One of the most requested features among those searching for new home communities in Florida is that they be gated.
There are various types of gated communities, some more secure than others.
In this article, we'll look at the different types of gated communities you may come across in your search, as well as information about each type that will help you pick the one that's right for you.
Due to their cost-effectiveness, automatic gates are probably the most common form of gated community you will come across in your search.
How they work is, there will either be a gate arm that raises and lowers or a bigger metal or aluminum gate that swings open.
You'll typically have a button on your garage door remote programmed to open the gate.
Gates like this will also have a call box so that visitors, mail carriers, and service people can get into the community when needed.
Each resident will have their name programmed into the call box.
When a visitor gets to the gate, they'll find your name in the list and it will ring to your house.
You'll press a designated combination of keys on your phone to grant them access, and the gate will open for them.
You'll also be given your own passcode, usually a four digit number, so that you can get in the gate if you find yourself without your opener, and nobody home to buzz you in.
A major security drawback with this kind of gated community is that, quite often, residents will give out their four digit security code to their visitors and service people.
As soon as these codes pass from residents to non-residents, security is compromised.
Some communities with automatic gates also have video cameras installed at the entry and exit points, which can be helpful for solving crimes after the fact, but not so good when it comes to prevention.
Guard Gated Communities
The next step up is a guard gated community.
These communities typically have a guard shack where the gate attendant will be located.
Some communities hire professionals for this role, while other communities depend on residents taking turns staffing the gate.
So that residents are not delayed entering their own community, there will usually be two lanes, one for residents and one for non-residents.
Residents will typically have a sticker in the corner of their windshield so the gate attendant knows to let them pass.
The guards definitely act as a deterrent and keep the looky-loos out of the community.
These communities are probably more secure than those with automatic gates, but still not as secure as the kind we'll discuss next.
It's also important to note that some guard gated communities only staff the gates during the day, and revert to the automatic gate system at night.
If 24-hour security is important to you, make sure you ask before you buy into a community like this what the gate staffing situation is.
Guard Gated with Roving Patrols
The final kind of gated community we'll talk about is guard-gated communities with roving patrols.
As far as gated communities go, this is about as secure as they get.
Now, in addition to the guarded entry gate we already discussed, communities like these add roving patrols to the mix.
The roving patrols perform several valuable functions.
The most obvious one is that they drive around the community looking for anything suspicious or out of place.
In many communities with roving patrols, residents can alert the security staff if they'll be leaving for long stretches at a time, and the security staff will perform periodic house checks; making sure all the doors are locked, windows are closed, and so on.
Last but not least, the roving patrols can assist residents with things like flat tires or help visitors find where they're going in the community.
With all that said, why don't all communities go with guards and roving patrols?
The main reason most communities forgo guards and roving patrols is cost.
It's very expensive to hire companies with trained professionals to staff the gates.
When you add roving patrols to the mix, you have not only the additional manpower, but the cost of gas and vehicle maintenance to contend with.
In the early days of a community when very few residents have moved in, developers will be the ones footing the bill for all this, and many simply just don't want to do that.
In some of the communities you'll look at, the developer will build a guard shack and tell prospective buyers that once there are enough residents, they, the residents can decide if they want to foot the bill to have it staffed.
This always sounds like a reasonable explanation, but I can tell you that the amount of communities I've seen decide to add guards after the fact is pretty small.
Residents get used to paying whatever it is they're paying, and when they see how much it's going to cost for guards, they balk and they don't do it.
If this level of security with a guarded gate and roving patrols is important to you, there's a lot of benefit in choosing a well established community where this type of security is already in place, and funded by thousands of residents, rather than a few hundred.
Essentially, the more households the costs are spread across, the less each individual has to pay.
My Cautionary Tale
Now, there is no perfect solution here.
From personal experience, I can tell you that no matter which kind of gated community you choose, there's still a chance crime will occur.
For many years, I lived in a gated community with roving patrols, and one time my car was stolen right out of my garage.
With a quick call to the front gate, the entry and exit gates were immediately shut down, and the thief was not able to leave the community.
They had to ditch my car and take off on foot. They got away, but on the bright side, at least I got my car back.
Now, had I lived in a community that wasn't gated or just had an automatic gate, I may never have seen that car again.
As you search for the perfect community, you'll have to decide for yourself which kind of gated community is best for you.
Robert L Cook says
I have seen references to “virtual Gates” which is what we have. The down side is that there may be a long wait to hear from the “virtual person”. This causes a number of problems including vehicles backing up at the gate just sitting there or not understanding because the person does not speak clearly. Then there is the occasional attitude you receive from the person answering. Its obvious its the service that makes the money, not the “virtual employee”. You most likely will not see a reference to a gated community that has “armed guards”. Not something that is usually advertised. There is no perfect answer, its just a matter of how much youre willing to spend and hope for the best.
