A gated community is a residential neighborhood subgroup or housing estate that strictly controls its entrances. That means there are limitations to the automobiles, bicycles, and pedestrians that receive permission to be on the roads within that area. It then provides a closed perimeter of fences or walls to enhance the security of this space. The purpose of the gates between the walls or fences is to provide the perception of exclusivity and security more than it is to prevent or deter crime.
When larger gated communities exist, they often contain restaurants, golf courses, and additional activities. That means it may be possible to stay within the neighborhood for most daily activities. Smaller subgroups might have a single park or some other common area to use only.
Proponents suggest that this approach to residential living promotes higher home values and a better living standard. Critics like anthropologist Setha M. Low argue that it reduces the net social capital of the broader community that surrounds the area. That’s why a complete look at the gated community advantages and disadvantages is useful.
List of the Advantages of a Gated Community
1. It provides homeowners with a feeling of exclusivity.
One of the things that people enjoy about living in a gated community is the opportunity to be in an exclusive neighborhood. It feels like the modern version of a castle’s walls where only an elite group of individuals and families had permission to live. It’s a status symbol that some people enjoy having, especially when there are rules in place to maintain the consistency of the look and feel of the area.
2. Almost every town has a gated community of some type.
Gated communities are very common in the United States. Although they can vary in size and the amount of security they provide, you can often choose to live in one no matter what your income level happens to be. As long as you can afford the mortgage and whatever HOA fees might exist, then you can live here comfortably.
It doesn’t need to be a formal structure to make it a gated community. For Point Roberts, WA, a border patrol station helps to screen visitors to the enclave while saltwater beaches create a natural boundary that restricts people in other ways.
3. A gated community provides people with a sense of security.
Although there isn’t a guarantee of crime reduction when living in a gated community, most neighborhoods will directly monitor who comes and goes through the gates. This action helps people to feel safer in their homes when compared to what it is like in the average neighborhood without that asset. Many gated communities do have lower crime rates because of these security measures, so there is some justification for the idea that people are safer when they live in these subgroups.
4. Gated communities provide more privacy.
The monitoring activities that a gated community offers creates a feeling that homeowners are living in a private neighborhood. It becomes a place where you can conduct your daily business without much interference from the outside world. That means you can get to know your neighbors, take your dog for a walk, or enjoy time on your front porch without worrying about what strangers might be driving by.
Although your neighbors might know more about your activities because of the small-town feeling a gated community provides, most people feel like this issue is an advantage instead of a disadvantage.
5. It creates a quieter atmosphere for people to enjoy.
Unless someone has a specific purpose for being in your neighborhood, that person isn’t going to start exploring the roads where you live. You don’t need to worry about drivers trying to use your streets as a way to get through traffic faster. That’s why these communities tend to be quieter and more peaceful. HOAs will maintain the common area landscaping to create beautiful scenes for everyone to enjoy. Less traffic means that noise levels are lower, making it easier to feel at peace even when you’re living in a substantial urban environment.
A gated community feels like you’re living in a town within a bigger city that is all your own.
6. Gated communities promote higher home values.
People want to enjoy the benefits of a gated community. That means the demand for properties often outweighs the supply that’s available each year. This benefit leads to higher home prices for those who want to sell. HOAs work to control the consistency of the curb appeal throughout the neighborhood, provide security to man the gates, and a variety of additional benefits that create highly desirable circumstances.
If you want to settle down and raise a family in the traditional Americana suburb, then gated communities are one of the best options that are available today. This approach is duplicated around the world to take advantage of these concepts.
7. Renting is a possibility in some gated communities.
Although some gated communities might have rules against renting, some property owners have found that it is possible under the right set of circumstances. That means a house can become a source of income while the tenants can enjoy all of the perks of living in the neighborhood. It’s a win/win situation when it works out well, but it may require significant screening to find the right person or family.
8. You’ll see fewer solicitors in a gated community.
Because a gated community restricts the visitors that can come into your neighborhood, you’ll find fewer unwanted solicitors at your front door. That means anyone who does come to sell something or provide information about religion, health, or other needs has specific permission to be there. If someone doesn’t have the authority to be in the community, then the rules may allow you to contact the authorities for trespassing. If you get tired of a knock at the front door all of the time, then this advantage could be one of the best befits to consider when making this investment.
9. Traffic levels in the community are much lower.
Most gated neighborhoods have less traffic on their streets throughout the day. Everything gets self-contained within the walls or fences of this neighborhood, creating a place where it’s mostly your neighbors or mail carriers that are out-and-about. If you have kids who love to play outside, then that means you’ll have a safer environment for them. It’s possible to let them play in the front yard without worrying about who might be watching them or driving by randomly.
