It’s no secret that natural space inspires us to be more physical and more social. Both of these factors are associated with a myriad of benefits. After all, taking a stroll in a park reduces heart rate and blood pressure.

What you may not know? Time spent living near water – rivers, lakes or the sea – reduces psychological stress.

In the United Kingdom, those living near water or closer to the ocean tend to be in better health than those who live inland. This is regardless of age or socioeconomic status. While this can be explained by easy access trails that offer opportunities for exercise, there are psychological effects at work here as well.

More “blue space” means less feeling blue.

A 2016 study conducted in New Zealand found that residents with ocean views had lower levels of psychological distress. In fact, for every 10% increase in how much “blue space” people experienced, a one-third point reduction in the population’s average Kessler Psychological Distress Scale was recorded. Given this, it’s reasonable to assume that a 20 – 30% increase living near water would shift a person’s position on the scale from a moderate to lower ranking. Similar results were recorded in a follow-up study conducted near the Great Lakes in Michigan.

Fast-selling community located on water

Given these findings, it’s interesting to note that nature still tends to rank lower on people’s lists when choosing a place to live. Safety, quietness and proximity to key services like schools and work rank higher. But these rankings may be due for a change. The Preserve at Bancroft Ridge, a lifestyle community in Bancroft, Ontario is one of the fastest selling master planned developments in Canada at the moment. It’s located right on the York River, Farraday Creek and surrounded by provincially significant wetlands and pristine lakes.

One thing is clear: If you select a clean, waterside community with ready access to nature and modern infrastructure, you’re enjoying one of the world’s healthiest places to live.