Is living in a subdivision that much different than living in a neighborhood? It depends. Both can have a strong sense of community. And it is important not to generalize or stereotype when considering either one. For example, not all subdivisions have boring, “cookie-cutter” houses. And not all neighborhoods are walkable with parks and stores nearby.
There are things to consider when thinking about a house in a subdivision. These hold true for both subdivisions currently under construction and those like Grantwood Village filled with early 1960s mid-century ramblers. Whether they are seen as pros or cons is in the eye of the buyer.
Regulations. Subdivisions often have covenants or a Homeowners Association (HOA) that may restrict what an owner can do with their land or their home. These can range from simple (no fences made of chain-link) to the extreme (no decorations allowed on front doors). A resident of a neighborhood that is not part of a real estate development typically is only restricted by local laws. For example, their neighbors can not prevent them from raising chickens, as long as it is legal in their town or city.
Special amenities. Subdivisions are more likely to have been designed to include things like a community pool, green space, or a playground. But many neighborhoods also have these things nearby. Those in the subdivision might be exclusively for residents, however.
Diversity. Some feel that a neighborhood, especially in the city, will be more diverse than a subdivision. That is not necessarily true. Yes, in a subdivision where homes are all similar, it is more likely that everyone will be in roughly the same socio-economic bracket. And there are some subdivisions that are built strictly for people 55 and over. But many subdivisions have residents with a diverse mix of ages, ethnicities, and family makeup. Potential homebuyers need to keep an open mind to find the subdivision—or neighborhood—where they feel most at home.
Activity. There is a tendency to think of subdivisions as quiet, peaceful places. While that might be true, there is no guarantee that a subdivision is not near the interstate, the airport, or a shopping center that adds to noise and traffic. There are also plenty of quiet streets in neighborhoods all over the city and St. Louis suburbs. Sometimes all it takes is being on a street away from a major intersection.
Isolation. Subdivisions are often segmented off from the rest of the community with one or two entry points. Neighborhoods, on the other hand, might feel more connected to the larger community with roads flowing through in all directions. Everywhere in the St. Louis region, stores, restaurants, and schools are easily accessible no matter where you live. Even in a subdivision, “civilization” is just a short drive away. People are only as isolated as they choose to be.
Comps. When buying or selling a house, subdivisions have one advantage over a neighborhood mixed with different types of houses. When looking at comps, it will be easy to find other homes with similar features and around the same age and condition.