Hello everyone. My wife and I are planning to move to a ‘gated’ community. Reading all the posts here gave me a good overview of what gated really means.
I’m looking for a large gated community with ARMED guards, cameras, and an excellent track record of keeping their folks safe. I wasn’t able to find ‘armed guards’ in gated communities on Google, which is odd. Can someone help me out with finding what I’m looking for, if it exists at all? Thank you.
Ryan Erisman says
I don’t personally know of any communities with armed guards. Maybe Mar a Lago? About the closest thing I’ve heard of to what you’re asking for is Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo. I’ve read that at one point the Secret Service described it as the most secure gated community in America.
From their website: “The Club is surrounded by water on three sides, and each of the canals that leads from the bay and ocean to our Marina or winds past our Members’ homes is patrolled by the community’s Public Safety Department. On the fourth side is a gated entrance that is also managed by this department. All the safety officers are trained as firefighters, paramedics and certified security professionals. Monroe County has a Sheriff assigned to the Club as well, with regular patrols. As a result there is a strong sense of security and privacy that allows families to enjoy worry-free time at the Club.”
At the time of this comment (Aug 2022) you can get a 1 bedroom 1 bathroom condo there for about $1.6 million 😉
For the last couple of years we’ve been looking at various 55+ communities in the east central Florida (Space Coast) area. Most have automatic arms/gates and one has manned gate with roving security. (As Ryan sort of eluded too the automatic arms/gates can only provide security as strong as the residents allow, ie not giving out codes to everyone. A few locations the arms/gates are left open during the day or we saw people just following someone into the community once the entrance is open.) We found the HOAs were about $200 to $450 depending on location and amenities. The one with the manned entrance and security was higher. They call it a “Maintenance Fee.” However, it covers just about all the appliances, HVAC, roof, plumbing, cable, grounds, etc. Plus, there are multiple amenities. Their “fee” is based on the home’s floor plan and run about $800+. We only know this for we have visited some of the locations and asked. As with any community it depends on what you desire and are comfortable with. I apologize for long response. Ryan does a great job providing a lot of info as well!!!
Here in Colorado Springs I own a home in a gated community with 24 hour guards and roving patrols. Since the area is closed to the public we own our roads and supply maintenance; snow removal; escorts for the school buses etc. we pay over $800.00 per quarter.
Robert Miranda says
There was no mention of the newest type of gated community. This is one with the “virtual guard.” These have an off-site 24 hour guard watching a series of cameras. The visitor and guard actually see each other via a camera and monitor. I’m not sure how effective they are.
Marlin Beshore says
Own a home in a gated community in PA with armed roving patrols. The HOA is $1000 per year. Is this about what I should expect to pay in FL?
Ours is 350 per quarter and that is at the low end locally. We don’t have many amenities other than a small park, but the hoa escrows for a few minor items and roads and drainage.
STEPHEN DURSO says
I am living in a gated community in Parrish, Fl. Our gates are guarded 24 hours a day with cameras going in and going out of the development. All residents must purchase a bar code sticker from the head guard which is placed on the back window of the car. This allows a resident to come and go without having to bother the guards. The HOA fee is $1850 per year. It covers the two guarded gates, the roads and common area grass, trees and 52 man made lakes. There are no amenities owned by the HOA. There is a Golf Club which has 18 hole golf course, club house, dinning hall, swimming pool, tennis courts, and an athletic center. The club charges different fees depending on what you want to use.
Your hoa cost will be a function of all amenities not just security. To give you an idea, I have $100,000 condominium in Coconut Creek Florida with pools tennis courts clubhouse golf course gated security and patrols. 5000 units. HOA is $500 a month. I also have a house in Lake Worth in a gated community with limited patrol, but with indoor and out door pool, tennis courts, and other amenities. Approximately 600 houses priced 400 to 600,000. HOA there is $525 a month. Most of the new senior communities with amenities and good security cost on average $400 a month HOA.
It depends on the size of the community. I live in Century Village in Boca Raton which has guards and patrols. I pay close to $500 per month. We have 5,712 condominiums. It also depends on how you are funded. We are fully funded. Other places such as my parents pay $900. They have assessments. They are smaller around 2,000 and a mix of condominium, apartment homes, and patio homes. They only have access gates which are broken more than they are working. It all depends on what you want. I feel much safer in my community. I’ve been here 10 years with no home invasion robberies in my community. Whereas, my parents community has periodic home invasion robberies. Thankfully, no one has been home for any of these robberies.