The Sussexes moved to Montecito after Oprah & other friends recommended it

Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex visit to Canada House, London, UK

When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex flew to California in late March/early April 2020, they did so because the border was closing because of the pandemic, and international travel was being halted around the world. They first moved into Tyler Perry’s LA home and Perry provided them with security for a time, but they were eager to find a home of their own and take care of their own massive security needs. I honestly believed that they would stay in LA, and perhaps move into one of the super-protected gated communities in Bel Air or something like that. But no – they moved to Santa Barbara, to the wealthy Montecito enclave. So why did they choose Montecito? The new Finding Freedom epilogue apparently spells out why:

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex moved into their Montecito home in July 2020 and have since welcomed their daughter Lilibet to their family. While Meghan was born in California, the couple have never publicly stated their reasons for moving to Montecito, a community located in Santa Barbara, which is popular with A-list celebrities.

A new epilogue in royal biography Finding Freedom claims that a number of the Sussexes’ friends, including US chat show host, Oprah Winfrey, had recommended Santa Barbara County to them as a “perfect place to raise a family, specifically Montecito, where houses sat within double-gated communities for maximum privacy yet were close enough to the amenities of civilisation when needed”.

[From Hello]

What is a “double-gated community”? Not just one gate to get in, but two? Double the neighborhood security? Hm. While I’m glad that they’re building their life away from the LA vibe, I do kind of wonder if this was always all-Harry. I’m sure Oprah and other people recommended Santa Barbara and all of that, but I’ve always wondered if Meghan kind of wanted to stay in LA, some place she knew and where she grew up, and where her mom would be close by. Harry’s dream was always to have his wife and children away from everyone else though. That’s what Frogmore was supposed to be for a time.


HRH Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex closing the car door following his attendance at the twelfth annual Lord Mayor?Äôs Big Curry Lunch in aid of the three National Service Charities: ABF The Soldiers?Äô Charity, the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity a

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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51 Responses to “The Sussexes moved to Montecito after Oprah & other friends recommended it”

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  1. Cessily says:

    Seems like a perfect place for them.

  2. Snuffles says:

    I think Montecito was a wise choice. They would have been endlessly papped in LA. It was already happening at Tyler Perry’s. I think the terrain and the space they have in Montecito makes it impossible for the paps to catch them on their property. And apparently the residents of Montecito value privacy and are less likely to tip off the paps than if you live in LA. In LA, people call in tips and post about sightings all the time.

    It’s not too far from LA either when the want to come into town and handle their business. I think Meghan is just as happy as Harry is with the choice. She desperately needed a peaceful oasis to heal, reset and be pregnant in peace.

    • Pao says:

      The thing with LA is that its not just local high profile people. There are plenty of tourists (some non American tourists aswel) and its simply way busier than Santa Barbara. Im not saying that everybody in the Santa Barbara area is high profile but since its one of the richest neighborhoods in America im thinking their used to high profile people. Not only that. Their estate is gorgeous and seems so tranquil.

    • Christine says:

      Agreed, and I live in the middle of LA proper. This is not where I would choose to live if I was remotely recognizable, much less fleeing a really high profile abusive family across the Atlantic. They would never get peace.

  3. Pao says:

    Hmm i can actually see both meghan and harry go for montecito. Yes meghan is a LA native but i think that after the past 3/4 years she’s happy to be in a place that offers more privacy.

    As for double gated: im not an American but maybe it means that there is a gated community and then again a gate around the estate you want to enter.

    • BayTampaBay says:

      Double Gated Community: I think may mean (as it does in Florida) that there is a main gate for the community-subdivision or housing development and also an individual gate for each residential domicile.

      • (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

        That’s exactly right, BTB. I live in a place like this. There is the “main gate”, and then separate gated residence/garages for each owner’s property w/in where you can have your “own” security (alarms etc).

        I went to UCSB and would drive by Montecito going to and from home (weekends/breaks) in Beverly Hills. Both places have uber-wealthy, but even in BH/WLA, while you can have large “compounds”, it is very urban, and still crawling with tourists and tour buses. Montecito is much more secluded off the “main” road, MUCH more spread out, quiet, and “far from the maddening crowd”. Think of it like Malibu Colony (just not crowded/on top of each other): access is restricted to even get near it, tourists just can’t wander near, and if you want to go anywhere, you have to get out and go. Not a “walk to the corner and grab a coffee” community.

