In Australia, master-planned residential estates (MPREs) are often discussed within an internationalised academic discourse around the privatisation and fortification of residential environments. Yet we know very little about the lifestyles, community forms and ways of living in MPREs. We report on the results of an extensive survey across the Sydney metropolitan area that investigated in detail the attractions of master-planned estate living, the socio-demographic composition of these neighbourhoods and patterns of social interaction within them. These data are analysed in terms of a typology of MPRE that encompasses a spectrum of privatism and securitisation: what we see as their open, symbolically enclosed and gated forms. We find that whilst these estates differ along dimensions such as patterns of neighbouring and use of facilities, strong commonalities exist. From this analysis, conclusions are drawn about the links between built form and processes of social distinction as well as their implications for urban planning.