Pros And Cons Of Gated Communities

palm trees over Gated Communities

Most people think they should opt for the culturally authentic when buying real estate in another country.  

They shun gated communities and private residential developments in favor of local-style homes in areas that aren’t dominated by foreigners because they want to feel like they’re having an immersive experience overseas.  

They may have some valid (albeit contradictory) reasons for doing this… but they may also miss out on some of the advantages that gated communities can offer.   

Let’s compare and contrast gated communities and local-style homes to help you decide which option is best for you. I’ll also share the top three overseas gated communities that should be on you radar right now.   

Gated Communities 


Staff is always on-site and can look after your home. This is especially important if you only plan on using it part-time.

Property management is often available, which means your buy-to-let investment can be turn-key. They’ll market your property, find renters, and manage check-in and out for you.

Easy management of bills and expenses. Systems are in place to help residents pay bills from a distance. If you have an issue, there’s often an English-speaking administrator on site or neighbors who can show you the ropes.

On-site amenities—things like pools, tennis courts, barbecue areas, golf courses, and so on—add value to your property and make it more desirable to renters. The cost of amenities is spread out among all residents, and there’s a team in place to care for them.

Safety. Gated communities often have gates, security systems, reception services, and so on. Depending on the country you choose, they may be your only option for a home without bars on the windows.


Higher prices. Property in gated communities overseas can be as (or even more) expensive than property back home. It’s certainly more expensive than property in local markets overseas.

Higher monthly bills. Homeowners’ association fees are higher to cover the costs of amenities, security, grounds maintenance, etc. HOA fees can range from US$1.50 to US$10 per square meter per month.

More regulation. You might be restricted when it comes to building, renovating, and selling your home. There may be more red tape to cut through to get things done than with a normal property.

Inauthentic. A gated community can be a bubble whose culture reflects that of the dominant demographic, which is usually North American. You may not get the adventure, excitement, and rich cultural experience you’re hoping for.

Gated communities can be harder to access because of where they’re located (often on the outskirts of town or in rural areas) and because of entry requirements. This also makes receiving deliveries and contractors a challenge.

The Local Market


Authenticity. Living in a standard home or apartment surrounded by locals will be an adventure. This can broaden your perspective and enrich your life, plus it provides a true escape from whatever your reality was back home.

No (or reduced) HOA fees. Standalone homes or local-style apartments have fewer amenities and therefore less overhead, so monthly expenses can be less.

You’re not restricted by a gated community’s master plan when you want to build, renovate, or make changes to your home. There’s less red tape to cut through to get things done.

If you plan to self-manage a buy-to-let property, you get to call the shots on rental rates and availability, as well as pocket a bigger share of the profits.


No staff on-site to look after your home. You’ll need to befriend your neighbors (which may require fluency in another language) or hire someone trustworthy to check in on your property if you plan on being away often.

You’ll need to hire property management if you’re making a buy-to-let investment. This type of service isn’t always available or trustworthy, and it will cut into your ROI.

You may need to speak the local language to arrange things like property management, electricians, plumbers, gardeners, etc. Paying bills as a foreigner (and from a distance) is not always straightforward.

Standalone homes and apartments, particularly ones that are left unattended for long periods, can be a target for break-ins.

My 3 Favorite Gated Communities Overseas

  1. Los Islotes, Panama 
Lost Islotes Beach Lodge

Los Islotes is a private residential community under development on Panama’s Pacific coast.

It consists of 425 acres of rolling hills and virgin shore (including two beaches) along the little-known west coast of the Azuero Peninsula.

Amenities will include a beach club, a swimming pool, an equestrian center, tennis and basketball courts, a fitness center, and more…

It will be the preeminent private residential community not only on this coast but in all of Panama. Find out more information about Los Islotes here now.

  1. Gated Community And Eco-Club In Riveria Nayarit, Mexico   
Puero Vallarta View From the balcony

This 40-acre master-planned gated community and eco-club is just off the highway from Puerto Vallarta, situated among the many luxury hotels that have established themselves in the area.

It offers condos, lots, and homes at affordable prices and with million-dollar views from their hillside vantage point.

The development is surrounded by nature, offering peace and seclusion. On-site amenities include a large pool and patio, a barbecue area, pickleball courts, and putting greens. Cocktail hours and bingo nights create a social atmosphere for you and your renters.

On offer are a variety of property types at a variety of price points to suit different investment objectives. Go here now to find out more about this development.

  1. Carmelita Gardens, Belize

Carmelita Gardens is an off-grid community in Belize’s rugged Cayo District. It consists of 98 acres of houses, lots, and gardens nestled up against the Belize River.  

This community emphasizes self-sufficient living. Houses have solar panels for electricity, rainwater harvesting and filtration for potable water, and eco-friendly wastewater systems.  

A true community has developed here, and residents participate in potlucks, canoe trips, boozy parties, and alternative health days. Turn-key house and lot packages are available, as well as off-grid bungalows and luxury villas. Find out more here.


Sophia Titley

Sophia Titley
Editor, Overseas Property Alert