or water view properties. What does the difference in numbers look like? According to a recent report produced by Zillow, waterfront properties in the United States have a 116.1% premium compared to non-waterfront real estate (2014, Zillow). A 116% premium. That is huge. Take a look at the chart below to see price differences for a few popular coastal locations throughout the United States.
For many who are from developed areas, it may just be a dream to live on or by the water because of the high premiums. A few weeks ago, I shared with you my decision to purchase a Belize condo a couple of blocks off-beach…the price tag was a lot more attractive and I, or the originally-anticipated-renter, could walk to the water’s edge in a few, short minutes. It was a fantastic option. If you, like me, experience the same joys of the blue mind, there are two important considerations as you analyze your real estate options:
Consideration #1: What is more important to you, the location or the price tag? Let’s also further break down “location” into two sub-categories:
a. Geographic Location
b. Proximity to the Water
A. Geographic Location: Where are you looking? San Diego, California, or the Pacific coast of Nicaragua? Owning a brand-new 1-bedroom, beachfront condo in a developed Pacific beach community in Central America for only $139,900 is a lot more attractive than shelling out $459,000 for a similarly sized 1BR unit in San Diego, isn’t it? Both areas share rolling Pacific waters (which are quite a few degrees warmer south of the border) and palm tree lined roads. But your dollar has a better chance of going much further if used in the path of progress.
B. Proximity to the Water. Are you able to see the water from your back porch or are you a mile away? Do you need a car or can you walk there? Thinking long-term, property on the water may have higher levels of appreciation than off-beach property, but ultimately that’ll depend on the market conditions.
If you’re looking for a primary home, then you probably want to be out of the tourist tracks – so make sure you’re looking in a residential area. If you’re looking for a beach/lake/river vacation rental, think from the renter’s perspective of convenience. Are they able to reach the water quickly? Is there outdoor living space (patio, deck, balcony)? Are there activities and restaurants around?
Consideration #2: What is the goal of your property? We touched upon this a couple of weeks ago, and it’s a consideration to highlight! When looking at property, spend a few minutes truly identifying if you’re looking for investment or residential purposes. Are you looking for a vacation rental only? A place to spend a few weeks a year? A 2nd home? A primary home? An even combination of both? This will help you to nail down how much space you need and whether the location directly on the lake or a few blocks off will work for you.
With waterfront properties in the United States at unbelievable highs, if your dream is to vacation or live close to, or on, a body of water, consider options in developing areas. Low inventory globally will keep prices at a premium, however, thinking outside of the traditional locations will present you with reasonable options.
Health is wealth, and in order to keep a good balance in life, find your blue mind and enjoy it!