Highlands Ranch Living

The Ultimate Moving Guide to Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Highlands Ranch may feel like it's sprung up overnight, especially when you drive through its modern subdivisions and bustling commercial areas. However, this suburban community just south of Denver has roots that reach back to the late 19th century, although the majority of the development occurred in the last few decades. The land that Highlands Ranch occupies was initially a series of large ranches, and it wasn't until 1981 that the first homes were constructed. In just over forty years, it has grown from a quiet piece of countryside to the largest master planned community in Colorado, with over 100,000 residents. In recent years, we have seen construction continue with the development of Central Park and the new UC Health Hospital.

Home Types

If you're shopping for a home in Highlands Ranch, you've got a good number of choices from townhomes to spacious single family homes, and even some massive luxury properties. Most properties were built in the 80s to early 2000s, so they are fairly new compared to much of Denver. This means less headache for you since these homes were built with more modern building practices.
Here is the pricing breakdown as of the latest market check-in:

  • Townhomes: $300s to $600s.
  • Single Family Homes: $500s to $900s
  • Luxury Homes: $1.5m+

The median home value as of the latest census was $673k.

Neighborhoods

The main areas of highlands ranch are very similar, with mainly single family homes in a classic suburb setting. These include the neighborhoods of Westridge, Soutridge, and Northridge. Lots in Highlands Ranch are small to medium sized, although they tend to be smaller than older homes and homeowners are often looking for more land for their kids to run around. There are some neighborhoods with slightly larger yards, and also the occasional corner or odd shaped lot, if land is important to you.

If you are looking for townhomes and apartments, the recently built Central Park area offers a small but walkable community. It is surrounded by our two major hospitals (UC Health and Colorado Children's Hospital), so it is especially popular with healthcare workers who enjoy a short walk to work. There are a variety of restaurants here, including a new brunch place (HashTAG) that just opened.

Lastly, the BackCountry and HighWoods neighborhoods at the very south side of the development offer some larger luxury options. These range from $1,000,000 homes all the way to multi-million custom homes. These neighborhoods are gated, offer larger lots, and have 6+ beds or baths.

Traffic

Traffic in Lone Tree, near Highlands Ranch - Arina P Habich/ShutterStock
Traffic in Lone Tree, near Highlands Ranch - Arina P Habich/ShutterStock

One of the understated perks of living in Highlands Ranch and Douglas County is the notably smoother traffic flow compared to Denver. Working in real estate, I've had clients sigh in relief over their commute times after relocating here. Whereas Denver's highways can get bogged down with congestion, especially during peak hours, Highlands Ranch offers a more relaxed commute, with well-designed roads and fewer traffic jams. Residents enjoy streamlined connectivity to major thoroughfares like C-470, which allows for a brisk transit, making it feasible to live in the peace of suburbia while still engaging with the urban economy. If you've spent hours of your life idling on I-25 or I-70, the difference here is day and night. It's one of those hidden gems about the area that you truly come to appreciate once you've settled in, and it perfectly exemplifies the quality of life that people seek when they opt for Highlands Ranch. If easy drives and extra time to enjoy your mornings or evenings sound enticing, you're not alone; it's a highlight that many homebuyers find hard to overlook.

Shopping Destinations

Retail therapy in Highlands Ranch is second to none. The Highlands Ranch has two main town centers with grocery stores and places to grab a bite to eat. This is great for those who work from home and get tired of eating leftovers every day!

If that isn't enough to check off all your boxes, Park Meadows Mall is just a short drive away. It's the largest enclosed mall in Colorado and has all the name brands you'd expect, plus lots of restaurants.

If you are looking for furniture for your new home, we also have an Ikea close by, as well as higher end local brands like Furniture Row and Woodleys.

Lastly, bulk shopping is taken care of with a Sams Club and Costco located on the east side of town.

