Gated Communities in T&T, a trend or a new way of life?

Within the past decade or two , there has been a movement towards the development of gated communities across T&T. No longer making it to the news anymore, the idea of gates closing off access roads after hours to residential communities has become the norm. More so , making a “Community” a “Gated Community” seems to immediately increase its appeal for homeownership and a sense of security, not to mention, its value in the eyes of home hunters.

This thinking is now institutionalized  in T&T with appraisers and bankers all chiming in as to the value of gated communities being higher that that of “normal communities”. But what makes this so? I visited with a friend of mine recently, a home in the Maracas Valley that was well within a Gated Community. The directions to the home included the normal trini directions, “look out for the bus shed, if you see that, you’ve gone too far!” But to my interest, the directions also included a new type of information, access info. You see, even if you got the directions right but didn’t have the code to get pass the security gates, your no closer to the house than a complete stranger.

Seems, the times have certainly come that if you  don’t live there and weren’t invited, its safe to say, your not welcomed. Who’s to say this strategy is wrong tho? The times we live in, makes decisions like this sometimes necessary. Tho it does take away from the feeling of what Trinidad used to be, before all these social changes started to take place.

There were some interesting aspects that I had not considered to Gated Community life, not hailing from one myself, some of these ideas were a great solution to the problems that I face in my community too. One of these was the idea that the entire community was divided into sections, with a certain number of homes in each section. The section would then have a section leader and these leaders would all confer in the general maintenance of the area. Gardening, Grooming even painting and remodeling/ repurposing of the home would have to be agreed to in some form with the committee.

This can be an interesting solution to recurring problems that all communities face these can include inconsiderate visitor parking, Loud music and disturbances late at night, Garbage Collection, Security patrols and other operational challenges can also be addressed as a community as opposed to in an ad hoc manner by individual owners. However, I could not help but think of the loss of the individual in this process. The point of being an owner comes with some sense of ownership and that includes being able to do as you like with your own property. But that’s just me.

Semantics aside, I passed the question by, Adrian De Souza of Golden Key Real Estate, to find out how the Gated Community concept has impacted the appeal of buyers on the market, this were his thoughts…

“Over the last 12 years I have definitely seen a greater demand for gated communities over the traditional types.  Initially, gated communities were perceived to offer a much more secure environment, but over time people have come to realize that gated communities definitely do not guarantee their safety because what “gated” means ranges from a automated barricade at the entrance of the development to a compound with guards on site assisted by hi-tech surveillance equipment and electrified perimeter fences.  The monthly cost to each homeowner associated with the latter “gated” concept could easily range around $2,000.00 and as such will negatively affect the ability of a would be homeowner to qualify for the mortgage while maintaining that level of monthly maintenance fees.  As a result some homeowners specify they do not want a “gated” community to avoid such fees.  They are in a minority though as the crime level of the country still ensures gated communities will be perceived as having a real increase in the value of traditional   residential communities.”

Adrian De Souza, Golden Key Real Estate