Blue Minded: Is there science behind Seacoast living?

A couple of months ago, the owners of the home next to us decided to completely renovate their two-unit property in order to maximize their earning potential in a sizzling Newburyport rental market.  In doing so, they realized that they had two trees in their backyard that obstructed a perfect view of the Merrimack River.  Let’s just say they (and my wife and I, thankfully!) are now enjoying that perfect view from our back deck, admiring the currents and boats as they sail regularly down the river.

The decision by our neighbor to remove the obstructing trees had such an amazing and immediate effect on how we felt about our home.  We loved it before, don’t get me wrong, but the river view was such a great surprise to us and instantly and undeniably gave us a sense of more peace and happiness.  The new view of the water literally stops me in my tracks on a daily basis and gives me an instant calming effect that won’t be followed with a hangover the next day.

But why?  It’s just water, right?


View of the Merrimack River from our back deck after the tree removal.

I first realized this phenomenon when Meghan and I moved to Manhattan Beach, CA shortly after we were married.  I can count on a catcher’s glove how many times I spent at the beach in the 5 years living in South Bay.  I never needed to be in the water, just near it, just close enough to see it, in order to notice my blood pressure plummet after a long day at work and completing the two-way commute to downtown LA.

So what is the deal with water?  How and why does the mere sight of it effect us in such a powerful way?  Turns out there is some science to it.

I just finished reading a fascinating book that has been sitting on my shelf since moving to Newburyport called Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do” by Wallace J. Nickols.  I’m not going to spare you the complex scientific explanations found in the book, but a big take-away is that the presence of water triggers our brain to release “a steady stream of feel-good chemicals: natural opiates like endorphins… and oxytocin… and the pleasure ‘rush’ of dopamine” says Nickols.

“These neurochemicals are naturally synthesized in our bodies, a natural ‘medicine chest'”, Nickols explains.


Typical view from our apartment in Manhattan Beach, CA when I’d get home from work.

In terms of the Seacoast… since moving here almost two years ago, I have been told numerous times from out-of-towners that they love coming to this area because the people are so nice and easy to talk to – whether out shopping or dining in Downtown Newburyport, or having a beach day on Plum Island in the summer.  It is almost identical to the feedback I used to hear about Manhattan Beach.  Coincidence?

In terms of real estate… clearly it’s well-known that properties on or near a body of water are valued at a higher premium than most all other properties in the market.  No secret there.  However, is the premium more tolerable as a buyer when you know that there are added health benefits in addition to the beautiful view?  When weighing all the deciding factors in buying real estate (location, amenities, cost, commute, insurance, taxes, etc.), should location be looked at a bit closer in terms of quality of life and state of mind?

I don’t know.  You tell me.




2 thoughts on “Blue Minded: Is there science behind Seacoast living?

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