      • harperc says:

        We have some double-gated communities around Tampa, around the Keystone area (lots of money) or down in Sun City Center.

        There’s a gate for the main development, and then for some smaller developments, there’s another gate to enter that street. The cheaper houses are just behind the one gate, but the more expensive developments are behind the second gate.

        The Sussexes may have a 3rd gate for their own house, but with the 2 gates, that should really cut down on the looky-loos driving by.

    • Yvette says:

      I think it means that individual properties are surround by other acred properties making it harder to access someone’s house unless you go through their individual gate or through someone else’s large-acred estate. Looking at an arial shot of Harry and Meghan’s estate, it is surrounded on all sides by other large-acred estates. In order to sneak onto their property you would have to enter and cross one of the estates surrounding them, and all of these estates are separated by hedges and (probably) fences. Moreover, we’ve only seen one set of photos taken as the Sussexes exited their property gate, and none since. Yay, Montecito police!

      Glad they decided to live in Santa Barbara rather than Los Angeles. The lack of easy access must be driving the British Media bonkers. 🙂

      • Agreatreckoning says:

        I agree. Really, if the British Media had any interest in being helpful or show any integrity, they would due surveillance on Andres and help Virginia’s lawyers serve papers on him.

  4. Abena Asantewaa says:

    Montecito is so beautiful, it really bothers the rotten rota and the courtiers that H&M live in a place like that, with acres of land and many facilities, including a stream running through it. It is the perfect place for them

    • JT says:

      It does bother the rota and probably some of the royals as well. Remember that article saying that the beaches of the UK are way better than California? Ok buddy. The Santa Barbara/ Montecito area is gorgeous. People don’t call it the American Riviera for nothing.

      • Snuffles says:

        I’ve been to Santa Barbara a few times. It’s beautiful. When family visited when I lived in LA and we’d trek down to Santa Barbara, they were all in awe and contemplating if it was possible to move there. Even the animals seemed happier.

      • BayTampaBay says:

        LA is urban, Santa Barbara is suburban and Montecito is rural-suburban.

      • JT says:

        I think it also kills the royals, cough William cough, that Harry actually owns his home. He doesn’t need to beg for it or convince the public to pay millions of pounds to renovate it either. I personally think it’s an upgrade in lifestyle in comparison to how the royals live, right on down to the fifty-leven bathrooms. I think a part of the reasons why William wants to move to Windsor is to compete with Harry. When H&M’s home purchase broke, the meltdowns were amazing, as was everyone going on about how beautiful it was.

      • BayTampaBay says:

        I think William wants to move “his family” to Windsor because Kate is not happy and London. William will be happier in London if Kate is in Windsor.

      • JT says:

        @Bay I definitely believe it’s so he can maintain some distance from Kate, but I also think it’s to one up Harry. They say William is looking at Royal Lodge and the actual Windsor Castle so maintain separate lives doesn’t seem to be the only reason.

  5. Merricat says:

    Agreed, Montecito allows them a measure of privacy, safety, peace. L.A. would not.

  6. Nicole says:

    I’ve been to Montecito. There are no gated “double gated” communities. That said, each individual house is its own Fort Knox. Otherwise, it’s a small charming town with practically no street lights right next to the beach. It’s quietly expensive and in no way ostentatious. It would be a great place to raise a family with no real distractions. The closest big city is Santa Barbara, and if you want to get to LA it’s a two hour drive. It does not feel like LA at all.

    • Kasalvy says:

      There are several gated communities in Montecito actually, I summer there for a month every year. Friends live in Ennisbrook and they are double gated. The celeb enclave in Montecito is not the typical gated community that most people think about, with a community pool and clubhouse, but the gatehouse for security purposes and then subsequent gates for their properties.

  7. Bettyrose says:

    I’m a city girl born and bred but after the pandemic I’d choose a spacious spread over a city pad given the choice (and with the money for upkeep). I tots envy their Montecito life.

    • Jenn says:

      Right there with you. I left California mid-pandemic in order to purchase a larger home (high-risk health conditions keep me inside, my home is my world), and although I miss California DEEPLY, I appreciate that I couldn’t “have” both. Meghan and Harry can, and do — good for them.

  8. MF1 says:

    I remember reading somewhere (maybe here?) that Harry didn’t like LA. I can totally see that–Los Angeles is not for everyone and it’s very different from England, particularly the culture.

