Homeowners’ expectations for community amenities are changing. While for some, a master plan may conjure images of an exclusive development with stuffy golf courses, sky-high gates, and sprawling mega mansions isolated from neighbors, the definition of a master-planned project is evolving to include meticulously designed neighborhoods with unique amenities.

Today’s resident wants more from the place they call home. Market research conducted for The Beach Company’s Kiawah River, a new master-planned development near Charleston, S.C., has helped us redefine the standard of what residents expect from a community. Here are four things we learned about what home buyers are looking for in a master plan:

Courtesy of The Beach Company

1. Outdoor Living
Life no longer happens between four walls, and buyers want to feel like nature is an integral part of their lives. When we created the design plan for Kiawah River, we knew we had a great responsibility to activate its 2,000 acres and 20 miles of waterfront. Instead of making nature fit around our vision with manicured landscaping, we let nature guide the planning process. In doing so, we are leaving half of the land open and undeveloped so residents can make the outdoors an extension of their homes.

This allows for all to enjoy the land’s natural amenities like a working farm, resident bald eagles, community beehives and waterfront nature trails. These natural amenities also allow residents to explore the surrounding waterways by paddle boarding, kayaking and boating excursions. Areas of Kiawah River will embrace unpaved roadways, which organically helps alleviate flood risks through means of natural drainage systems while also reducing HOA dues for residents.

2. A Focus on Wellness
Residents are seeking time to disconnect and looking for activities that give them a break from technology. Gone are the days where rec centers and indoor fitness activities are the preferred method to achieve physical and mental health. Instead, people are seeking group and solo wellness options that target both their bodies and minds. In response to this trend, we have implemented a mix of wellness amenities at Kiawah River, including a master class series focused on mental wellness, a spa, group paddle boarding, running groups and healthy and locally sourced dining options, to name a few.

3. Community Connection
Residents want to connect with their neighbors, engage in authentic, inclusive cultural experiences, and appreciate the history of their surroundings. In developing Kiawah River, it was important for us to weave local traditions and stories into the fiber of the community. We studied the historic setting of Charleston and its sea islands and engaged with long-time Johns Island locals to share what makes the Lowcountry culture so special to the area. Johns Island has a long history as a heavily farmed sea island run by a family of local farmers, which is why we decided to keep the existing 100-acre on-site farm a part of the development.

4. A Variety of Offerings
Buyers are seeking smaller homes and yards with access to abundant green spaces and nature. They want somewhere to unplug and recharge through both seclusion and activities, and simultaneously want somewhere that isn’t too far from the excitement of a city. Our market research illustrated that Kiawah River’s proximity to Charleston was a draw for home buyers who want the choice to either unwind or to spend the day downtown.