Are gated communities a good retirement living option?

Investigating your home downsizing possibilities

You drive up to the big steel gate of the retirement village, lean out, punch in the code and the gate swings open. You drive in and the gate swings securely shut behind you. You feel safe, secure, locked in, don’t you? 

Well actually... no.

You may be surprised to learn that – far from their reputation as a ‘safe haven’ as we’ve been led to believe – gated communities in fact can present many problems for retirees.

The importance of security in retirement

Feeling safe and protected becomes especially important as we get older. We want to be able to relax at home, feeling secure and stress-free in your retirement.  

If you’ve decided that it’s time to downsize and live somewhere more manageable, you might think that a gated community for retirement is the safest option.

Yet in reality, most gated communities don’t give retirees true safety and security, but rather merely the ‘illusion’ of security.

Compare your retirement living options

The fact is, any developer can build an estate, put a fence around it with a fancy gate, and suddenly it’s supposed to be ‘secure’. Yet in fact, there is NO protection for the community. Strangers can just come and go and residents can end up living in fear and isolation.

They may have a gate, but what is life like BEHIND those gates? We’ve discovered quite a few problems of living in a gated community – especially for retirees.

1) Gated communities and crime

There is a perception that gated communities are secure. The fact is though, crime does occur in gated communities. The gate may act as a minor deterrent, but it’s not a foolproof solution. Many thieves actually see it as a ‘challenge’; figuring that if something is worth putting behind a secure gate, then it must be valuable... and worth stealing!

2) The not-so-secret code

It’s pretty hard to keep a ‘secret code’ secret for very long. Residents invite friends over and give them the code. People move out and still have the code. Tradies come and go using the code. The bottom line is anyone can get their hands on the code! Rarely are the numbers changed, so once they are known, the community can easily be entered.

3) Time wasted waiting at the gate

Imagine it’s Christmas. You’ve invited the whole family around for a BBQ. Unless they all arrive at the gate at the same time (and when does that ever happen) you’ll be back and forth from the buzzer every time someone wants to come in. 

And how’s this for inconvenient? Many gated communities actually limit the times contractors can come to work at your home... and may block them altogether on holidays. Too bad if your loo blocks up during that Christmas party! 

4) Breakdowns do happen

As you know, the more moving parts something has, the higher the risk there is of things breaking down. You (or your visitors) could be locked in – or locked out – for lengthy periods of time while you wait for the problem to be fixed.

And while we’re on the subject – be especially cautious with properties located just inside the gates, or even within view of the gates. You don’t want to have to see or hear that gate (and the noisy vehicles and people) every single time someone comes and goes! 

5) A serious barrier to emergency services

Ask anyone who works in emergency services what they think of gated communities and they’re likely to roll their eyes. Police, ambulance officers, on-call doctors – they’ll all have nightmare stories to tell of when they’ve been called out to an emergency and kept waiting at the gate. The person who called them is either physically unable to let them in, or the person who’s with them doesn’t have the code! That’s a very scary thought.

So, what does secure retirement living really look like?

We asked our residents at Kensington Gardens Retirement Estate that question and narrowed it down to the three most common answers.

  • A safe environment where you can relax and feel secure

There’s a great sense of comfort living in a community of like-minded people, all of similar ages and at similar stages in life. You’re all independent, yet you share the same facilities, enjoy time together, get to know one another, and are there to keep a friendly eye out.

We also have staff on site to ensure the safety and well-being of all residents, at all times, so you can just relax and enjoy a happy, safe, hassle-free life.

Our residents often comment on experiencing peace-of-mind and that feeling of being ‘taken care of.’ Family members also appreciate knowing that their loved ones are in good hands.

  • Somewhere that has good rules in place to keep the community in order

We might have a lot of activities at Kensington Gardens, but one game we don’t play is ‘Neighbour Roulette.’ That’s usually played in the suburbs, where you don’t know who might move in next door – along with their drum kit, pet rat collection, or addiction to spraying weeds when the breeze is flowing in your direction...!

At Kensington Gardens, everyone knows and agrees to the rules before they move in. That provides a sense of safety in itself, just knowing everyone is playing by those same rules.

The rules are set by our management company, with the best interests of everyone in the community in mind.

Contrast that with ‘body corporate’ rules in many gated communities that are set up to protect the property with very little regard to the people living in it – well, there’s no comparison.

  • A village feel, where neighbours know each other and look out for each other

Remember the ‘old days’ when you could let your neighbour know you were going on holidays (or even just to the shops) and feel safe knowing they were keeping an eye on your place? That’s the true definition of a ‘neighbourhood watch’.

At Kensington Gardens you know your neighbours – you’re involved with them. You meet for meals, do arts or craft with them, chat over a beer or lend a hand. If someone or something looks out-of-place or suspicious, your neighbours will know it. Now that’s true peace-of-mind that you won’t get from any length of fence or fancy gate.

In the end, it’s not about locking people in behind a big fence, but about creating a safe, happy and stress-free community for all to enjoy.

Experience our secure retirement living at Kensington Gardens

To see for yourself what secure retirement living looks like, we invite you to visit us at Kensington Gardens.

We’d be happy to show you around our Estate, so you can see our Country Club, our facilities, our architect-designed homes – and most importantly experience the secure community feel.

To arrange a tour of Kensington Gardens, call our friendly team or get in touch online to book a time to come in and visit us. 

What to look for in a home for retirement