I have a relative who was the president of an HOA for a few years and she couldn't wait to be replaced. I don't know if all HOAs work this way, but in her subdivision, individual homeowners owned the house itself, but not the land beneath it. Part of the HOA fees were designated for ground maintenance of any kind, from mowing yards to cutting down trees. This wasn't necessarily a deal breaker, since a lot of people would rather not be responsible for mowing their own yards every two weeks. However, the designated grass inspectors often used that opportunity to notice other potential violations. My relative would get dozens of reports each month about possible rule violations, and most of them would fall under the category of petty non-issues.
Some HOAs also find ways to tack on more fees for services or amenities that a lot of members couldn't or wouldn't use. People who couldn't swim would still be responsible for pool maintenance costs. HOA boards wouldn't necessarily find the most qualified service people, just the ones willing to work for their wages. Sometimes, legitimate repair requests for leaks or air conditioning problems or electrical issues would go unaddressed for weeks while the HOA-paid service people worked on pet projects.
I'm not saying that all HOAs are bad, but mandatory membership in one is a significant issue to consider before signing the papers on a new house. I'd suggest talking to potential neighbors about their experiences with their HOA before making a major decision.