Bringing a new pet into an apartment home can be a richly rewarding experience for both you and your furry pal. To make the transition a successful one for you, your pet, your roommates, and your neighbors, however, it pays to be prepared! These four tips will help get you started.
1. Before you do anything, check your lease
Many apartment leases have very specific rules and regulations when it comes to pets, including size, weight and breed restrictions, as well as restrictions on the number of pets. In addition, you may find that regardless of whether you have pets in your apartment, you’re not allowed to have “visiting” pets at any time—even if the pets come attached to family members! If your lease specifically prohibits pets, you can try talking to your landlord, but don’t get your hopes up. Cleaning apartments between pets can be very expensive, and those apartments that are not “pet-friendly” are likely going to stay that way.
Note, it also goes without saying, if you have a roommate, make sure they are on board with a new pet in the home, and that any shared responsibilities for the pet are clearly laid out!
2. Can you afford the pet rent—and total pet costs?
Increasingly, apartments that do allow you to have pets tack on an additional “pet rent” each month over and above a one-time pet deposit. Make sure you include this amount in your monthly expenses as well as additional costs such as food and pet supplies. If this is your first pet (or a new puppy or kitten), those costs can add up. According to the ASPCA, first-year expenses generally total around $1,580 for a medium-sized dog, and about $1,055 for your average cat…and that’s before you figure in the costs of chewed up blinds or carpets. Pets can be totally worth it, but it’s best to be prepared!
3. Do you have an apartment that’s “truly” pet friendly?
Even if your apartment bills itself as friendly for pets, is it really an ideal environment for a dog or cat? This consideration matters more for dogs, particularly larger breeds. Does your complex have walking trails or, even better, a dog park? Are the walls between you and your neighbors unusually thin (a good way to tell…do YOU ever hear barking dogs in neighboring apartments?) Is your current or planned apartment a townhome with a ground level entry (particularly to a small patio or greenspace) or are you stuck on the third floor? Imagine having to let your dog outside in the middle of winter, in a storm, on a dark and bitter night. Seriously, you’ll want that first-floor access!
4. Are you in the right stage of life for a pet?
If you are traveling a great deal, have a very young child, work around the clock or with unpredictable hours, or can’t handle your life being slightly out of control, you may want to think long and hard about getting a high-maintenance pet, such as a puppy. In fact, if the above sounds like your life but you desperately want an animal companion, a cat may be a far better choice (though even cats need regular care!) Alternatively, you can set pet ownership as a goal down the line, when your work schedule and life circumstances allow.
Above all else, you want to take on a pet when it’s the right time both for you and your new friend. That said, as long as you’ve prepared for pet ownership and are ready to open your heart (and your apartment) to a four-legged pal, hooray! This just may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.