Pros and Cons of Gated Communities

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When you think of a gated community, what comes to mind? Probably things like safety, security, exclusivity, celebrities, expensive homes, and more. But what else lies beyond those gates? And is a home in one of these neighborhoods the right fit for you and your family?

Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of gated communities to get a better idea of how things operate behind the wrought iron columns. There might be some issues you overlook, which you may not realize until after the fact.

Privacy and Security

Gated communities provide a lot of benefits to the residents that live within them, though the amenities don’t come cheap.

The number one reason people choose to live in gated communities is likely the security element. Because a gated community is private, it is more difficult to access than a standard community.

Criminal activity is reduced in gated communities, and solicitors will have a more difficult (if not impossible) time bothering residents. In fact, the only solicitors you’ll probably get will be neighborhood kids trying to sell you magazines and girl scout cookies.

This is clearly a beautiful thing if you’ve ever lived outside a gated community and dealt with crime and/or solicitors. Of course, there is a cost associated.

And there’s no guarantee you won’t be the victim of crime in a gated community. The gate only acts as a deterrent, not a foolproof solution. So you should still keep your doors locked and valuables out of sight.

Also note that some gated communities merely have an automated gate with a keypad, while others have live guards. The latter will be more expensive, but also provide much more security.

Traffic Free

Traffic and speeding cars are also reduced behind the gates, making it quieter and safer for children to play and ride bicycles within these neighborhoods. You likely won’t have the morning commute using your street as a shortcut either, as much as they may want to.

Another positive aspect of gated communities is a higher standard of home quality, and stricter building codes that promote uniformity in design. That means more comparable sales and better value for all the homeowners within the community.

You shouldn’t have to worry about that weird neighbor with the bizarre lawn display or unkempt yard.

Homeowners in these neighborhoods also generally have a higher pride of ownership, and keep their homes in better condition. Along with that, gated communities create a scarcity effect, with few homes within these neighborhoods typically available for sale at the same time, adding more bite to the value.

There may also be social benefits, such as a community center or events that promote group activities for families to get to know each other.

Expensive Home Prices and HOAs?

Let’s talk about the downsides of gated communities, shall we.

For one, or I suppose two, gated communities often come with high asking prices and costly HOA fees to pay for things such as gate guards, private security, roads and maintenance.

Most roads are designated private, so you may have to foot the bill to fix those potholes or repave a bumpy road on your own dime. Good luck negotiating with your neighbors.

As far as security goes, the safety of gated communities is dependent upon the quality of the system in place, as well as the surrounding areas. And there’s a good chance the community won’t be patrolled by a sheriff unless the HOA approves such action. Or if the gated community is an actual city. Most aren’t…

Not all gated communities have live guards either, and automated gates aren’t very difficult to breach once someone gives out the code to the pizza delivery guy.

That being said, crime still occurs in gated communities and you shouldn’t let your guard down just because there’s a nice little fence around your community. Heck, the neighborhood kids could be the ones stealing from you…

The rare gated community that happens to be a real city, such as Hidden Hills, California, will have a police presence, meaning you will need to stop at those stop signs and not speed to avoid getting a real ticket.

The upside is that the cops are there to keep an eye on things.

Waiting to Get In…

Assuming the gate is in fact guarded, visitors and contractors may get aggravated waiting in line to come to your home.

Yes, your family and friends may have to wait during busy periods, and you’ll likely need to call down to the gate every time a visitor is expected. This can be especially problematic on holidays when all the in-laws are visiting…

And many gated communities limit the time contractors can come work at your home, and may block them altogether on holidays.

Gated communities are also typically located farther away from businesses and other services, making the commute a bit longer just to drive out of your neighborhood every day.

For example, it could take five minutes of driving just to exit the gates and get back into the real world.

Also watch out for properties located just inside the gates, or within view of the gates, as they may see a dip in value for obvious reasons. Gates might be a value-add, but not when you can see them out of your kitchen window.

While these may not seem like serious issues, HOA fees alone can make affordability a problem. You thought your condo’s HOA was expensive?  Try a gated community.

At the same time, if you do get your hands on a home in a gated community, there’s a good chance your home will appreciate nicely in the years to come. So it could be well worth the price, not to mention the quality of life for you and your family.