Employment and Commuting

Employment opportunities within Highlands Ranch span a wide array of industries, with options both locally and in nearby economic hubs like the Denver Tech Center, which is only about 10 to 15 minutes away. Commutes from Highlands Ranch to downtown Denver average around 30 to 40 minutes, although traffic to the city can be tiresome during rush hour.

Schools

Education is central to the Highlands Ranch community, with highly ranked public schools that are part of the Douglas County School District. Coupled with charter and private institutions, if you're moving with the little ones, you're well-covered. We have three public high schools (Thunder Ridge, Mountain Vista, and Highlands Ranch High School), three middle schools (Ranch View, Mountain Ridge Cresthill), and a ton of neighborhood elementary schools. There are also lots of private options, including the STEM School and Valor Christian High School.

Recreation

Roxborough State Park
Roxborough State Park

On the recreational front, living in Highlands Ranch means access to vast open spaces and trails for hiking, biking, and simply soaking in the Colorado outdoors. The four recreation centers, owned by the HRCA, provide pools, fitness facilities (including indoor tennis, rock climbing, and more), and venues for community events. This is a massive benefit to buying in Highlands Ranch, as you won't find those amenities in smaller suburbs.

Highlands Ranch is also just 10 minutes away from Chatfield State Park and Roxborough state park. Roxborough has great mountain views and red rocks, almost like a mini garden of the gods. Chatfield is a man-made reservoir with a marina for boating, but is also a popular destination for kayaking and paddleboarding.

For some great views and exercise, there is Daniels Park just south of Highlands Ranch, and the recently opened Reuter-Hess incline if you want a challenge.

And of course, if you are moving here from out of state, don't forget that we have world-class outdoor activities here in Colorado. While not right in your backyard, it is only an hour and a half to skiing, mountain biking, rafting, and more fun in the mountains.

Breweries

A living in Colorado guide wouldn't be complete without a list of breweries, and Highlands Ranch is no exception. We have some local breweries within town and plenty nearby, including:

  • Living the Dream Brewing
  • Rock Bottom Brewery
  • Prost Brewing Company
  • Lone Tree Brewing Company
  • Breckenridge Brewery (not technically in Highlands Ranch, but this is a massive brewery with a restaurant, beer garden, and tours. It's a very short drive up Santa Fe in Littleton)

Weather

You're probably wondering about the weather, and let me tell you, we experience all four seasons here. We get over 300 days of sunshine in Denver and very little rain. In general, compared to other states, we do not see extreme temperatures or weather.

It does get hot in the summer, but not unbearable. The average high is in the 80s, with occasional 90 or 100 days.

Winters are generally mild with snow that melts quickly. If you are worried about snowstorms or winter depression, you'll be okay out here -- the sun is out year round. It tends to snow every couple weeks, usually only a few inches. While an AWD car or winter tires will help, they are generally not necessary in Denver and the surrounding suburbs. There are only a few days of the year where you may really want to stay home to be safe. If you are planning to go into the mountains, that can be a different story, depending on when it last snowed.

Lastly, our spring and autumn are picturesque with perfect temperatures. Spring flowers and autumn leaves are a welcome sight. Learn more about our weather in my longer article here.

Utilities

Highlands Ranch is served by Xcel energy for electric and natural gas. Centennial Water handles water and sewer, and was developed to serve specifically Highlands Ranch (and now another community named Solstice).

For those who work from home, you will be glad to hear that internet availability is excellent in Highlands Ranch. While we do not yet have Fiber internet thanks to our 90s homes, Xfinity provides up to gigabit speeds over existing cable lines.

I could talk all day about Highlands Ranch, but there's nothing like experiencing it for yourself. Whether it's about the best spots for a Sunday brunch or more serious queries related to real estate, I'm just a message away. If you're looking to find a place that feels just right, I'm here to help guide you. Let's get in touch and start your journey to calling Highlands Ranch home.

Let's find your new home!

Chris is a real estate agent who specializes in helping clients build, buy, and sell homes. As an expert in the area, I am ready to help you find and close on your new home. Use the button below to reach out to me today!

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