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May 18

The City Guide to Malibu

Yes, Malibu has a reputation for being economically extra. But here’s what most people don’t realize: Beyond the displays of wealth—from billion-dollar beachfront homes to YouTube’s targeted ads for spendy rehabs and private-gate installations—is a rustic chaparral and chill country life in the canyons. The beaches are so close, the hiking can start from your backyard and the stars and moon seem so much brighter out here. (Plus, there are world-class amenities like Mr. Chow and Nobu for when you’re feeling fancy.) If you look, you can find a place to rent for not much more than what you’d pay in Los Angeles—a surprising discovery that brought me here three years ago.

Of course, living in the sticks means no late-night bar runs. And forget popping into the corner store for toilet paper—Malibu’s switchback-loaded canyon roads and 27 miles of scenic beachfront mean the closest provisions may be a 15-minute (or more) drive away. Another bummer: The population lacks diversity. What’s more, overhearing a legendary 55-year old musician talk about Tinder with two very young models outside Sunlife Organics or witnessing confused actors try to navigate the market without their assistants can be nauseating or funny, depending on the day. But for those who can hack small-town life and are charged by nature, Malibu is as gorgeous as it gets.

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