SAN DIEGO, CA — America is in the midst of a “historic paradigm shift,” with homeowners’ attitudes, lifestyles, design preferences and purchasing decisions undergoing “a complete reconstruction” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a trio of major new studies has found.
Described as the most comprehensive research project of its kind, the America at Home Study – launched in the early days of COVID and repeated at both the peak of the pandemic and afterward – recently unveiled the results from its nationwide surveys, revealing key insights about how Americans feel about their homes and how they plan to live in a post-pandemic society.
According to the study’s findings, emotional wellbeing is currently the most important concern of surveyed Americans, followed by financial wellbeing, mental health, and physical health/fitness.
Furthermore, the word home evokes more “positive emotions now than at the start of the pandemic,” with home closely tied to feelings about personal health and wellness, and survey respondents overwhelmingly identifying their home as a place that provides comfort, security, relaxation, reflection, and a gathering space for family.
“The insights from our study brought underlying wellness considerations to the surface, helping us see the strong relationship between personal wellbeing and what people want from their physical environments,” said Nancy Keenan, a co-founder of the America at Home Study, which polled 3,000+ consumers between the ages of 25-74 with annual household incomes of $50,000+.
“Up to 80% of our health outcomes are related to our physical environment, and the rising importance of all elements of wellbeing are driving new motivations for the physical spaces we want in our homes,” noted study co-founder Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki.
“Saving money used to be the top reason Americans were interested in wellness features in a home, but now it’s just as important that these features improve health and wellness,” Slavik-Tsuyuki added. “Financial wellness still matters, but Americans value wellness in a more holistic way today.”
But while Americans are more attuned to the different dimensions of health and wellness, they apparently feel less “well” overall, the study found. For example, when asked about features that were currently missing in their homes, respondents identified germ-resistant surfaces, additional home technology, energy efficiency; increased storage capacity, and better-equipped kitchens.
With climate change a major concern, it’s notable that there was a predominance of eco-friendly features identified when respondents expressed the attributes in a home that were important to their wellness. A private outdoor space or garden (67%) and energy conservation (65%) were top priorities for wellness, followed by water conservation (54%), eliminating chemicals and VOCs (54%), low-energy windows (52%) and a home that minimizes impact on the environment (46%).
Lastly, although the importance of home is increasing, the physical dwelling itself may not necessarily need to be larger, the study found.
“There is a robust consumer mindset for homes that support how people want to live, and that doesn’t have to mean a ‘big’ home,” said study co-founder Belinda Sward. “It means a home that works for different family formations and helps people live better, healthier lives.”