Good Locations for an Airbnb in California

17 Replies

Hi all! I'm researching STR options for my first investment, and I'm wondering what areas of California are prosperous for Airbnbs? I know Joshua Tree is booming, but I'm wondering if I've missed that wave? I'm interested in an area maybe near a Natl Park/touristy area/town, but not really into a city situation (feels like the competition and prices are too high in cities in Ca and I'm not really a city girl turns out lol). Anyone out there invest in STR in California other than Joshua Tree and have success? Thanks everyone!

Suburban areas are doing well for longer-term airbnb rentals (30+ days). Places like Long Beach, Bakersfield, and areas with large hospitals are doing okay too with more travel personnel coming in. We rent 30+ in Anaheim and are testing that market out now. But it's a super limited option here due to STR restrictions.

Affordable mountain towns can do really well.  I have run short term rentals in the sierras and I have friends with a place in Big Bear that is doing really well.  

@Leilani Leszkay , Color change is actually a big deal for Mammoth, that that may help in the early fall. I personally invest in the Southern Sierra foothills so winter is the slow season here. 

@Leilani Leszkay I have no first hand knowledge about regulations, etc but I would def look into Big Bear, Mammoth and Lake Tahoe. Rural locations arpund the country with an outdoor draw that most people drive to when vacationing have done well and will continue to imo. Check out Airdna when doing your due diligence. Good luck!

@Leilani Leszkay well Joshua tree is still cheap compared to big bear. We were looking to purchase in big bear & got turned off by bidding wars in RE big bear. We also looked at lake arrowhead, palm desert, Indio, & Lake Tahoe. We scratched out Lake Tahoe & palm desert due to Airbnb restrictions. Lake arrowhead is in the same boat as big bear. Prices are high right now. I love Joshua tree. I think that place has lots of potential. However to make money, you need to either look at fixer upper or even buying land & build up. I haven’t been to Indio but it has been on my radar since it’s still Airbnb friendly. Plus there’s massive money to be made once everything starts opening up. So yea we are still  looking as well. 

California is tough. Lake Arrowhead & Big Bear don't really cash flow. Palm Springs, Palm Desert, La Quinta has regulations. South Lake Tahoe is trying to phase them out. SF/LA are both basically 30 day restrictions which isn't STR.


Maybe Truckee? Maybe Arnold? Maybe Bass Lake? I would probably avoid everything in the state though because of taxes & regulations. Every considered just popping over to AZ and do Lake Havasu City area? Those do really well. 

I would also look into Idyllwild/Pine Cove, Running Springs, and that part of the state. I was just up in Big Bear and Idyllwild the past two weekends looking at places with clients and both towns were PACKED despite stay-at-home orders. The STR market is thriving in the SoCal mountain towns and many who are able to work from home permanently are flocking to the mountains. I would stay away from Mammoth if you're planning to purchase and be up and running this year because Mammoth is closed to non-essential travel and STRs are not supposed to be booking due to COVID.

@Gene Hacker yes that's so true about Mammoth in the Fall! I didn't know it is attracting visitors though, that's great.  I stayed in Lone Pine recently for a trip to Mt. Whitney, and doubt that's a good area for airbnb, but maybe? how are the foothills where you are? I was also wondering about the Three Rivers area as a possibility

@Nadia O. this is super helpful, thank you! I'm surprised to hear you ran into bidding wars in big bear, but not JT? I'm open to a fixer upper situation, and love the idea of making a unique/cool place in the desert.  I was wondering about Indio as well since the big festivals are there, but would it book otherwise I wonder? I was told to check out Airdna for help, in case you haven't heard of it (I hadn't!). thanks again for the help!!

@Leilani Leszkay we didn't put an offer for any in Joshua tree. We went to checkout the surrounding areas...and didn't like what we saw. However we love the homes closer to the entrance of the park. But those homes are already very expensive. The only possible way to have something up to our standard is to buy land and build up. Like I mentioned, we are still looking. 

Big Bear - we were only looking at moonridge (big bear lake). Again we have our must haves which happened to be everyone's as well. We were looking at certain type of homes such gambrel & A-frame. And they were extremely popular during summer 2020. We were outbid multiple times. We know it wasn't not the right time to buy. So we stopped looking.

this also happened in Lake arrowhead. A friend of mine was looking to purchase in Mammoth. She, too, said the prices are too high. It was definitely a seller market. As for now, the market has cooled off a bit. But for us, still not the right time to buy.

Indio is definitely a contender. We don't love the area tho. Our first pick was Palm desert, Second - Cathedral City. However STR hasn't been perceived favorably over there. So it's best to stay away for now. We'll keep an eye on Indio momentarily. If we find a great deal, we'll jump on it.

Also something to consider, location is one of the key factors for a successful STR. We take this to account evrytime we look at properties

Originally posted by @Leilani Leszkay :

@Nadia O. this is super helpful, thank you! I'm surprised to hear you ran into bidding wars in big bear, but not JT? I'm open to a fixer upper situation, and love the idea of making a unique/cool place in the desert.  I was wondering about Indio as well since the big festivals are there, but would it book otherwise I wonder? I was told to check out Airdna for help, in case you haven't heard of it (I hadn't!). thanks again for the help!!

You're definitely going to see multiple-offer situations in JT as well as most of Southern California right now. Indio is nice but it's a different target market in Indio vs JT and a successful STR is predicated on being able to taylor the property's aesthetics to the target customer.