Prince Harry and Meghan Markle just bought their first house. Here’s what it’s like to live in Santa Barbara County, their new home in California.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle just bought their first home. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

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.

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Its 3,800 square miles include four offshore islands and five key places: Santa Barbara, Goleta, Montecito, Summerland, and Carpinteria.

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Santa Barbara. iStock / Dima_Rogozhin

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.

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Santa Barbara. Youtube/MamaOT

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.”

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Santa Barbara. REUTERS

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.

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‘Charlie Chaplin Festival’ (1938). Public Domain Full Movies/YouTube

Source: Visit California, Santa Barbara


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.

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Santa Barbara. Jordan Siemens/Getty Images

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.

Source: Page Six, Mansion Global, The Financial Times, Zillow


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.

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Montecito. Mitch Diamond/Getty Images

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.

Source: USA Today, Mansion Global


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.

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Carpinteria. Karol Franks/Getty Images

Source: Architectural Digest, Architectural Digest, Parade, Coastal Living


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.

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Montecito. nik wheeler/Getty Images

Source: Mansion Global, Mansion Global, Insider


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.

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Montecito. Blaine Harrington III/Getty Images

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.

Source: The Financial Times, Mansion Global


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.

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Santa Barbara beach houses. Sahani Photography/Shutterstock

Source: Mansion Global


Markle and Harry’s arrival now adds royals to the noteworthy list of Santa Barbara residents.

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Harry and Markle on October 31, 2018, in Rotorua, New Zealand. Kirsty Wigglesworth – Pool/Getty Images


Source:
Insider


“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.”

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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.

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Downtown Santa Barbara. Mitch Diamond/Getty Images

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.

Source: Elle Decor, Business Insider


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.

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Stearns Wharf at Santa Barbara Harbour. Ron and Patty Thomas/Getty Images

“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.

Source: Amary Road, Mansion Global


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.

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Downtown Santa Barbara. George Rose/Getty Images

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.

Source: Mansion Global, Eater


There’s also the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club — a bonus for Harry, who’s a recreational polo player.

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Prince William at the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club. Steve Granitz/Getty Images

Prince William previously played a match there in 2011, as pictured above.

Source: Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, Vanity Fair, Huffington Post


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.

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Santa Barbara vineyard. aalorber (Adam Lorber)/Getty Images

She even named her now defunct lifestyle site, The Tig, after her favourite wine, Tignanello, according to Delish.

Source: Delish, Santa Barbara


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.

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Santa Barbara. Joseph Tointon/Getty Images

A source told US Weekly that Markle takes her son for a walk every day.

Source: US Weekly, Santa Barbara


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.

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Harry and Markle with their son Archie in South Africa on September 25. Pool/Samir Hussein via Getty Images

Source: Niche


And it’s just a short drive away from Los Angeles, where the entertainment industry and Markle’s mum live.

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Los Angeles. Chones/Shutterstock