Living In White Lake Michigan Vs. Highland Michigan
White Lake Michigan Vs. Highland Michigan - White Lake and Highland Michigan are very well known cities off the M59 corridor, but the question about these two areas always comes down to, what’s the difference between the two? Which one is better? So in this city fight, I'll be breaking down those questions and many more, stay tuned!
These two cities are very familiar to me as White Lake is where I have lived over the past year and Highland is where I’ve spent my childhood and current weekends out on Duck Lake. The best way to decide the differences between these two cities is by talking about which one is better of course, and the way to do that is by breaking down what makes a city a great place to live from their location, city feel, schools, things to do, restaurants, economy, home cost, and of course the
Taking a look at these two locations, they are both considered charter townships, which means they have certain rights and responsibilities that can intermediate between a city and a village. These are very common across the state of Michigan. starting off with White Lake Charter Township, it covers 37.2 square miles, 3.5 of those square miles are water and has a population of around 32,000 people.
Highland Charter township has an area of 36.18 square miles, 2 of those square miles being water, with a population of around 21,000 people. With those numbers being said, it’s safe to say Highland achieves a higher level of ruralness with nearly 11,000 less people with a similar square mileage with White Lake, whereas White Lake is more known to be a suburban rural mix. White Lake also has some additional water coverage, so houses tend to be more heavily saturated around lakes, which is another reason for the population difference, also due to the homes in Highland having a little more acreage than the ones in White Lake.
In terms of their location in a proximity standpoint, they are relatively similar since they are squares of almost equal size along the M-59 corridor. The biggest difference is Highland is closer to US-23 to go North and south, while White Lake is more centrally located, so you’d be passing highland to get on US-23 or going through Commerce Twp to hop on M-5. So with the cities having pretty identical geographic layouts, where does that leave the “city feel”?
Well, Highland as I mentioned is more rural and private, whereas White Lake is more packed together in a suburban setting. It’s no secret the M-59 corridor is the heart of these two cities, since they do not have a dedicated downtown area, they have this 50-55 MPH 4 lane corridor with heaps of businesses on either side. So if that close knit, community based downtown feel is what you’re looking for, these two options may not be the one for you, but where that aspect lacks, they make up for it in other ways. White lake, especially south of M-59 is your typical lake town, the roads weave around the several lakes in the area, people have their jeeps, boats, jet skis at gas stations, car washes, and even in several driveways, as a lot of the homes in the area have lake privileges even when they aren’t right on the water.
To me it feels a little more community based on just that fact alone, talking to neighbors and other lakefront homeowners about the lakes you're on, what water toys you have along with whatever else there is to complain about waterfront home maintenance. Whereas Highland, being a little more spread out even on the bodies of water, it doesn’t give off that same community feel. Granted homeowners on Duck Lake, the west side of White Lake, upper and lower Pettibone, along with a few others may feel a little differently about that. Even when I was looking to purchase a home on the Pettibone lakes I still felt like there was a seclusion aspect to it, which can be favorable to some and not others, and vice versa. Other than that, they share the fast paced traffic of M-59 from people trying to get from point A to B, as it tends to be a popular road from east and west travel.
With their location and city feels in mind, what is there to do based on attractions and overall city offerings? I think this point can be heavily debated and based on preference, but for those of you that have lived in either area or pass through the M-59 corridor from time to time, which section of M-59 do you think is overall just better? Since we are dishing out opinions, I would say the White Lake portion of M-59 is a little more beneficial, because I know several people from Highland who always come out this way to do anything and everything, otherwise they’d be driving the opposite way toward Hartland, and White Lake is closer. Not only does white lake have the Alpine Valley resort to fulfill your winter sports needs, several golf course options, recreational areas similarly to Highland, they also have the modernized Kroger marketplace, hobby lobby, JCPenney, and Marshalls just down the street, they also have the White Lake marketplace with Walmart, home depot, Joann fabrics, bed bath and beyond which is currently going out of business unfortunately, and office max, all while having a Lowes just down M-59 as well.
