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How do you build something that hasn’t already existed before? What have we really been working on every single day for the past three years? Isn’t it as simple as buying a plot, building some houses, and starting sales?
In this five-part series, CEO Falko MüllerTyl talks about what he and his team has been working on up to now, what they’ve achieved already, and what lies ahead.
How to Build a Community Part 5 – Filling our Ambera community with life
Dear Ambera Family,
Today we come to the last point in my list of essential aspects for a successful Ambera Community:
- Defining what kind of community we wish to foster
- Choosing the right plot of land
- Building suitable facilities
- Building high-quality homes
- Filling our Ambera Community with life
And now we’ve come right to the core of the Ambera Concept:
What is the challenge?
In the first four entries in this series, I wrote about all the physical aspects of Ambera – where the first project will be, which communal areas we will include, and what kind of houses we want to build. All of these physical elements exist to help facilitate an active, social, meaningful lifestyle. With this as our starting point, we have incorporated our findings from analysing US projects and all of your thoughts and insights – be they from our social media pages, or our interviews – to develop a project around the kind of lifestyle many people want. Most importantly, all of this should be easily accessible and thus enjoyable.
It’s all well and good to say it, but how can we make certain that Ambera will grow into the kind of community that won’t just let this happen, but will facilitate it happening? How can we ensure that life at Ambera can be as active, social and fulfilling as we want it to be?
It would be easy to say that the aspects we’ve already discussed – our concept, the right land, shared facilities, and quality homes – will come together and form the “Ambera Lifestyle”. After all, that’s what happens in hundreds of existing projects in Spain and other Southern European countries that are being sold as holiday homes. However, we don’t think matters are that simple. If you go and see these communities, most of them are empty for large parts of the year – practically ghost towns.
Therefore, in order to create a unique community, we must first and foremost ensure three things:
- That everyone who buys a home in Ambera has time to be there, and wants more than just occasional Spanish warmth and a place in the sun.
- That it is easy for our residents to start clubs and activities, projects, and participate in things that are going on (there will be people on-site to help with this kind of thing – see below)
- That our town is big enough for “Economies of Scale” to have an effect on the building and running costs, so that they will be much more affordable.
What have we done so far?
Since we want to create a year-round community, we have chosen to address people who have the time and inclination to live at Ambera longer than just a couple of weeks during the high season. We’ve used time and resources to talk about the project on social media, and with all sorts of people from around the world, long before we were ready to launch sales.
By doing so, we have gotten to know thousands of people who understand what we are trying to accomplish with Ambera and believe in and identify with our concept. Many of these people want to move to an Ambera community. This has strengthened our belief in that those who wish to live at Ambera wish to be a part of our community – and contribute and participate.
As far as the starting and running of activities is concerned, like always, we’ve looked at the most successful American projects and what innovations they’ve come up with, to see what will work best for us. The most successful concepts have one or more what they call “Lifestyle Directors”.
The Lifestyle Director acts as a sort of administrator for all the activities and shared facilities on site. Their role is to help residents implement their vision of an active, meaningful life, either by improving the facilities and activities based on feedback, or by helping residents start their own activity groups.
The Lifestyle Director can also help with booking venues/locations for events, with organising trips to other places, or with brainstorming for ways to start a great new club or group. By removing organisational difficulties, such a facilitator makes it much easier for residents to pursue their passions with other people.
Even better, because all access to shared facilities is included in the monthly amenities fee, everybody has the opportunity to participate, without worrying about how joining a club will affect their budget.
We’ve observed that Economies of Scale really start to kick in once you have a community of about 800 homes. Their main impacts are that: a) because community costs are shared amongst more homes and more people, they decrease massively per home, and b) such a large community means that there is a market for things like restaurants, cafés, hairdressers, doctors’ surgeries etc., increasing the number of things to do, and turning the development into a real community, instead of just a housing project.
What happens next?
Relating to the 5 key aspects I’ve been talking about in this article series, we’ve been working from multiple angles to help make Ambera the place you all deserve. Amongst other things, we’ve been defining the role and job description for our own “Lifestyle Director” and have met several interesting candidates for the job.
We’ve also been discussing other ways of facilitating a “neighbourhood feel” in Ambera.
In the US, Active Adult Communities often have their own newspapers and media outlets where residents can see what’s going on week by week. We think this is a really interesting idea, and we’ve also been looking at different digital options.
The goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to get an overview of what’s going on, and to make it as easy as possible for those who want to participate to find something they’ll enjoy – and connect with other people in the Ambera community through it.
I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to read these articles. It’s been great sharing how we took Ambera from a seed of an exciting idea, to an established concept with 15,000 followers on social media, to now, where we’re on the cusp of making our dream a reality.
Allow me to close with a quote from an email that Jan Olav received from a friend a few days ago, after he asked where in Spain his friend would like to live. The friend wrote “It doesn’t matter where in Spain the project will be, as long as we can live next door to each other and enjoy life together!”
One of the absolute greatest joys in life lies in sharing it with good friends – so take a moment to show Ambera to someone you’d love to share it with!
Ambera Co-founder and CEO
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You might also find these articles interesting:
– How to Build a Community – Part 4 of 5
– How to Build a Community – Part 3 of 5
– How to Build a Community – Part 2 of 5
– How to Build a Community – Part 1 of 5
– Our vision