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Exploring the appeal of gated communities in north Orange County

Gated Community

In the 1950s, gated communities were wonders that were usually found in the Sun Belt. Today, you can find a gated community just about anywhere in the country, but most especially in Southern California. In north Orange County alone, many homes for sale– old or brand-new– can be found in such real estate developments.

Below, we’re going to discuss the top reasons why gated communities are extremely popular in the region. We’re also going to dive deeper into the history of this real estate phenomenon and introduce you to some of the most coveted gated communities in north Orange County.

Ready? Let’s get started.

GATED COMMUNITIES: A SHORT HISTORY

Gated communities are a byproduct of suburbanization, which have roots to Industrial-era England. In order to give workers a reprieve from the everyday hustle and bustle, developers started designing planned communities where fresher air and peace can be had. This concept eventually crossed the pond, with the first gated communities in the US created when it was still a British colony.

Some of the first gated communities in the US catered to an upper-income clientele. Tuxedo Park in New York was a retreat for wealthy magnates. Even the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) spent time there. In the 1920s, Bel Air in southern California was created by Alphonzo Bell, who envisioned a community of “gentleman estates.” Bel Air then was so exclusive, even movie stars were banned from purchasing lots.

But in the 1970s, things started to change. Gated communities became planned neighborhoods for retirees, specifically along the Sun Belt. Eventually, real estate developers created gated communities for the middle class. Florida, California, and Texas are said to have the most number of gated communities.

Today, gated communities are available in various price ranges. They’re also no longer limited to just single-family properties. Some gated communities exclusively offer townhomes or condos. Others are so big, they even have smaller guard-gated neighborhoods inside, distinct by their lot sizes and dominant architecture. Meanwhile, a few gated communities have transcended neighborhood status and achieved incorporated cityhood, such as Hidden Hills and Rolling Hills– both in southern California.

Aerial view of Single-family homes

Many people like or aspire to live in gated communities for a multitude of reasons. We rounded up the top and main reasons why:

Enhanced security and safety

As its name suggests, gated communities are, well, gated. Their perimeters are typically fenced or walled. Moreover, there are only a few entry points; these may be monitored by the community’s very own security personnel. Residents are often given special stickers or badges so they can enter the neighborhood easily, while guests may have to undergo a few checks before being allowed inside. Some gated communities are so strict, residents have to call and leave the names of their guests in advance before they’re let in.

Because of the controlled access and physical barriers, gated communities are considered to be safer places to live than “pass-through” neighborhoods. And for those who are especially concerned about their safety, knowing that a gated community has its own security team definitely gives peace of mind.

Gated communities usually have the following security and safety measures:

  • Resident identification: The HOAs of gated communities keep logs of the people who live in the neighborhood. Depending on the gated community, you may be given an ID badge or a unique code to enter the area or access the shared amenities, such as the clubhouse or gym. Vehicle license plates may also be recorded.

  • Advanced notice: If you’re having a party and inviting people who live outside the gated community, you may be required to give the security team an advanced notice. The rules will depend on the HOA, but most of the time, the guests’ names and their vehicle license plates are sufficient. Sometimes, just the names will do.

    This same rule will apply if you’re having work done in your home. The guards must be notified of the contractor’s name or company and other corresponding details.

  • CCTV monitoring: Most gated communities have CCTV cameras installed out in the streets and even in the amenity areas. This way, any suspicious activity is immediately flagged and unauthorized individuals are let out.

  • Security response team: Some gated communities have their own team of emergency responders to assist residents in case something goes awry. You can call them to assess the situation and decide if they need other professional backup.

Community security is usually one of the line items covered by the monthly HOA fees. And as a resident, you have a right to make suggestions or complaints.

Reduced traffic

Since only residents and their authorized guests and contractors can go in and out of the community, reduced traffic within the neighborhood is only to be expected. But its benefits go beyond enjoying leisurely drives around the area.

  • It’s quieter: With less cars on the streets, gated communities are often quieter and more peaceful than their non-gated, pass-through counterparts.

