Planned communities are exactly what the name implies – cities, towns, or communities that, from inception, are carefully planned out in every way, shape, and form. Housing types, neighborhood layouts, recreational options, and amenities are all chosen and planned from the beginning, while the community is constructed on an exact amount of undeveloped land. Planned communities are certainly an ambitious task to take on, but they’ve been popping up not just in the U.S., but all across the world, for several centuries.
With the quest for more family-oriented neighborhoods and communities that exist outside of major cities, planned communities began really taking shape in the 1950s as the rise of suburbia began happening. The end result was two separate types of communities – larger, more unique neighborhoods where the houses differed, the yards were big, and the city was right next door, and planned communities, where an entire city was located within one neighborhood.
Planned communities have evolved to be just that. The idea is that the community is self-contained, almost isolated from the rest of the world. In the wake of the New Urbanism movement, designers planned out everything from houses, schools, parks, community centers, and walking trails to businesses, jobs, hospitals, post offices, and grocery stores. The residential area, usually consisting of “starter homes” – houses that are very similar in design and layout, with same-sized lots and well-designed landscaping – is usually located in the center, while the commercial area surrounds it.
Small grocery markets can be located on street corners, while the commute time to work or to all the local amenities is small, all of which are benefits. Planned communities advertise walking, as most things are within walking distance. Since everything is self-contained, all amenities and recreational activities are nearby, promoting less driving, less traffic congestion, and more exercise on your part.
A planned community is a great place to raise children and start a family, all because of its family-oriented design and structure. The cost of living is relatively cheap, while commuting to the “outer city” is quick and efficient, especially if your job is located there. The communities are set up to provide the greatest convenience possible, while safety is also a big factor. Many communities are gated or patrolled. If not, considering the community is so close-knit and everything is nearby, you can easily make friends and feel safe where you’re living.
Regular community maintenance committees can also be set up to ensure that your property is kept up. A strong home owner’s association is generally a good thing for the neighborhood, but it can be a bad thing when they’re constantly getting on your back. They could require many specifics about your house and property, including the color of your home, the length of your grass, any pets you can or cannot have, things you can put on your lawn, and other rules of living.
And really, all things about a planned community could be a pro or a con, simply depending on your preferences. For some people, planned communities are the perfect places to live. If you like similarity and familiarity, if you don’t mind small yards, if you’re looking for your first home to finally settle down and raise a family in, a planned community could be perfect for you. If not, you might want to consider moving to a more traditional suburb, where the properties are bigger and different from one another.
While planned communities are built for efficiency, they’re not perfect for everybody. Definitely consider the aspects of a planned community before moving into one, because it takes a certain pallet to enjoy the benefits. If you can get over some of the negatives, and if you can get used to an environment that prides itself on uniformity, then by all means, consider a planned community as your living preference.