There are a lot of things that go into a decision to buy a home. Some people prefer a home in a certain area, with a certain number of bedrooms, or with a specific layout. Some prioritize price, school districts, or size.
If you are a pet owner, you may want to add a few more stipulations to your home search. What may seem like an ideal situation for your animals may not be as simple as it appears.
Just because you buy your home doesn’t mean your home is perfect for your pets. There are certain circumstances that may make your pets unwelcome in your home. Your home may not be suitable for your pet, and your neighborhood may not be pet-friendly. And, if an emergency occurs, you don’t want to put your pets in a bad position.
Your Pet May Not Be Allowed
It makes sense to assume that if you buy your home, you get to have say over the animals you keep on your property. However, that’s not always the case. Some city and county codes and restrictions can keep you from having chickens, goats, horses, or even certain dog breeds in your home. When you’re buying a home, take into account the animals you have, or hope to have, and what is allowed according to the law. Not only that, but some homeowners associations (HOAs) restrict pets as well (1). An HOA might restrict the number of dogs you can have, the size of your dogs, or having animals like outdoor birds that make a lot of noise. For this reason, it’s important to research your ordinances and HOA restrictions before you buy.
Not All Homes Are Created Equal
There are a lot of things that go into the perfect home. For many, the heart of the home is in the kitchen. For others, the yard is what makes a house feel like a home. When you’re learning how to find the perfect home (2) for your family, also take your pets into consideration. Not every home is a great fit for your animal. Many larger, high-energy dogs require a lot of space to get their daily exercise in. Many outdoor plants like rhubarb or lilies can be toxic for dogs and cats. Dogs can be seriously affected by chemicals, and cats can be injured by falling out of high windows that aren’t secured, or vice versa.
All of these things should be considered when buying a home as a pet owner. Not only should you consider the safety concerns but also the aspects of a home that will make it most comfortable for them.
Your Neighborhood is Just as Important as Your Home
It’s not all about the type of home you live in and making sure it’s the right home for your pets; it’s also about your neighborhood. If you don’t have a big yard for your pet to exercise, for instance, maybe your neighborhood has a dog park or a lot of walking areas. Be wary of your home’s proximity to busy roads and the speed limits on those roads. If you are on a busy road, be sure you make up for it with a good fence or a strict indoor policy to eliminate the possibility of having your animals get hurt by a car.
There are plenty of communities that lend themselves to certain types of pet ownership, especially for outdoor animals like chickens or horses. Do your research about your area and how it will impact the safety and happiness of your pets. It can be just as important as the home itself.
Always Be Prepared for the Worst
It’s not easy to be prepared for every type of situation that could leave you and your pets in a bad situation in terms of home ownership. When people have to rehome their animals or put them in a shelter, it’s not always a case of people being inhumane or evil. Sometimes it’s due to the worst happening and not having the ability to care for their animals anymore. For instance, many things can cause financial trouble: job loss, illness, death, etc. Financial trouble can lead to forced eviction after foreclosure (3) if you can’t afford your home anymore. This can leave the homeowners and their pets without a place to go.
Some people might have a family member or a plan B for their animals, but some don’t. Be sure when you're buying your home that you buy within your means. Be sure when obtaining animals, you’ll have a rough idea for a plan if the worst happens. Some instances can’t be avoided, but don’t stretch yourself too thin by getting into a home that is hard to afford. Things that can help these types of situations are homeowners insurance, an emergency savings account, supplemental insurance, or life insurance. Unexpected financial troubles happen, so do your best to be prepared and protect your home, yourself, and your animals.
Being a homeowner is a great experience. Your home is yours, you’re gaining equity, and you’re creating a place of warmth and comfort for you and your whole family — including the fuzzy ones. As a pet owner, your home search will require a few more stipulations. You’ll want to make sure your dream home will allow your pets; that your home is a safe place for them; that your neighborhood is pet-friendly; and that you are prepared to keep them safe if the worst happens to your home. At the end of the day, you want your pet to feel just as comfortable and happy in their new home as you will.
Chelsy Ranard Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in beautiful Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree in 2012 from the University of Montana. She is passionate about animal rights, bad television, and white wine. She is a volunteer at Simply Cats in Boise.