If you’re conducting a home search, you have likely heard the term “planned community” in home and development descriptions. A planned community is a development where all of the homes, roads, and amenities are carefully designed to make living there as comfortable and convenient as possible. These communities often plant homes within walking distance of shopping centers, parks and trails, and work offices. Planned communities are built more strategically than traditional communities of the past, and because of the increased convenience, are incredibly desirable.
The first planned community was built just outside Chicago in 1869 and was named Riverside. The men who designed Riverside, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, already had experience in city planning, as they designed Central Park in New York City. Riverside featured curved streets, homes that were set at least 30 feet from the road, and plenty of greenery. Today, Riverside is still known as a beautiful and affluent community that inspired hundreds of planned communities across the country. Master-planned communities, which are planned communities on a much larger scale, also started spanning thousands of acres of land. Planned communities are typically built surrounding specific lifestyles or interests, and are extremely attractive to retirees. Amenities often include hiking and biking trails, communal swimming pools and picnic areas, recreational facilities, and close proximity to shopping and dining.
Planned communities are desirable for many reasons, but the main advantages are the convenient location and the sense of community they provide. Community gathering spaces and well-lit sidewalks allow homeowners to get to know their neighbors and form friendships, while the close proximity to parks and schools make it an ideal environment for families. Residents also find there to be less traffic since the entire area is planned to allow transportation to flow smoothly throughout. Planned communities also offer beautiful landscaping and often preserve the nature of the surrounding area.
Residing in a planned community is not a perfect fit for everyone, as there are also some disadvantages to consider. Most planned communities are managed by the Community Development District, which sometimes have more rules than a typical Homeowners Association. These districts will also require higher fees to keep the community in tip-top shape, which residents must factor when purchasing a home. Finally, due to the neighbor-centric lifestyle planned communities promote, residents may find they have less privacy.
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