It’s the new housing trend. Entire private neighbourhoods – sometimes spanning several hundreds of hectares and complete with luxury facilities, private schools and shops – all under extreme security and banned to non-residents.
In gated communities like MacDonald Highlands, residents can dine at private restaurants, play a game of tennis or enjoy a round of golf. They have their own personal trainers permanently on-call. But life here isn’t cheap. Just the obligatory gym and club memberships come to over $700 a month. And, in addition to the high maintenance charges, residents are expected to adopt a certain lifestyle and comply with strict regulations. At MacDonald Highlands, among the many rules, it is forbidden for children under 14 to walk around alone. Also banned is the use of skateboards and scooters and making noise after 10pm. Offences like not taking down Christmas lights within the required period or having a less than immaculate garden are all punished with a fine.
It used to be that these gated communities were home only to super-rich Americans but now they’re appearing across the globe and are shaping new residences of the future. Over in Marseille, security-conscious real estate owners have petitioned the City Council to erect barriers and close off entire neighborhoods. The first gated community has opened in Sofia, Bulgaria.
But as more and more people take refuge behind walls, will the remaining public space be turned into a giant ghetto?
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