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Mansion Global Interviews Emily Kellenberger on Carpinteria as a Low-key Alternative to Malibu

Mansion Global (Michael Kaminer) - Feb 13, 2022


Leave the Fuss in Malibu—Five Stunning, Low-Key Coastal Alternatives. Look further north to Carpinteria or Capitola, California, or to metro-adjacent spots like Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Its name alone conjures images of sun, surf and celebs. Malibu, just west of Los Angeles, boasts 29 beaches, peerless shopping and A-list restaurants—as well as some of the nation’s costliest real estate.


“Billionaires’ Beach,” as locals call the Carbon Beach section, is home to Oracle founder Larry Ellison, entertainment mogul David Geffen and venture capital honcho Marc Andreesen, whose 2021 purchase of a $177 million mansion smashed price records.


Plenty of other West Coast cities, however, offer their own coastal charms and laidback lifestyles, with less stratospheric price tags. They’re affluent, with culinary options, retail and cultural cachet to match. These five seaside cities may not offer all the glamor and glitz of Malibu, but residents—many of whom prefer discretion over bling—like it that way.


This Belvedere Island, 11,200-square-feet, luxury property with stunning waterfront views is asking $45 million. GOLDEN GATE SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY


Belvedere Island, California


Living on football-shaped Belvedere Island, about 17 miles north of San Francisco, “feels like you’re on vacation,” said Ken Dara, a real estate agent with Engel & Volkers Marin County. “The east side of the island reminds people of Positano or Capri [in Italy]. From the hillside homes that face west, you have beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline.”


Along with its proximity to San Francisco, Belvedere Island’s schools, “some of the State’s best,” Mr. Dara said, have made it a magnet for families escaping traffic and density in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles. “We’re even seeing families from Europe and Asia who are buying here,” he added.


A scorchingly hot market has meant an average 27% appreciation year-over-year, Mr. Dara estimates.

“Anything that comes up is gone right away,” he said. Recent sales include a 3,350-square-foot home in the sought-after Belvedere Lagoon neighborhood for $11.75 million, and a four-bedroom, three-bathroom home nearby that sold for $6.35 million—about $1.4 million over asking.


Interior view of a $2 million Cannon Beach, Oregon, luxury home. CASCADE SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY


Cannon Beach, Oregon


Cannon Beach, about 90 miles northwest of Portland, “is Oregon’s version of Carmel, California,” said Jeremy Youngquist, a broker at Cannon Beach agency Duane Johnson Real Estate. About half of residents in this scenic coastal village are second-home owners, Mr. Youngquist said.


“The town’s gone for an upscale, quieter vibe, with high-end hotels and restaurants,” he said. “We were one of the first towns to implement strict vacation-rental rules. For a scene, you go to Seaside,” nine miles north, he said. A vibrant local food landscape includes seafood eatery and market Ecola Seafoods, upscale-American The Wayfarer and refined-comfort spot Corbin’s.


Prices here reflect Cannon Beach’s upmarket character—if you can find a home to buy.

“Right now, including raw land, we’ve got about 12 listings. We usually have 80,” Mr. Youngquist said. Prices have escalated about 50% year-over-year, he estimated, “and there doesn’t seem to be any end to the boom.” Active listings in Cannon Beach include a 2,857-square-foot cottage for $3.269 million and a 1,983-square-foot bungalow for $975,000.