About Highlands Ranch: A Resident's Perspective
One of the best resources online if you want comprehensive information about Highlands Ranch is the Highlands Ranch Community Association website, HRCA Online. Like any good organization which is the face to the public, it makes living in Highlands Ranch look like a dream come true. However, is that the case? Is it really the dream it's cracked up to be? Let's take a look at life in Highlands Ranch from a resident's perspective.
What You Get For The Money
If you buy property anywhere in Highlands Ranch, you will pay the HRCA community assessment of $127 per quarter (about $43 per month). Keep in mind that this is on top of any Homeowner Association (HOA) fees and assessments you may have related to your housing track/community. What do you get in exchange for this? Well, for starters, you get access to four recreation centers. Each rec center is a bit different with its amenities. Here is a brief list of some of the things you can expect to find: exercise gym, indoor running/walking track, indoor/outdoor pools, indoor tiny tot water park, jacuzzis, indoor lazy river, swimming lap pools, rock climbing wall, basketball/volleyball gymnasium, batting cages, indoor/outdoor tennis courts, community meeting rooms, TVs, lounge area and game room. The quarterly dues include admission to any of the four rec centers for the entire family. Also, all pools and water activities are monitored by paid life guards.
In addition to the rec centers, HRCA also controls and enforces community covenant guidelines and hosts over 100 community events each year (like Oktoberfest, Wine Tasting, Elk Hunting in the private Backcountry Wilderness, 4th of July Parade and Fireworks, Easter Egg Hunt, Arts Festival, Rodeo in the Ranch and Family Camping Weekends in Backcountry...just to name a few). In my opinion, one of the premiere events is the fall Elk Hunt open only to residents of Highlands Ranch (it is a lottery draw system and there are less than 20 tags available). The events are well run and really allow you to feel like you are part of a small town community.
HRCA offers a lot of education classes. You can review what's available here. Some of the popular classes may fill up quickly. The fees are usually nominal. As an example, my son and I attended a Turkey 101 class. HRCA manages the Backcountry Wilderness Area and offers a lot of outdoor recreation opportunities. Our Turkey 101 class took us into Backcountry on a private tour to scout and learn about wild turkeys. We saw about 8 birds total and my 7 year old son had a blast blowing his turkey call and having turkeys gobble back at him.
Is It Worth It?
There are about 30,000 homes and 94,000 residents in Highlands Ranch as of 2013. One of the questions you may ask is: "Are the rec centers crowded?" The answer: for the most part, no. Being a master-planned community from the beginning, the occupancy loads were well thought out. You don't typically have to wait for exercise equipment when working out. The most pressure is at the popular pools during summer and winter breaks.
There are really more activities and events each year than you can possible do. HRCA does a great job advertising what is available in advance so you can plan accordingly. The events and classes in general do not disappoint. This year, our kids have participated in a youth running club and taken a cartoon art drawing class. Both were happy with their experience.
So is it worth the $127 per quarter? In my opinion, absolutely! It's well run, everything is kept updated, clean and well maintained. It's easy to see why HRCA has earned awards as an organization and so many publications consistently name Highlands Ranch as one of the top cities in the nation to raise a family. I hope this is helpful information about Highlands Ranch if you are considering moving here. Please post any questions you have to the comments section. I'm happy to respond.