Carey Chesney6-Minute Read
UPDATED: November 08, 2022
Searching for your next home is a fun but complicated process. From square footage to style, there are a lot of factors to consider. Figuring out your home criteria and searching online to review pictures and stats is where most home searchers start.
There’s another, possibly even more important, decision to be made when you start the search for your dream home: determining your ideal neighborhood. Some people like a lot of land and privacy. Others want to be close to a bustling city center. Some want the mature trees, unique house design, and a well-established neighborhood. Others prefer a subdivision with homes that look alike. The possibilities and preferences are endless.
One factor to consider is whether you want to live in a gated community. There are a number of benefits, including enhanced security. However, there are drawbacks as well, like stricter rules. Here, we will take a deep dive into gated communities to give you a complete understanding of what they are and whether they’re right for you.
Gated communities offer a defined space of similar homes that are gated off from the rest of the area. They are different from traditional neighborhoods in many ways. For starters, traditional neighborhoods don't have a gate around the entire community. You can move in and out of them easily from a number of different entry points.
Gated communities usually only have one or two entry points and sometimes there is a security guard at the gate ensuring that only people that live in that community (or their guests) can enter. This means the roads aren’t clogged with cars and the chance of a break in is minimal.
The insulated feel of a gated community isn’t just from physical gates though. Rules governing the residents though a homeowners association (HOA) keep the houses looking similar.
Like any neighborhood, gated communities have pros and cons depending on your own personal preferences. Let’s start by taking a look at some of the benefits of gated communities and then review some of the drawbacks. Keep in mind that a benefit for some people might actually be a drawback for others and vice versa.
There are many benefits of living in a gated community for prospective home buyers. How important each of these benefits is to you depends solely on your own personal taste (and your family’s). Some of the key reasons some people like gated communities include security, amenities, minimal traffic and higher resale values. With all of these features, think about whether they benefit your lifestyle or if they actually are a drawback. Let’s take a deep dive into each of these benefits gated communities offer.
Gated communities offer better security than traditional neighborhoods. The entrances are secured by gates and are usually only accessible with a code or a resident’s approval. As previously mentioned, some gated communities also have security guards to further enhance security.
For many homeowners, this brings peace of mind knowing that the chances of a break-in or other petty crimes are reduced. However, for some homeowners, this level of security can feel exclusionary or isolating. Think about your own daily life and if enhanced security through restricted access is something you want.
Many gated communities offer amenities like pools, gyms, golf courses, parks and other family-friendly features. This makes it easier for homeowners to do the things they love without having to travel away from home.
Meeting up with your neighbors at a pool or for a game of tennis is appealing to many homeowners. For those who don’t like to travel too far from home, this can be appealing. Instead of a long drive to the golf course, you can take a short walk or golf cart ride to get to the course in a gated community.
Some homeowners, however, like to get out and about to do the things they love. If you enjoy driving out of your neighborhood to engage in leisure activities and meet people outside of your community, the convenience of a gated community might actually be a drawback.
Gated communities can offer safer, less-trafficked streets. This is often especially important for families with small children. Kids can play in the front yard or go out on their bikes without having to worry about high-speed traffic or drivers not looking out for kids in the road.
The reduction in traffic doesn't just apply to cars, as there is less foot traffic as well. Many people have been prioritizing having a small circle of people they interact with because of the recent pandemic. If you are one of these people, a gated community can offer a “bubble” for you to live in.
If you enjoy seeing lots of people driving and walking by, a gated community might not be the best choice for your next home’s location.
Gated communities tend to have higher property values. This may mean homeowners can get a higher sale price for the property if they decide to sell in the future, regardless of market conditions.
This is appealing to many homeowners buying their starter home (or at least not their forever home). Peace of mind comes with knowing that when it’s time to sell and find that dream home you will be able to get the most value possible.
Higher home values also mean the exclusion of less affluent families. If socioeconomic diversity is an important factor for where you want to live, gated communities might not provide it.
Though there are clear benefits, gated communities aren’t perfect. Next, we will cover some of the downsides of living in a gated community. Keep in mind that, just like benefits can sometimes be seen as drawbacks, “downsides” can actually be appealing to some homeowners.
Gated communities governed by an HOA typically have strict rules that residents need to follow. These rules can cover everything from the way each home’s exterior looks to the types of events you’re able to host outside.
Many people are turned off by this level of restriction, thinking they should be able to do what they want in their home. Others, however, like the structure and the uniformity it brings to their community.
The rules in place vary from community to community, so it’s important for home buyers to learn about the community’s rules before making an offer on a house.
Homes in gated communities tend to cost more upfront than similar homes in traditional neighborhoods. As a prospective home buyer, you may end up getting a smaller house or one with fewer features for the same price as your dream home outside of a gated community.
It’s important for home shoppers to consider their budgets closely before deciding to buy in a gated community. While nobody wants to overpay for a home, many home buyers see the extra money up front as a great investment.
Gated communities tend to be in neighborhoods on the outskirts of town or in the suburbs. This often means the homes are located in less-than-ideal locations where residents have to commute longer distances to work and other places integral to their daily lives.
If you like a quick walk downtown or to the grocery store, gated communities probably aren't right for you. If you like being away from city centers and don’t mind a bit of a drive, gated communities might be a great place for your next home
Gated communities typically have complex homeowners associations and charge residents monthly fees to maintain many of the amenities that make the community what it is. These fees are typically higher than other HOA fees in more traditional neighborhoods.
This is a drawback to many, as it adds another monthly charge to their mortgage, utilities, taxes, and other bills associated with their home. HOA fees can be the difference between being able to afford the house you want in a traditional neighborhood or settling for a house you aren't that thrilled about in a gated community.
However, some residents of gated communities don’t mind HOA fees. They understand that these fees are necessary to cover the costs of security, pools, and all of the other benefits gated communities provide.
Moving into a gated community can be a great fit for some home buyers and a terrible fit for others. Think about your needs, your budget and your long-term goals before deciding.
Regardless of what type of home or neighborhood you're considering, you should always work with an experienced real estate agent. They can help you understand the pros and cons of any type of neighborhood to assist you in making the best decision for you and your family.
Reach out to an experienced real estate agent today so you can find the home of your dreams quickly.
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