Living inside a gated community comes with a certain amount of prestige, privacy, and security. But as with most things in life, life within a gated community has its share of both pros and cons. Today we’re taking a look at some of the positive and negative aspects of buying a home in one of these often prestigious neighborhoods.
Privacy and Security
Since non-residents aren’t allowed inside a gated community without prior approval from a resident or for some specific purpose (such as maintenance work), the majority of the people you’ll see driving around are your neighbors or their visitors. Solicitors and looky-loos without an invite will be turned away immediately by gate security. If you value privacy above all, a gated community is a great place to buy.
Gated communities usually come with some pretty hefty homeowners association fees (more on that later), but that price tag usually comes with more amenities than your typical neighborhood. Many residents of gated communities enjoy one or more swimming pools, parks, playgrounds, jogging trails, clubhouses, dog parks, bike paths, and even golf courses and tennis courts.
Those higher HOA fees usually include common area maintenance and landscaping; and having more cash in the community kitty makes for a cleaner, nicer neighborhood. Who doesn’t want to come home to well-manicured lawns, beautiful trees, and strategically placed, colorful flowers throughout the neighborhood? In some lucky gated communities, the HOA even takes care of mowing and landscaping of residents’ lawns too.
We don’t know about you, but we get awfully tired of people speeding through our neighborhood streets, looking for a shortcut to work or home. This is another thing you don’t have to worry about in a gated community. Only residents or those with business in the neighborhood are allowed within the gates or walls, so it’s rare that someone will come speeding through in an all-fire hurry to get somewhere else.
Time to revisit those higher homeowner association fees we mentioned a few moments ago. Buying a home in a gated community will definitely be a little more expensive initially, but it’s also going to come with higher annual HOA dues and other fees. We’re talking thousands of dollars per year in some cases. You might’ve planned for the bigger mortgage payment, but don’t put your calculator away just yet. There’s no opting out of the HOA in most communities, so make sure you’ll have enough to pay your monthly or annual dues on top of other expenses.
More Commute Time
All that nice, quiet privacy can sometimes add up to a bit of isolation. That means more time in the car to get to work, school, the doctor’s office, the grocery store, or other errands. If you value the security of a gated community and don’t mind a little extra driving time, it’s a very small price to pay.
Less Freedom in Decor
If you’re hoping to install solar panels, paint your front door red, or plant more trees in your front yard, be aware that you’ll be at the mercy of your homeowners association. Exterior changes generally have to be submitted to the HOA for approval before any work starts. Any work done without prior approval is likely to garner you a fine, or at least a warning of a fine if you don’t remove any non-approved additions. If you don’t mind conforming when it comes to exterior details, then you’ll have no problem at all.
Difficulties in Hosting
Whether you’re just having a couple of friends over or hosting a full-blown party, things can be a little more difficult when you live in a gated community. Many such communities require guests to be registered ahead of time so gate passes can be distributed easily. This can mean spending a good deal of hosting time answering calls from gate security for guests who weren’t registered beforehand.
Depending on what’s most important to you, living in a gated community could be all pros and no cons, or exactly the opposite. For most, it’s a healthy mix of both. Every buyer must weigh the positives and negatives to find the best decision for themselves and their families.