Cristal's Blog


May 12, 2020

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The Santa Barbara-Montecito area, also known as the “American Riviera,” has been a magnet for the rich and famous for over a century. Celebrities living in Santa Barbara, as well as those visiting, can stroll down the street here without being ogled or hassled for an autograph or photo. In general, Santa Barbarans have an insouciant attitude toward celebrities, which is one reason why the town – and especially its most celebrity-filled enclave, Montecito -- have been such favorites among A-listers for generations.

Portrait of Charlie Chaplain Andy Warhol style with 4 images side by side in different colors
License: CC0 Public Domain

The Celebrity Connection

Celebrities and Santa Barbara are nothing new. In fact, some very notable residents have called the area home over the years. The iconic film actor and director, Charlie Chaplin, lived in a Spanish-style villa in Montecito in the 1920s. Clark Gable lived in a Spanish Colonial Revival-style home in Santa Barbara in the 1930s. The Swedish-born actress, Greta Garbo owned a secluded estate in Montecito during the 1930s and 1940s. Even John and Jacqueline Kennedy, the former President and First Lady, stayed at Montecito’s renowned San Ysidro Ranch for their honeymoon in 1953.

And there’s good reason for all this celebrity attention. The town, known as an American treasure, sits on the Pacific Ocean, nestled at the base of the Santa Ynez Mountains. It offers what locals love—a backdrop of beautiful mountains and a "front yard" of the Pacific Ocean with gorgeous, white sand beaches. Superstars also appreciate the perfect Mediterranean climate, and treasure living in a beautiful paradise where they won’t be bombarded by fans and paparazzi every time they step outside.

Even more, celebrities prize the quiet and secluded lifestyle offered in the region, along with the area’s high-end amenities, including luxury resorts, high-end restaurants, and shopping options—all of which cater to the needs of celebrities. In addition, many celebrities are attracted to Santa Barbara and Montecito because of the sense of community along with the opportunity to socialize with other affluent and influential people. And the fact that the region is located just 90 miles north of Los Angeles makes it easy for celebrities to travel back and forth between the two locations. But it’s the serene beauty of the region that draws them in and keeps them here.

Numerous Celebrities Living in Santa Barbara and Montecito

Here are some of the most notable celebrities who call Santa Barbara and Montecito home now:

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on Christmas Day in London
Mark Jones, CC BY 2.0

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, purchased a home in Montecito in 2020 after stepping down as senior members of the British royal family. Their home is ideal for indoor-outdoor living with grand arched doors and windows in nearly every room.

Ellen Degeneres sits on her show's stage smiling at the audience
Image by ronpaulrevolt2008 via Creative Commons

Comedian and television host Ellen DeGeneres and her wife, actress Portia de Rossi, seem to “estate hop”; continuously purchasing and selling luxury residences in Montecito. Media mogul Oprah Winfrey has been a long-time resident of Montecito, having purchased her sprawling estate there in 2001. Winfrey's 65-acre property boasts a beautiful rose garden, a lake, and stunning mountain views.

Actor Jeff Bridges in a suit and tie on the red carpet
Jeff Bridges_(Berlin_Film_Festival_2011).jpg: Siebbi derivative work: César, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Actor Jeff Bridges has been a resident of Montecito since the 1970s, having purchased his property there after filming "Stay Hungry" in the area. Actor Rob Lowe and his wife, jewelry designer Sheryl Lowe, live in a beautiful Mediterranean-style home in Montecito. Actress Drew Barrymore has a stunning estate in Montecito, which she purchased in 2017. The property includes a pool, guesthouse, and beautiful gardens. Actress Ellen Pompeo, best known for her role on "Grey's Anatomy," owns a beautiful home in the hills of Santa Barbara. The abode offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Popstar Katy Perry smiles on a step and repeat as photographer take pictures of her
Photo credit: Joella Marrano, via Creative Commons

Popstar Katy Perry purchased a luxurious estate in Montecito in 2020 following the birth of her daughter. The property boasts a pool, guesthouse, and lush gardens. Singer Ariana Grande has a stunning estate in Montecito she acquired in 2022, following her marriage to real estate agent Dalton Gomez. Inside its Narnia-like interior are two kitchens with designer appliances, two dining rooms, two full bathrooms and two powder rooms.

Filmmaker George Lukas sits in a red chair addressing an audience with a blue background
Nicolas genin from Paris, France, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Filmmaker George Lucas, best known for creating the Star Wars franchise, has a beautiful estate in the hills of Santa Barbara. The property includes a vineyard, lake, and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Director Rob Reiner, known for his work on films such as "When Harry Met Sally" and "A Few Good Men," has his own beautiful estate in Montecito.

My prediction is that Santa Barbara and Montecito will continue attracting celebrities in the years to come, thanks to the area’s stunning natural beauty, relaxed lifestyle, and luxurious properties.

There are many celebrity-worthy homes for sale in Montecito, Hope Ranch, or any of Santa Barbara's upscale communities. You can find them listed on my comprehensive website. See something you like? If you’d like to take a tour or find out about exclusive pocket listings, call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at I’ll be happy to help you find your own celebrity-worthy home.

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Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch