What Exactly Is a Gated Community? The Benefits and Drawbacks of Purchasing a Home Inside

A gated community is a collection of properties that are only accessible to residents and their guests due to (you got it) a gate or wall across any entrance or exit roads. Gated communities may be found all over the United States, so if you're seeking to buy a property, you might wonder: Would you wish to live behind those gates?

What you should know about gated communities

While it may sound luxurious, gated living has both benefits and drawbacks. So, before you buy a house inside one, consider the honest advantages and downsides of gated communities as seen through the eyes of real estate professionals and people who know personally what it's like to live inside.

The Benefits of Living in a Gated Community


According to Tony Bai, a real estate agent at Keller Williams Realty in Irvine, CA, "the vast majority of automobiles and persons inside your gates will be residents, a few visitors, and very few services or delivery companies." "You won't receive many solicitors, if any, other than your neighbors' kids selling items for school fundraisers."

Even if you're an A-list celebrity or a high-ranking executive, you can rest assured that gawker/stalker types (and their phone cameras) will be kept far.

Supersized amenities

"Every gated community has a homeowners association," says Bai. That means you could get a swimming pool, private park, kids' playground, off-leash dog park, hiking trails, jogging and cycling pathways, exercise center, community clubhouse, golf course, and/or tennis courts along with your new home.

While you will have to pay a monthly HOA fee to cover these benefits, having them all nearby may be worth the extra cost.

Upkeep that’s kept up

HOA dues also cover monthly upkeep and landscaping of common spaces, roads, walkways, and curbs in a gated community, "which helps make the neighborhood look cleaner and nicer," according to Bai. This upkeep may even include your own front (and back) yard, resulting in less grass mowing for you.

Less traffic

Forget about speeders. According to Jeff Nelson, a real estate agent with IXL Real Estate in Daphne, AL, anxious commuters sporadically zoom past your area searching for a shortcut to work. A gated community may be your ideal neighborhood if you value peace & quiet and fewer automobiles on the road.

Let’s face it—it’s kinda bling

Nelson never discourages his clients from purchasing a home in a gated community.

"Most people do feel an extra sense of protection and well-being living there," he admits. "Most people have a sense of exclusivity. Knowing they have something that most people don't is a bit of a status symbol."

However, there is a negative aspect to gated communities.

The disadvantages of a gated community

More time in the car

"Many public amenities, including schools, retail malls, groceries, and medical facilities, must be located outside the gates, and as a result, people may be further away," adds Bai.

In other words, your driving times will most likely increase.

Less affordability

Remember all those wonderful benefits we discussed earlier? Let's go through who's paying for them again.

"Because of their attractiveness, properties inside gated communities tend to be more expensive than identical residences outside the gates," adds Bai.

Your creativity may be stifled

"If you want to make a specific aesthetic enhancement to your home—say, a funky door or a solar-paneled roof—you might not receive approval" from your HOA, says gated community resident and residential real estate expert Alison Bernstein of Suburban Jungle, a strategic relocation firm that helps families relocate to the suburbs.

Some people enjoy having to follow rigid regulations. If you're more of a rebel, you might want to reconsider your home hunt.

Trickier access for deliveries

Homeowners in many gated communities are given a number code that opens the gate. If something goes wrong, you could be (temporarily) screwed. And if you give your plumber/pizza guy the wrong phone number, deliveries that you need right now may be delayed.

Hosting parties just got harder

"The most common concern we've received from clients is the difficulties of throwing holiday parties at their gated community home," says Jeff Miller, co-founder of the Baltimore real estate firm AE Home Group.

"These communities require that each attendee be pre-registered and gate credentials are supplied prior to the event," Miller notes. "Passes are routinely forgotten, and homeowners regularly find themselves calling the gatehouse to confirm access when they should be spending that time playing host to their guests.

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