According to a study by the Foundation for Community Association Research, around one-quarter of Americans live in a community association of some sort. That accounts for more than 73 million people. There are an estimated 347,000 community associations across the United States – and more are being developed – so there’s a good chance you’ll come across one as you look for your next home.
There are plenty of pros and cons to living in an HOA, but on the whole, many people really enjoy their communities. Whether you’re new to HOA living or have been part of an association for many years, here are a few ways to get the most out of your neighborhood:
1. Know the rules.
One of the biggest gripes homeowners often have is that they received a violation or were told that they could not do something they wanted to do. Before you buy your house, take the time to review the HOA’s governing documents and make sure you can live by the rules set forth. If you are adamant about wanting a shed but they’re not allowed, you may want to look at other neighborhoods where they are permissible. Rules are in the best interest of the community, and by following them, you’re likely to have a more positive experience.
2. Take advantage of amenities.
Your annual dues help pay for the amenities available in your community whether you use them or not. If you’re paying for upkeep of the pool, tennis courts, walking trails, clubhouse, and common areas, why not take advantage of them? Enjoy these resources and spend an afternoon relaxing by the pool or invite some friends to go walking with you.
3. Attend events.
Your dues also contribute to various events held throughout the year, whether it’s a barbecue, movie night, pool party, or game day. Get to know your neighbors and make new friends by getting involved. It can give you and your family something to do and show that you support your community.
4. Know your neighbors.
You live next door to, across the street from, and behind other homeowners, but have you taken the time to introduce yourself? When you know your neighbors, it can make your community a more welcoming and friendly place to be. Plus, it makes it easier to quickly resolve small problems, and you can look out for one another’s safety and well-being. If you’re thinking about attending an event at the clubhouse, ask your neighbor to come along so you’ll have someone you know there.
If you’re passionate about creating change and improving your HOA, join the board. If you’re not ready for that level of commitment but still want to make a difference, volunteer to be part of a committee. You can be on the frontlines of decision making and planning for the association and make your voice heard. You’ll be able to see your efforts paying off and feel good knowing that you’re helping your community. This is the place that you have chosen to call home, so why not do your part to make it as great of a place as it can be?
Every community association is different, so take the time to find one that is a good fit for you and your family. Take advantage of everything the community has to offer and opportunities to get involved. Buying a home is a big investment, so make sure you’re invested in where you live as well. Partnering with a property management group like Kuester can help HOAs operate as effectively as possible to best meet the needs and interests of members.