When looking for a new home, gated communities can be a cause for contention; on the one hand there appear to be a great many things to love, while on the other, things aren’t always all they’re cracked up to be. It’s best to consider both sides of the fence, so here are the main factors that will determine whether living in a gated community works for you.
You may be associating gated communities with luxury, and you wouldn’t be too far off in your estimates. Because houses in such communities have a higher assessed value, they are significantly more expensive, regardless of whether you’re buying or renting.
The key thing to remember is that everything is private, so you will be faced with high HOA fees needed not just for security, but also the maintenance and upkeep of everything from roads and landscaping, to tennis courts. There’s no way around it: living in a gated community is expensive, so make sure that your budget can accommodate your decision to live in one.
Although gated communities are prohibited from making claims that it’s their fences and gate systems that improve security, they most certainly add to the feeling of safety. Having a security guard on site, constant surveillance, badge and intercom access can help ensure that only residents and verified visitors are allowed on the premises. Not to mention the fact that you won’t have to deal with unsolicited callers anymore.
However, these features are costly, and you cannot opt out of them. Getting in and out the gate can become a nuisance if you and your neighbors commute around the same times, or during holidays, when you have a lot of people visiting.
Privacy and security tend to go hand in hand, and knowing that closing the gate on the outside world will also keep out any interference will provide you with a lot of peace of mind. Yet because privacy and security are so closely linked, you will need to make amends with living under constant surveillance. Your neighbors might also be inclined to show interest in your daily activities, so you might be under close scrutiny, especially when you’re a newcomer.
Gated communities became a housing option in the 1980s, and because of that, most of them are often built just outside the city limits, or in areas that were less populated. This is a perk if you’re looking to live somewhere with little noise and traffic pollution, and, due to their location, most gated communities also tend to be greener, and provide a healthier living.
On the flip side, they don’t have options for public transport, meaning that you will rely heavily on your car. The location will also affect commute times, and you may spend longer getting to and back from work. In some cases, gated communities will add to a feeling of isolation, and while you can always befriend your neighbors, your friends and family might find it inconvenient to visit as often as you would like them to.
There are plenty of communal amenities and facilities to enjoy in a gated community: golf courses, tennis courts, clubhouses, gyms and spas, all great ways to interact with your neighbors while also enjoying an integrated lifestyle. Yet you might notice that most amenities are intended for leisure. Some gated communities may have on-site bars and restaurants, yet they are rare, and more expensive than eating downtown.
You will also lack access to basic yet essential amenities like supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies, even medical and educational facilities, and you will be constantly on the move trying to make all ends meet. If you’re retired, it is possible to spend most of your time inside, yet this will be a struggle if you’re younger.
Much of your experience of living in a place is determined by the people, and because gated communities tend to be relatively small, it’s easy to get to know everyone and form bonds with your neighbors. You might also notice a stronger sense of community, as residents tend to have common goals and ensure that the standard of living is kept the same for everyone involved.
Yet a community is only as good as the people making it, and your neighbors won’t be without fault. You may come across cases where the HOA and their friends only have their own interests in mind. So when moving in a gated community, consider not just where you’ll be living, but also who you’ll be living with.