- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have purchased their first home together, a spokesperson for the couple confirmed to Insider’s Mikhaila Friel.
- The house is in California’s Santa Barbara County. They were reportedly previously living in Tyler Perry’s mansion in Los Angeles.
- Despite being one of the most expensive places to live in the US, Santa Barbara is more laid-back and reclusive than LA.
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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are officially homeowners.
They purchased their first home together in California’s Santa Barbara County over the summer, a spokesperson for the couple confirmed to Insider’s Mikhaila Friel.
“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex moved into their family home in July of this year,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “They have settled into the quiet privacy of their community since their arrival and hope that this will be respected for their neighbours, as well as for them as a family.”
Markle and Harry were previously living in Tyler Perry’s eight-bedroom, 12-bathroom mansion in Beverly Hills, according to the Daily Mail. Santa Barbara, a 90-minute drive northwest from Los Angeles, is one of the most expensive communities to live in, attracting the rich and famous from both California and the rest of the nation.
But despite its wealth, the community is a lot more down-to-earth and less flashy than LA. It also offers more privacy.
Here’s what it’s like to live there and why the wealthy couple might’ve chosen it as their new home base in the US.
Santa Barbara County is about an hour and a half northwest of Los Angeles by car, on the central California coast.
Its 3,800 square miles include four offshore islands and five key places: Santa Barbara, Goleta, Montecito, Summerland, and Carpinteria.
Source: US News & World Report
The county’s namesake city, Santa Barbara, ranked in the top 10 of several US News & World Report lists of best places to live, including No. 6 in the most expensive places to live category.
It also ranked in the top spots for quality of life, places to live in California, and safest places to live.
Source: US News & World Report
But sandwiched between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, the whole county has attracted the American glitterati. It’s been nicknamed the “American Riviera,” a “playground for the rich and famous.”
Source: US News & World Report
Its status as a celebrity hot spot dates back to the 1800s, when the global elite vacationed there. The filmmaker and actor Charlie Chaplin upped its fame when he married Oona O’Neill there in 1928.
Today it’s one of the wealthiest communities in the US. Homes typically sell for between $US2 million and $US20 million, but some exceed more than $US100 million.
The median home-price listing in Santa Barbara is $US1.4 million, according to Zillow. In Montecito, one of the county’s most affluent areas, homes typically go for at least $US7 million, sometimes as much as $US40 million.
The homes, often designed in Mediterranean or Colonial Revival architectural style, sit up in the hillside or at the ocean’s doorstep — and celebs are known for snatching them up.
The homes include estates and ranch-style houses, as well as cottages and villas, but many are open and airy, set on spacious property with panoramic views.
Kevin Costner, George Lucas, and Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have all scooped up homes in Carpinteria, an eclectic and artsy area with a small-town vibe.
And Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Oprah Winfrey, and Jeff Bridges all own homes in Montecito. So does Ellen DeGeneres, who seems to be friendly with the couple, considering she’s already held baby Archie.
Montecito is the county’s most luxe enclave. The Financial Times’ Zoe Dare Hall called it “a beautiful bubble of wealth with an old world charm.” It’s been compared to Southern France and Tuscany.
With 9,000 residents, it’s a small community with many wealthy residents. A small group that meets up weekly is known locally as “the billionaires’ breakfast club,” she wrote.
But it’s not just Hollywood stars that flock to the area. It also attracts tech titans, thanks to its five-hour drive from Silicon Valley, and the East Coast and Midwest elite.
Source: Mansion Global
Markle and Harry’s arrival now adds royals to the noteworthy list of Santa Barbara residents.
“They intend to put down their roots in this house and the quiet community, which has considerable privacy,” a source told Page Six. “This is where they want to bring Archie up, where they hope he can have as normal a life as possible.”
Source: Page Six
It’s likely that they’re attracted to the sense of isolation in Santa Barbara County that busy Los Angeles lacks, especially since they were having privacy issues while living in LA.
They recently filed a lawsuit alleging photographers invaded their privacy when taking photos of Archie playing in their backyard. An LAPD officer told US Weekly that the couple had been having an issue with drones flying over their home.
Markle and Harry also installed privacy screens around the grounds of the LA house after realising hikers could easily see into the property, The Sun reported.
The scene here is also more laid-back. Santa Barbara may be wealthy, but one resident said money didn’t define its character and that it was a lot less flashy than Los Angeles.
“Despite the wealth, this isn’t a town that cares about money as much as you might think,” resident Stefan von Imhof wrote in a personal essay. “It doesn’t have the excessive flashiness you find in LA but there is also plenty of quirkiness, individuality, a solid middle class, students, kids, and everything in between.”
It’s not uncommon to see famous people walking around in Montecito, but it never garners attention.
There are still plenty of luxuries, like trendy boutiques, a strong gastronomic scene, and yoga studios. And Santa Barbara is rich in culture, from art galleries to museums.
Caruso’s, which offers Italian fare, and Yoichi’s, a Japanese-style restaurant, are two dining hot spots. For the cultural scene, there’s the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara.
There’s also the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club — a bonus for Harry, who’s a recreational polo player.
Prince William previously played a match there in 2011, as pictured above.
And of course, there are the perks that draw most residents to Santa Barbara County, like the Mediterranean-like weather, stretches of coastline, and wine country — a plus for Markle, who is a wine drinker.
She even named her now defunct lifestyle site, The Tig, after her favourite wine, Tignanello, according to Delish.
The area’s proximity to both the mountains and the beach also allows for plenty of outdoor excursions, whether it’s hiking or surfing. And Archie loves being outside in nature, according to Us Weekly.
A source told US Weekly that Markle takes her son for a walk every day.
The area is also home to top-notch schools for Archie. There’s Cate School in Carpinteria, a boarding school that costs $US49,700 a year, and Laguna Blanca School in Montecito, a private co-ed school that costs $US29,230 annually.