Even if you don’t live in a gated community, you can always build a gate around your own property or purchase a condo in a secured building. It’s certainly nice to have some layer of security between your living space and the outside world.


12 Comments

  1. Tess August 18, 2016 at 2:35 pm -

    I’ve lived in a gated community for 25 years. Nothing better, though as the author points out, there are very real drawbacks. But once you go gated you never go back!

  2. Miguel October 9, 2016 at 10:55 pm -

    Another con is that MOST if not all boards go bad as far as they and their friends are above the rules .

    It is very easy for the board Pres to skim money from the padded bill and countless other ways to steal .

    We lived in a gated community in Doral/Miami for 12 years and after the kids graduated we sold and bought a real house not these over priced hamster units .

    I didn’t like it from the beginning due to disparity in those who were above rules and those who weren’t but my wife liked it .

    By time the kids graduated college she had enough .

    IMO MOST if not ALL communities are paying way more monthly fee then they should be .

    We never had any home break ins but yes vehicles were stolen from drive ways .

    If you decide to buy in a gated community do yourself a huge favor and go see it M-F , between 5 and 7 pm or whatever hours you get out of work before you buy .

    Some of these places take over 45 minutes just to drive in .

  3. Mr. Real Estate October 11, 2016 at 8:40 am -

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Miguel. I agree there are many cons that homeowners should consider, especially when they’re paying for the privilege.

  4. Dean December 10, 2016 at 3:17 pm -

    I opted for a home in a gated community when we moved to a new city…just didn’t know it well and figured it was a smart move. Could be a waste of money but I think my family feels a little safer.

  5. chris b January 16, 2017 at 2:08 pm -

    we NOW live in a gated community. gating was a disaster from the perspective of a long term resident. fees went way up, community services went down, safety didn’t change, hassle went way up…in the end, the gates become momuments to the people that succeeded in gating the community…THOSE PEOPLE INVARIABLY DO NOT HAVE LONG TERM INTERESTS AT HEART…people that benefit are property flippers, renovators, business that do home destruction/construction, real estate/real estate related services….in rare cases it might be worth it, but unless it’s high density living it probably won’t be

  6. Mr. Real Estate January 26, 2017 at 7:54 pm -

    Chris,

    I think folks need to be careful not to overpay for the “privilege” of living in a gated community. At the same time, they have to watch out for the hefty HOA fees that pay for those gates (and guards)…so it can be a one-two punch if the neighborhood turns out to be wrong fit.

  7. Miguel March 11, 2017 at 8:56 pm -

    Dean,
    I agree that it is safer but in my case the management company was inept and every board we had was corrupt to the point that they weren’t paying monthly maintenance fee and the management company enables it so they would keep them.

    The place was just poorly run with rules only applying to some not others .

    Keep in mind this was Miami .

  8. Raewyn Mae March 24, 2017 at 10:09 pm -

    It is really good they have gated communities like this, but one thing is I would rather not have to go & live over in the first place, if I lived over there I would get out to a safe place in NZ, I hate things like that, I’d feel like I was in a prison

  9. Adeyinka March 27, 2017 at 10:15 pm -

    Well, I’m currently conducting a research work on the impact of gated community, and I think what the gate in community is just to paint a notion in people’s mind that the community is secure, which is far from true, it’s only a segregation of social class and infringement of undeserved value!

  10. Mr. Real Estate April 4, 2017 at 4:36 pm -

    Adeyinka,

    Interesting, that’s definitely a possible downside to a gated community.

  11. Florida Guy June 1, 2017 at 2:50 pm -

    Here’s some research for you Adeyinka. Trump wants a wall built why? To keep the illegals out not in. Same concept for a gated community. Keep them out or at least appear to do the job. We have mostly every demographic living in our neighborhood. So I say you very correct in the segregation comment but its 2 total diff things from what you believe. Work Hard Play Hard!!!

  12. Miguel July 22, 2017 at 3:55 pm -

    Florida Guy,
    We had vehicles stolen from the gated neighborhood I used to live in which was in Doral . Every year some were stolen. In fact every gated in Doral has that problem but we never had any home break ins.

    I found the apathy of homeowners rather disgusting as far as one corrupt board after another and perhaps less then 12 of us in a 300 house community ever attended meetings nor cared.

    I’ll just say again ”This was Miami” lol and since you are in Florida you understand but I would never set foot in any gated anything again.

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