Is Renting or Buying a Home Better for You and Your Pets?

Our fur children may not be “people”, but they are family. That’s why when you’re deciding on the place you want to call home, there are several factors to consider about your pets before uprooting and settling into a new home.

Is renting or buying a home ultimately the better choice for pet owners? Here are some factors to consider.

1. What Type of Pet Do You Have?

If you have an energetic husky, they'll feel confined in a small apartment unless you have the time to take them to the park multiple times daily. Before you look at properties, ask yourself what kind of pets you already have — as well as what type you want. Hey, moving is a pain. You don't want to have to pack again a year from now.

Folks who want to run with the big dogs likely need a yard. While certain breeds like Great Danes require surprisingly little exercise, they do need space to spread out. Even smaller types of dogs like Jack Russell terriers can go stir-crazy without room to roam.

2. Can You Buy?

You might not need to consider whether to rent or to buy at all. To qualify to buy a home, you need to meet specific tests.

  • Debt to income: Your debt-to-income ratio determines your credit score in part. Lenders want your housing payment to take up no more than 28% of your monthly income. If you carry too much debt, you won't qualify.
  • Credit score: Mortgage companies need to know you'll make your monthly payments. While a high credit score won't protect you from financial disaster, it indicates a history of paying bills on time.
  • Down payment: Some types of mortgages, such as VA loans, require no money down. However, the bigger your down payment, the lower your monthly payment. If you can't put down at least 20%, you'll need to pay for private mortgage insurance.

3. Do Dogs Have a Place to Dig?

If you're moving with Fido in tow, he needs more than a place to do his business. Many dogs in the hunting or sporting group love to dig. The behavior stems from instinct — pups like malamutes would burrow in the snow to stay warm. Terriers unbury foxes and other prey for their humans.

However, the explanation for their behavior won't warm your landlord's heart. Make sure you have a designated area for your pet to dig — and fill it in before you leave if you rent.

4. How Secure Is the Yard?

Is there anything more panic-inducing than arriving home to find your pet Staffordshire missing? Did they jump the fence? Did they fall victim to foul play?

Thieves seek out certain breeds to sell on the black market, so make sure your fence locks if you leave your pooch in the yard. Others, like Catahoula leopard dogs, can scale fences with ease. Make sure Rex can't escape while you aren't paying attention.

5. What Type of Floors Does the Home Have?

If your new digs have wall-to-wall carpet, you should invest in a steam cleaner if you have a cat. Even well-trained Persians cough up the occasional hairball, and they rarely opt for the bathroom tile. Better yet, seek out an abode with hardwood or tile floors.

Your collie could ice skate across the freshly waxed tile. Claws leave unsightly scratches and gashes in linoleum. Try to find a property with distressed wood flooring if you have dogs. Such surfaces hide the damage without turning your terrier into a canine Tonya Harding.

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6. Are There Adequate Windows? Hiding Spaces?

Nearly every cat owner has spent hours calling their pet's name at least once — only to find them in the most unlikely places. If there's a loose HVAC grate in your new apartment, you better believe Precious will discover it and curl up inside while you run around your house in a panic.

If you keep your purring pal inside, good for you. You protect your pet from various feline diseases, as well as coyotes and other miscreants. However, even though cats are notoriously independent, they need entertainment. Make sure your new place has adequate window seating for Snowball to watch the birds flocking around your hummingbird feeder.

7. Does the Area Have Breed Restrictions?

Finally, some states and local jurisdictions implement breed restrictions — so if you have a Rottweiler or a pit bull, pay attention. We know that they are precious babies, no matter the breed, but landlords can refuse to rent based on breed or size.

If you have a genuine psychological need, your landlord cannot refuse certified emotional support animals — as long as they don't pose a threat to the property or others. You may need to provide documentation from your counselor, indicating your animals provide you with a therapeutic benefit.

Home Sweet Home for You and Your Pets

You have extra considerations when you move with your pet. However, when you do your homework beforehand, you can find the perfect home for you and your furry family.

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