Born in the UK, Paul now lives in central Florida. He has extensive experience in gated communities in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
What Are the Cons of Living in a Gated Community?
Is living in a gated community worth it? Although living in a gated community can work out well for many people, others are seduced by the dream only to find that the reality is a disappointment. That's why it's important to consider the downsides as well as the positives if you are thinking of moving to a secured or gated neighborhood. This article lists the ten main disadvantages of living in a gated community.
The 10 Main Problems With Living in a Gated Community
- High Prices
- Inconvenient Locations
- Restrictive Rules
- Social Isolation
- Security Issues
- Guardhouse Frustrations
- Gate Fees
- Lack of Civic Power
- Lack of Diversity
- Monitoring and Lack of Privacy
I explain each downside in detail in the sections below.
1. High Prices
Both purchase and rental prices tend to be significantly higher for properties within gated communities when compared with their non-gated equivalents. HOA (homeowner association) fees can also be fairly extravagant because you are paying extra for the maintenance of the gates and general security.
Internal roads are private, so residents must also pay for their upkeep. If there are leisure facilities, such as golf courses, swimming pools, and tennis courts, you'll likely end up paying for those, too. In short, if you want to live in a private neighborhood, you should be prepared to pay a variety of monthly fees and expenses that you wouldn't otherwise have to in addition to a higher rent or mortgage payment.
2. Inconvenient Locations
Most gated communities are built in outlying areas with few amenities nearby. There generally isn't much public transport available nearby, so you will likely need to drive some distance in your own car to experience the attractions of downtown areas, such as restaurants, stores, parks, sporting events, concerts, and arts events.
This also means that even routine chores like going to the store or taking your children to school can become tiresome. Local medical, dental, and educational facilities may also be limited. If there are facilities nearby that cater toward your private community in particular, they are likely to be higher priced than equivalent facilities elsewhere if most of their traffic comes from nearby.
3. Restrictive Rules
In most private communities, there are many rules to obey. These might include restrictions on what colors you can paint your house, how high the grass in your lawn is allowed to grow, what sorts of vehicles you can own, and where you can park.
Some people like these rules, as they can help keep property prices up, but if you prefer individuality and self-expression to uniformity—or you just have a more laid-back approach—you may struggle to adjust to the restrictions gated communities place on their residents.
4. Social Isolation
Gated communities tend to operate like islands since interaction with the people in the surrounding areas tends to be limited. That's part of the point, of course, but this can lead to a sense of isolation. Some gated neighborhoods have a strong sense of community, which can more than make up for any negatives, but this can't be relied upon.
Residents who don't have family or existing friends nearby may find it difficult to feel a sense of community. Additionally, the communities that exist within private neighborhoods tend to be more homogenous than those without. If you tend to enjoy variety in your social circles, you may find gated communities somewhat sterile.
5. Security Issues
The general perception of gated communities is that they are far safer and more secure than non-gated neighborhoods, but the truth is more complex. Putting up a surrounding wall or fence doesn't necessarily prevent crime.
If the gate isn't protected by a security guard and instead relies on a keypad-operated automatic system, problems can arise. Security codes can easily become compromised when people are routinely giving them out to friends, family, pizza delivery folks, and other random visitors.
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Additionally, since gated communities have the reputation of housing wealthy residents, opportunistic burglars may see them as a good place to look for high-value items.
6. Gatehouse Frustrations
It may seem appealing to have gates and guards to restrict access since they might deter unwelcome visitors, but it can be frustrating when you have to go through those gates every day. You may have to wait in a line just to get in or out depending on what times you tend to come and go.
Every time you have a family member or friend visit, you have to inform the guard just so that they can gain entrance. If your family loves hosting company, and relatives and family friends are frequent houseguests, you may grow frustrated with gate logistics over time.
7. Service Limitations and Gate Fees
A lot of gated communities limit the hours during which contractors can come work at residents' homes. For this reason, projects that take a week at a normal home may take much longer at a home in a gated community.
Some even make commercial services ordered by the residents pay a gate fee (I've seen them as high as 20 or 30 dollars). These fees inevitably get passed on to the homeowner, as contractors are not usually required to pay a fee to get to their clients, so the responsibility rightly falls on the resident.
8. Lack of Civic Power
The vast majority of gated communities are privately owned. That typically means that the developer makes all the rules, and the residents have very little civic power. Certain rights that homeowners and renters are entitled to in normal neighborhoods may not exist in private communities, so it is important to educate yourself about a community's internal stipulations before making a decision to move.
9. Lack of Diversity
It's not just the housing that tends to be uniform—the people who live in gated communities in the United States tend to be wealthy and white. In many communities, the majority are also politically conservative. Of course, this isn't a hard-and-fast rule. I'm sure there are some communities that are more diverse or more liberal-leaning, but in my experience, the vast majority tend to be dominated by whiteness, wealth, and conservatism.
Private retirement communities may also have age restrictions. If you like social variation, or you don't fit in with the majority, then gated communities may not be the best choice for you.
10. Monitoring and Lack of Privacy
Having a guard at the gate has advantages in terms of security and reducing crime, but it can also be uncomfortable to know that all the visitors to your home are being vetted and recorded. With a monitored gate, a degree of privacy is lost.
Since gated communities are private, there may also be other security measures in place, including non-gate security personnel and security cameras within the community.
What Is the Purpose of a Gated Community?
The aim of a gated community is to create a subdivision or master-planned community with a sense of security and exclusivity. Crime is deterred or prevented by restricting access to the community.
Entrance gates are monitored and controlled by security staff, or they are automated and require password codes or other forms of ID to pass through. Accordingly, through traffic is effectively eliminated. In addition to security and low traffic, gated communities come with a host of other advantages not discussed in this article.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Paul Goodman
Liz Westwood from UK on December 07, 2018:
The cost is something that I would have concerns about, as I wonder how much control, if any, residents would have over fees levied on the community for the upkeep of facilities. Swimming pools are great, but they don't come cheap.