There are positives and negatives to living in gated communities. Some people never give them a thought, while others find them to be a pain. Opinions vary, so it's best to know upfront how you feel before jumping in.
It would be smart to have a contingency to perform due diligence on all aspects of the neighborhood before moving forward with the purchase.
Buying a house or condo is a significant investment. It would help if you were happy with what you buy. The location will be a key consideration.
What Are The Pros of Living in a Gated Community
Some people feel safer living in a gated community. It gives them a sense of security. Everyone must be cleared through the gate, whether guard gated, virtual, or buzzer gated. You cannot just drive-in. Gated communities are private.
Soliciting is not allowed. This is usually not an issue since people can't get in without clearing the gate.
This is a very personal opinion. There is no right or wrong here. What it comes down to is your comfort level. Understanding where you are buying is certainly important.
Rules and Regulations
Living in a gated community includes a governing board, either a homeowner's association or a condo association. Either way, the community will have rules and regulations within their bylaws and documents that must be followed.
Rules may be simple or more complex, depending on the community. For example, many communities have pet restrictions. This could be a problem for a pet lover if they have a particular breed of dog or multiple pets. There may be a rule regarding how you take your pet outside in condos.
There may be rules regarding rentals and how many times per year you may rent your unit. Or, there may be rules regarding signs either outside your home or on vehicles in your driveway,
Each gated community has different rules and regulations. It is good to get a copy of them before buying a home.
Should you want to add a pool, a fence, screen in your patio, change windows or anything done to the exterior of the home, you usually have to file an architectural application with the homeowner's association.
You decide what you'd like to do. Call in contractors. Decide which proposal you want to go with. Then submit it for approval and the application to the architectural committee.
Specific gated communities may limit the fences you're allowed to put up. They may require you to use bronze or white aluminum fencing to keep the community uniform-looking.
Other gated communities may get together and paint the houses every 5-7 years. They will select about six colors to choose from. In this case, no, you can't go off to the store and buy your own color. You will have an opportunity to select one of theirs.
Many gated communities have clubhouses with amenities. This promotes social interaction, which is good for you. It's good to get out and talk to people. You might even make some friends. You don't have to join in, but it's there if you choose to.
What Are The Cons of Living in a Gated Community
There could be a bit of a wait as cars and vendors must be cleared through the gate to enter. Sometimes people forget to call them in, so the guard must reach out to the homeowner. Most people are patient; others are not. If it's Monday morning, it will probably be busier than later on.
Some people feel gated communities provide a false sense of security. In today's world, we have all types of deliveries. People are going in and out, various workmen and others. They do not feel as secure.
However, this does range by the community. Some gated communities are patrolled by air, land, and sea. Expensive, yes, but they exist. I know of another that has a whole staff of guards with cameras. This is also a costly community. However, they know every person and pet in the community and have cameras showing the community as a whole at every moment.
The average gated community doesn't go to this extent, so as far as security goes, I think it's a matter of personal opinion and preference.
Rules and Regulations Cons
Rules and regulations aren't all that bad, but there are rules. No, you cannot paint your house black or bright purple. Odds are this won't be allowed by the homeowner's association. Gated communities often have strict codes to be followed.
This funny and true story happened in a gated community I lived in.
One of the neighbors, who had a corner lot, placed a full-sized model of a standing cow complete with a red ribbon and bell. The neighbors went ballistic! You can only imagine. They did not appreciate the cow on the front lawn. It was quite the talk of the neighborhood.
A complaint was filed. The homeowner was told to remove the cow, which they did. However, because this was a corner lot with floor-to-ceiling windows, this house had a full-size orangutang hanging inside the living room window. Because the orangutang was inside the house, there was nothing the association could do. It was a decorative object inside the house! True story - I'll never forget it!
So, what does this tell us?
You will probably not be allowed to place a full-size model cow or anything similar on your front lawn.
There may be rules about parking on the street at night or what type of roof can be put on should you decide to replace the current one.
If you have multiple pets or what they call an aggressive-type dog, please check the pet restrictions for the gated community you're looking at. Look for a pet-friendly gated community and ensure your pets will be accepted.
Most people have no problem adhering to the association's rules when doing work on their homes. They follow the rules, and all is well.
Others do not want to be told what to do. They may want to paint their house bright orange and fence the front yard or whatever it is.
They just want to do what they want to do, and that's perfectly fine. This type of buyer would do better in buying a single-family home on a street where there are no rules or regulations except what the city or county requires.
There is something for everyone.
Some people think gated communities are more expensive. I don't necessarily agree with this except for the two above mentioned examples. Perhaps it's because where I'm located, homes and condos - gated or not - near the water are quite expensive.
There are advantages and disadvantages to living in gated communities. If you're thinking of buying a home in a gated community, think about what's important to you.
If living with rules bothers you, a gated community may not be your place. On the other hand, the rules may not be as bad as you think. At the end of the day, it's your personal preference and where you feel most comfortable.
If you are okay with a gated community, then it's time to take it a step further. Decide what type of gated community is right for you - an all-age community, 55+ community, golf community, or one of the other gated communities.
About the author: The above article on the pros and cons of gated communities was written by Elyse Berman. Elyse is a seasoned REALTOR® in Boca Raton, FL, and a retired court reporter.
She focuses on pet-friendly real estate helping buyers and sellers. She also helps people who have no pets! She has been a local resident for 27 years, and she has extensive knowledge of the Boca/Delray/Highland Beach/Boynton Beach real estate market.
Service areas include Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Highland Beach, Boynton Beach, and surrounding areas.