Very few of us live in the same home for all of our adult lives, and whether you rent accommodation or own your own home, the chances are that at some point you’ll probably find yourself relocating. Whether you are moving to a new area, or if your current home simply no longer matches the needs of your growing family or changing lifestyle, at some point most pet owners have to face the challenge of finding a new home that is not only suitable for themselves and their family, but also for their pets.
Generally, the boxes that your prospective new home needs to tick for you and your family- such as good transport links and the standard of the local schools- are self-evident. But knowing what to look for in your future home in terms of accounting for your pet’s needs, safety and happiness can be a little harder to decipher.
With this in mind, check out our top tips for pet lovers on what to look for in a new area and in a new home itself.
It can sometimes be hard to rent a property with pets, although it is by no means impossible. Often letting agents and management companies will have a blanket rule of no pets allowed in the accommodation, and pet owners often find much more success renting privately. If you do have pets, it is important to be honest and upfront about this with your potential future landlord from the outset, even if this means that it might make it a little harder to find a place. Lying about or concealing your pets from your landlord can lead to all kinds of problems, from hefty fines and cleaning charges, to being asked to leave.
Even if you are looking to buy a home, if you are considering leasehold properties or flats in managed buildings, there may be restrictions on the type or number of pets allowed. You should look into this at the early stages of making your enquiries with the seller or estate agent, to avoid further problems down the line.
When you first go to view a new potential property, consider the surrounding area before you even get as far as the front door. Are the surrounding roads very busy, or is there no way that your pet would be able to go outside (particularly for cats) without having to cross a busy road? If so, then you might need to rule the property out before you even get as far as going inside.
Also consider other potential risks outside of the home, such as railway lines, commercial enterprises such as farms and places that operate a lot of plant machinery, and other factors. Risk-assess the area objectively, and ask yourself if you would feel confident that your pet would be safe if you lived there.
If you have made it as far as the property itself, the next thing to consider is your potential future neighbours- both the human kind and the animal kind! If you keep cats and there seems to be a large proportion of other cats around in the area, this can be a good sign. But also bear in mind how your own cats will be able to settle into the local pecking order, and the potential problems that can arise from bringing a new cat or cats onto the territory of existing cats. Also be mindful of neighbours with dogs- if the houses surrounding the property you are viewing have dogs loose in their gardens, is this going to be a problem for your cats? If possible, talk to the neighbours about their dogs and find out their thoughts on your bringing a cat into the area, and how they feel their dogs will react. If there are dogs running about in the streets, or loose hunting dogs such as sight hounds (greyhounds, lurchers and the like) then you may need to cross that house off your list.
If you own a dog yourself, again, seeing a fair amount of other dogs in the area can be a positive sign, as it likely means there is good access to places to walk your dog, and a friendly pet owning community in the local area. Again, talk to other dog owners in the surrounding houses or out walking, and get their views.
If you have made it as far as the house or flat in question itself, great, it’s looking good! Things to think about when checking out the property include:
As well as the safety and suitability of the house or flat and the immediate surrounding area, finally, look into the facilities that are available for pet lovers in the immediate locality. Is there at least one veterinary practice within easy travelling distance? Are there good places to walk your dog? Would you be able to get help with your pet if you needed it, such as a local dog walker or pet sitter, or a kennel or cattery?
Think about what you need to provide for your pet over the course of the year, and ensure that the area you are looking at ticks all of the boxes.
You may have to look at several places to find the perfect spot for you and your pets, and when you do, this will usually become evident fairly quickly. Moving house, and even thinking of moving can be very stressful, so it can be difficult to be objective about a house or an area, if you are already feeling stressed and under pressure to make a decision or are worrying about the move itself.
However, it is important to listen to your instincts- if something feels wrong but you can’t put your finger on exactly what, keep looking. Your subconscious may be trying to tell you something important. Finding the right home takes time- be prepared to look around for a while before you make your ultimate decision. Happy hunting!