Pets and moving, by the numbers

April 30, 2019
Maureen McKinney, Associate Editorial Director

When it comes to moving to a new home, it seems its not just about location, location, location anymore. As it turns out, pet owners looking for a new home place a pretty high priority on meeting their pets needs.

Photo courtesy of Mayflower. It's no secret that pets are a huge part of our lives. More people own pets than ever before, we spend more money on our pets than ever before, and data on the health benefits of pet ownership are piling up. So it should come as no big surprise that pets play a huge role in the decision of where we move.

In January 2019, True Global Intelligence, the research arm of public relations and marketing firm FleishmanHillard, fielded a nationwide online survey on behalf of the moving company Mayflower Transit. The survey's purpose was threefold:

To determine what home and neighborhood features are important to pet owners when moving

To understand the steps people take to prepare their pet for a move to a new home

To understand how pets adjust to a move and steps pet owners take to make the transition as smooth as possible

Participants in the Mayflower Mover Insights Survey included 2,002 American cat and dog owners who have moved within the past five years or are likely to move within the next five years. (About 300 people each from Portland, Oregon, San Diego and Orlando were also surveyed to determine regional trends, but here we cover only the nationwide results.)

The majority of survey respondents ranged in age from 23 to 64, with millennials comprising the largest category of participants (39%), followed by baby boomers (26%) and Gen X (25%). About half of those surveyed were women. Regarding pet ownership, 81% were dog owners and 55% were cat owners; 36% owned both a dog and a cat.

Here's what they found.

Deciding where to move

For pet owners who have moved in the past five years, pets influenced the choice of neighborhood for 26%. Major considerations included the walkability of the community (42%), availability of pet-friendly recreational activities (27%), proximity of a veterinary hospital (33%) and local pet ownership laws regarding breed and size (43%).

Pets influenced the choice of home itself for 39% of owners. Top pet-related considerations for home choice included having adequate indoor space for the pet (56%), the size of the yard (46%) and whether it was fenced in (52%), and neighborhood/landlord rules about pets (59%).

Preparing for the move

Moving is stressful for everyone, pets included; 70% of respondents said their pet could tell something was up while their owners were packing.

To make the transition to a new home as stress-free as possible for their pet, 28% of owners sought information online about moving with pets, 23% talked to friends and family who have moved with a pet in the past, 22% sought advice from their veterinarian about helping the pet adjust and 23% found a veterinary practice in their new community before moving.

In addition, owners tried to give their pet special attention before the move:

79% spent more time with their pet

64% took the pet to see the new house

60% explained what was happening or bought the pet a present

58% took the pet for a walk in the new neighborhood

Adjusting to the new home

Respondents reported that 84% of pets experienced some level of stress adjusting to their new home and neighborhood:

48% followed the owner around more

26% slept in the owner's room

18% had accidents in the home

17% acted fearful

15% cried more

15% chewed or scratched more

Despite their anxiety, though, most pets (93%) settled into their new home in less than a month with a little help from their owners:

83% spent more time with their pet

81% showed the pet where its things were

75% showed the pet each room in the house

75% walked the pet around the new neighborhood

63% bought the pet a present

Future movers

Survey participants who are planning to move within the next five years will also factor in their pets' needs when deciding where to move. For these future movers, pets will influence the choice of neighborhood for 33% and the choice of home for 48%.

The survey also revealed that for many pet owners, the pets' needs are on par with their own when considering which home to buy. Owners were split just about 50/50 when asked whether they would prefer their new home to include either the pet-friendly feature they want most or these features:

An updated kitchen: 50%

A home that is close to their place of work: 49%

A home with an open floor plan: 49%

An updated bathroom: 48%

And those movers are willing to spend extra on the perfect pet-friendly home, with 32% of all respondents stating that they would pay more than their current home to ensure the pet-friendly features they want. For millennials, that number is even higher: 45% stated they would pay more for amenities that will keep their pets happy and healthy.