The lighter side of real estate

How Much Would Barbie’s Real-Life Malibu Dream House Cost?

We estimated a real-life Barbie dream house located in Malibu, California would cost just shy of $18,000. Why is the price tag so low?

David Cross

Content Editor

232 articles, 24 comments

Beach at Grand Mirage-BALI taken by Donald Man, adapted by Movoto.

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There are few things more associated with Mattel’s Barbie doll than her dream house. First released in 1960, a year after Barbie was introduced to America, the first Barbie dream house was little more than a glorified studio apartment made from cardboard. Since then, Barbie’s dream house has changed to match the times, growing larger and more pink.

Still, one thing has remained the same in the more than 50 years Barbie has graced toy store shelves. The dream house is an immensely popular toy. Time Magazine went as far as to rank it among “History’s Best Toys.”

“The dream house was the ultimate thing to own,” said Ohioan Ginger Schnecker. “When I moved to a new school district and made new friends, they all thought it was very cool. There were very few that had the dream house, so they always wanted to play with it when they came over.”

It’s this type of enthusiasm that started us thinking about the many dream houses the 11.5- inch doll has owned through the years. More specifically, we started to wonder what a Barbie dream house would look like and how much it would cost in real life.

Size Matters in Real Estate

To come up with an answer, we asked Movoto’s chief economist. What he came back with was more of a surprise than we imagined–not because Barbie’s real-life dream house would be expensive, but that when everything is said done, Barbie’s dream house would be modest, if not absurdly small.

Using Movoto’s access to multiple real estate sources, we estimated a real-life Barbie dream house located in Malibu, California would cost just shy of $18,000. Why is the price tag so low? Barbie’s dream house would have a 21-square-foot footprint.

But this is only part of the story. Here’s how we came up with the figures.

Original photo taken by Kate Gale, adapted by Movoto.

Location, Location, Location

There were two major hurdles to figuring out how much a real-life Barbie house would be worth:  Location and size.

Barbie has lived in a lot of houses. Picking one to use as Barbie’s real-life dream house wasn’t easy. The biggest question we had was where to locate the teen queen’s abode. Our final decision came down to Barbie’s popular image as a sunshine loving Californian.

Because of this, we picked one of her more recent houses, the “Barbie Malibu Dreamhouse.” At $170 the doll house has three-stories, six rooms, a sundeck, an elevator, and measures about 3.5 square feet.

If Barbie’s World Was Real

There’s a lot of talk about Barbie’s size, mostly centered on her real-life body proportions. (We’ll let cultural critics tackle that subject.) But the only thing we cared about was scale. And when it comes to Barbie dolls they are made to playscale—or 1/6th the size of a person.

With this in hand we were able to figure out the doll house’s actual size—about 21-square-feet.
Which makes sense, sort of. Barbie’s homes aren’t exactly known for their high ceilings.

Nonetheless, this is only one way in which to figure out what a life-sized Barbie dream house would be worth. The other way is to find similar homes in an area and estimate.

Barbie’s Almost Dream House

The bad news about trying to place a price tag on Barbie’s dream house is that the actual dream house, at least in the configuration it was produced with, probably doesn’t exist. In fact, we think it would be safe to say that “Barbie’s Malibu Dreamhouse” would more likely be a dream condo.

With this in mind, we located several properties that seemed to fit the spirit, if not the form, of Barbie’s dream house. We picked these properties based on the number of bedrooms and baths, as well as the location. The price range would then be between $395,000 and $1 million, depending on what part of Malibu we’re talking about.

Here are the properties:

While these might not be as glam as a three-story home with an elevator, they’d certainly fit an aspiring career woman who loves the beach.

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posted on: May 23, 2012
10,263 views, 5 comments


  1. Simon Jester

    3.5 square feet should scale up to 121 square feet, because these are *square* feet.

    (For example: 1.75 x 2 feet scales up to 10.5 x 12 feet.)

  2. Simon Jester

    Should be *126* sq ft, not 121.

    • Chris Kolmar in response to Simon Jester

      Simon, you’re absolutely right; thanks for pointing that out. We are working on a new article in which a 126 sqft home would actually be big, so maybe Barbie’s Dream House isn’t absurdly small after all…

  3. Lee Forbes

    If I remember correctly, there was no bathroom in Barbie’s house. :-) or a garage for the corvette…

  4. jody

    I am like so totally shore. I’m probably going to do a facebook Barbies friend named Poly Vynal.
    Make a nice day!


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