Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are all over the news these days in the wake of their blockbuster interview with Oprah Winfrey, and it’s clear that the young couple is much happier far, far away from Buckingham Palace and all the baggage that comes with royal life.
So what’s the deal with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s new hometown, and their new digs?
In summer 2020, this famous couple purchased a mansion for $14,650,000 in Montecito, a community within Santa Barbara, CA. This was the first home the ex-royals bought together, and it’s a splendid 18,000-square-foot mansion with nine bedrooms and 16 baths, plus a pool, teahouse, and tennis court—and more befitting their ex-royal status.
Why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle live in Montecito
While Montecito might seem like a surprising choice, it makes total sense given this couple’s intense need for privacy. Just 90 minutes north of Los Angeles but a world away in terms of solitude and quiet, this mellow beach town is home to the ultrawealthy who want to avoid the spotlight, which is why many celebrities from Winfrey to Ellen DeGeneres live in the area as well. Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine and his wife, model Behati Prinsloo, reportedly just dropped $22.7 million on a historic estate there.
“The reason A-list celebs like Oprah and Ellen flock to Montecito is for the laid-back, understated feel of the area and the types of homes that afford lots of privacy and space,” says Cara Ameer, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Los Angeles.
Montecito isn’t just for boldface names. Since COVID-19 started sweeping across the U.S., this area has seen a phenomenal uptick in interest, according to the Wall Street Journal, with an 80% increase in sales since 2019.
Many of these new residents are young families fleeing the congestion of big cities like Los Angeles, on a quest for more space to ride out the rest of the pandemic. And Montecito fits the bill, with its beautiful beaches, safe community, and highly ranked schools.
According to realtor.com® data, currently there are 94 active listings in Montecito, but most buyers will need to pay dearly for even a small pad here, as the median price of homes in the area is $4,995,000.
However, perhaps due to these sky-high home prices, Montecito listings don’t sell all that quickly, spending an average of 86 days on the market. And the higher the price, the longer these properties tend to sit.
“The market above $20 million in California isn’t super hot right now because fewer people are looking in that range,” says Cedric Stewart, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties. As such, even with Montecito’s Harry and Meghan cachet, “it’s unlikely most homes will draw interest above the asking price or create a bidding war.”
The downsides of living near Harry and Meghan
Still, one potential downside to Montecito is that reporters and photographers may be lurking around town, hoping to snap photos of Harry and Meghan.
“Potential homeowners could find the media buzz bothersome,” says Ameer.
Still, fans attempting to discern where Harry and Meghan actually live face an uphill battle.
“The streets are small in this area and so is the signage, and homes are often set well back from the road,” says Ameer. As such, “you won’t have any idea which house is which unless you really know where you’re going.”
Curious to learn what your life might be like if you moved to Montecito? Check out some of the other gorgeous homes for sale right now.
Asking price: $22.5 million
Perched on more than 5 acres, this seven-bedroom, 13-bath mansion has already received one offer. Still, if you’re willing to dig a little deeper into your wallet, additional bids are reportedly being entertained
Among the many high-end amenities that come with this renovated estate are an enormous underground garage that holds eight cars, a gym in a separate building, and a huge outdoor kitchen, as well as two one-bedroom guest cottages.
The picturesque grounds are perfectly arranged with burbling brooks, bridges, an adorable playhouse, and a network of pathways, making the property ideal for young children. There’s also plenty of room for staff and security given the extra two-car garage, office space, break rooms, and restrooms for assistants and other personnel.
Asking price: $29,000,000
If you adore Spanish architecture, this property is right up your alley. Built in the style of the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain, this estate features a floor plan of nearly 12,000 square feet, which includes four bedrooms and 4.5 baths.
The home offers old-world charm, with Moorish and Italianate features throughout the sun-drenched rooms. Modern amenities include a home theater, billiard room, and gleaming chef’s kitchen. Naturally, there are the stunning views of the ocean across the beautifully manicured lawns and gardens.
Asking price: $21,500,000
An incredible vista of the water awaits the lucky buyer of this Italian villa–style home, along with its 9,000 square feet of living space, and a generous 6-acre plot surrounding it.
Architect Peter Becker and designer Rosie Feinberg collaborated over five years on this mansion, creating a star-worthy home with glass walls and steel doors that reveal a breathtaking loggia facing south.
Along with four bedrooms and 4.5 baths, there’s a massive master suite, formal rooms for entertaining, a wine room, and a jaw-dropping library straight out of an ivy league college. Fruit trees dot the landscape, which also includes a pool, spa, and guesthouse.
Asking price: $17,900,000
For a bit less money (though when we’re talking millions, what’s a few bucks here and there?), you can have this 8,500-square-foot home known as Casa Leo Linda. It has six bedrooms and eight baths, plus a pool, pool house, and tennis court. However, the mansion’s proximity to stores and nightlife in Montecito’s Upper Village may be its strongest selling point.
And if you have a pooch, you’ll be pleased to learn that the property sports a fenced-in dog run. Dog walkers and their four-legged friends can also enjoy the gardens, sculpted hedges, and koi pond.
Asking price: $9,500,000
For a more modest Montecito manse, this four-bedroom, five-bath home is both charming and comfortable. Several of the rooms with cathedral ceilings open to the patio in the rear that overlooks an inviting pool and mature plantings on a 1-acre lot.
The kitchen comes with both walk-in and butler’s pantries, while the main living spaces feature a great room, formal dining room, and den. For those cool California nights, you can feed the embers in two fireplaces in the master suite and living room.