Gated Community

Gated Communities Usually Consist of
Small Residential Streets

In its modern form, a gated community is a form of residential community containing controlled entrances for pedestrians, bicycles, and automobiles, and sometimes characterized by a closed perimeter of walls and fences. Gated communities usually consist of small residential streets and include various amenities. For smaller communities this may be only a park or other common area. For larger communities, it may be possible for residents to stay within the community for most day-to-day activities. Gated communities are a type of common interest development, but are distinct from intentional communities. In countries with a low Human Development Index and/or high Gini coefficient, gated communities provide genuine security to the upper class as well as expatriates.

Though they are called communities, there is no evidence to suggest that social capital is any higher within them than other forms of residential development. Given that they are spatially a type of enclave, they are more likely to have negative contributions to the overall social capital of the broader community.

Some gated communities, usually called guard-gated communities, are staffed by private security guards and are often home to high-value properties, or set up as retirement villages. Some gated communities are secure enough to resemble fortresses

The book, 'Behind the Gates: Life, Security, and the Pursuit of Happiness in Fortress America' - During the last two decades, hundreds of thousands of upper and middle class families have made a retreat to gated communities. In 2002, it was estimated that one American in every eight has moved to these exclusive neighborhoods. What has set off this alarming trend? Setha Low's revealing report, Behind the Gates, is an account of what life's all about within these suburban fortresses.


The amenities available depend on many factors including location, demographic composition, and community structure. When there are sub-associations that belong to master associations, the master association may provide many of the amenities. In general, the larger the association the more amenities that can be provided. Amenities depend on the type of housing. For example, single-family-house communities may not have a common-area pool, since the individual owners may want their own pools; whereas a condominium may offer a pool, since the individual units generally cannot have their own pools.

High Security Restricted Access

In some gated communities to enter the person must be a registered resident with photo ID or the person must have a friend in the gated community who gives specific permission (via phone or internet) to the security guards at the gate to this effect "my friend Joe Smith will visit me in the next hour or so, his drivers license number is XXXXXX, let him in".

Typical amenities offered can include one or more

A worldwide phenomenon

In Brazil, the most widespread form of gated community is called "condomínio fechado" (closed housing estate) and is the object of desire of the upper classes. Such a place is a small town with its own infrastructure (backup power supply, sanitation, and security guards). The purpose of such a community is to protect its residents from outside violence. The same philosophy is seen on closed buildings and most shopping centers (many of them can only be accessed from inside the parking lot or the garage).

Protective 'spikes' help ensure the safety of residents living in 'security-zone' communities
In Panama, people buy houses inside of them because of the increased security, mainly in big cities. The majority of these gated communities are built for the middle and upper middle classes. They are preferred from condos and apartments because of lower community payment, higher feelings of privacy, and lower house prices.

In Argentina, they are called "barrios privados" (literal translation "private neighborhoods") or just "countries" and are often seen as a symbol of wealth. However, gated communities enjoy dubious social prestige (many members of the middle and middle upper class regard gated community dwellers as nouveaux riches or snobs). While most gated communities have only houses, some bigger ones, such as Nordelta, have their own hospital, school, shopping mall, and more. In recent years, this influx of people going from the big cities to the gated communities has experienced a backlash in Argentina. Visiting Buenos Aires, the renowned geographer and urbanist Jordi Borja from Spain who teaches urban planning at the University of Barcelona criticized gated communities calling them "the negation of cities". Architect and university professor Marcela Camblor, who heads the Urban Design Dept in Florida, USA told the La Nacion newspaper that "the gated communities experiment has failed", calling them "unsustainable from the economic, social, and now even energetic point of view".

In post-apartheid South Africa, gated communities have mushroomed in response to high levels of violent crime. South African gated communities are broadly classified as "security villages" (large-scale privately developed areas) or "enclosed neighborhoods". Some of the newest neighborhoods being developed are almost entirely composed of security villages, with a few isolated malls and other essential services (such as hospitals). A common mode of development of the security villages involves staking out a large land claim, building a high wall surrounding the entire zone, then gradually adding roads and other infrastructure. In part, property developers have adopted this response to counter squatting, which local residents fear due to associated crime, and which often results in a protracted eviction process. Crime syndicates have been known to acquire property in some of these security villages to be used as a base for their operations within them.

They are popular in southern China, namely the Pearl River Delta Region. These communities are often purchased by overseas Chinese, Hong Kong Chinese, and new-rich local Chinese.

