<iframe src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-W42H854" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden"></iframe>
☀️ Get Ready For Summer With Savings From Hostaway & Our Partners👉Get Ready For Summer With Savings From Hostaway & Our Partners
Learn More >

Everything You Need to Know About Rental Arbitrage in San Diego

Everything You Need to Know About Rental Arbitrage in San Diego

San Diego, with its endless sunshine, pristine beaches and laid-back vibe is a magnet for visitors from all around the globe. It's not just the warm weather that draws people in but also the vibrant cultural scene, bustling nightlife and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

This city's allure makes it a prime spot for short-term rentals, offering a unique opportunity for those interested in rental arbitrage. By tapping into what makes San Diego so appealing, you can transform properties into profitable ventures in this thriving market.

What is Rental Arbitrage?

Essentially, rental arbitrage involves renting a long-term lease on a property (think apartment, condo or even a house) and then subletting it for short-term stays (like Airbnb or VRBO) at a higher nightly rate. The profit lies in the gap between your monthly rent and the combined income from your short-term guests.

San Diego's Allure: Why is San Diego Attractive for Rental Arbitrage?

San Diego boasts several factors that make it an attractive market for rental arbitrage:

  • High tourist demand: San Diego attracts millions of visitors annually, leading to consistent demand for short-term rentals.
  • Diverse neighborhoods: Different areas cater to various budgets and preferences, offering flexibility in property selection.
  • Potential for high returns: With strategic planning, short-term rentals can yield significantly higher income than traditional leases.

But hold on, there's a flip side:

Are Short-term Rentals Legal in San Diego? Short-term rental management software, Airbnb management software, Vacation rental management software

Are Short-term Rentals Legal in San Diego?

San Diego's City Council has established comprehensive guidelines governing short-term rentals, aiming to strike a balance between property owners' interests and the community's well-being. These guidelines, effective from Aug 25, 2023, categorize short-term rentals into four main types:

  • Part-Time Rentals: These involve properties leased for 20 days or fewer annually, without requiring the owner or tenant to reside nearby during the short-term rental periods.
  • Home-Sharing Rentals: This type encompasses renting rooms within a property for more than 20 days per year, provided the property owner resides on-site. It applies to duplex properties and accessory dwelling units.
  • Whole-Home Rentals: Rentals for over 20 days per year, where the property owner does not live nearby. The number of licenses granted for this type is capped at 1% of San Diego's total housing units outside the Mission Beach Community Planning Area.
  • Whole-Home Rentals in Mission Beach: For the Mission Beach area, licenses for whole-home rentals are restricted to a maximum of 30% of the community planning area, with a minimum requirement of a two-night stay for guests.

Adherence to these regulations is essential. Staying informed and compliant with evolving Airbnb regulations is crucial for the success of your rental arbitrage business.

Breakdown of Rental Arbitrage Startup Costs in San Diego

Breakdown of Startup Costs in San Diego

Starting up rental arbitrage in San Diego does come with some initial costs that add up to your first big spend. These costs can change depending on where you are in the city and what kind of property you're looking at. But they tend to be a more affordable alternative compared to traditional property investment.

Rental deposits

If you're looking to lock down a property for your rental arbitrage venture, landlords usually ask for a security deposit along with the first and last month's rent upfront. These payments are key to nailing down a lease agreement, basically setting the property aside for you. The security deposit acts as a safety net for landlords against any possible damage while you're renting and paying the first and last month's rent upfront shows you're serious about sticking to the lease.


The way you furnish your rental can really pull in those guests. Going for a place that's semi-furnished with the basic amenities like some furniture, appliances and fixtures, can smartly cut down your upfront cash splash. But if you're starting with an empty space and need to fill it up, your spending could swing a lot based on how big the place is and how fancy you want it to be. Usually, starting from zero could set you back about $3,000 to $5,000.


Good photos are crucial for your Airbnb listing to shine and attract more guests. You can either take photos yourself or hire a pro. DIY is wallet-friendly, especially with a decent camera, but mastering photography takes time and effort. Professional photographers, though pricier, bring the skills and gear to really highlight your property, possibly increasing its appeal and bookings. Investing in quality photos is key to making your rental pop and boosting your earnings.

Cleaning Services

Although not an upfront expense, cleaning is a recurring cost you'll need to budget for. Keeping your place spotless is key to making sure guests have a great stay. At first, it's smart to pick up some vacation rental cleaning skills and tackle the tidying up on your own if you've got the knack and time for it. This approach can cut costs while you're getting your business off the ground. But as things pick up, or if cleaning isn't your cup of tea, bringing in a pro cleaner is a smart move to keep your rental looking its best for every guest.

Legal Consultation

Building a solid legal foundation for your rental arbitrage business is essential for long-term success. Partnering with a real estate lawyer can be a game changer, guiding you through short-term rental contracts and ensuring you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. Given the ever-changing nature of Airbnb regulations, a lawyer can help you adapt and remain compliant. If legal issues pop up, from contract disputes to regulatory challenges, having legal counsel means you're well-equipped to tackle these situations effectively.

All in All

Rental arbitrage in San Diego can be worth it if you do thorough research, understand and comply with local regulations, manage operational demands effectively and strategically differentiate your property in a competitive market.

Like any investment, it carries risks, but with careful planning and management, it can offer a profitable venture.

Ready to find out how Hostaway can transform your business?

Hostaway is proud to support thousands of Property Managers and Airbnb Hosts Around the world. We take pride in being Top Ranked in Vacation Rental Software Review Sites: Capterra, G2, Software Advice, Trust Pilot, to name just a few! Check out our reviews and read the Hostaway Case Studies from real successful and growing Short-Term Rental Managers!