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Gated Communities in South Africa | The Pros and Cons

Havana Dauncey
Gated Communities in South Africa | The Pros and Cons

Moving to a gated community?

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Are you looking to leave the standalone house behind and opt for a secure, close-knit community in a residential estate? Well, you’re not the only one.

More and more South Africans are choosing gated communities instead of freestanding properties. In fact, 1 in 10 South Africans are choosing luxury gated communities when making residential property decisions, even though gated communities only represent 15% of the value of the entire property market, according to Lightstone.

So what makes gated communities so popular in South Africa? Why are other South Africans still hesitant to take the leap? And most importantly, is a gated community the perfect new home for you? Well, here’s the complete list of the pros and cons of gated communities in South Africa to help you find the answers!

What is a gated community?

Also known as a residential or lifestyle estate, a gated community is a collection of residential units that are sectioned off, surrounded by a gate and only accessible to its residents and their guests. Gated communities are for every kind of homeowner — whether you’re a young couple, a big family or ready to retire in a retirement estate.

What are the pros and cons of gated communities?

Gated communities typically come with 24/7 guards at the entrance, fenceless properties and some fun communal facilities. They’re also often associated with exclusivity, status and luxury, especially when looking at some of the high-end lifestyle estates.

Gated communities are particularly prevalent in South Africa’s cities with half of the 8 000 gated communities found in Gauteng and a quarter in the Western Cape.

Gated Community Pros

1. Higher security - more freedom

Probably the #1 draw of gated communities in South Africa is its superior security. As a global crime hotspot, many South Africa prioritise safety when choosing where to live.

Gated communities provide a lot more security than regular standalone properties due to their host of patrolling security officers, 24/7 surveillance, electric fencing, intercoms and controlled access, resulting in a much lower crime rate.

2. Speed control - you'll hate it and love it

Gated communities offer not only better security but also safety, particularly for children and pets. They tend to have less traffic and more speed control with regular speed bumps and a max speed limit of 40km/h.

This makes it a lot safer for children to play outside in the street or around the neighbourhood. It’s also safer in the case a pet gets out of the house and goes on a little adventure.

3. Close-knit communities are often easier to form

In gated communities, you often get just that — a community! With the area being safer and more secluded, residents of residential estates tend to be a lot friendlier to their neighbours, especially when there are communal facilities. It’s hard not to get to know your neighbours when you often bump into them at the shared pool, park or sports facilities.

This is especially great for families, as it’s very easy for your children to meet new friends and have other kids to play with nearby in a safe environment.

4. Extra facilities - who doesn't love a pool you don't have to clean

While it’s usually reflected in the cost, gated communities can come with some super convenient and fun shared facilities. This can include a swimming pool, sports field, park, courts, golf course, playground and bicycle paths.

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These facilities are not only super convenient, being nearby but also offer extra privacy and exclusivity. Accessible only to residents, you know that they’ll never be too full or unsafe.

5. Higher standard of properties because of rules and shared incentive

With all residential units in a gated community being managed and maintained by the management of the gated community, you can always be sure your property will be of a certain standard. You are also guaranteed that the facilities, roads, and upkeep of the area will stay in tip-top condition. And the best part — this is the responsibility of the management and not you.

It’s also easy to find newer and more modern properties in residential estates compared to many freestanding homes with the surge of new residential estates being built due to their great demand in South Africa.

6. Eco-friendliness is easier to promote and sustain

If eco-friendly living is important to you, you can find many eco-friendly gated communities that have environmentally sustainable systems in place already set up for you!

This can include energy-efficient home designs and greener, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind or water sources, which can decrease your energy bill. There may also be systems in place for better water conservation. The estate could even make use of more eco-friendly building materials.

7. Better investment and easier rentals

While gated communities tend to come with higher property prices, they’re often great investments with lots of financial rewards.

Their esteemed amenities, top-notch security and sought-after exclusivity lead to an increasing demand for gated communities in South Africa. This means that their value tends to rise over time with a greater resale value.

Gated Community Cons

1. Higher property prices in Gated Communities

Residential units in gated communities tend to be a lot more expensive than freestanding properties. In fact, the average property price within gated communities in South Africa is R2 million — almost 3 times the average property price of a standalone home which is R700 000.

But you’re getting quite a lot of value with the higher price and may be worth it. And remember, gated communities do also range from simple to luxury, so there are options for all budgets.

2. Extra costs - levies, rates and taxes, and the dreaded special levies!

With these higher property prices, it’s important to consider that there also tend to be quite a few extra costs. This includes taxes, levies and maintenance costs that are paid to the gated community management for the general upkeep of the shared area. These monthly costs can cover rates, security, repairs, road maintenance, pest control and shared water costs.

Added up on top of the price of your property, it can become quite costly, especially if you have high-maintenance facilities like a swimming pool or golf course.

3. More rules and regulations - some you'll like, some you won't

Some residents in gated communities can become frustrated with all the rules and regulations of the estate. These regulations are set by the management board and must be followed by all residents. This could include whether or not the estate is child or pet-friendly, noise policies as well as what kind of structural changes you can make to your property.

Because of this, some homeowners prefer an independent home where they don’t have to ask about adding a pool or getting a dog. However, other residents prefer it if the regulations suit their preferences and are thus guaranteed a neighbourhood to their liking.

4. Smaller properties - but who needs extra lawn to mow

While this isn’t the case with more luxurious lifestyle estates, most gated communities can have smaller properties compared to standalone houses. Naturally, because many residential estates try to fit as many units in as possible, you don’t always have the space that a normal home provides and can sometimes be on top of your neighbours.

You may find limited garden or car space, however, it does depend on the estate.

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5. Less privacy / more community?

While you get a lot more privacy from the outside world in a gated community, you may find you have less privacy from within. In some cases, units might fit quite close together, so you and your neighbours may be closer than you’d like.

There also tends to be a lack of fencing or gates around units within a gated community which means it’s easier for a wandering pet or stray ball to find its way into your property.

6. Visitors can be tricky - and let's not get started on the parking

While the main gate and controlled access are a major perk for extra security, it can also be a big hassle when you’re expecting visitors. All visitors will need to go through the gate and sign in before finding their way to your property. This is particularly tricky if you’re hosting a party. And don’t forget about trying to find the parking space for everyone without bending some estate rules.

Deliveries also aren’t easy, as you’ll have to leave your home and make your way to the entrance of the estate to confirm and pick up your delivery.

Are gated communities safe in South Africa

What’s the Verdict on Gated Communities in South Africa?

As you can see, gated communities in South Africa have both their upsides and downsides — it ultimately comes down to what you’re looking for in a new home.

The safety, security and community are major benefits, particularly in a country like South Africa where safety isn’t always guaranteed. However, not everyone can afford the steep property prices plus all the extra costs. Some people also may struggle with the strict rules and prefer the freedom of having their own independent home.

It’s completely up to you, your needs, your budget, your priorities and your lifestyle. Just make sure to compare all your options and check that all the regulations suit you and your family.

And once you’ve made the wise choice on where to move, make the Wise Move on how to move. Wise Move offers low-cost, reliable moving companies services trusted by thousands across South Africa all wrapped up in a seamless experience. Get your quote today and take one step closer to your new home in a gated community!

Moving to a gated community?

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