A master planned community, or MPC, is a large residential development meant to be all-inclusive for residents: Schools, shopping, eatery, office buildings, recreational space, and more are included in these, well, master planned neighborhoods. But not all MPCs are made equal, and you might find yourself wondering if it’s worth sacrificing your dream floorplan to have access to certain resident amenities.
Ranking communities based on their amenities is tricky, and it might feel like comparing apples to oranges. Still, life in your new home will extend past your four walls, so it’s important to consider available resources. Here are some factors to keep in mind when deciding if having a specific amenity is a positive or negative.
Almost every MPC offers at least one resident-only pool. Plenty provide a designated kids-only pool; others go above and beyond with a lazy river on property to help you lounge the day away.
Obvious positives of having at least one resident-only pool is not having to travel far for summer enjoyment (or spring, summer, fall, and most of winter, if you’re in Texas like me). If you have kids, this also means pool parties are a snap.
The cons? Just because it’s a pool for community-use doesn’t guarantee it’s going to be less crowded, or available every time you want to use it. If the MPC has only one pool, busy season might mean getting crafting with scheduling social gatherings (but don’t forget – at least you don’t have to do pool maintenance!).
Most MPCs are conveniently located close to public grade schools; depending on the area, there are likely local charter and private schools close by as well. As MPCs have grown in popularity, it’s not uncommon to find an elementary school – or several – located directly within the community.
The first obvious benefit of having schools so accessible is getting to the schools is easy and efficient. Kids can often walk to school if they’re old enough, and if you do need to transport them, the distance isn’t far and carpooling is always an option.
On the other hand, you’re committed to these schools based on zoning policies, even if they’re underperforming. Trying to find the balance between the home of your dreams and a strong educational foundation for your kids can be tricky; take into consideration individual campus and district performance when looking at MPCs. Review academic performance ratings for the area you’re looking to move to for a better understanding of what to expect.
Plenty of people are looking for ways to live healthier lives, and MPCs are ready to support with designated wellness centers and lifestyle coordinators. Fitness centers, community sponsored workout programs and classes, and plenty of greenspace for walking, hiking, and biking are common.
The pros of having wellness centers is that expenses for use are often included in HOA fees, meaning you don’t have to tack on additional gym memberships to your monthly expenses. If your community takes the additional step of coordinating workout classes or other exercise events (obstacle courses seem to be a fan favorite), it’s that much easier to engage with your neighbors.
Any drawbacks of fitness centers tend to be more about who the community primarily caters to. If you’re a 20-something looking for intense cardio workouts and heavy weight lifting, you’re not likely to find what you want in a 55+ community. Similarly, if you’ll only workout in group classes and the community doesn’t coordinate any, plan to look outside the neighborhood to pursue your healthy lifestyle.
By now, we all know wellness encompasses more than just physical health. At least, I hope we all know that by now. If not, here’s your wakeup call: Wellness is about your life, not just your body. Because of this, you’ll want an MPC that matches your social pace, allowing opportunities for you to find fulfillment.
One great thing about living in an MPC that offers a plethora of community events is whenever you want to engage socially, opportunities are right at your fingertips. The convenience of having events that are often within walking distance (meaning you don’t have to fight traffic or plan for parking!) is a big appeal. The negatives here? There aren’t many. Sure, if you live right by the amenity center, you may feel like there’s always a lot of foot traffic near your home, but that’s easy to prevent by selecting a lot that’s an ideal distance from the social hub. And you might not be the biggest fan of the events your community tends to put on, but you’d be hard pressed to find an MPC that isn’t constantly requesting resident feedback on events. Share your thoughts and, if feasible, the community will likely try to accommodate.
Proximity is an amenity not always spoken of, but definitely treasured. Because we’re humans and humans are the most variable factor, it’s guaranteed that at some point, your MPC won’t have what need or want. Be it a shop, a school, or a dining place, you will have to venture into the great beyond sometime.
Obviously, the win here would be if you didn’t have to venture far to get what you need. Need to head into the city? Much more bearable if the city isn’t five hours away. This also applies to the not-always-needed-but-you-always-want-them-around resources, such as hospitals. If you’re a frequent flyer, keep in mind that your life will not be as convenient if the nearest airport is several towns over.
Like community engagement, there aren’t a lot of cons to living in a conveniently located MPC. You’ll have the best of both worlds – your close-knit community and external resources – by living in a community that is nearby everything you might want or need.
So, Which Amenities are Best?
Unfortunately, we can’t give you one clear answer, because it depends on what you’re looking for. What we can say is that it’s important to envision your life not just within a home or floorplan, but within the community overall. Can you see yourself using that fitness center, and your kids attending those schools? If so, you’ve found the best community for you.
Ready to figure out which MPC you’ll call home? Head over to NewHomeSource for accurate and updated information about listings across the country.
Mia Zozobrado joined Builders Digital Experience (BDX) in 2019 as a content writer. A graduate of Southwestern University with a degree in English, Mia is passionate about the written word and making connections. Outside of work, Mia also serves on the Board of Directors for the Writers’ League of Texas.