Most Competitive California Rental Market in 2022

With demand far outpacing supply, finding a rental in California is an arduous task, and residents of Orange County faced the most competitive rental market in the state during 2022.

RentCafe, a nationwide internet listing service specializing in rental houses and apartments, analyzed markets measuring the number of days rentals stay vacant, the percentage of apartments occupied by renters, how many prospective renters competed for a listing, the percentage of renters renewing their leases, and the share of new apartments completed.

The numbers put Orange County on top for the Golden State, with San Diego second. Notably, the San Francisco Peninsula-North Bay, encompassing downtown San Francisco and the counties north and south of the city, trailed the field.

Los Angeles County was split into three geographic areas for the study, with East Los Angeles ranking 5th; North L.A./Ventura County placing 7th; and West L.A. coming in 10th out of the state’s 12 regions.

While Orange County’s totals stand tall compared to other California regions, its score places it 8th nationally, according to RentCafe. North Jersey is currently the hottest market in the country, and the Northeast portion of the nation has eight of the 20 toughest markets, the analysis found.

In Orange County, where a host of factors are driving demand—including beaches, weather, economic prosperity, proximity to Los Angeles, and incomes high enough to afford steep rents—the impact of market forces is complicated.

Approximately 19 people applied for every one rental unit in Orange County last year, according to RentCafe, and the current average rental price for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,379.

Epoch Times Photo
Housing units in Huntington Beach, Calif., on March 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Anaheim, Santa Ana, and Irvine rate as the toughest rental markets in Orange County, according to analysts at

Lack of supply is at the heart of the issue, in a densely populated county, with approximately 3.17 million people—according to 2022 U.S. Census data—and more residents than the state of Arkansas, but living in an area exponentially smaller.

The median sold price of a home in Orange County, as of January 2023, was $1.195 million, according to the California Association of Realtors, and higher financing costs have made it more expensive to purchase, leading some to pursue rentals.

While declines in home sales figures reflected overall sentiment, the red-hot rental market has not shown any signs of slowing.

“As the buyer’s market slowed down due to affordability, people moved to the rental market,” Oscar Wei, deputy chief economist for the California Association of Realtors, told The Epoch Times.

Wei said he expects moderate growth to continue, and lists a series of factors affecting the market.

“Builders started releasing new apartment units, but there’s always high demand, building restrictions, and not enough new construction,” he said.

As spring weather is on the horizon, and the allure of the beach begins to beckon, demand is expected to increase, according to RentCafe, with the county’s peak rental season running from May to August.

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