Stars from Alicia Keys to Bill Gates have made San Diego their home. What’s drawing them to the area? Here to answer Showbiz Cheat Sheet’s burning question is Andy Nelson, owner of Willis Allen Real Estate. Here’s a peek inside our conversation.
Showbiz Cheat Sheet: In your opinion, why are so many celebrities moving to San Diego?
Andy Nelson: I believe many celebrities are coming to realize that San Diego offers so much in the way of lifestyle, landscape, variety, and home architecture–many things that are also enjoyed in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
However, San Diego comes without the air of industrial Hollywood, and while nationally recognized as one of America’s most beautiful cities, isn’t the first place people think of when they think of celebrity residences. Because it’s quieter in that sense, I think many are seeing San Diego as a place where they can enjoy the epitome of what Southern California has to offer, all while in a quieter and much more private environment.
CS: What distinguishes San Diego homes from homes in other areas in the United States?
AN: Homes in San Diego County are as diverse as the landscape upon which it is comprised. San Diego has beautiful coastal/beachfront homes that, oftentimes, were designed exclusively at the behest of their original owners. In Northern San Diego County, where the landscape can be more bucolic, we find beautiful estates on plenty of acreage nestled within the hills and foliage of their surrounding plots. The architectural variety of homes in the county is so diverse. We’ve sold properties that have ranged from contemporary estates, to chateau-inspired homes, to a home in La Jolla that is reminiscent of the Taj Mahal!
CS: What are some celebrity home purchases in San Diego that caught your attention?
AN: Most recently, we’ve seen Bill Gates and Alicia Keys purchase homes in La Jolla and Del Mar, respectively. Aaron Rogers and Drew Brees also own homes in Del Mar. Deepak Chopra and actor Pauly Shore have both taken up residences in La Jolla.
CS: What do you think will be the next hot real estate spot for celebrities?
AN: Without question the three spots in San Diego County that are already becoming hotspots for celebrities: La Jolla, Del Mar, and Rancho Santa Fe. All of these communities offer quiet and private living while boasting sweeping ocean and/or landscape views. In addition to recent purchases, we’ve seen celebrities taking up residence within these communities over the last few years, to include the McCain family, Phil Mickelson, Jason Mraz, Steve Perry and Zandra Rhodes. La Jolla’s most famous celebrity resident, until his death in 1991, was none other Theodor Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss.
CS: What advice would you give to regular folks who are thinking of moving to San Diego? What should they keep in mind while they house shop?
AN: San Diego truly has something for everyone. If you’re looking for a beach-town type of lifestyle, we’ve got it. If you’re looking for equestrian estates, ocean views, sweeping hilltops, or urban/metropolitan type living, we’ve got that too. I would advise that folks looking to move to San Diego establish what their priorities are for the community that will surround their new home, and then go look for a home in that community.
Rancho Santa Fe is renowned for its equestrian estates, whereas Del Mar and La Jolla are known for its quiet proximity to the ocean. The city of San Diego itself has world-renowned restaurants and cultural centers, with many neighborhoods within the city offering their own unique varieties in the form of cuisine, culture, and recreational activities.
My number one piece of advice would be to find a real estate agent you trust and who is truly consultative. An agent who listens to what, exactly, you’re looking for will be able to give you the best guidance on buying a new home in beautiful San Diego County.
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