Gated housing communities are a set-up that offers a cohesive social life and aims to provide a quality residential experience. It encompasses various independent residential properties enclosed within a boundary. A vast majority of potential homebuyers tend to live in gated communities as they are famous for their safe and secure environment, comfort, luxury, proper management, and considerably higher property values. In Pakistan, most potential homebuyers tend to live in a house that is safe from any external threat. In addition, a lack of law enforcement and the rule of law in the public sphere meant that it was incumbent on the people to protect their property and themselves from a potential threat. As a result, the majority of homebuyers in Pakistan prefer to live in gated housing communities.
Gated communities in Pakistan
In Pakistan, living in a gated housing community gained momentum when the country faced a plethora of terrorist and criminal activities. First-time homebuyers wished to purchase a house in a residential area that was secure from potential security threats and provide quality living for its residents. In other words, most homebuyers aimed to buy a house where all the basic amenities of urban life are offered to residents, including well established commercial areas. Ever since the 1980s, the country’s share of gated communities has increased by at least two dozen. Large real estate developers like Bahria Town and Defense Housing Authority (DHA) lead the market of providing gated housing communities to the local residential real estate investors.
Bahria town is one of the largest local providers of gated housing communities in three of Pakistan’s largest metropolitan cities, including Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi. The real estate company has provided housing to 100,000 people in total.
The housing community received considerable support from its investors as it provided protection against security threats and a smooth and uninterrupted supply of electricity, even in the summers.
Advantages of living in a gated community
Provision of essential and luxury amenities
If one lives in a gated community, the provision of basic amenities and even luxury amenities becomes easy and convenient for its residents. Everything is available at a stone throws distance from schools, hospitals, and shopping centres. Therefore, providing services in a gated community is its plus point. Gated communities also offer some of the most upscale facilities like riding, golf courses, cinemas, well-maintained zoos, security cameras and smooth traffic.
Regular maintenance of the housing landscape, including common areas like sidewalks, curbs, parking, and streets makes the community look clean and neat. This increases investor/residence satisfaction with the place they live in. As a result, the gated housing community has attracted a sizeable middle-income investor class who struggle to find quality living in open communities or ones near the city centre.
Peaceful and Secure Living
Gated housing communities are excellent options for homeowners or residents who wish to live in a peaceful location with a minimum number of cars zooming through the neighbourhood.
Disadvantages of investing in gated communities and housing projects
While there are multiple benefits of living in a closed and gated community that provides all the essential and luxury amenities to its residents, this option also has a downside.
Pakistan as a country faces a severe housing shortage, but the lower-income classes essentially face this crisis. The gated housing communities in Pakistan occupy vast tracts of land and later develop them for luxury high-end living, making it unaffordable for much of the middle and lower-middle-income classes. As a result, the gated housing communities is a financially unsustainable model of providing housing to the lower-income demographic.
Although gated housing communities aims to provide all the civic and luxury amenities, most residents must travel outside the community for much of their routine work. Most residents have their place of employment or workplace outside the gated community, which stretches the duration of the daily commute. Therefore, driving time increases for the residents as they tend to use personal cars for commuting long hours. In Pakistan, gated housing communities like Bahria town are located at the city’s peripheries, which adds to the travelling hours from the town to the city centre.
The trend of living in gated housing communities gained a strong foothold in Pakistan’s residential real estate sector as homebuyers sought protection from potential terrorism, crime and provision of fragmented civic amenities in their neighbourhood. As a result, several gated housing communities were established like Bahria Town in the main metropolitan cities to attract the middle and higher-income classes.