Discover the 6 Wealthiest Counties in Southern California

View of Downtown Los Angeles from the Hollywood Hills. Interstate 101 is shown in the foreground.
© Sarah Fields Photography/Shutterstock.com

Written by Patrick MacFarland

Updated: November 11, 2023

Share on:

Advertisement


California is one of the wealthiest states in the nation and it has a GDP comparable to an actual country. So it comes as no surprise that some of the wealthiest counties in the US are located in California. But when it comes to the Golden State, which counties are the wealthiest within the state? Better yet, if we hone in on Southern California, which counties are at the top of the list?

The three most populous counties in the state of California are on this list. It’s where many celebrities live and so, it’s not a surprise they would be among the richest. Let’s take a look at the six wealthiest counties in Southern California.

6. Los Angeles County

Beautiful sunset of Los Angeles downtown skyline and palm trees in foreground

Los Angeles County is home to celebrities and the iconic Hollywood sign.

©Chones/Shutterstock.com

Los Angeles County is probably the most famous county on this list. It is home to celebrities and the entertainment industry. It is the county that sees the most tourists from all over the world. The county has numerous museums to visit, many iconic points of interest, and several parks to explore.

Los Angeles County is the quintessential Southern California county with its palm tree-lined streets, its glamorous beaches, and the many celebrities that call LA home. It is the most populous county in the state of California. Los Angeles County has a huge GDP, but also a high media income because of who lives there (celebrities and famous people) and the industries (entertainment, mainly) that are embedded in the county. This has driven prices in certain neighborhoods through the roof, mainly in wealthy enclaves like Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Malibu, and West Hollywood. The median home price in the county is just over $815,000.

Notable people who have lived, currently live, or were born in Los Angeles County are too many to count, but some of them include Billie Eilish, Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Jamie Lee Curtis, and many more.

5. San Luis Obispo County

Cityscape view of San Luis Obsipo County, California

It is said that the “motel” was invented in San Luis Obispo County.

©joojoob27/Shutterstock.com

Santa Luis Obispo County is a big county with geographically diverse areas. It has coastal communities, as well as agricultural farmland. Cal Poly Luis Obispo is located in the county and serves more than 20,000 students, faculty, and staff members. The university is one of the main anchors of the county. State Route 1 passes through Santa Luis Obispo County before heading north into Northern California.

San Luis Obispo County is considered the northern border of Southern California. To its south is Santa Barbara County and to the north is Monterey County. San Luis Obispo has a high GDP and high median income for a variety of reasons. The county is the third largest producer of wine in the state and there are a lot of academics that live in the county due to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo being located there. The median home price in the county is just over $840,000.

Notable people who have lived, currently live, or were born in San Luis Obispo County include Zac Efron, Johnny Galecki, Harry Shum, Jr., John Madden, Lou Ferrigno, and Weird Al Yankovic.

4. Santa Barbara County

View of Stearns wharf pier of Santa Barbara with Santa Ynez mountains and Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara county, California, USA, summer sunny day

Formed in 1850, Santa Barbara County was one of California’s original 27 counties.

©Tsuguliev/Shutterstock.com

Santa Barbara County is a gorgeous county that has it all. Inland communities with vineyards and coastal neighborhoods that are perfect for surfing. UC Santa Barbara is also located in the area. The Channel Islands are also off the coast of the county, which creates an influx of tourism, apart from the tourism Santa Barbara gets already. State Route 1 passes through Santa Barbara County.

San Barbara County is north of Ventura County and its neighbor to the north is San Luis Obispo County. It is not a very populous county, however many celebrities have flocked to the area to be away from the paparazzi in LA.

Santa Barbara has a high GDP and high median income because of several reasons. Three of the most successful industries in the county are agriculture, cannabis, and winemaking. There are many vineyards in the county, along with agricultural farmland. The coastal communities, as well as more inland communities, of the county, have become popular with wealthy people for their seclusion. The median home price in the county is just over $890,000.

