Living in a security complex is becoming the more popular thing to do year on year in South Africa, but what are the actual benefits of living on your own versus living in a gated community?

It’s quite difficult to make an informed decision when it comes to deciding whether you should purchase in a security complex or whether you should opt for a freestanding home. On the one hand, more and more SA home owners are flocking to live in gated communities, but on the other hand, it’s not to say that they are the 100% safe option, after all is anything ever 100% safe. We’ll look at the very many benefits of living in a secure complex and leave you to decide whether it’s the better option as opposed to living in a freestanding home.

Townhouses vs freestanding homes

Purchasing to let & pricing:

It is said that when purchasing a townhouse in as far as viewing property as a financial investment that purchasing in a security complex may be the better option, especially if you’re buying to let.

In as far as purchasing property as form of investment, housing units in a security complex may make for the more financially sound decision. As town houses are all situated within the same walls, they are often reported as being better priced. If you do your research beforehand and evaluate the market value of the area in which you’re purchasing, then you could forecast an estimated value in as far as what you could potentially charge rentals (that’s if you’re buying to let).

Safety:

Residing in a security complex is meant to offer more safety and the idea of living in an enclosed area which is cordoned off by walls and fencing, with guards to monitor entrants into the complex is often an appealing concept. However, it’s not a 100% guarantee for safety as some security complexes have been reported to be a target for organised crime syndicates. However, to some degree you are likely to be safer in a complex with the required level of security and preventative measures in place whereby all entrants require a certain amount of information before they can enter (i.e. name and surname of visitor, physical address, number, followed by a call being made to you as a resident to ensure that you are expecting visitors).

A recent report by IOL stated that freestanding home owners are flocking to security estates due to influxes in robberies in residential areas across the Western Cape – so maybe security complexes are becoming more of a safe haven for homeowners and those looking to buy.

Maintenance:

As a general rule, it’s said that security complexes have a body corporate in place, which makes the lives of the individuals living in the complex that much easier. The normal maintenance and running of the properties within the complex are taken care of by the body corporate; freeing up the time of individuals in the complex for more important things. Gardening? What Gardening? All lawns, gardens and road maintenance (even dog walking) is generally taken care of by the body corporate.

Forming part of a community:

Individuals living in security complexes are often exposed to a closer knit community. There appears to be greater sense of looking out for each other within these complexes, whereby everyone has each other’s best interests at heart. Some of these communities have their own formulated neighbourhood watches, Whatsapp, Facebook groups or community pages. A sense of solidarity exists in these neighbourhoods and collectively they resolve any issues that may come up, be it maintenance or safety related.

Features/services:

Security complexes generally come with a range of amenities; special features and services which may range between a communal swimming pool, tennis courts, a little park for the kids etc. There’s usually also a small shopping centre either inside the complex or just outside with all the needed stores and facilities, be it a pharmacy, a laundromat, a gym, a food store and a servicing garage. The idea being that residents have everything they need in as close proximity as possible.

If you work really long hours and find that you have very little time left to take care of the more menial things in life, you might find that it’s more convenient to live in a security complex.

There’s nothing overtly wrong with living in a freestanding home, but the way property is being developed it would appear as though more and more security estates are being developed, which leads us to believe that it’s a growing market.

Whether you live in a security complex or a freestanding home, you still need an additional layer of financial security in the form of home contents insurance cover. Whether you’re looking to purchase in a more secure environment (security complex) or an area with freestanding homes, once you’re ready to close the deal and purchase or rent a home, the first thing you need to do is be sure to have your household cover agreement in place, protecting your financial wellbeing and belongings in any unexpected event.