Design News Preliminary Work

New Project Idea

Concept: Older people seeking vibrant communities and connection

As we grow older new needs arise. During this particular phase of life, our responses to these new needs can either enhance how we live, or they can become detrimental. If older people are isolated for just four years, for example, they begin to lose cognitive functions.

On the other side of the equation, being a member of a strong social network has a variety of benefits including :

  • Improving the ability to cope with stressful situations
  • Alleviating the effects of emotional distress
  • Promoting lifelong good mental health
  • Enhancing self-esteem
  • Lowering cardiovascular risks, such as lowering blood pressure
  • Promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors
  • Encouraging adherence to a treatment plan

Global trends are pointing to an increasingly older population (in 2015 one in eight people worldwide was 60 or older. In 2030 it will one person out of every six people):

Trends in aging populations
Trends in aging populations

To address these needs, new forms of community development are being deployed around the world. According to The New York Times, the future of aging just might be in Margaritaville (queue Jimmy Buffet’s perennial hit song):

New Project Idea 2

Note: In Bali we can do better than plastic cheeseburgers lol

The “secret sauce” to the wildly successful Margaritaville? Hiding the medical facility and keeping it fun!

In Bali there are a variety of “communities” for foreigners, from private villa communities, to social, athletic, artistic, spiritual and health communities, etc. But are there communities designed for living a full life, right here in Bali, 12 months a year?

Integrating Local and International Skills 

One aspect of living in Bali that tends to be overlooked is the relationship between the locals and the foreigners. It’s common to have housekeeping, driving, cooking, massage and other support staff, yet what happens to them after work can be something of a mystery. For many locals, in order to find employment they must leave their village and stay in kost facilities that, to say the least, leave something to be desired.

Imagine a community that first builds permanent facilities for the workers! Housing, cooking, gardening, pre-school and workshop facilities can be built (without breaking the bank) that will have value for both the locals and expat community members.

New Project Idea 3
A sample of what is possible for the locals

Intergenerational Living

In Japan, when “Shimada Masaharu merged a nursery school and home for the aged in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, in 1976, he had no idea that what he had begun would attract worldwide attention.”

Not only would it be beneficial to have older people help out with pre-school children, the locals themselves offer a treasure chest of skills for the bule: everything from using their McGyver-like genius fixing broken products, to making use of the gardens and forests for the essentials of life.

Multipurpose Spaces that Evolve

Workshops that initially were built to cover the construction workers can be re-configured to keep the expat community busy, while at the same time creating entrepreneurial opportunities for the locals.

Offering “bespoke experiences” doesn’t have to only be a hipster thing. Done right, empowering locals while stimulating the older members of the community can be a true life-enhancing process.

Community Structure

Some of the components of the community might include:

For the locals:

  • On-site living, workshop and laundry facilities
  • A locally run store to sell products and services produced in the workshops
  • A pre-school / community space

For the expat community members: 

  • Health / nursing facility (example: a Canggu Medical-sized structure — hidden)
  • Helicopter pad to extract an individual for medical emergencies
  • One bedroom, 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom structures
  • Community dining / meeting facility / movie theater / library
  • Extensive garden (for locals too)
  • Spa
  • Swimming pool
  • Outdoor stage and seating
  • Volleyball / Picnic area
  • Pond (if there’s enough room)
  • Aesthetically designed sitting areas in common areas
  • Perimeter walking trail
  • Sustainable design including energy and waste utilization 

How Replicable is this Model?

We live in a world of increasing wealth inequality:

New Project Idea 4

Wherever there is a large wealth gap between populations there will be an abundant supply of low-paid workers. Without trying to sound like a communist, it seems to be a no-brainer to help lift the boats of the people who help your life become more stress-free. And it’s not entirely altruistic: there’s real value in leveling the playing field for communities where older people, who can at times become vulnerable, have trust-worthy local partners who feel that they’ve been given a good deal.


A new model of year-round co-living, between locally skilled workers and the people who depend on those workers, requires a delicate balance. Proper management is essential. 

Living full-time abroad also has its share of risks. An interview process for membership seems essential, as the goal is not to create an investment vehicle, but to enhance everyday life in a creative and supportive community setting.

Financial risks for investors may center around selling a new concept. While there is a clear need for communities such as the one outlined above, packaging it up as a Balinese Margaritaville is not recommended. I leave the packaging and messaging to others.

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I would like to help shape the community as well as become an investor and resident.

Neill Kramer

Owner, Ohana Retreat Bali

A blog post about my previous two real estate projects I’ve created:

Photo gallery: In the wine country of Sonoma County, California:

Sold in 2 days

Photo Gallery: On Marrowstone Island, in the Puget Sound of Washington state:

Sold in 8 days

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