The first thing you need to know about relocating to the Conejo is that it’s pronounced Koh-nay-hoe not Cone-Joe. Conejo means rabbit in Spanish. The Conejo Valley is one of the most beautiful places on earth and arguably the most special in Southern California. The weather is near perfect. The schools incredible.
You can go for a breathtaking hike with ardent hikers or your 5 year old one minute and then at the beach the next. We are located midway between Downtown Los Angeles (think Lakers, Kings, Clippers, world class museums and Broadway theater) and Santa Barbara (think romance, wine tasting, art walks and shopping). Both are 45 minutes without traffic so allow for 1.5 hours as a rule, this is greater LA after all. We have a regional trauma center and hospital and a fashionable indoor-outdoor mall with Nordstrom’s. You’ll find employers like biotech giant Amgen, food giant Dole, music giant Guitar Center, insurance giant Anthem, the newly relocated LA Rams and the list goes on and on. Home to nearly 200,000 people (about 400,000 when you factor in neighboring Calabasas, Camarillo, Moorpark and Simi Valley) it’s a fantastic place to live, to grow old in or to raise a family.
Thousand Oaks, the area’s largest city, has more than a thousand oak trees. They’re beautiful and grand. Should you find one on the property you like, be advised that you can’t cut it down. You can’t even trim a branch if it is larger than 4 inches in diameter. Suffice it to say the fines for damaging or removing an oak tree in Thousand Oaks are hefty. We do love our oak trees and they are protected. We also love our open space and the Conejo Valley is completely ringed by protected regional, state and national park land including the majestic Mt. Boney, the last mountain in the Santa Monica Mountain range. It makes for spectacular outdoor scenery and activities but it also means you won’t find many new homes being built.
The Conejo Valley rests atop the Los Angeles and Ventura County lines. For example, Westlake Village which is home to our most expensive real estate, was incorporated in 1981. However, Westlake Village makes up only half of what we consider Westlake. This is because a California city cannot be in two counties. Thus, when Westlake Village
became incorporated only the LA County side was allowed to do so. The Ventura County side was absorbed into the city of Thousand Oaks. The zip codes for Westlake south of the 101 Freeway are 91361 for both counties. The address used is Westlake Village. Go north of the freeway and it’s 91362 and called Westlake Village for both counties as well. More significantly, the school districts are entirely different. If you want your kids to go to Westlake High School (Conejo Valley Unified School District) you must live on the Ventura County side. The LA side goes to Agoura High (Las Virgenes Unified School District.)
In 1982 Agoura (pronounced Uh-goor-uh) incorporated into Agoura Hills, leaving behind a swath of homes over the Ventura County border in unincorporated Ventura County. This area originally known as Agoura now bears the name of Oak Park. Oak Park has its own zip code: 91377, its own government and most importantly its own Blue Ribbon school district (Oak Park Unified School District.) Unlike Westlake, Oak Park successfully resisted incorporation into the city of Thousand Oaks. When you ask someone about Oak Park the first thing they mention are the schools. Since most of the schools throughout the Conejo Valley have Great School rankings of 9 out of 10 or better, the fact that Oak Park is known for schools means something special is going on there.
To recap the craziness of the various municipalities and the County Line, we’ve got two Agouras, two Westlakes and three schools districts. There are unincorporated areas as well as 3 sub-cities in Thousand Oaks: T.O. proper, the aforementioned Westlake (part of T.O.) and to the south west, Newbury Park. Temperatures by the way vary from Agoura Hills to the Newbury Park by as much as 15 degrees on a hot summer’s day. Newbury Park is cooler since it’s closer to the ocean. Nothing demonstrates this unique nature of our boundaries better than Westlake Island (and yes there actually is a lake in Westlake). The entrance to the gated island is by way of a street named La Venta. This is derived from LA/Ventura because the road is literally the county line. In fact, “The Island” is smack dab in the middle of the lake (Search for Westlake homes here) and is literally divided in half. Half on the Ventura side, half the LA side. The Conejo is also home to three other lakes. Two that you’ve likely not heard of are Lake Lindero and Malibou Lake. Malibou Lake (yes like caribou) was a cabin-on-a-lake getaway for Hollywood Celebrities as early as the 1930’s.