    • Angie says:

      There are also paparazzi everywhere and we know how he has PTSD from what they did to his mom. I totally can see him not liking it there.

  9. Becks1 says:

    based on what I know about Montecito and LA, i feel like Montecito is not only more private but also has a more relaxed feel? Like it seems to me that they probably feel like they can really get away from it all and more like their own private retreat there than in LA.

    My guess too is that staying at Tyler Perry’s may have been a wake up call, like maybe they liked the idea of LA and staying in one of the rich gated communities there but after being papped in LA and the drone pics etc, they may have felt safer getting out of LA.

    • JT says:

      Montecito is like a completely different world in comparison to LA. If you ever take a trip you’ll see why H&M, or anyone, would want to live there, plus you get used to the drive to be honest. And I agree that living at Tyler’s home probably made them realize that they wanted to get out of the city and Meg probably wanted that too. She is a hell of lot more famous than she was before Harry, so being in the thick of everything could no longer work for her.
      But I also want to add that it is possible to be low key in LA though. Plenty of celebs live there and are never spotted, although it does take a bit of finesse.

      • Becks1 says:

        Oh I definitely think its possible to be more low key in LA, but I think there was such a target on the Sussexes back while they were there that they probably realized it would be a lot harder for them to go under the radar in LA than in a place like Montecito.

      • Snuffles says:

        Right. When I lived in LA, I saw celebrities all the time out in the wild at grocery stores, malls, movie theaters, restaurants, gyms, nail salons etc. and not a pap in sight.

  10. Amy Bee says:

    Wasn’t it explained at the time that they moved to Montecito because it was less accessible for the paparazzi?

  11. June-O says:

    I don’t think it was all-Harry to move to Montecito. Meghan is an LA local and would have had at least passing knowledge of what the area would be like for their family. It sounds like it was the perfect respite for her shattered psyche: protected and full of peace, quiet and beauty. Even if Harry did take the lead in choosing, he did well.

  12. lanne says:

    Montecito is better than anything they could have in the UK. Better than any drafty castle, better than the servants quarters in a flight path at Windsor, better than an apartment at KP that the likes of whackadoo Morgan can walk right up to and the Rent a Kents can spy on them. The ratchets cant stand that Harry and Meghan are thriving without them, and are living in luxury without them.

    • JT says:

      I said upthread that it definitely seems like an upgrade in lifestyle for Harry. I’d take H&M’s Montecito estate over where the royals live any day of the week for the very reasons you’ve mentioned.

  13. make it bahrain says:

    I was just in Santa B. So relaxed but also a lot of advantages for rich folk.

    I was actually just on a local SB tour with someone who complained they didn’t have access to see where rich people lived. What the f lol … People are vultures, but goes to show how private the town can be.

    • ennie says:

      I loved to tour around nicer homes, but with insecurity rampant, now we get to see big walls and gated communities. It is not the fault of people with means. If I lived alone, I’d prefer to live in a gated community due to insecurity in mu country.
      I am ok for now, tho.

    • bettyrose says:

      We’re talking about rich folks here, ones with very specific needs for privacy and security, and the life there seems lovely. But I once watched a news segment about middle class homelessness in Santa Barbara, office employees living out of their SUVs. The city had created safe, single sex lots with clean bathroom/shower set ups to manage the need. That’s always left me with the sense that Santa Barbara ain’t the life for normal folks. I mean, all of coastal California is crazy expensive and has large unhoused populations, but something about that story has stayed with me.

  14. ennie says:

    We have double gated communities in my country, people have to pay, but they feel safer from insecurity. Bigger entrance and then smaller sections with another gate, which can be automatized or with security guards. Uncommon in my small state, but I have visited family in larger cities and they have this.
    They are richer than us, but not super wealthy, so it is not unheard of.

  15. Chicago says:

    I’ve lived in LA most of my life. I’ve lived in the Valley and I’ve lived in the Hollywood Hills. It’s a very peculiar city in that there is no solid “this is LA!” feel about it, like one particular zip code or a neighborhood. It’s spread out and you spend most of your time in a car in traffic that makes a 20 min commute into an hour and a half, so there’s no need to move to Sunset Blvd to feel like you live in LA. You can live in Pasadena or in Thousand Oaks, or you can drive to Montecito – it doesn’t matter.