In Saudi Arabia, gated communities have existed since the discovery of oil, mainly to accommodate Westerners and their families. After threat levels raised since the late 1990s against Westerners in general and Americans in particular, gates have become armed, sometimes heavily, and all vehicles have been inspected. Marksmen and SANG armored vehicles appeared in certain times, markedly after recent terrorist attacks in areas nearby, targeting Westerners.


Proponents of gated communities (and to a lesser degree, of culs-de-sac) maintain that the reduction or exclusion of people that would just be passing through, or more generally, of all non-locals, makes any "stranger" much more recognizable in the closed local environment, and thus reduces crime danger. This view has been attacked as unrealistic - since only a very small proportion of all non-locals passing through the area are potential criminals, increased traffic should increase rather than decrease safety by having more people around whose presence could deter criminal behavior or who could provide assistance during an incident.

Another criticism is that gated communities offer a false sense of security. Some studies indicate that safety in gated communities may be more illusion than reality, showing that gated communities have no less crime than non-gated neighborhoods.

Common economic model types

    Lifestyle — country clubs, retirement developments. Prestige — gates for status appeal Security zone communities — gates for crime and traffic. Purpose-designed communities - catering to foreigners (ie. worker compounds in the Middle East, built largely for the oil industry)


A limited number of gated communities have long been established for foreigners in various regions of the world:
    The worker compounds in the Middle East, built largely for the oil industry. The closed cities of Russia are also an example of purpose-designed gated communities.


There are many gated communities in Argentina, especially in Greater Buenos Aires, in the "partido" (county) of Pilar, 60 km N of Ciudad de Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires Federal District), as well as in other suburban areas, such as Nordelta.

Even though Tortugas Country Club was the first gated community developed in Argentina-dating from the 1930s/1940's-most of them date form the 1990s, when liberal reforms were consolidated.

Since Buenos Aires has been traditionally regarded as a socially integrated city, gated communities have been the object of research by sociologists. Gated communities are regarded as a direct consequence of social polarization originated by liberal reforms.


Although gated communities have been relatively rare in Australia, since the 1980s a few have been built. The most well-known are those at Hope Island, in particular Sanctuary Cove, on the Gold Coast of Queensland. Other similar projects are being built in the area. In Victoria, the first such development is Sanctuary Lakes, in the local government area of Wyndham, about 16 km south west of Melbourne city. In NSW there is Macquarie Links gated community. Many Australian gated communities are built alongside golf courses.


Brazil also has many gated communities, particularly in the metropolitan regions Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. For example, one of São Paulo's suburbs, Tamboré, has at least 6 such compounds known as Tamboré 1, 2, 3, and so on. Each consists of generously spaced detached houses with very little to separate front gardens.

One of the first big-scale gated community projects in São Paulo city region was Barueri's Alphaville, planned and constructed during the 1970s military dictatorship when the big cities of Brazil faced steep increases of car ownership by the white middle and higher-classes, rural exodus, poverty, crime, favelas, urban sprawl and downtown decay, just like happened on the majority of American cities.


Planning laws in some Canadian provinces ban locked gates on public roads as a public health issue (they deny emergency vehicles quick access). Nevertheless, many newer suburban subdivisions employ decorative gates to give the impression of exclusivity and seclusion.


  • Oriental Grand Garden (Pudong District, Shanghai)
  • Vanke Garden City -- (Wuchang District, Wuhan) is a gated community in Hubei Province.
  • Austin Villa (Panyu) --The community consists of row houses, multi storey flats (apartments) and detached homes.
  • China, and Beijing in particular, has experienced a surge in gated communities. These compounds, like most other gated communities around the world, target the rich. Also many foreigners live in gated communities in Beijing . Often foreign companies choose the locations where their foreign employees will live, and in most cases they pay the rent and associated costs (eg. management fees and garden work etc.).


    Gated Communities in Mexico are a result of the huge income gap existing in the country. They are usually found in major cities, such as Monterrey, Mexico City or Guadalajara.


    The Philippines has a sizable number of gated communities or "subdivisions" as they are locally called.

  • Forbes Park in Makati City, Metro Manila - An upper-class subdivision in close-proximity to the Makati Central Business District.
  • Valle Verde in Pasig City, Metro Manila - A series of six separate complexes of homes, all surrounded by walls and guarded by private security guards.
  • Thailand

    Nichada Thani is a gated community based around International School Bangkok.

    United Kingdom

    In the United Kingdom, gated communities can usually be found in London, especially in the Docklands, such as New Caledonian Wharf, Kings and Queen Wharf and Pan Peninsula and East London, for example Bow Quarter in Bow, London, although there is an increasing number across the whole of the country. There are an estimated 1000 gated communities in England.

