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What is a Master Planned Community?

By Alicia Sparks
Updated May 16, 2024
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The basic definition of a master planned community is a community for which every element and consideration is planned from the beginning, and the community is contracted to follow that plan exactly. These kinds of communities are present throughout the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, and Pakistan. Some planned cities are more well known that others, such as Washington, D.C., which is a much more well-known master planned community in America than the numerous planned communities in the country’s state of Arizona. From a homebuyer’s perspective, there are both advantages and disadvantages to living in a master planned city. Most of the pros and cons will depend on each individual’s personal needs, preference, and convenience.

There are certain advantages to living in a master planned community. Usually, these kinds of communities include the various kinds of amenities convenient, and sometimes necessary, to the typical residents. For example, active adult communities often include recreational facilities designed with community programs specifically for active seniors while an assisted living facility might include the kinds of medical and rehabilitation services less active elderly people might need. A master planned community geared toward families will include kid- and family-friendly venues such as parks, bicycle paths, shopping centers, movie theaters, and community centers. Additional conveniences a master planned community might offer include garbage disposal, lawn maintenance, law enforcement, and neighborhood watches.

Sometimes a planned community is designed entirely around a common interest, such as golf communities or lakefront communities. These kinds of communities are created to make it easier for like-minded individuals to live near the activities they enjoy. A golf community, for instance, might be situated directly on or at the edges of a large golf course. A lakefront community might surround a natural or man-made lake. Oftentimes, these communities also offer extra conveniences related to the activity, like special garages for golf carts and docks for boating or fishing.

Despite the advantages, not every home buyer will be attracted to a master planned community. For some, the conveniences these communities offer aren’t enough to offset a structured, artificial feeling. Others prefer the kind of environment provided by towns and communities that grow naturally. Sometimes, a planned city will charge a variety of fees, such as a monthly homeowner association fee or a yearly fee to use the community’s facilities. Potential residents aren’t always interested in paying these additional costs, regardless of the perks.

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