    • bettyrose says:

      I love that your name is Chicago, though! 🙂 That’s the thing that’s always seemed off about LA to me. I really don’t enjoy sitting in my car for long periods. The being in your car all the time is why life in LA has always seemed very difficult to me. Even when I lived in San Diego, I was always envious of the many interesting things happening in LA but I just couldn’t spend my days off sitting in traffic, so I rarely ever visited LA.

  16. L4frimaire says:

    That’s an odd comment “ the couple have never publicly stated their reasons for moving to Montecito”. They don’t need to give any reason why they moved there. It’s beautiful, they got a very good price for their house, privacy, horses, and it’s close enough to LA. You don’t have to hate a city to not want to live there. They found a spot they loved that offers them a refuge. All this talk of Harry hiding them away, etc. or taking advice from this or that celebrity is a bit much. When was the last time Meghan actually lived in LA? Was over 10 years, her life is different. I wouldn’t move back to my home city. Nice to visit but my life is elsewhere now.

  17. Sofia says:

    It was the good choice IMO, no matter who’s idea it was. I’ve never been but it seems like a nice town and they’re not really spotted much anymore, which is what they want.

  18. Over it says:

    I don’t care where they decided to live, all I care about is that they are safe and Happy and away from the toxic ocean of The racist section of the uk and the vile families they unfortunately both have

  19. mess says:

    After the peace and quiet they enjoyed in Canada (can’t remember the name of the island, and at least before their location was leaked to the British media), it’s a no brainer they would choose to settle in a place that offers the same feeling of remoteness and privacy. Granted as a visitor I haven’t seen ALL of LA but the parts I’ve seen makes it a place to visit, not to live in for me who has enjoyed and is enjoying a quieter life. Seems to me even the posher areas are accessible to anyone and everyone in LA. I’m guessing any tabloid rat planted in Montecito would stand out to the residents and hopefully be chased outta town.

    • Snuffles says:

      I agree. It’s probably harder to hide out and blend in in Montecito which is basically a small town (albeit a filthy rich one) of a little over 8200 people. Versus the millions of people who reside in LA county. Outsiders probably stick out like a sore thumb.

  20. Eurydice says:

    I have to laugh a little at “close enough to the amenities of civilisation when needed”. Like they’re out in the wilderness somewhere, with no bathrooms.

    • Agreatreckoning says:

      HAHAHAHAHA!!!! *snort* no bathrooms!! I think that might just be the funniest part of the story-the failure to mention the 9 million (by now) bathrooms. It’s a softer story at least.

  21. SH says:

    I think the home they rented in the Cotswolds tells you that Meghan was very much on board with Montecito.

  22. Justwastingtime says:

    I live just north of the city of LA (still in LA County) in the Santa Monica mountains next to thousands of acres of protected land, I can hike out my back door. So there are sections of LA that are very private and tranquil, but Montecito is absolutely beautiful and if I could afford it I would definitely move there.

  23. BnlurNforever says:

    So that story that’s been told of how Oprah was driving by the house in Montecieto she eventually bought and went up to the house and propositioned the owners to purchase the property, how would that work exactly? I’m thinking that’s exaggerated and perhaps she saw it in a magazine our something and had her people called up the owners, or maybe she was visiting a friend and that’s how she was able to see the house. Ok, the 2nd scenario seems more like what could have happened, right?

    I think Meghan has always struck me as reserved elegance behind her cheerful personality. She is someone who enjoys solitude like a introvert/extrovert tends to and in fact both she and Harry strikes me as introvert/extrovert and being one myself, I can tell you, a quiet secluded community is exactly to my taste. They’re both happy to share aspect of their life with the world, very engaging and fun, but at the end of the day they want to retreat to their private oasis. I am confident that this was a mutual decision and whoever first thought of it, it’s suits them I think.

  24. Sarah says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Oprah recommended Montecito, but how would anyone know that without pulling it out of their ass (oh wait the tabloids go hmm Montecito and oh Oprah lives there therefore 1+1=jello).

    It was pretty apparent, that LA wouldn’t be a good fit for them simply by them living in Tyler Perry’s home and having their privacy invaded endlessly. Since they moved, we can count on one hand the number of times we’ve seen them and most of those times have been provided by them whilst doing charity. Harry mentioned in that Oprah interview that he is able to get out and about on a bike with Archie and just be and the fact that we haven’t caught any paparazzi photos of him with Archie lets us know all that we need to know about Montecito and their ability to have privacy. Great choice!!!