What is a gated community? It's a collection of homes that are accessible only to residents and their guests—thanks to (you guessed it) a gate or wall across any roadways in or out. Gated communities can be found throughout the U.S., so if you're looking to buy a home, you might wonder: Is living behind those gates something you'd like?
While it certainly sounds fancy, gated living comes with both perks and a few headaches. So before you buy a home inside one, check out the candid pros and cons of gated communities from the perspective of real estate agents as well as residents who know firsthand what it’s like to live inside.
Advantages Of Living In a Gated Community
The vast majority of cars and people inside your gates will be residents, a few visitors, and very few service or delivery providers. You will not get many, if any, solicitors other than your neighbors’ kids selling stuff for school fundraisers.
Even if you’re an A-list celeb or a high-ranking exec, you can breathe easy knowing that gawker/stalker types (and their phone cameras) will be kept at arm’s length.
All gated communities have a homeowners association and that means that along with your new home, you may score a swimming pool, private park, kids’s playground, off-leash dog park, hiking trails, jogging and bike paths, exercise facility, community clubhouse, golf course, and/or tennis courts. While you have to pay a monthly HOA fee to cover these perks, having them all close by may be worth every extra penny.
Upkeep that's kept up
HOA dues also include a gated community's regular maintenance and landscaping of common areas, roads, sidewalks, and curbs, which helps make the community look cleaner and neater. This maintenance might even cover your own front (and back) yard, which boils down to less lawn mowing for you.
Forget speeders. Or frantic commuters who randomly zoom through your neighborhood, looking for a shortcut to work. If you like peace, quiet, and few cars on the road, a gated community could be your dream neighborhood.
Let’s face it—it’s kinda bling
Most people do get a sense of extra protection and well-being from living there. Most people have a feeling of being exclusive. It's a bit of a status symbol knowing they have something that most people don’t.
The Downsides Of a Gated Community
More time in the car
Many public amenities like schools, shopping centers, groceries, and medical facilities have to be outside the gates and as a result can be farther away for residents.
In other words, you'll likely expand your drive times.
Remember all those grand perks mentioned above? Let's revisit who's paying for them. Homes inside gated communities tend to be more expensive than equivalent homes outside the gates because of their desirability.
Some people relish strict rules to follow. If you're more of a rebel, you may need to rethink your home search.
Your creativity may be stifled
If you want to make a particular aesthetic enhancement to your home—perhaps a funky door or a solar-paneled roof—you might not receive the approval from HOA.
Trickier access for deliveries
In many gated communities, homeowners are given a number code that opens the gate. If there's a glitch, you could be (temporarily) screwed. And if you give your plumber/pizza guy the wrong digits, deliveries you actually want quickly can get waylaid.
Hosting parties just got harder
The greatest complaint we've heard from clients is the difficulty of hosting holiday parties at their gated community home. These communities require that each guest be registered ahead of time and gate passes be issued before the event.
Passes are frequently forgotten and homeowners often find themselves spending a significant amount of time calling up the gatehouse to give entrance confirmation, when they should be spending that time playing host to their guests.