Is a Gated Community Right for You?

by Lauren Caggiano

You might have seen them glamorized on TV, but gated communities aren’t just for the rich and famous. Such a neighborhood is simply a collection of homes that are accessible only to residents and their guests. Hence the gate. Sounds fancy, right? But is such an arrangement for you? The answer will depend on your budget, preferences and lifestyle.

Here’s a look at the perks and less-popular aspects of gated community life:

Pros:

Privacy

Are you someone who likes to keep to themselves? You won’t get many pedestrians or motorists due to the private nature of your community. This can be a relief if you work from home and don’t want to be interrupted during the day to get the door, only to discover it’s someone trying to sell you a cable package.

Luxury/Prestige

You should know that all gated communities have a homeowners association, which often means access to such amenities as a swimming pool, exercise facility, walking paths, community clubhouse, golf course, and/or tennis courts. While this does come at a price (via HOA fees), it might be worth it if you have kids or like to lead an active lifestyle.

We should also mention that there’s something inherently high end and posh about living in such a neighborhood. Cue: “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”

Aesthetics

Your dues also underwrite the cost of maintenance and landscaping of common areas, roads, sidewalks, and curbs, adding to the visual appeal of the development. The scope of this work might even extend to your own property, which means less time mowing.

Less traffic

Again, the exclusive nature of such a setup means less traffic flow. This is especially nice if you live on a main drive, which tends to get more activity and consequently noise.

Cons:

Price tag

By and large, homes inside gated communities tend to come at a higher price point, because of the factors mentioned above. So, if you’re looking to buy your first home and are on a tight budget, this might not be the right move.

Less flexibility

If you want to paint your house a funky shade of purple or build a fence, you’ll likely need to get the blessing from the HOA before you can do anything. If, however, you like to have more artistic license, you may need to rethink your home search.

Logistical concerns

In many gated communities, homeowners are provided with a numeric code that opens the gate. This can be cumbersome for delivery drivers or vendors who’ll need access every time. If they accidentally key in the wrong code too many times, it can cause a headache for you.

The same goes for hosting a party. Guests will need to register ahead of time and obtain passes to ensure access at the gate. This can be an annoyance or burden to you, the homeowner, should guests forget to do this legwork.

The takeaway? Enter into the house hunt informed and you can make the right decision for your situation.

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