10. There can be a lot of amenities in the gated community.
All gated communities in the United States have a homeowner’s association that supports the neighborhood. When you purchase a new home in this community, then you might also score a swimming pool that is usable at your convenience. There’s usually a private park, a playground for the kids, and maybe an off-leash park for your dog. Jogging, cycling, and hiking trails are common, as are tennis courts, clubhouses, and more.
When you compare the cost of these amenities with the private memberships you’d be paying in your community, most homeowners find themselves coming out ahead.
List of the Disadvantages of a Gated Community
1. Living in a gated community means following its rules.
When you decide to start living in a gated community, then you’re required to follow the rules of the neighborhood. These guidelines can vary based on the requirements of each subgroup, so some of them can be very strict – while others have virtually no rules to follow. You might be told what color you can paint your house, where to store your trash bins, and what flowers you can plant in your front yard beds.
If you’re the kind of person who prefers to live in your home without being bothered by outside rules, then this disadvantage of a gated community is an issue to consider.
2. The cost of a house in a gated community can be significantly higher.
Because there are fewer homes available in gated communities than in the general inventory, the price of a property is going to be naturally higher. When you add in the higher demand levels that happen each year as buyers outnumber sellers, then the cost continues to rise. If you want to live in a high-demand area of the United States, your real estate expenses could be up to 30% higher than if you purchased a house without the conveniences that this subgroup offers.
The higher price adds to the feelings of exclusivity for the neighborhood. It can also be a significant drawback at the time you make your purchase.
3. Homeowners have ongoing costs that they must pay.
If someone decides to purchase a home in a gated community, then there are a series of additional costs that they must pay for the privilege. You’ll often pay higher property taxes because of the increased value of the property. HOA fees can be significantly higher, sometimes to the tune of $200 to $400 per month. You may need to pay a share of the security costs, infrastructure repairs, and other benefits or services that come with living in this neighborhood. Even parking may come at an extra cost if you don’t have the option to have your car in a garage or your driveway.
4. Some homeowners feel like their privacy gets violated.
The monitoring that happens within a gated community can feel like there’s an increase in security and safety. It can also make some homeowners feel like they don’t receive as much privacy as they would in their own place elsewhere. It can seem a little disturbing to know that there’s a guard and cameras watching everyone who comes and goes through the gates. You’ll have HOA monitors looking at the condition and curb appeal of your property at all times.
Even the hassle of getting a visitor approved to get let into the community can be an annoyance for some people.
5. Gated communities can create a sense of elitism.
Some people enjoy the fact that a gated community feels like an exclusive place to live. There are others who feel that this approach creates a sense of elitism that doesn’t fit with their personality. It’s one of the most common reasons why families choose to avoid living in these neighborhoods. It can feel snobbish, rich, or pretentious – especially if it seems like your neighbors have a significantly higher net worth than you do.
6. It takes time for homeowners to check-in through the gate.
When you live in a gated community, then you must go through the gate before you can make it home. That means a small traffic jam can occur if you only have one entry point and a lot of people who come and go at the same time. If the gate breaks, then you might find it challenging to come or go at all. This disadvantage of gated communities can lead to long wait times and a lot of inconveniences when the only thing on your mind would be getting home after a long day.
7. Receiving deliveries can be problematic.
Most gated communities give homeowners a number code that will open the gate. If someone doesn’t hear that number correctly, then your delivery won’t make it to your home. You’ll encounter this issue if you need someone to provide services on your property, such as a plumber, or when the pizza guy comes around when you want to watch the big game. If there’s a glitch of any kind and you don’t have a manned gate, then you might not receive the items that you want.
8. It can be challenging to host a social gathering.
Unless you’re hosting a party at your house that only includes the gated community, living in this neighborhood could put a damper on your social life. Gate passes are often forgotten, which means you’ll be talking to the gatehouse to give entrance confirmation. You’d need to register each person from outside of the community so that they could enter in the first place, which means it might be easier to host a party at somebody else’s house from now on.
When you start shopping around for a new house or a home you can rent, it is essential to work smarter instead of harder. If you are deciding on whether a gated community provides the right levels of comfort and security, then don’t rely on advertising on online reviews. You should get permission to enter the neighborhood to see if you enjoy the vibe it offers.
Then you need to go beyond the curb appeal to look at the hard statistics of the community to see if the benefits are worth the expense. You can inquire about crime statistics in the neighborhood and the surrounding community. If you’re settling down with your family, then it may be helpful to look at the quality of schools that your kids will attend.
These gated community advantages and disadvantages can serve as a guide to determine if one of these neighborhoods can fit your needs. It may not be a living option for everyone, but this subgroup of houses can be a healthy investment in your future under the right set of conditions.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.