  • The air is cleaner: Sure, many automobile makers are now producing eco-friendlier vehicles, but there’s definitely less air pollution in places where traffic is reduced.

  • The streets are safer: Apart from limiting access to residents and authorized individuals, gated communities and their respective HOAs often impose speed limits throughout the neighborhood. This makes the streets safer for pedestrians, as well as those who use alternative means of transportation (such as bicycles.)

Access to a wide range of amenities

Homes for sale in gated communities widely vary in terms of size, features, and pricing. But you can rest assured that they will always come with lifestyle enhancements in the form of community amenities.

At the very least, gated communities have a few parks, playgrounds, as well as some form of community center. These are considered basic amenities, maintained through the collection of monthly HOA fees. Maintenance of shared areas, along with community security, are sometimes also considered as amenities.

All these said, there are gated communities that go above and beyond when it comes to amenities. Some of the most sought-after gated communities in north Orange County offer the following:

  • Private golf courses: Gated communities with golf facilities are also commonly known as “golf communities.” And as the label implies, it’s all about the golf lifestyle here. Many homes have direct course access, while others offer fairway views. It’s also common for these communities to have practice facilities and golf programs. Some even host their own tournaments, which helps foster community spirit.

    Depending on the community, golf club membership may be voluntary or automatically given with property ownership.

  • Resort-style clubhouses: Clubhouses are commonly defined as buildings used for club activities. But some gated communities have taken this community amenity to another level. While this isn’t the norm, it’s also not uncommon to find gated communities that offer a resort and country club experience.

    Instead of the usual neighborhood pool, some clubhouses have an Olympic-sized lap pool (or two). These resort-style clubhouses also often have several tennis courts and sports facilities. A state-of-the-art gym, as well as wellness spaces, are probably somewhere in the complex. Some of the most upscale gated communities have a couple of restaurants on-site.

  • Outdoor recreation: With more and more people realizing the importance of being out and doing some level of physical activity, many gated communities are also offering outdoor recreational opportunities within their boundaries.

    This is especially true for developments that are located close to local outdoor destinations, such as state parks, beaches, and reserves. That said, most gated communities make do with paved walking paths, hiking trails, and dedicated bike lanes. Another popular amenity are parks, some of which have dedicated picnic facilities such as outdoor grills and gazebos. Although simple, parks function as great third spaces– places where people can gather, socialize, and just be.

  • Retail districts: Commercial spaces are a rarity in gated communities. Some may say they compromise the enhanced safety these neighborhoods promise. That said, there are a few large gated communities in the country with small retail districts. These serve to increase the level of convenience residents can enjoy. The usual concessionaires include small groceries, pet grooming services, hair salons and barber shops.

It should be emphasized that not all gated communities offer the same range or type of amenities. These initially depend on the developers and the target market. Over time, homeowners associations (HOA) can pool funding to add certain amenities. And while this is a generalization, the more upscale a gated community is, the more luxurious the amenities tend to be.

An aerial view of houses of a gated community

Community and social opportunities

Earlier, we mentioned parks and how they function as important third spaces. This is the case not just in gated communities, but everywhere else in the world. And this is also where gated communities excel– in creating plenty of avenues for residents to get out, meet each other, and socialize. Sure, it’s up to the individual to make the decision to go out and mingle with their neighbors. The important thing is that the opportunities are readily available.

Apart from setting up amenities everyone in the community can enjoy, gated neighborhoods and their respective HOAs can host a slew of regular community events. These can range from weekend farmers markets, cookouts, sporting events, and seasonal get-togethers. More proactive HOAs also have a number of clubs residents can join, such as running and book clubs. Do you like Dungeons & Dragons? You might find your next group among your neighbors.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans have been suffering from loneliness and isolation. Both can lead to physical, emotional, and mental consequences. Gated communities can help combat the loneliness epidemic by providing social opportunities and, eventually, a sense of community.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), social connection can lead to many long-term benefits. These include:

  • Lower risk of premature mortality
  • Lower risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Lower risk of developing dementia
  • Improved stress responses
  • Improved academic performance among students
  • Improved hypertension and diabetes management

So if a sense of community and belongingness are at the top of your priority list, consider homes for sale in gated communities.

