Rancho Santa Fe

Rancho Santa Fe, in San Diego’s North County, is an affluent residential community on rolling hills covered with Eucalyptus trees and acres of orchards. The Eucalyptus trees were planted years ago to be used for the railroad. The wood, however, turned out to not be appropriate

The western border of Rancho Santa Fe is less than 5 miles from the ocean and perhaps 20 miles from San Diego. The community offers the best of idyllic and affluent suburban living, but at a hefty price.


The town is unincorporated and covers an area of approximately 6.9 square miles. If you are seeking a luxury home or estate in the San Diego area that is over-the-top in terms of style AND price, you will likely find it here. But be prepared to pay well into the millions!

Rancho Santa Fe offers many large luxury homes and private estates, and a host of exclusive gated communities. There are multiple private golf courses. Rancho Santa Fe offers sophisticated living found in other expensive communities such as Bel-Air, Beverly Hills, Holmby Hills, and Malibu. Indeed, Rancho Santa Fe is often on the Forbes list of the most expensive zip codes in the US.

Rancho Santa Fe homes tend to be large (many are more than 5,000 SF). The lots are often measured in acres, and offer privacy and exclusivity due to the many gated communities and private estates. These factors all contribute to the desirability and priciness. Many residents live here less than full-time, having one or more homes elsewhere in the country or the world. It’s been estimated that 30 – 40% of the homeowners only live here part-time.

Many private homes are gated, and gated communities (with security) are common. Del Rayo Estates, Fairbanks Ranch, The Bridges, The Rivers Estates, Del Mar Country Club, Cielo, The Farms, and The Crosby Estates are among these exclusive neighborhoods. You won’t find many detached homes in Rancho Santa Fe for less than $1.5 million. And you will often find a dozen or more homes for sale in excess of $10 million at any given point in time. Large equestrian properties come up for sale, too, on occasion.

Attached Rancho Santa Fe homes (e.g., town homes, condos) are more affordable but the median price is still in the $800,000s  or more. There are a limited number of these types of properties in town. Many RSF homes offer idyllic views of the surrounding countryside, and in some cases the ocean, due to their hillside locations.

The Covenant is the original planned community in Rancho Santa Fe and includes the downtown commercial district. Much of the area was planned by Lillian Rice, a well known architect who influenced the look and style of many of the homes and buildings in the area.

As an unincorporated community in San Diego County, Rancho Santa Fe residents have P.O. boxes rather than home mail delivery. Further, there are no street lights or sidewalks outside of the town area. You’ll find most of the roads have Spanish or Spanish-sounding names.

The other large area is Fairbanks Ranch, an unincorporated area (census-designated place or CDP) consisting of 2 gated communities.

Rancho Santa Fe is primarily a residential community. But there are a couple of areas, including the town center, that offer a host of upscale shopping, fine dining, galleries and town offices. Mille Fleurs is an upscale restaurant located in the heart of RSF’s downtown. Other high-end dining includes the Rancho Valencia Restaurant at the Rancho Valencia Resort. The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe also provides one with a great dining experience, indoors and out. The Inn is a quaint hotel with a range of lodging options at the edge of downtown Ranch Santa Fe.

If golfing is high on your list, there are a number of private golf clubs in Rancho Santa Fe, including the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club, the Del Mar Country Club, Morgan Run, The Bridges, Fairbanks Ranch Country Club, and The Crosby. Be prepared to pay a substantial fee for membership, and you may need to be invited to join.

The Del Mar Race Track is located just a few miles away, offering horse racing from mid-July through Labor Day. You’ll also find multiple concerts, the annual San Diego County Fair, plus trade shows and other events.

Children may attend the elementary and middle public schools, up to grade 8 or a number of private schools. Private schools include The Horizon School, Nativity School, and the Diegueno Country School. Students in the higher grades attend the Encinitas Schools located just a few miles away.