Sunset walks along unspoiled beaches, hiking in the scenic foothills of the Los Padres forest and dining at the chicest neighbourhood restaurants — and all a stone’s throw from their sprawling $14.65 million (£10.5 million), 7.4-acre estate.
It’s easy to see why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle joined long-time residents Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres in choosing the town of Montecito, in Santa Barbara County, California, as their new home. And yet, for a couple in their thirties with their pick of Los Angeles neighbourhoods, it still begs the question — why settle down a 90-minute drive away from all the action, in a sleepy seaside enclave few people have heard of?
“The people who live here have made a conscious choice,” says Erik Haskell, an estate agent with luxury brokerage, The Agency, who grew up in Montecito (Spanish for “little mount”) and whose clients include Matt Damon and Rob Lowe. “For glitz and glamour, you have Beverly Hills. To live an anonymous existence, you have Montecito. It’s a gathering of like-minded people.”
It is beautiful, with lots of nature, and the homes are secluded and private. There is of course a dark side, centred at the moment on local politics and feuds with neighbouring Santa Barbara over who gets access to water during droughts. In his novel Black Money, Ross Macdonald described Montecito as a place where “almost anything can happen. Almost everything has.” He adds that “residents play at being simple…