It sometimes seems as if every second property is advertised as being family-friendly, but children aren’t the only creatures under four foot to consider. If you have pets, the property you choose should take their needs into account as well.
Here are a few things to consider:
You may not be worrying about school catchment zones, but some locations are more suitable for pets than others.
If you have a cat that’s allowed to wander, or a dog with escape-artist tendencies, consider whether you can live away from busy roads. Having Houdini returned to you with a shame-faced look in his eyes is one thing; an animal casualty is quite another.
There are a number of great amenities out there for dog owners, too. If you have an off leash dog park close by, that’s a bonus. A dog-friendly oval, or nearby walking trails, also make the daily walk more pleasant and provide valuable socialising for your pooch. At the very least, the area should be easily walkable, with pavements and pedestrian access around the streets.
2. Outdoor space
If you have a dog, living somewhere with its own garden will make your life, and his, far more pleasant. Make sure that the property you choose is or can be securely fenced, especially if you own a breed known for its escape skills. If your dog will be outside while you’re elsewhere, there should be some shaded areas and access to shelter.
Of course, people can and do successfully keep dogs – especially smaller breeds – in apartments. If your new home doesn’t have a garden, though, be aware that you’ll need to be more diligent about taking Fido for scheduled exercise.
He’ll need toilet breaks as well. So if you do decide that a pet and an apartment are a workable combination, try and look for something on the ground floor. Taking your canine friend up and down several flights of stairs can be inconvenient, and many dogs dislike or are unable to navigate stairs.
3. Low maintenance interior
Unless you’re the proud owner of a hairless Sphinx cat, your pet – whether of the feline, canine or even rodent variety – is likely to shed. They may scratch your furniture, mark your floors, or kick litter around. While training helps, a certain level of mess is inevitable if you share your space with animals.
Tiles are usually more resistant to scratching than timber floors, and far easier to sweep than a thick carpet full of fur. If you do prefer timber, choose a low sheen finish that won’t show up scratches, and be vigilant about any errant puddles before they stain.
If you’re painting, opt for high-gloss options in the rooms where your pets hang out, as it’s less prone to permanent marks. And for furnishings, microsuede is a champion of the genre.
4. Council restrictions
Every council has different restrictions around the keeping of animals, including cats, dogs, chickens and livestock. These are drawn from the laws of your state or territory and imposed as by-laws. Strata corporations will also have their own by-laws, so if your home is strata, make sure you’re familiar with these.
Many impose limits on how many pets you are allowed. Some require that cats are enclosed in a suitable enclosure or kept indoors. If you want to keep chickens, there are usually rules about how close to a neighbour’s boundary their coop can be. Roosters are often prohibited.
A pet friendly home can be a wonderful boon for you and your companion animal. In turn, your animal may help you feel more at home in your new suburb. Good luck!