Big Bear or Lake Arrowhead for Vacation Rental?

28 Replies

My husband and I are looking to invest in a vacation rental in either Big Bear or Lake Arrowhead. We have buy and holds but this will be our first vacation rental. I have heard a bit from investors with homes in Big Bear but none from Lake Arrowhead. I know I'm Lake Arrowhead we would need to buy a home with lake rights. Beyond that does anyone have any advice or opinions on which one may be a more successful vacation rental?

We live in Los Angeles and will be using the home on occasion. We have not yet decided if we will self manage or hire that out.

Any advice on running a vacation rental in these areas would be appreciated!

Hi @Carrie Giordano , 100% go with Lake Arrowhead. So much closer to LA (that bit of a drive really makes a difference), and the clientele is way more put together (Big Bear attracts a lot of mountain people, skiers, kids).

Lake rights isn't necessary. You'd be surprised. My homes outside of Lake Rights do VERY well. We refer people to Lake Gregory and they have no issue with that. It can save you tens of thousands in your purchase...

@Jonathan Safa thanks for the response! That's great to know, I assumed the property must have lake rights to do well. Do people swim in these lakes in the summer or are they too cold?

On average, how many nights per year is your place in Lake Arrowhead rented?

Thanks!!

Hey Carrie! Would love to stay in touch with what you find out. My fam is possibly looking for the same thing. We are leaning towards Big Bear because while L.A. is a nicer quality and such, Big Bear has all the activities. I've been a million times snowboarding but haven't looked at properties. We may head up there in the next week or two and scout around. Happy to share info and/or resources we find.

@Ali Boone sounds good! I'm going to try and head up there early June to get a better feel for the areas. I have been told that in the next couple of months a lot of inventory will probably hit the market. That said the same person told me that prices remain pretty steady. I'll keep you posted as to what I find out.

Hi all!  Just purchased our first VR in Big Bear Lake...in escrow now.  The property has been successful on VRBO in the past and would love to hear more about what you both are doing.

Hi @Carrie Giordano - I bought my place in Big Bear in 2014 and now am managing 7 properties - a few I got from this board! Would gladly answer any questions. Big Bear does have a much better ROI than Arrrowhead due to ski slopes and Arrowhead is a private lake.

I also take people up to Big Bear to work with myself and realtor where I show you properties and explain which ones rent out better based on area and the house itself and all my stats and rental history. I'm averaging 200 nights a year rented- with mine hitting 239 nights last year

Originally posted by @Ali Boone :

Hey Carrie! Would love to stay in touch with what you find out. My fam is possibly looking for the same thing. We are leaning towards Big Bear because while L.A. is a nicer quality and such, Big Bear has all the activities. I've been a million times snowboarding but haven't looked at properties. We may head up there in the next week or two and scout around. Happy to share info and/or resources we find.

Also considering investing in the mountains!

I'm looking at a property w lake rights in lake arrowhead. I want to rent or airbnb it out... Does anyone know of an investor I can speak w or someone who can tell me if the house is worth it? 6502455897

View from the deck of my house up near Lake Arrowhead - looking towards the Coachella Valley. I put it on AirBnB, but found a full time tenant and didn't want to deal with the turn over of nightly rentals. 

@Kara West We bought a vacation home in Arrowhead in 2011 for dirt cheap. It was the last house on the block that had lake rights - we slowly fixed it up over the years and over doubled our money when we sold in 2017. That was a unique situation to have that much equity growth . We didn't think it would make a good AirBnb since there were so many nicer homes closer to the lake to compete with. It probably doesn't make much difference if it has lake rights if you are strictly doing short term rentals but it will be more valuable when you go to sell. There are some neighborhoods closer to the Village that don't have lake rights but are close enough to the action -they probably rent well.

The lake is warm enough to swim in the summer.  Since it's' a private lake, guests won't be able to bring their boat. There are a lot more restrictions and membership costs than Big Bear Lake.   Annual boat registration was up to $500 when we left, plus membership fees, boating license, etc.  Also, no dogs are allowed at the beach clubs.  If we had the foresight in 2011 to buy a condo by the lake, we'd probably still own and be renting it out.  The maintenance is tough up there - the elements are rough on the exterior, and you will need to do annual weed abatement. We did it ourselves which was labor intensive.  Also, it's harder to find a flat lot up there. Be very careful about the parking situation.  You can't park on the street in the winter due to snow plows so I would avoid properties that don't have off street parking or really steep driveways, lots of steep stairs, etc. Also, make sure you aren't too far out in the boonies or you might have a hard time getting fire insurance- try to be in a neighborhood with hydrants. 

I'd say the rental market is most likely stronger in Big Bear - much more to do there. On the upside, Arrowhead is unincorporated, so it follows San Bernardino County STR rules which are less restrictive. Prices are high there now -not sure if the numbers would make sense. If you can find a deal on a fixer and add value/sweat equity- that would be the way to go. Like other's have said, make sure you can carry the monthly costs - renting it out is icing. The recession hit Arrowhead hard. We were fortunate to ride the wave up with it and see it fully recover. Will wait for the dip to buy again!!

@Carrie Giordano @Matt R. @Mike R. @Aaron Mazzrillo @Alyssa Golden Hi all. Pulling this thread back from years ago and wanted to see how things have been faring for you all. Based on this old thread (started 3years ago) some of you have invested, in the middle of, or interested in investing out in Arrowhead/Big Bear. I've been interested lately in STR and wanted to know how your STR have been doing this year, amid Covid, and if you think its still a good time to invest in a STR out there. Thoughts? appreciate any feedback you guys may have :)

I own 2 and manage 15 others in Big Bear. Once we opened back up in May we are renting all the time at 3 times normal rates. It's a little nuts. People can't travel like they used to so they are all visiting Big Bear. 

Meanwhile- home prices in Big Bear have skyrocketed- what used to be a great ROI for a 3+1 900sq ft at 250k is now not so great ROI at 325-350k (Prices jumped that high that fast)