Standalone building or gated community: How can buyers make the right choice?

[] We look at some of the lesser-known advantages and disadvantages of standalone buildings and gated communities that home buyers should know, before choosing a property

When it comes to selecting an abode, the choice available to a home buyer, is generally between a standalone building and a gated community. The real estate market today, has plenty of ready-to-move-in properties of both types. A standalone building, as the name suggests, is a building without any special facilities, whereas a gated community is a well-planned residential complex of buildings or villas with a well-organised environment and offering various amenities.

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Nandita Mehra, who recently bought a house in Mumbai’s Versova, opted for a 2BHK in a standalone building, as it was much cheaper than a gated community.

“Besides the price of the apartment, the monthly maintenance of a house in a gated community is very high. Although my house is in a standalone building, there is a park just five minutes away and it is close to the metro station and a market. As a working couple, a clubhouse or swimming pool, do not matter to us. Moreover, we do not want a huge loan liability. Connectivity and location are the most important factors for us, as commuting to work has to be convenient and time-saving,” says Mehra.

Nabil Patel, director of DB Realty, however, feels that home buyers are increasingly turning to gated communities, as urban spaces become more chaotic. “While such projects provide a serene environment with all modern facilities, they do come at a price. Standalone properties are cheaper but one cannot expect a luxurious ambiance or modern amenities,” Patel points out.

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Advantages of standalone buildings

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The biggest advantage of standalone buildings, is that it can be developed within the city, as it requires less land area. “A house in a standalone building is more economical and affordable, as compared to gated communities, because they only cover the basic amenities and do not have high maintenance charges. If there is well-established infrastructure like schools, markets, banks, hospitals, etc., nearby, a standalone building can offer a good quality of life at an affordable price,” adds Patel.

Rajat Rastogi, executive director of the Runwal Group, concurs that standalone buildings are more economical. “When it comes to rentals, tenants who are bachelors and have limited financial resources prefer standalone buildings, as they are affordable. Also, in terms of construction, these buildings are completed faster, as there are no external amenities to be developed,” Rastogi explains.

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Benefits of gated communities

Gated communities provide a secure and luxurious environment for families. Amenities for children include play areas, badminton or basketball courts and swimming pools, to be physically active, while senior citizens have gardens and walking areas, to relax. Besides this, a clubhouse in a complex makes it easier for owners to have get-togethers, or for the residents to play various indoor games. Many gated communities even have ramps and easy access for wheelchairs, to help people with special needs.

“Many gated complexes also have backup power, water treatment facilities and solar-powered heating systems, besides other essential amenities. A well-built community may also have shopping complexes, or grocery and medical shops, to cater to the need of its residents. Overall, gated communities are self-sustained, having their own infrastructure and services. Owing to this, the lifestyle quotient here is much higher. Living in a gated community means one can travel out of the city or country for as long as one wants, without worrying about the safety of the property,” adds Patel.

The social circle is better in a gated communities, as compared to standalone buildings, states GS Tyagi, senior director, facilities management (north), Colliers International India. “A gated community allows the members to mingle easily with one-another, which is much needed in an urban lifestyle. Also, residents of gated communities organise different cultural celebrations in the complex, which helps families to connect and bond,” adds Tyagi.

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Disadvantages of a gated communities

The main disadvantage of a gated community, is the price of the property. Also, the maintenance cost is high. The residents have to pay fees to the association, to maintain the grounds and for the security measures involved.

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Disadvantages of standalone buildings

In standalone buildings, car parking is often a big issue, especially in metropolitan cities, where one may not be able to park on the road. “Standalone buildings have less or no open areas. Due to the shortage of space and resources, common facilities are on a much smaller scale, or may even be non-existent in some cases. Security is yet another point of concern for the residents,” says Rastogi.

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Should home buyers choose a standalone building or a gated community?

Affordable housing is always in demand, especially in metro cities, where property prices are high. Standalone properties are in demand among the young working population, who have limited financial resources and need to stay close to the main business hubs. “From an investment perspective, nothing can beat a standalone building, as the land prices are linked with it and reconstruction can be done at any point of time,” maintains Tyagi. Ultimately, it is up to the buyer, to decide between a house in a standalone building and a gated community, after making a rational assessment of their budget, credit-worthiness and also their present and future priorities.

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Category: Lifestyle

Debora Berti

Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

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