These are all the places that people drive over to white lake for, but in Highland’s defense, they have several eateries along M-59 near the intersecting Duck Lake road, such as the one and only highland house, which I’ve been to a million times, Sparkies kitchen and bar, and the highly underrated hole in the wall breakfast spot called D’s café off of Milford road. White lake on the other hand has Siam fusion, a Thai cuisine place, Stella’s table, a highland house carry out location, and the one and only Dave and Amy’s, which I will shamelessly plug in here being as the owner of this white lake staple is my uncle Dave. So be sure to tell him I sent you! With all that being said, the biggest complaint about these areas as you can see, is the lack of things to do, but Highland and White Lake still make an effort to try and keep the community involved, so I will link their event calendars in the description just to give you some more insight. For me personally, living in White Lake on one of their many lakes, I don’t feel like I really missing anything, everything I need and more is just a few minutes down the road as I mentioned, and the things I’m doing a long with several highland and white lake residents, is enjoying the lake our homes are on.
That transitions quite nicely into the next point and that’s home prices. Taking a look at this chart provided by the MLS, we have the average sales price as of November 2022 for the whole MLS in blue, highland twp. in green and white lake in yellow. As you can see, this chart shows the 3 year progression of sale prices since 2019, Highland comes in about $20,000 higher with a 5.7% increase over the last 12 months while White Lake has increased over 10% in the last 12 months, which really doesn’t surprise me as I drive through white lake. There seems to be so many homeowners adding value to their homes before selling, there’s 5 or 6 people just that on my lake and when they sell these properties it drives comparable home sales higher than ever, which is great for homeowners like myself in the area. As of recording this, there are 31 waterfront homes for sale in Highland and White Lake ranging from a $325,000 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom fixer upper to a $1.75 million home with just under 5,000 square feet on 1.25 acres sitting on an awesome peninsula lot.
So what about the schools? Starting with White Lake, there are 5 school districts serving the township: Clarkston, Holly, Huron Valley, Walled Lake and Waterford. Whereas, Highland tends to be primarily Huron valley schools, which serves commerce, Milford, White lake and of course highland. Huron Valley Schools tend to be the more favorable of the bunch, but Walled lake and Clarkston schools tend to be highly rated as well, so having some options there is always a nice touch.
So which city is better? Well, it really depends on your preference, because as you may have figured out, these two cities are incredibly similar in every way, but where one lacks slightly, the other one makes up for it. At the end of the day, it’s not a life or death decision since both these cities are so incredibly close to one another that if you choose one over the other you can take advantage of the amenities the other one provides. Of course, there rural vs. suburban living and overall home affordability plays a significant role in anyone’s needs and wants list, so if there’s a few things to base your decision on, it will most likely be that!
If you’re interested in more things about White lake, my opinions, and buying my lake house from start to finish, I'll link a few videos in the description so you can add them to your queue.
If you had to choose one of these cities to live in, which one would it be and why? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.
MENTIONED LINKS 🔗
→Living In White Lake Michigan: https://youtu.be/hiq1s9IfIks
→Moving From Brighton To White Lake: https://youtu.be/Bd-qfZqaL5k
→Buying My Lake House Start To Finish: https://youtu.be/P3cghoVAuHg
CITY EVENT PAGES 📅
→Highland Michigan Events: https://bit.ly/3FLkdVz
→White Lake Michigan Events: https://www.townplanner.com/white-lak...
Andrew McManamon is a Michigan REALTOR® with Signature Sotheby’s International Realty and provides real estate services to Buyers, Sellers and Investors throughout SE Michigan including Livingston County, Oakland County, Washtenaw County, Genesee County & beyond. Andrew has become one of the rising stars of Michigan real estate agents. Prior to his real estate career Andrew was responsible for managing a senior living facility in Brighton, Michigan as a dining supervisor and an activities assistant. Andrew’s passion to help people is unlike any other, and he continues to strive to be best resource he can be. Andrew graduated from Cleary University in Howell, Michigan with a double major and currently resides in White Lake, Michigan.