Purchasing Within A Gated Community
Updated: Sep 30
One of the major considerations for people moving to Lake Chapala, is should you purchase within a gated community or outside of one? What are some of the considerations that you should take into account in your decision making process? In this blog I have put together some of the advantages and disadvantages to purchasing within a gated community. As you will see, they are not unlike many of the pros and cons of purchasing in a development north of the border.
24 hrs Security: For many, this is a biggie. Often people come down and don't feel as secure as they did in their own country. Whether this is real or imagined, it is a factor in their decision making process. If you are thinking of living Lakeside only part time, the fact of owning a home in a secure gated establishment provides peace of mind when you are not here. Gated communities can be of two types: either (informal) “Veladores” guards who simply monitor the access into the complex, or a (formal) “Security Company” that has actual security guards armed with mace, clubs, handcuffs and a direct line to the local police if anything major happens. Most higher end developments outsource to external security companies.
Pricing: Pricing in gated communities largely depends on the location, amenities, views, common areas and security. You can find every kind of gated community here at Lakeside, Starting from homes in the 100,000 USD range and up. Best pricing can often be had in the early stages of the pre-sale phase, which means they lower their prices while in the first phase of construction. Once the development reaches the next phase, prices start going up. The risk factors of purchasing early are: a) will the development ever reach completion, b) what will be the final HOA fees and, c) who will be your neighbors and more. Lots can go wrong.
Custom Built: Purchasing a lot and building new provides certain advantages. Although you are unlikely to find a builder in a development that will allow you to build anything you want on your chosen lot, you typically have the ability to select between several different model designs and from there you have the ability to make modifications based on your needs and likes in order to customize your home.
Amenities & Common Areas: The most common are pools, gyms, a club house and tennis courts. However there are several Developments lakeside that even have a yacht club, movie theater and “Temazcales” (Mexican Sweat Lodge). Not needing to build your own pool, gym or tennis court results in big cost savings and is one of many reasons people decide to invest in a gated community. They share these common areas with other residents and don't need to worry about maintaining them on their own. Each property within the community is titled a percentage of the common areas and thus you are assigned to pay so much in HOA fees.
Maintenance Fees: HOA fees are a result of the common grounds, street lighting, pool maintenance, electric and gardeners and guards Depending on the number of amenities, size of the development (payers) the price can vary from development to development dramatically. The actual price you pay each year is determined by the cost of maintaining everything within the gated community and then divided by the amount of home owners. They typically range from 80 USD to 290 USD a month. A percentage of this also goes to the administration.
Privacy: Privacy depends largely on the type of development you have chosen, where your lot is situated within the complex and how the house is orientated. Many of the homes are built within a few meters of each other and noise can also be a problem in some communities. When purchasing a home already built, privacy concerns can be evaluated, however, when purchasing before completion in a new development, this can be difficult to determine.
Homeowners Association: Once the development is completed, the developer must turn over the project to a “Homeowners Association”. Most of these associations consist of dedicated people who want the best for the community. However, the possibility exists that unreasonable people manage to get elected to high positions on the board and this can cause discontent for the rest of the community. Unfortunately, it can even happen that HOA fees and administrative moneys go missing resulting in anguish for the whole community.