Enhanced property values

While some argue that homes for sale in gated communities are pricier than their non-gated counterparts, time and appreciation rates suggest that the investment is well worth it.

According to a 2016 study by Florida Atlantic University, homes in gated communities are valued at least $30,000 more than non-gated properties. This is because gated communities are less likely to be affected by safety and maintenance concerns, especially if led by a well-managed HOA. Moreover, homes in gated communities tend to sit on larger lots, offering space to grow and expand should the need ever arise.

Exclusivity and prestige

Gated communities are perceived to be more exclusive than non-gated neighborhoods. After all, the general public can’t get inside without permission or notice. That’s why for many people, owning a home in a gated community has become some sort of a status symbol.

Some gated communities even have limited home sites. The most exclusive of these residential developments attract high-net-worth individuals– from celebrities to royalty– who value privacy above all else.

Aerial picture suburban gated community southern united states during sunset and sunrays

Now that we’ve covered the history of gated communities and why they continue to be appealing real estate options, let’s take a look at gated communities you can find in north Orange County. For this, we’ll cover not only single-family neighborhoods, but townhomes and condos as well.

  1. The Terraces at 100 West by Toll Brothers is a new gated condo community in Anaheim, CA. Potential buyers have three designs to choose from, all of which offer standard features such as roof decks and patios or balconies. Some of the community amenities include an outdoor swimming pool, a dog park, and outdoor BBQ facilities. From here, you’re a short drive away from UC Irvine and the ARTIC Station.

  2. Buena Vida in Brea, CA is the ideal community for active and older buyers. It’s a 55+ gated neighborhood located inside La Floresta, a larger, mixed-use development. There are several home styles by different reputable builders to choose from. At the heart of the community is a private clubhouse with pickleball courts, a spa, and resort-style pool, to name a few amenities.

  3. Lakeside in Buena Park, CA is located a stone’s throw away from Los Coyotes Country Club. There is a good mix of property types here, which include single-family homes, condos, and townhouses. One of Lakeside’s highlights is its 8-acre man-made lake, which is surrounded by walking paths, parks, boating docks, designated fishing spots, and outdoor fire pits.

  4. Parkhurst is a sought-after gated community in Fullerton, CA for several reasons. Housing options are available in a wide price range, and sizes widely vary as well. These are divided into three smaller neighborhoods: Parkhurst Estates, Parkhurst Collection, and Parkhurst Gallery. Community amenities here include swimming pools, spas, lighted tennis courts, and hiking trails.

  5. Westridge in La Habra, CA is a perfect example of a gated golf course community. Its main draw is definitely its access to the top-rated Westridge Golf Club and its par-72 course designed by Robert Muir Graves and Damian Pascuzzo. About 400 homes surround this golf course. The entire community covers approximately 400 acres of prime La Habra land.

  6. Granada Park is an upscale gated community in Placentia, CA, where single-family homes start at 2,300 sq. ft. in size and the average price is just over $1 million. There are only 180 home sites available here, which helps ensure a tight-knit community. Residents all enjoy a bevy of amenities, which include tennis courts, swimming pools, and a modern clubhouse.

  7. The Enclave is located in Yorba Linda, CA features some of the most luxurious properties in the local housing market. This gated community is perched up on the hills and is reminiscent of the Tuscan countryside. Luxury homes at The Enclave range from 4,800 sq. ft. to 6,000 sq. ft. The centerpiece of the community is its private clubhouse, where residents can find a neighborhood park and a detached dining terrace.

LET JOHN LEWIS YBARRA REALTORS GUIDE YOU

John Lewis Ybarra Realtors have been serving north Orange County and neighboring Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles since 1984. Our team has all the tools and knowledge you need to make an informed decision when buying homes for sale in a gated community.

Our team is excited to show you your real estate opportunities in north Orange County’s gated communities. Let’s talk so we can learn more about your dream home. Call us at 714.313.9739 or send us an email here so we can get started.



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