Considering the number of gated communities in the Sarasota area, I often get asked about the upsides and downsides to owning property in them. The most recent data on gated communities in the U.S. comes from the 2009 American Housing Survey for the United States, conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau. At the time, the survey estimated that 11% of residential communities were gated or secured, and approximately 57% had a special entry system. Since both of those numbers are probably a bit higher in Sarasota, I like my clients to know what to expect from a gated community when they’re shopping for a new home.
A Bit More Peace and Quiet
Gated communities are usually a bit off the beaten trail, and the heightened security cuts down on traffic. Even those near to higher-traffic areas have walls to cut down on noise pollution. Some gated communities are also age-restricted, so noise from night-owl neighbors or kids at play can sometimes become less of a nuisance factor.
Life in a gated community creates a comfortable cloister from the outside world, meaning fewer solicitors other than the possible neighborhood kid selling magazine subscriptions, candles, or Girl Scout cookies (which certainly wouldn’t bother most!). The downside is that some people do sometimes feel a sense of isolation from the rest of the community, so you may have to make a point to get up and go out more.
A Stronger Sense of Security
Obviously, the extra security that comes with having a guard-monitored gate is merit enough, and many gated communities include security cameras at key locations. Gated communities generally have a lower crime rate, and decreased traffic means safer streets for children to play near. However, you must understand that the extra security can occasionally require the sacrifice of waiting in lines to get to work in the morning.
The Aura of Exclusivity
Many people love living in a gated community simply because we as people like to feel special. Gated communities have their own codes, their own clubhouses, and special amenities that provide a sense of ownership and comfort.
A Higher Cost of Living
The perks of living in a gated community do have their price point. Home Owner Association fees are often quite a bit higher than standard condominium associations due to the increased infrastructure and security. While gated communities are generally an even mix of 49.6% renters and 50.4% home owners, residents of gated communities are the ones who pay for the guards, the pristine landscaping, and the serene, pothole-free streets.
A Stricter Code of Conduct
Deed restrictions and stronger code enforcement often make exterior remodeling -- even fresh paint -- a challenge and sometimes forbidden in gated communities. Some find the handful of models to choose from rather limiting as well. While many people appreciate the stability and aesthetic that this offers, gated communities are not always the best places for do-it-yourself-ers. As codes also often restrict exterior decoration and even the size of vehicles that can park in your driveway, happy gated community residents leave their boats at the marina, their RVs in storage, and the landscaping to the gardeners.
The Opportunity for Community
In a gated community, the exclusivity also creates an inclusivity within its gates. Given that community events are planned around the pool, at the clubhouse, and throughout the neighborhood, gated community residents are given ample opportunities to get to know their neighbors. Considering that an estimated 22% of gated community residents are 65 and older, senior citizens can easily make friends and forge new relationships for the golden years.
Now that you know more about the pros and cons, please contact me if you're interested in gated community living. If you don’t feel that it’s for you, tell me more about your ideal neighborhood so I can help you find the perfect Sarasota property.
Sarasota Area Real Estate Specialist