Pleasantville, USA

The pros and cons of living in a master planned community

When it comes to choosing a place to live, today’s homebuyers have more choices than ever before. Among these choices are various types of master planned communities – a lifestyle that has been popular with homeowners for decades.

It all started in 1947 when a construction firm named Levitt & Sons began building thousands of affordable two-bedroom homes about ten miles east of New York City to accommodate World War II veterans and their families.

The community prospered – big time. Levitt built more than 17,000 homes over the following four years, adding schools and shopping centers along the way. He also established a set of rules, including a weekly lawn-mowing schedule, residents had to live by. Levittown laid the foundation for today’s master planned communities, which are popping up all over the U.S.

Levittown laid the foundation for today’s master planned communities, which are popping up all over the U.S.

By now you might be picturing a well-manicured scene reminiscent of The Stepford Wives. Well, sort of. There certainly is a lot more to a master planned community than meets the eye. Before you say, “Sign me up!” or “No way!” to suburbia, read up on these pros and cons to get the full picture.

Pros of a master planned community

  • Security: Many of these communities are gated and patrolled. Those that aren’t are typically pretty safe anyway due to the high housing density.
  • Convenience: The larger communities offer the opportunity to run to the dry cleaner, grocery store, and dentist without having to leave the neighborhood.
  • Maintenance: Ongoing maintenance is often included. This means not having to do your own lawn mowing, leaf blowing, and snow shoveling.
  • Amenities: One of the biggest perks is the amenity package. Swimming pools, parks, tennis courts, playgrounds, walking paths, and golf courses are all fair game.

Cons of a master planned community

  • Lack of freedom: HOAs typically have a lot of rules residents have to abide by. Everything from pet ownership to the color of your house might be strictly regulated.
  • Maintenance fees: Lawn mowing services and access to a luxurious pool don’t come for free. Residents often pay several hundred dollars a month in addition to their mortgages and utilities.
  • Difficulty of resale: Due to the large number of homes in a master planned community, trying to sell your house when you’re ready to move on can be difficult. This is especially true if you’re competing with brand new homes.
  • High density and lack of privacy: In general, the density of these communities is much higher than that of a standard neighborhood. This can mean more traffic and less privacy for residents.

 The bottom line: There are both pros and cons to living in a master planned community. Whether or not you decide to settle for a life in suburbia is entirely dependent on your lifestyle and plans for the future. Just be sure to ask about the rules and stipulations before you sign on the dotted line to avoid butting heads with your HOA down the road.

Image credit: Jorn/Corbis

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Kate Kasbee
Kate Kasbee is a blogger and freelance copywriter living in Los Angeles. She has a background in real estate marketing and has also written about a variety of subjects including pet care, how to adopt a vegan diet, and technology. Prior to living in sunny California, Kate spent eight years in Chicago where she lived in nine different apartments in five different neighborhoods. Though she’s not quite done exploring, Kate dreams of planting her roots and owning a home with creaky floors and plenty of land for starting an organic farm.
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