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Discover Gated Communities

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Gated communities — sometimes called planned communities — cater to specific demographics. These unique residential neighborhoods are available in most parts of the country. Home styles include single-family homes, townhomes, and condos. Prices range from starter to high-priced luxury. Whether you have a family, are retiring, or are looking for a high-tech smart community, read on to discover if a gated community could be the right choice for you.

What is a gated community?

A gated community is planned around the architectural desires and common interests of the residents. Each community has specific home styles and landscaping to create a cohesive and aesthetic environment. The developer brings in the utilities, creates the streets, divides the land into plots, creates several different home designs, and includes amenities for a specific demographic.

Planned communities cater to:

  • Growing families
  • 55+ and retirees
  • A mix of families and 55+
  • Golfers and outdoor lovers
  • Luxury homeowners
  • High-tech professionals 

And if you're wondering: Is a gated community private property? Yes, it is, and that's the appeal to many homeowners. The community isn't open to the general public. Visitors have to be called in. In most cases, there's less crime, and residents aren't bothered by solicitors.

One important thing to keep in mind is, every community has a homeowner's association (HOA) that sets the rules. Read them before you buy a home to make sure they won't cramp your lifestyle.

There are also master-planned communities where several builders will have a section and offer their homes. So, there might be one neighborhood with larger two-story homes perfect for growing families. Another area may offer luxury single-level homes designed for entertaining.

States with the most planned communities include:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Arizona

Here's some interesting information about the origins of this type of community from the NY Times archives:

"Because gated communities in their contemporary form first began in resort and retirement areas, they are most common in the Sunbelt states of the Southeast and Southwest. After that, they began to appear in metropolitan areas in all parts of the country. They came later to the Northeast, Midwest, and Northwest, where the trend toward gating is now growing rapidly. In absolute numbers, California and Florida are home to the most gated communities, with Texas running a distant third. Gated communities are also common around New York City, Chicago, and other major metropolitan areas, but they are found nearly everywhere--in Oregon, Washington, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Nevada, and the District of Columbia suburbs of Virginia and Maryland. Because they are primarily a phenomenon of metropolitan agglomerations, they are rare in largely rural states like the Dakotas, Vermont, and West Virginia."

Gated Community Homes

Each developer designs their gated community houses to go with the demographics of their target market and the surroundings. For example, in California, homes could be larger on smaller parcels. New Mexico architecture features southwestern charm and highlights energy-efficiency.

Many Florida homes in planned communities cater to the 55+ and offer single-story designs. Some new Colorado developments near Denver are catering to families and young professionals.

Besides the home design, many communities offer specific amenities like:

  • Golf courses, basketball, and tennis courts
  • Water sports like pools, lagoons, and lakes
  • Clubhouses, restaurants, bars, and shops
  • Parks, trails, indoor and outdoor recreation
  • Meeting facilities and conference rooms for telecommuters
  • Smart homes with enhanced security, remote access, and energy efficiency
  • Smart communities with advanced internet, solar energy, and home systems

To pay for these amenities, expect homeowner's dues. Make sure you take these into account when you're looking at how much home you can afford.

Gated Community Condos

Just as there are communities with single-family homes, there are also condo communities. These are more prevalent in or near big cities. For example, the San Francisco Bay area sees more new gated communities with condos rather than single-family homes. Price and availability of land have a lot to do with it. Plus, many professionals prefer low-maintenance living where they don't have a yard to take care of.

Historically condominiums are less expensive than single-family homes unless it's a luxury community. In some beach communities, condos are the only choice. And the better the view, the higher the price tag. 

55+ Gated Communities

The 55+ community began in the 60s and continues today. Baby boomers especially love these planned communities. Not only can they make new friends with similar interests, but they can also have a new home without the hassle of trying to build a custom one themselves. There's much to be said about this type of living situation that caters to retirees and those soon-to-be-retired. In most cases, these communities are close to shopping and medical facilities. Some offer single-family homes, townhomes, and condominiums.

If you're interested in a particular community, it's smart to find a real estate agent specializing in that location. Many planned communities are close-knit and create a sense of belonging in today's homeowners are looking for. Take the time to explore your options. Check out the amenities and community events. With enough shopping and research, you'll indeed find the perfect fit.

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