Agrihoods are the new country club for young professionals looking for luxury and sustainability
The most coveted amenity these communities have to offer is a working farm.
Millennials are moving into agrihoods, neighborhoods built around a working farm with modern luxuries, where you can grow your own Swiss chard and eat it in a salad by an infinity pool too.
“I hated gardening and farming before I came to this community,” Marissa Alverson, 24, tells Moneyish of moving in with her mother at Rancho Mission Viejo, an active 23,000 acre ranch and farm in Orange County California, this year.
Alverson and her neighbors can live off the fruits of their own labor, if they choose, in the agrihood complete with roaming chickens and seasonally grown produce like zucchini, kale, pumpkins and squash. On days where they don’t feel like getting their hands dirty, there are hired farm hands to maintain the crops and recreational facilities like tennis courts, a coffee shop, cocktail bar and a gym boasting barre, yoga and spin classes all within walking distance of their homes.
Living in this posh suburb with access to barns, fruit trees and outdoor courtyards for gardening and community potlucks with cooking demos doesn’t come cheap. Prices for newly built homes range from $300,000 to more than $1 million. Residents must also pay $100 twice a year for farm access.
There are more than 200 agrihoods sprouting up across the country — from Texas to Georgia and in inner cities like Detroit and Southern California — promoting rural life with a few added amenities. The target demographic is young families, like millennials, who represent the largest segment of American homebuyers. They are less interested in spending money on fancy country clubs and golf courses and more inclined to invest in sustainable causes, like knowing where their food comes from. Half of Millennials live in the suburbs and only about one in four live in urban areas, according to a study from Nationwide Mortgages.
Lindsay Lenarduzzi, 30, another resident at Rancho Mission Viejo who moved in with her husband and two-year-old daughter six months ago, enjoys harvesting her own food and says it helped her save a hundreds of dollars a month on groceries at Whole Foods.
“We realized we really care about sustainable living and I wanted my daughter to see how food grows. She’ll eat a tomato right off the vine,” says Lenarduzzi, who works full time at an insurance company.
In her downtime, she enjoys selling produce she grows at the farmers market open to the public. The money she makes goes back into the farm for buying things like seeds and gardening tools.
Just 50 miles from downtown Chicago, Serosun Farms has worked to restore woodlands and preserve about 160 acres of working farmland while implementing home conservation. It’s attracted young business types commuting into the city from the community which boasts eight miles of trails and an equestrian center. Homes range from $700,000 to $2 million, a lot more compared to the median listing price in Hampshire, Ill just a three mile drive away, where it’s about $240,000, according to Realtor.com.
You’d never know the Windy city was practically in Jane Stickland’s back yard.
“I have a huge population of frogs, wild flowers and butterflies. It’s a jewel,” says Stickland, 55, a property owner.
“I run the farm so the great advantage is going down and picking whatever I want getting fresh veggies for dinner,” she adds, noting that she moved there for the horses and stayed to raise her family.
Stickland has lived on the property since 2001, and says in recent years she’s noticed more young professionals buying homes in the area.
“A lot of people in their mid thirties have been moving in,” she says.
For many, agrihoods are a labor of love, and a much needed escape from the daily grind of corporate work.
“It’s literally a stress reliever from corporate career,” says Alverson. “I was in sales so it was all about quota, quota, quota, the farm gives me an opportunity to get my hands dirty and be able to do something I wasn’t able to do at my desk job.”
This story was originally published on November 2, 2017.
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