There is something uniquely American about gated communities. Usually tucked away in the suburbs, they are given majestic titles, such as Yosemite Rivers or Acadia Meadows. They feature narrow, winding streets that also have cutsey names like Bubbling Brook Circle. If you can stand the naming, you have the actual houses. While many of them tend to be large 3-bedrooms or bigger, they do tend to all look the same. Most of them feature manicured lawns that look better than the local municipal golf course. But for some people, this is a snapshot of the American Dream. Should you buy a home in a gated community? Let’s take a look at some of the plusses and minuses.
A big plus for most potential homeowners is that houses in gated communities keep their value. Since maintenance rules for most gated communities are so strict and there is very little through-traffic, the values of homes in most gated communities tends to stay high. Reselling your home if you have to move away is also easier.
A minus for many is the evil homeowners association. The scope of what a homeowners association asks of its homeowners has become the stuff of legend. The ridiculous standards to which a home and lawn must be kept can drive a person crazy. Everything from the color you’re allowed to paint your home, to how you decorate it, to what you’re allowed to keep on your lawn are all up to the local homeowners association, not you. This is more than most people can stomach after paying a few hundred grand for a house. But some find the conformity comforting.
A plus if you have kids is the safety of a gated community. Of course, the community is much safer if your gate is guarded and the gate mechanism deters people from following the car in front into the community. But there is little doubt that little Johnny and Sarah will be safer riding their bikes on streets with very little traffic and excruciatingly slow speed limits found in most gated communities.
Just like the guard at the gate can work in your favour to keep riff raff out as well as drunk drivers targeting your kids, the gate guard can work against you, too. Every time you order a pizza, or if you need an emergency visit from the plumber, you have to let the gate guard know and have them buzzed in. This can be a hassle, and more times than not, you’ll probably forget and this will leave your visitor stranded.
Buying a house is a stressful enough decision in life but when you factor in the pros and cons of living in a gated community, the process can seem overwhelming. The best piece of advice of all is to talk to those that already live in a gated community and see what it’s really like before you take the plunge.