Gated communities are on the rise and are especially popular in Southwest Florida. In the past, celebrities and the super-wealthy flocked to gated communities to escape photographers and the prying eyes of the general public. The concept has since evolved into a more mainstream option. Today, gated communities can still be expensive but may center around a specific demographic, such as golf enthusiasts, or retirees. They frequently offer targeted services in addition to security to local residents. Many communities offer the convenience of "city living" with a variety of services and facilities just steps away but all in a secure, private enclave. Larger scale properties, such as 55+ planned communities, frequently include stores, businesses and medical facilities so that residents have little reason to step outside the gates.
Security in a gated community can take several formats. It can be as simple as a physical gate to which residents possess a key or a formal building housing an armed guard on duty 24X7 who requests authorization before allowing anyone into the complex. Some communities may also use guards who patrol the community on regular intervals to further protect the privacy and safety of residents.
Country club and golf communities are popular updates to the gated communities of the past. Not surprisingly, they are a rapidly growing option in Southwest Florida, given the active, outdoor lifestyle many residents are seeking in choosing to live there. Golf communities are especially alluring. Many combine the opportunity to play on challenging courses on-demand with elegant homes that feature sweeping views of manicured greens. A number of the 100+ golf communities in Southwest Florida include club membership and full use of the facilities with the purchase of a residence. Increasingly, club memberships extend beyond golf, including well-appointed gyms, resort-style pools, and luxurious spas. Many communities use the Club as a central meeting point for sharing a meal, neighborhood planning, and a host of social activities that encourage friendships and community spirit.
Southwest Florida is heralded for the number of waterfront gated communities catering to the boating and water sports enthusiast. These communities are specifically crafted to preserve and accentuate the raw beauty of the Gulf and its surrounding freshwater lakes and waterways. Select neighborhoods feature stunning lakefront and waterfront estates that include boat slips and Gulf access from a backyard dock. Designed with avid boaters and fishermen in mind, these communities combine golf and other amenities with a full service deep-water marina, boat slips and full-time dock master.
While gated communities are sometimes dismissed as exclusive, they can appeal to a broad demographic. In Southwest Florida, communities attract everyone from retirees to newly married couples to young families with children. A historically solid investment, gated communities have high property values and have maintained their resale value even in a flagging economy. Over time, the quality of gated communities is dependent on the active interest of its community members.
With more than 8 million Americans living in gated communities, these neighborhoods are thriving. In Southwest Florida, they are likely to continue to flourish as long as developers build neighborhoods for groups of people who share a love of boating, nature, golf and other coastal activities.