There’s long been a friendly rivalry between Northern and Southern California. The former has Silicon Valley, but the latter has Hollywood. Northern California has Michelin-three-starred restaurants like Benu and Coi, but Southern California has some of the best Mexican food thanks to its proximity to the border. NorCal has the redwoods, but SoCal has Disneyland.
Although residents of both areas tend to be equally passionate about why the place they live in is the best, there’s really no right or wrong answer when it comes to where to put down roots in California. To figure out which region is better suited for you, we looked at what $5 million will get you in Northern California versus Southern California based on a side-by-side comparison of two homes currently on the market.
Southern California: Coachella Valley
Square Footage: 6,300
Bed/Bath Count: 5 beds, 6 baths
Who It’s For: People who love indoor/outdoor living and automated touches
List Price: $4.99 million
Located in the upscale Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells, Calif., this contemporary Mediterranean home is the definition of indoor/outdoor living. Motorized pocket sliders open to views of the mountains and a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, and a fireplace made from imported marble allows residents to stay warm on cool evenings.
Built this year, the home features all the modern amenities you’d expect, including a temperature-controlled, glass-encased wine room, a marble bar, and a gourmet kitchen with Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances. Anchored by 18-foot ceilings and custom wood beams, the great room sets the stage for the rest of the modern manse. The master suite—which showcases a fireplace, his-and-hers closets, a sitting area, and a bath—opens to the saltwater swimming pool. Four additional bedrooms and a detached one-bedroom guesthouse with a fireplace make up the remainder of the house.
As an added perk, all of the custom Italian furniture is included in the price—and the home’s automation system can be controlled via your personal devices.
Northern California: Bay Area
Square Footage: 2,870
Bed/Bath Count: 3 beds, 3 baths
Who It’s For: People who value privacy as well as proximity to Silicon Valley
List Price: $5.2 million
Hidden among the treetops on a two-acre lot that overlooks the shimmering blue waters of the Bay, this Hillsborough home exists in harmony with nature. Built in 1965 by California architect Edwin A. Wadsworth, the home is a timeless, elegant affair with timber accents, floor-to-ceiling walls of glass, and stone floors. The dining room faces a deck built around a tree, and the kitchen looks out to the water.
A fireplace serves as the focal point of the sunken living room, and sliding glass doors lead to the wraparound deck (where there’s plenty of space for alfresco dining and after-dinner cocktails). Surrounded by verdant trees and lush foliage, the backyard swimming pool offers additional rejuvenation. Although it feels like a completely secluded oasis, the home is just 40 minutes from San Francisco—meaning that residents can easily enjoy big-city attractions whenever they feel like it.