    United States

    Most gated communities in the U.S. are unincorporated, but uniquely, there are several incorporated gated cities in Southern California, namely Bradbury, Canyon Lake, Hidden Hills, Laguna Woods, and Rolling Hills. To meet legal requirements, the city halls and municipal facilities are public, and private corporations own parks and other facilities within the gates. By 1997, an estimated 20,000 gated communities had been built across the country. Approximately 40% of new homes in California are behind walls. In 1997, estimates of the number of people in gated communities ranged from 4 million in 30,000 communities up to around 8 million, with .5 million in California alone. The village of Rosemont, Illinois, just outside Chicago, maintains a security checkpoint at the entrance of its main residential section. There are other incorporated gated communities outside California including Sea Ranch Lakes, Florida and North Oaks, Minnesota. Hot Springs Village is the largest gated community in the United States with over 26,000 heavily-wooded acres. HSV is governed by the HSV Property Owners' Association (POA), a private, tax-exempt home owners association.

    Other Countries

    • Lima, Peru has several gated communities, especially in the wealthy districts of La Molina and Santiago de Surco. They are home to many prominent Peruvians.
    • Guayaquil and Quito, Ecuador have many gated communities. In the coastal city of Guayaquil they are mostly located in Samborondón and in Quito in the Valleys surrounding the city. They are home mostly for the wealthiest people, but there's a trend, specially in Guayaquil, of houses in gated communities with moderate prices as well.
    • Pokrovsky Hills and Rosinka are gated communities in Moscow.
    • Because of the high crime rate, Metro Manila in the Philippines also has a large number of gated and heavily defended communities.
    • In Saudi Arabia, expatriate workers are required to live in Saudi Aramco-controlled gated communities. The largest such community is Dhahran. Gated communities are also popular with well-to-do Saudis. The largest communities include, in addition to Dhahran, Ras Tanura, Abqaiq, and Udhailiyah.
    • In the United Arab Emirates, gated communities have exploded in popularity, particularly in Dubai, where the 2002 decision to allow foreigners to own freehold properties has resulted in the construction of numerous such communities built along various themes. Examples include The Lakes, Springs, Meadows, and Arabian Ranches.
    • South Africa has an increasing number of gated communities, in part due to the high crime rate.
    • Because crime rates are very high in Indonesia, a gated community is preferred by most people. Some gated communities are luxurious (with lots of up to 740 square metres (8000 sq ft)), and some are very affordable (with lots ranging from 700 to 1300 sq ft). Some examples are houses in Pondok Indah and Kemang.
    • Japan has gated communities, in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo and Ashiya-shi, Hyogo.

    In Popular Media

    • J.G. Ballard has examined the phenomenon in his novel Super-Cannes and in his novella Running Wild.
    • T. C. Boyle's novel The Tortilla Curtain is also set in and near a gated community in California.
    • Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash depicts a future where gated communities are mass-produced by franchising systems and operate as sovereign city-states known as "burbclaves."
    • The novel Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler takes place in a world where much of civilization lives within gated communities.
    • The book and film adaptations of The Stepford Wives take place inside an idyllic city-state that secretly enslaves its female members to conform to the standards of the men.
    • The Snowman and Crake characters of Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood live and work in corporate-owned gated communities known as Compounds.
    • In the Season Six episode of The X-Files entitled "Arcadia", Mulder and Scully investigate disappearances within a gated community that seems to be harboring a terrible secret.
    • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode Squidville, Squidward temporarily moves to a gated community of squids.
    • In one episode of Veggietales, Larry sings a song about gated communities in Silly Songs with Larry.
    • In Argentina, Claudia Piñeiro's Las viudas de los jueves (Thursday Widows) became a local best seller after winning the 2005 edition of El Clarín newspaper book award. The novel depicts life of dwellers of a gated community, among them, families who enjoyed high incomes now facing economic hardships.
    • Mexican film La Zona, directed by Rodrigo Plá, talks about a gated community invaded by a group of very young and poor children.
    • In the ABC Family movie "Picture This" starring Ashley Tisdale, Drew lives in a gated community called Camelot.
    • Most of the The Starter Wife miniseries is set within the gated community where the main character's friend lives. She even becomes friends with the security guard at the front gate.
    • The suburb of Fairview, where Wisteria Lane and the residents of Desperate Housewives can be found, is a gated community.
    • In the cartoon As Told By Ginger, Ginger and her friends live in a gated community called Sheltered Shrubs.

    See also

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