Gated communities and neighborhoods: What to know

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If you’re on the hunt for a new home, it’s important to not just consider the type of home you want to buy. You also have to consider the type of neighborhood you want to live in and what types of perks you’re hoping to gain access to in your new neighborhood. For some, gated communities offer clear advantages — such as enhanced security and privacy.

What is a gated community?

A gated community is a residential neighborhood in which a gate controls who can enter. Sometimes these gates have keypads on them that grant access and other times they have security guards working them in order to check guests in. Either way, the general public can’t access the neighborhood or community, and residents have to permit their guests to enter. 

The homeowners in a gated community often share resources such as swimming pools, club houses, and parks. These communities tend to only have residential homes and resources, so you won’t find stores or other essentials, like postal offices, in them. Condos and townhouses can be in gated communities, but so can single-family homes.

Many people prefer to live in a gated neighborhood for the added security that the gated element brings. If you have your heart set on living in a gated community, you can do some online research to find them and what homes are currently for sale in those neighborhoods — or you can work with a real estate agent who is familiar with the area and can point you in the right direction. If you’re thinking of buying a house, it’s wise to have an agent on your side in general. 

Pros of living in a gated neighborhood

While having a gate to increase security in your community may seem like a purely positive asset at first glance, there are both advantages and disadvantages associated with living in such a neighborhood that you should keep in mind. 

  • Enhanced privacy and security: While the security that comes with a gate isn’t foolproof, it can greatly increase privacy and safety for residents. At the very least, a gate can lower the amount of door to door solicitors that come through the neighborhood.
  • Luxe amenities: Often, gated communities come with nice amenities such as private parks, swimming pools, club houses, sports courts, and even hiking trails. 
  • Landscaping and maintenance: Because gated communities are usually planned communities with homeowners associations (HOA), they typically have regularly scheduled maintenance and landscaping of common areas so residents can enjoy a pristine neighborhood. 
  • Lower drive through traffic: One thing a gate helps keep out is heavy traffic since no one can cut through the neighborhood in an attempt to avoid commuter traffic. 

Cons of living in a gated neighborhood

There are also downsides to living in a gated community.

  • Home prices can be high: Thanks to all of the perks that tend to come with a gated community, it can be expensive to live in one. 
  • Steep HOA fees: HOA fees can also be high, especially if your gated community employs security guards and has expensive amenities to upkeep like swimming pools and community centers. 
  • Strict rules: Alongside HOA fees, you can also expect to have a long list of rules and regulations you have to follow when you live in a gated community — such as what color you can paint your house. 
  • Delivery access is difficult: Any delivery driver or service provider you need to come to the house can easily get stuck at the gate if they don’t have the security code or advanced permission to enter. This can cause confusion and delays that can lead to your takeout getting cold or your packages not arriving.

Is living in a gated community right for you?

It’s easy to see the appeal of a gated community, but it’s also easy to see why some homebuyers may not find the added expense and fuss worth the perks. If privacy and security is a top concern for you, living in a gated community may give you some much needed peace of mind. 

On the other hand, if you live in a safe community you may not feel like the addition of a gate is worth the effort it involves or the added costs it brings with it. Take some time to weigh the pros and cons, as well as your personal preferences, to see which type of community is the right fit for you. 

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