Home is Where the Heart Is

By Nick Masuda   |   August 12, 2021

The 101 is synonymous with a need for patience, particularly along the South Coast corridor.

But for Jennifer Cheyne, that trip up the coast from Los Angeles was one she treasured each and every time — after all, the destination was Montecito, which was quickly becoming a home away from home.

“Who wouldn’t want to live in Montecito,” Cheyne rhetorically asked.

But it remained a retirement plan, with partner, Jane Lynch, in agreement.

Life had different plans.

The pandemic changed their strategy significantly, with Cheyne, a writer, and Lynch, a well-known actress, both seeing their careers come to a pseudo standstill.

A train ride up to the area left Cheyne thinking, “Why wait?”

So, they didn’t, and a few bids on housing later, they became part of the throng of people from around the country that have made Montecito their new home over the past 18 months.

Cheyne tired of the Los Angeles way of life, where car rides connected destinations, fighting incessant traffic, plus safety concerns, even out in front of your own home.

“It’s not really a community at all,” Cheyne said.

They’ve replaced that with walks to the beach — “that’s a miracle we can do that,” Cheyne said — and getting to know their neighbors, most of whom introduced themselves as the partners moved in.

“It seems like we are living in another era,” Cheyne said.

Ultimately, Montecito isn’t a community focused on celebrity, choosing to allow residents of all types to go about their days, whether walking through the Country Mart or grabbing a cup of joe in the Upper Village.

“Last week, I had a person ask me where the celebrities live,” said Mimi deGruy, who recently moved back to Montecito, leaving for a couple of years after a 20-year stay near Miramar Beach. “That’s not who we are. We are a tight-knit community.”

It’s that sense of camaraderie that intrigued deGruy to return to Montecito, pointing to organizations such as the Bucket Brigade and a collective effort to focus on environmental standards that will allow for future generations to enjoy the area.

“It comes down to people being there for each other,” said deGruy. “And this community has that — and then some.”


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