I can picture some famous Hollywood actor bouncing across the San Fernando Valley on a then two lane Ventura Blvd., up and over the Calabasas grade then left into the canyons, finally pulling up to a cabin nestled above Malibou Lake in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. Homes with lake rights are actually part of a co-op called The Malibou Lake Mountain Club and offer a truly unique lifestyle in the mountains while only being 7 minutes to Agoura and the 101 freeway. The lake many people may have heard of is Lake Sherwood. Built around the sensational Jack Nicholas designed PGA quality golf course, this community of mostly single family homes starts in the $2M’s with town homes in the $1M range. The Sherwood Country Club has hosted the Tiger Woods Open
and Greg Norman’s Shark Shootout golf tournaments and boasts the only tennis club that features all 3 court surfaces. Lake Sherwood was named after Sherwood Forest because Errol Flynn’s 1938 classic film Robin Hood was partially filmed there. Lake Sherwood is unincorporated Ventura County and like it’s even more expensive horse ranch neighbor Hidden Valley, has no municipal government. Resident children attend the Westlake schools on the Ventura County side. In addition to our amazing public schools, the Conejo has a multitude of private schools including La Reina Catholic Girls High School and Oaks Christian which spans all ages and has had their share of famous name alumni/alumni parents, plus a bunch of other parochial and non-parochial including the esteemed Carden School.
Another curiosity for most first time visitors here is that the Pacific Ocean is both to the west and the south. We are located on the odd part of the California coast line where the state bends so that the ocean is on two sides. Not a big deal but this tends to throw off your sense direction since the 101 freeway runs north-south from San Francisco to Los Angeles except the portion from Ventura to the San Fernando Valley, where it runs east-west.
As for housing… that’s my expertise. In spring 2016, the least expensive single family home was in the $500K’s. Prices range to 8 figures when you include Sherwood, Hidden Valley and a handful of homes near the North Ranch Country Club in Westlake. The median is somewhere in the mid to upper $700K’s. You can also find town homes and senior housing where prices are under those marks and even into the $200K’s. Neighboring Calabasas is generally comprised of pretty high end, gated neighborhoods while Simi Valley, Moorpark and Camarillo (pronounced Kamm-a-ree-oh) offer a greater variety. If you ask residents in each of those adjacent cities, they will tell you all the reasons they actually prefer their town to Thousand Oaks, Westlake or Agoura. In Moorpark for example, when the little league season opens, the entire town shows up for the parade. Moorpark also is home to Moorpark College part of the Ventura Community College system and a natural feeder into UC Santa Barbara, my alma mater. Drive down the major streets of Simi or Moorpark and you’ll see banners heralding local young men and women who are serving in our military. Heck, Simi Valley is home to the Ronald Reagan library.
Camarillo will tell you that at sea level you don’t need air conditioning and that it’s home to the Camarillo Airport, the outlet mall and Cal State University Channel Islands with its newly created school of engineering. Located on what was once the California State Mental Hospital, the buildings of CSUCI also claim to be the inspiration of the Charlie “Bird” Parker song, Relaxing In Camarillo. Being a professional musician and Arista recording artist in life BRE (Before Real Estate) I love that trivial fact… Other nearby major universities include California Lutheran (also known as CLU or locally referred to as Cal Lu) the off season training grounds of the Los Angeles Rams and Pepperdine University in Malibu. Yes, Malibu and everything it offers, is just 13 minutes from the Conejo Valley via Agoura Hills or Calabasas.
Moving to a new area can be a big life-change, but the Conejo Valley is one place that it shouldn’t be. The Civic Arts Plaza
offers great entertainment, touring shows etc., CVUSD has wonderful programs for kids in the autism spectrum, Moorpark has great horseback riding; baseball and soccer reign supreme in all the towns and I believe virtually every religion offers multiple places to worship. We even boast a Mosque in Newbury Park, copper dome and all. The canyon roads are popular for motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts as well as cyclists including a portion of The Amgen Tour of California, not to mention vintage watering holes like The Old Place and The Rock Store. So if you’re moving to this area, consider yourself blessed to have such a wonderful place to call home.
The old timers still use 1000 Oaks, Ca on their return envelopes (thinking about buying or leasing? Visit 1000oaksrealestate.com here) and will proudly refer to our Valley as God’s Country, because it really is that beautiful. There’s a lot to talk about if you are relocating to Southern California. As a native Californian, California real estate broker, Certified Residential and Corporate Mobility Specialist, I’d like to help with your relocation (contact Tim here). Whether you’re looking for a luxury estate property or a more modest family home or condominium, let me welcome you to your new home right here along The County Line.