For as long as people have wanted to own a home, they have wanted to keep others out. Whether it be a moat, a guard, a fence, or a gate, homeowners (or castle owners in the case of a moat) have always treated their property like a sanctuary. While most of us don't have the space or funds to
build a gator-filled lazy river around our house, we can purchase property inside the walls of a gated community if we so choose.
Over the past century, Americans have prioritized moving to the sprawling suburbs where quiet, gated neighborhoods have appealed to those looking for a space where children can safely play, and owners can enjoy a sense of privacy and security. As with anything, however, these exclusive communities have benefits and downsides.
In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of living in such an enclave, from enhanced security to a vibrant community spirit, and explore why this lifestyle has become increasingly sought after.
Advantages of Living in Gated Communities
1. Safety first
One of the primary reasons people choose to live in a gated community is the added layer of security it provides. With restricted access points and vigilant gatekeepers, residents can have peace of mind knowing that their community is a well-protected haven. The controlled entry and exit system ensures that only authorized individuals can enter the premises, significantly reducing the risk of crime and unwanted solicitors.
Additionally, gated communities often invest in surveillance cameras, security patrols, and alarm systems, providing an additional sense of safety for residents.
2. Knowing thy neighbor
There are many places you can live for years and never see or even meet your neighbors. However, living in a gated neighborhood fosters a strong sense of community. With fewer homes and shared amenities, residents have more opportunities to interact and build connections with their neighbors. Community events, social gatherings, and shared maintenance responsibilities promote a friendly and cohesive environment, creating a true neighborhood camaraderie that you won't find elsewhere.
3. More than just a house
These types of neighborhoods often boast an array of exclusive amenities such as parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, and sports facilities, like private golf clubs and tennis courts. These well-maintained communal spaces provide residents with convenient access to recreational activities, promoting an active and healthy lifestyle.
4. Peace and privacy
Often, a gated community can feel like its own world, free from the daily hassles of a more urban setting. Residents enjoy a sense of predictability regarding their peace and privacy. Being in a neighborhood with limited access to non-residents means very little traffic noise, no unwanted guests, and adequate personal space. While maybe not as exciting as city life, these benefits can lead to a tranquil, relaxing atmosphere that some homeowners seek.
5. Family-friendly environment
Gated communities are particularly appealing to families with children. The controlled access and reduced traffic make it safer for kids to play outside and ride bikes within the community. At the same time, the presence of parks, playgrounds, and other recreational facilities offers ample opportunities for children to socialize with other kids and engage in outdoor activities.
6. Maintenance and aesthetics
Gated communities typically have a homeowners association(HOA) responsible for maintaining common areas, landscaping, and infrastructure. This shared responsibility ensures that the community remains well-kept and aesthetically pleasing, enhancing the overall curb appeal of the neighborhood.
7. Exclusivity and prestige
One of the top reasons people choose to live in a gated community is the opportunity to be a part of
an exclusive neighborhood. Not only does their address become a status symbol, but they can take solace in knowing that the community will be maintained at a high standard, ensuring property values remain strong.
8. A wise investment
Buying a home in a gated community is not only a lifestyle choice but also a smart investment opportunity. These communities often maintain higher property values compared to non-gated areas, thanks to the desirable features they offer. The enhanced security, well-maintained common areas, and a strong sense of community all contribute to the attractiveness and desirability of the neighborhood.
Disadvantages of Living in a Gated Community
9. Higher cost of living
Living in a gated community often means you'll be paying a premium. According to the American Real Estate Society (ARES), homes in gated neighborhoods command $30,000 more on average.
These exclusive communities typically require HOA fees to cover the cost and maintenance of the gate and the rest of the shared amenities, like landscaping, parks, and sports courts, which can add a significant amount to the cost of ownership. Average HOA fees in the U.S. range from $100 to $1,000 a month, but the average is around $200 to $300 a month.
10. Strict rules and regulations
You may be the boss in your household, but when it comes to a gated neighborhood, the HOA reigns supreme.
Some gated communities will limit the paint colors you can use on your home's exterior, what types of plants you’re allowed to plant in your front yard, and even set limitations on-street parking for guests. If you’re on the fence about buying in a gated neighborhood, remember to review the HOA bylaws and understand their expectations before making any significant decisions.
11. Limited architectural freedom
If you envision painting your house a vibrant shade of Tiffany Blue or adding Greco-Roman columns to your front porch, then a gated community may not be the best fit for you. Typically, these neighborhoods have strict design regulations to maintain a consistent aesthetic and, unfortunately, don't cater to much creative prowess.
12. Sense of elitism is not for everyone
Parents always tell you, don’t worry about what other people think, just do what makes you happy. Well, that’s easier said than done. Some homeowners are turned off by the “snobbish” or “elitist” stigma bestowed upon people living in a gated community. While these labels may be misguided, it’s enough to deter some folks from buying in these neighborhoods.
13. Gaining access has its frustrations
While having a gated entrance or guardhouse can add to a community's overall appeal, it can also be downright irritating. You can bet there will come a time when you're stuck in your car waiting for the gate to open. Perhaps the gate is broken, your clicker or passcode isn't working, or there's a line of traffic trying to get in ahead of you. While these scenarios come with the territory, they can put a damper on your day.
14. Having visitors can be challenging
Gates also make it more difficult to receive deliveries or have guests. Oftentimes, homeowners will be given a unique entry code that will open the gate, but these codes can change often, making it easy to give out the wrong information. If your delivery person doesn't have the correct code or accidentally enters the wrong number at the gate entrance, your delivery won't make it to your home. This can be a major bummer if you've been waiting on your favorite takeout or latest Amazon purchase.
Gates can also pose a challenge for visiting friends and family, especially if your neighborhood has a manned guardhouse that requires all guests to provide detailed information, like their name, phone number, and the purpose of their visit. If you love hosting company, you may grow frustrated with gate logistics over time.