Most pet owners are aware of the necessary costs of ownership, including food, healthcare and grooming. When they travel, owners pay for boarding or pet sitters – unless they opt to bring their four-legged friend with them. Some even elect to spend money on optional services, such as doggy daycare and dog walkers.
However, many Americans are not aware that pet owners who rent may have to fork out more for their homes.
A recent report released by Redfin, Trupanion and Rover.com found that renters pay an average of 6% more to have a dog in canine-friendly rentals. The report analyzed rentals (as well as healthcare and pet care) in 116 cities and cited the five most and least expensive cities in which to own a pet.
The potential impact is widespread – the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates there are as many as 176 million dogs and cats in households across the United States. An estimated 72% of renters own pets, according to the Humane Society of the United States, and that number is likely on the increase, since homeownership has been shrinking in the U.S. over the past eight years. It has dropped from a high of 69% in 2004 to 63.7% in the first quarter of 2015, according to the most recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.
The fact that renters either can’t find a pet-friendly home or cannot afford the costs associated with their pet is also of concern to shelters and animal welfare groups. The top reasons people cite for giving up their pets include moving, landlords not accepting their animals and the cost of maintenance, according to many surveys, including one by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy.
Most Expensive Cities for Pet-Friendly Rentals
Just as it is true that the cost of living is higher in some cities, the cost of having a companion animal in a pet-friendly rental varies greatly by city. Here are the five highest-cost cities for pet ownership, according to the Redfin, Trupanion and Rover.com report:
• San Francisco, Calif.
• Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
• Aurora, Colo.
• Portland, Ore.
• Chula Vista, Calif.
In San Francisco, renters without pets pay an average of $4,333 a month for rent; pet owners pay, on average, $4,941, or 14% more. Fort Lauderdale renters who don’t have pets pay $2,118 per month, on average, while those with pets pay $2,363, or 12% more.
Non-pet owners in Aurora – the third costliest city in which to own a pet overall – pay an average rent of $1,363 per month, while pet owners pay an extra 20%, or $1,638. Non-pet owning renters in Portland pay an average of $1,608 for their rent, while pet-friendly rentals average 14% more, or $1,828. In Chula Vista, a pet-friendly rental costs 11% more: $2,015 vs. $1,850.
Least Expensive Cities for Pet-Friendly Rentals
Here are the five lowest-cost cities in which to own a pet, according to the same Redfin, Trupanion and Rover.com report:
• Phoenix, Ariz.
• The Woodlands, Tex.
• Detroit, Mich.
• Fayetteville, N.C.
Phoenix ranks as the least expensive city in which to find a pet-friendly rental. Pet owners pay, on average, a whopping 21% less than non-pet owners: $1,101 vs. $1,400 per month. Likewise, pet owners in The Woodlands pay lower average rents than non-pet owners: $1,828 vs. $2,045, or 11% less. In Nashville, those with pets pay 5% less, or $1,274, compared to $1,339 a month.
Just because a city is among the lowest-cost cities in which to own a pet, doesn’t mean that pet-loving renters don’t pay more. In Detroit, for example, pet owners will pay an average of 3% more in rent than non-pet friendly renters: $814 vs. $788. But in Fayetteville, the least expensive city in the survey, rents are roughly the same for those with a furry friend ($874) as it is for those without one ($878).
Why do rental costs vary so widely? It is a simple case of supply and demand, the report notes: “On average, across all 116 cities, 16.5% of rentals allow dogs. In the most expensive cities, only 12.3% of rentals allow dogs. In the least expensive, 20.5% allow dogs.”
The Bottom Line
Companion animals require a 10- to-20-year commitment on the part of a potential owner. All of the obvious costs of pet care (food, healthcare) should be taken into consideration before making that commitment, as well as the hidden price tag, which may include finding an affordable, pet-friendly rental.
For more on renting a home, see The Complete Guide to Real Estate Renting and the Renters' Guide: Considerations When Finding a Rental.