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The 7 Most Luxurious Cities in California
Real Estate

The 7 Most Luxurious Cities in California

Decided you want to be California royalty? Here’s where all the opulence and grandeur reside.

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5 min read

July 18, 2021

The Golden State encapsulates the culture of laid-back luxury to a T. Beach houses, gorgeous architecture, and shopping and dining destinations galore, California’s luxurious cities have it all. While you can find exuberant neighborhoods and small towns all over the state, some areas lean more heavily towards luxury than others, and that’s no coincidence. Two of California's most lucrative industries—technology and entertainment—are based near Silicon Valley and Los Angeles. Consequently, proximity to Silicon Valley and Hollywood play a role (pun intended) in hiking up the real estate prices of the state’s most luxurious cities. Decided you want to be California royalty? Here’s where all the opulence and grandeur reside.

The most luxurious cities in Southern California

Nicknamed "the 'Bu" by surfers and locals, Malibu has been historically home to Hollywood celebrities and people in the entertainment industry.

1. Malibu

Median home price: $3,577,500

Ocean views, Mediterranean climate, opulent mansions, and references to luxury in pop culture have made Malibu one of the best known luxurious cities in California. If you can’t afford to spare millions of dollars to move into Malibu, plan to spend a weekend getaway here and bask in all its exuberant glory. While it’s one of the priciest places to live, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the most expensive vacation place to visit. For affordable activities, head over to Zuma Beach for its golden sands and casually gourmet restaurants, hike the trails at Solstice Canyon, and enjoy a picnic at Malibu Creek State Park.

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If you’re a potential buyer looking to relocate to one of the top luxury cities in the world, Paradise Cove Bluffs, Encinal Bluffs, and Malibu Colony are popular choices with homes reaching nine-figure price tags.

Originally a Spanish ranch where lima beans were grown, Beverly Hills was incorporated in 1914 by a group of investors who found water instead of oil.

2. Beverly Hills

Median home price: $3,779,900

Did you know that Beverly Hills was originally a ranch where lima beans were grown? That's right, one of the most luxurious cities in the world had very humble beginnings. Today, Beverly Hills is home to business moguls and celebrities. This affluent area is dotted with lavish hotels, high-end boutiques, some of the most expensive houses in Los Angeles, and is definitely recognized as one of the top luxury cities in the world.

While there are plenty of modern properties here, nothing beats the old-school charm of the original Period Revival estates—Mediterranean, Spanish Colonial, French Normandy, and more. This luxurious city bears a stark contrast to the more modern, post-war era homes built much later up north in Silicon Valley. For a close-to-home trip that’ll feel luxurious, treat yourself to a weekend getaway to Beverly Hills. 

3. Hidden Hills

Median home price: $3,961,100

Sitting in the Santa Monica Mountains region northwest of Los Angeles, Hidden Hills was once prized by homebuyers for relative remoteness—hence the name. However, the large number of celebrities moving into the area made it not-so-hidden anymore. The Kardashian-Jenners, Jamie Foxx, Miley Cyrus, and Drake are a few of the uber-famous neighbors you might befriend if you move to one of the most luxurious places to live in Southern California.

Another interesting fact about Hidden Hills is that it has over 25 miles of horse trails as well as designated riding areas within its gates. Seeing residents of this gated community out and about on horseback is no extraordinary sight. However, you won’t find many other recreational spots here, as it stays true to its integrity as a residential area. If Hidden Hills residents want to do a bit of shopping and dining, they travel beyond its gates to other nearby luxurious towns like Calabasas.

No other town does luxury or exudes an effortlessly chic vibe like Montecito. The city harbors many celebrities, from Oprah Winfrey to Meghan Markle.

4. Montecito

Median home price: $3,924,700

Montecito, Spanish for “Little Mountain” is an especially beautiful slice of paradise in Santa Barbara County, and its beauty hasn’t gone unnoticed. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Oprah Winfrey, Ariana Grande, and more A-listers have chosen to call one of the most luxurious places to live in SoCal home, and we can totally see why. 

Despite the many celebrities residing here, Montecito’s reputation as a glamorous city isn't exactly similar to Malibu’s, further adding to its luxe allure. Famous and non-famous residents alike shop, dine, and stroll along Coast Village Road and the Upper Village without making a fuss, and you should too when you visit. Shopping and dining aren’t the only recreational activities here either—the beaches and hills of Montecito are quite impressive in their own right and fun to explore on a cool summer’s day. 


The most luxurious cities in Northern California

As one of the principal cities of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto is headquarters to a number of high-technology companies including Tesla.

5. Palo Alto

Median home price: $3,275,600

Considered to be the birthplace of Silicon Valley by many, Palo Alto hosts some of NorCal’s most expensive real estate, as well as its most impressive high-tech companies. Tesla, Hewlett-Packard, Skype, and the Ford Research and Innovation Center are a few of the famous companies calling one of the most luxurious cities in the state their headquarters.

There are a bunch of things to add to your itinerary when visiting Palo Alto. The Museum of American Heritage is a popular place to visit. The same goes for the Cantor Arts Center, which houses nearly 200 Auguste Rodin works. For outdoor recreation in one of California’s most luxurious cities, visit Byxbee Park or the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve, where 15 miles of trails await exploration.

Woodside is home to many horses and is among the wealthiest communities in the United States. The median household income in the town is $212,917.

6. Woodside

Median home price: $3,992,600

Woodside is another community adjacent to Silicon Valley that ranks high on the luxury scale. Given its proximity to several county parks and preserves, residents of this luxurious area enjoy a lot of nature in their daily lives.

Get to know this luxurious city as a visitor by heading to its downtown area. While it’s small and quaint, many of its most popular stores and restaurants are conveniently found here. You’ll come across a museum, cafes, boutiques, and even a Michelin-starred restaurant. If you have extra time to spare, pay a visit to the Djerassi Resident Artists Program Ranch, which houses a rich collection of cool sculptures made by resident artists.

7. Atherton

Median home price: $6,877,200

Located just 45 minutes south of San Francisco, Atherton is the most expensive town in California. In fact, it’s one of the most expensive ones in the United States. Mega-mansions line this luxurious city’s streets, several of which are owned by the world’s most influential tech billionaires such as ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt and celebrities like NBA player Steph Curry.

The San Mateo town houses several tracts of contemporary Eichler homes and other architectural marvels. But, to visit shops, restaurants, parks, and museums, residents often head out to neighboring towns and major cities such as Menlo Park and San Francisco.

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