Notable people who have lived, currently live, or were born in San Barbara County include Oprah Winfrey, Katy Perry, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Ellen DeGeneres, Sue Grafton, and Kathy Ireland.

3. San Diego County

San Diego, California, USA downtown city skyline.

San Diego County is one of the most popular places to live in the entire country.

©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

It is one of the most diverse counties in the state, heavily influenced by various cultures, in particular Mexican traditions and cultural heritage. San Diego County is home to many craft breweries, dubbing itself the “Craft Beer Capital of America.”

The county is also home to various military bases, in particular the Navy. It has an air force base, as well. The world-famous San Diego Zoo is located in the county, as well as one of the largest city parks in California, Balboa Park.

San Diego County is the southernmost county in the state of California. It shares a border with Mexico to its south and the border is the busiest in the entire world. It is the second most populous county in the state with a population of $3.3 million.

San Diego has a high GDP and high median income for a variety of reasons. There are a lot of tech companies that have been set up in the county, as well as agricultural farmland. The coastal communities are filled with million-dollar homes, in particular Coronado and La Jolla. The median home price in the county is just over $850,000.

Notable people who have lived, currently live, or were born in San Diego County include Kathy Najmiy, Richard Dreyfuss, Gabriel Iglesias, Tony Hawk, Mario Lopez, Dr. Seuss, and Jason Mraz.

2. Ventura County

Aerial view of Oxnard farm fields in spring Ventura County, California

Ventura County is famous for its agricultural lands, along with its great coastal surf spots.

©Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock.com

Ventura County is one of the wealthiest counties in the state as it has become an enclave of celebrities who want to live a little further from the traffic and hordes of people of Los Angeles. Solromar is a community that is part of the Malibu coast. The county is also home to Ojai, which is a picturesque town known for its boutique hotels, small businesses, and agricultural farmland. The famous State Route 1 passes through Ventura County.

Ventura County is located north of Los Angeles and south of Santa Barbara County along the Pacific Ocean. It has a population of nearly 900,000. Ventura County has a high GDP and high median income because it is home to agricultural farmland, several tech companies, and many cannabis businesses. Wealthy people have moved along the Pacific Coast, ensuring that housing prices increase throughout the county. The median home price in the county is just over $800,000.

Notable people who have lived, currently live, or were born in Ventura County include Howard Hughes, Shaquille O’Neal, Reese Witherspoon, Ellen DeGeneres, Ted Danson, and Mary Steenburgen.

1. Orange County

Crescent Bay of Laguna Beach, Orange County, California USA

President Richard Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, Orange County, but lived in San Clemente after resigning from the presidency.

©Juancat/Shutterstock.com

Number seven in the entire state, Orange County was named “orange” to attract wealthy people from the east coast. The term “orange” gave the county a more Mediterranean, sub-tropical vibe that could potentially whisk away wealthy New Yorkers to Orange County. And the term has worked, Orange County is one of the wealthiest counties in the country. It is home to some of the richest cities in the state and country, including Laguna Beach and Newport Beach.

Some television series or reality dramas have been set in the county, including The O.C. and The Real Housewives of Orange County. It is also home to several theme parks including Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm.

Orange County is located in the middle of Los Angeles and San Diego counties along the Pacific Ocean. It is the third most populous county in California with 3.1 million residents. Orange County has a high GDP and high median income because it is home to many Fortune 500 companies. Also, many wealthy people moved to Orange County and built mansions throughout the Pacific coast. The median home price in the county is over $1 million.

Notable people who have lived, currently live, or were born in Orange County include Richard Nixon, John Wayne, Gwen Stefani, Diane Keaton, Gene Autrey, and Walt Disney.

Summary of 6 Wealthiest Counties in Southern California

RankCountyMedian IncomePopulation
6Los Angeles County$76,3679.8 million
5San Luis Obispo County$82,514282,424
4Santa Barbara County$84,356448,229
3San Diego County$88,2403.3 million
2Ventura County$94,150843,843
1Orange County$100,4853.1 million


Share this post on:
About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.