A gated community is a residential area with controlled access, used to protect the privacy and safety of residents. They are often used by celebrities and the wealthy, to protect their expensive homes and keep them from the prying eyes of the press and paparazzi. Gated communities are typically quite expensive areas, and may offer exclusive amenities to residents as a means of creating a community feeling.
Some gated communities are meant for a specific demographic; planned retirement communities often are gated and provide additional security and medical services to local residents. The controlled access in a gated community can be as simple as an actual gate to which residents possess a key, or a security kiosk complete with armed guards that require authorization before allowing anyone into the complex. Simple gated apartment buildings are common in large cities in order to maintain security and keep the amenities for the use of those who live there. More serious gate arrangements are often to protect famous or infamous residents, government personnel, or visiting dignitaries.
Commonly, a gated community will offer residents services and accessible features. These may include playgrounds, barbecue areas, pools, hot tubs, and laundry facilities. More upscale areas may also provide gyms, health spas, private security workers, and golf courses. In large-scale gated areas like retirement communities, there may be local stores, restaurants and businesses all within the secured area of the complex. Some gated communities are so elaborate and offer so many services that residents have little reason to leave the area for necessities.
Gated communities are highly controversial, as they are often depicted as an elitist escape from an actual city or community that includes those too poor to afford the finer lifestyle. Critics suggest that residents of a gated community are detached from their locale, and do not see the problems of their town or city because they are gathered together in a homogeneous wealthy area. The actual physical gates keeping people out of the area are seen by some as an insult to personal freedom, and a means of discouraging interaction between economically different people.
Yet the rationale for creating secure housing for the famous or notable is clear: it ensures some privacy and safety for those most in need of it. In the days of entertainment photographers who are not against climbing trees or chasing celebrities, it is important that public figures have a safe place to retreat from exposure. For security purposes, guards and even private police firms may be necessary to protect famous people from violent crime in their homes. High-ranking government personnel in particular are in need of a gated community lifestyle, if only to protect them from threats to their privacy and their person.