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Tips on Finding a Rental in Ojai - From an Ojai Insider

Updated on August 9, 2017

Current Rental Market In Ojai, California

So for people who live here and people looking to move here, you have most likely already been told that it will be hard to find a decent priced rental here. People from Los Angeles or people from Malibu will think differently because they are used to paying more money for "less." When I first bought my home here in Ojai many years ago, I was scaling down from my big home near the ocean. Scaling down for me was selling my big home for 1.5 million near the beach and then buying a home in Ojai for around $850,000. At that time the place that I grew up in was becoming one of the most popular places for millionaires and celebrities and I did not want to raise my kids there. Anyone who has grown up in the city understands that this happens. I see many people complaining about the prices going up in Ojai. If you compare Ojai to other nice places in LA or San Francisco, you still get a lot for what you pay for here. The issue is that whether you are buying or renting, there isn't a lot available that has everything you want. Renters have to be willing to take what is available and make it work. Buyers have to be willing to pay a lot or pay less for something that needs a lot of work.

Eco friendly rental in Ojai, California
Eco friendly rental in Ojai, California

Rental Prices in Ojai, May 2016

After selling my home many years ago, I decided to rent a home in town. I was aggressive to say the least. I had just sold my home and my kids were just about to start school so I became a fierce hunter. One thing you need to keep in mind is that some people here try to hang onto their homes but eventually sell them. So you can find the perfect rental but then get kicked out if they decide to sell because they can't afford it even with your rent. Unfortunately since this is a resort town, a lot of homes here are owned by elderly people. As soon as a medical issue arises or someone passes then you are out and have to find another place. This is not easy especially if it is in the summer and you have kids here. Both times I have found good rentals have been in the fall (September & October). There are places you can pick up local real estate papers in town. There are lists of rentals at real estate offices here in town and some have their own courtesy rental list on-line (link below). It comes out once a week and there are some decent rentals listed there. The only issue is that sometimes the lists aren't updated but just keep calling around and see as many as you can. I have had the most luck by just driving around and looking for rental signs. It is best to pay attention to "open houses" and not waste time deciding on whether something "better" will come along. Both times I have found rentals, I made a decision immediately and didn't miss a beat as far as getting all the information to them and a deposit pronto.

In the current market homes for rent range from about $1500-$2,200 for a 2 bedroom/1 bath and $2300-$3200 for a 3 bedroom/2 bath. You are lucky if you can get a 3 bedroom/2 bath home in a decent neighborhood near town for around $2500-$2800.These are not easy to find. A small condo in Oak View that is not close to town at all with 2 bedrooms/2baths and 700 square feet will cost you around $2,000. The other issue is a lot of decent deals on bigger houses for rent are not located in town or even close. They are either way up on a mountain or located near Santa Paula or much further down towards Ventura in Oak View (different zip code). There are some one bedroom apartments for around $1000-$1500 and some people rent rooms also. I have seen these rentals range from $400-$1,000 but these are hard to find especially if you are an "outsider."

If you really want to rent here it is best to really come and look around on the weekends and know how everything works in this town. One really important note! Real estate agents can not help you get a rental here (there are atleast 100 real estate brokers in this tiny town). Your best bet is going through some sort of property management in the area.To do that you need to be here and continuously finding out about what is available and then go see it pronto!

Ojai In Town

Downtown Ojai, California
Downtown Ojai, California

Ojai, California Community Forums on Facebook

There are quite a few Facebook pages devoted to helping Ojai residents or people who need a place if they have a good post. If you do not have any history or connection here in Ojai, please do not waste your time. I would be surprised if they even accepted you into the group if you are not from here. Most people begging for help on these Facebook group pages do not have enough money to rent here anymore or they have history here and stories to tell and hope that people will have sympathy and help them. I have read many posts and I feel their pain but the point is that there is just not "enough" places available for so many people who want to stay renting here. I read posts by single fathers with kids in this school district and people on disability income who have pets and no one will help. Some people want to do some sort of "rent and trade for work" deal with landlords. I have seen all sorts of stories and people posting about how "Ojai has changed" and "no longer cares about the common man." The point is that this place has changed and it was changing awhile ago (even when I first moved here) and it is no longer affordable for people who grew up here. Just like the place that I grew up in. If you can't afford it, then it is time to move. If I didn't find the rental that I am in now, I would have had to look for a rental in Ventura.

I have seen some good people reach out to help though and there are plenty of great people here but that isn't the point. Ojai has become the "cool" and trendy thing for Hollywood and LA peeps now. Just like Malibu was before it skyrocketed and became too "touristy." The other main issue in rentals here now is the "dog" and "pet" issue. A lot of rentals no longer allow pets (mostly only small dogs if you are lucky). This has seemed to upset people trying to find a rental the most. I get what they are saying but after hearing a few horror stories from local landlords, I do not blame them! Let me tell you a few. Yards that had many years of dog feces that was never cleaned up. A woman who had ten dogs move in after she rented (she lied) and they destroyed the place. This could be a bit worrying to someone who makes an income off of their rental and can not afford to fix the damage.

Not enough rentals in Ojai, California to meet the demand of people looking
Not enough rentals in Ojai, California to meet the demand of people looking

Find A Rental In Ojai, California Now

This time of the year is the hardest time to find a rental. Spring and summer are difficult because families here are looking to make sure their kids are settled before school. We also have a lot of vacation rentals here for short term. This has really hurt the rental market because people who do not live here are renting their homes for vacation rentals and making much more money. A lot of local families had to move to Ventura when their rental agreement was up this past fall when school started. There were not enough rentals for local families before the school year kicked in. One rental I went to see had so many people at the open house that were desperate to get their kids settled before school started that I just walked out. This is what the climate was like in August of last year.

I still keep an eye on rentals now but the one's that seem like a good deal are not close to town at all and the one's that are seem to be not worth the money. If you aren't picky about anything like location near town, quiet and more then you can find a rental. Be willing to put down a good deposit pronto and be proactive. Drive around on a Sunday and look for signs in neighborhoods that look like they will work. Also look into property management in Ojai because there are quite a few that manage a lot of rentals. The point is if you have money and are used to spending more for what you get here, you can find a good rental. I mean old apartments in Santa Monica are more expensive then a decent home here. There is no traffic either! That alone is worth the extra money!


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