Have you ever wondered what makes some homeowner association (HOA) communities such appealing places to live? It could be their location or maybe their amenities. Most likely, it’s also due to a thriving lifestyle program that connects residents and helps to foster lasting relationships within the community.
“Even for the smallest of communities, there is tremendous value in developing lifestyle programming,” notes Terry Bascher, vice president of onsite management for FirstService Residential Texas. “Lifestyle programs bring people together while strengthening bonds that increase camaraderie.”
Aside from making the community more enjoyable, Bascher says that lifestyle programs can contribute to a greater sense of pride among residents. “Homeowners who share common interests and become friends are more likely to take care of their home and the community,” she explains. “It’s a win-win.”
How a community defines its lifestyle impacts the kinds of programs it chooses to have. For example, a family-focused community may want many of its events and activities to be geared to children. A luxury high-rise property may prefer more upscale programming. Ultimately, though, it comes down to like-minded people connecting and engaging through shared interests.
Even if your HOA has had good success with its activities and events over the years, community cultures evolve. As a result, you may find that you need to update what your community offers. Here are a few tips and ideas for creating a program that enhances your residents’ lifestyles and creates new opportunities for them to engage in social interactions.
1.Develop interest groups and clubs.
Special-interest groups, such as book or garden clubs, often form organically due to homeowner-driven needs or hobbies. However, if it has been a struggle to get clubs going in your community, you may want to survey your residents to see if any common threads show up. Be sure to also ask if anyone might be willing to help lead a group. A good community association management company can help establish and support special clubs and groups.
2.Make better use of amenities.
Amenities are often high on the list of homeowner must-haves, but your community pool, walking trails or pond can be more than just another feature. Whether it’s a Fourth of July holiday party at the pool, a scavenger hunt along the trails or a fishing tournament at the pond to raise money for a local charity, consider using the features you already have to engage residents. Your amenities are a natural draw and create the perfect venue for bringing people together.
3.Think outside the box.
It’s likely that your community has a few traditional events that generate a good deal of anticipation. Your annual “Easter Egg Hunt Extravaganza” or “Summer Splash Bash” are popular for a reason. However, in order to keep things fresh you should continuously seek new ways to incorporate evolving resident interests. Consider hosting a community clean-up event centered around Earth Day, or rally around a local cause that may have particular meaning to your homeowners. Some low-cost event ideas might include holding game or movie nights, bringing in speakers to talk about topics like travel, or having experts come in to teach classes such as financial investing. Remember that the quality of the event is not necessarily tied to the money spent. It’s all about creating the best experiences and the most engagement possible.
4.Communicate your lifestyle program effectively.
Your community may already offer a robust lifestyle program, but if you’re not seeing the level of engagement you really want, you may not be getting the word out. Creating awareness usually requires that you communicate your activities and offerings consistently using multiple channels to reach your residents. Although social media, community websites and newsletters are great ways to promote your programs, don’t discount simple methods like kiosks, banners or signs at entry points to let residents know about upcoming activities.
5.Employ a lifestyle manager.
Creating a robust lifestyle program can seem overwhelming for good reason. It entails a significant time commitment as well as specific expertise. This is why many HOAs consider it a worthwhile investment to employ a part-time – or even a full-time – lifestyle manager. Having a dedicated and experienced person to oversee your lifestyle program takes the burden off of your board or committee members to continually look for ways to bring everyone together and helps to ensure the success of your program.
A good community management company should be able to provide you with a qualified lifestyle manager. One advantage of this arrangement is that the company can pass along any discounts and connections so you are able to get everything you need for your events cost effectively.