Given that gated communities are spatially a type of enclave, Setha M. Low, an anthropologist, has argued that they have a negative effect on the net social capital of the broader community outside the gated community. Some gated communities, usually called guard-gated communities, are staffed by private security guards and are often home to high-value properties, and/or are set up as retirement villages. Some gated communities are secure enough to resemble fortresses and are intended as such.
Besides the services of gatekeepers, many gated communities provide other amenities. These may depend on a number of factors including geographical location, demographic composition, community structure, and community fees collected. When there are subassociations that belong to master associations, the master association may provide many of the amenities. In general, the larger the association the more amenities that can be provided.
Amenities also depend on the type of housing. For example, single-family-home communities may not have a common-area swimming pool, since individual home-owners have the ability to construct their own private pools. A condominium, on the other hand, may offer a community pool, since the individual units do not have the option of a private pool installation.
Typical amenities offered can include one or more:
In Brazil, the most widespread form of gated community is called "condomínio fechado" (closed housing estate) and is the object of desire of the upper classes. Such a place is a small town with its own infrastructure (reserve power supply, sanitation, and security guards). The purpose of such a community is to protect its residents from exterior violence. The same philosophy is seen on closed buildings and most shopping centres (many of them can only be accessed from inside the parking lot or the garage).