How did you choose your home? Did you plan to have space to start a family, and did you look at school districts and local parks with kids in mind? Or did you consider how close you were to a vet’s office, or a dog park, or whether your condo association allows pets?
For millennials, dogs and other pets are bigger factors in home buying decisions than plans to settle down, get married, and have children, according to a recent survey. As for why that is, there’s a lot of speculation, but maybe it’s just best to ask millennials what they think. Here’s why millennials may be buying homes with dogs in mind more than future family plans.
A survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust Mortgage found that 33 percent of millennials who bought homes considered dogs to be a top factor in their choice of which homes to purchase. Only 25 percent said marriage was most important in their home buying process, and 19 percent identified the birth of a child as their biggest motivator. Even among millennials who are planning to purchase a home but haven’t yet, a whopping 42 percent said that a dog or plans to have a dog in the future would be a primary factor in deciding where to live.
Real estate agents are noticing the trend, too. More and more, they are reporting that millennials look for big backyards for their dogs to run around, especially backyards with fences or enough space for a fence to be installed. Landlords and condo associations also notice that young people are paying attention to “dog amenities.” A nearby dog park, trails to walk, and waste stations appeal to millennials who are looking for places to live.
Why Older People Think Millennials Consider Dogs When Buying Homes
The buying habits of millennials seem to be a bit of a mystery to older people. This has led to a lot of speculation about millennials’ motivations and even accusations that millennials are destroying businesses, mismanaging their money, and bucking long-established family traditions that defined earlier generations.
Some have said that millennials just love their dogs more, and they’re starting to see them more as family members than pets. One reason for this, they say, is that people of this generation are more likely to be college educated and in touch with the environment and nature, including dogs. Another reason, some suggest, is that shows like The Dog Whisperer and others have made dog ownership more appealing. Some say millennials are buying homes to avoid the fees and rules landlords often have when it comes to pets.
All of this speculation comes from a desire to understand the behavior of millennials. Understandably so, as it’s hard to wrap your head around a group that has different values than you, especially when that group was raised by your own generation. But rather than guessing and painting a whole age group with broad strokes, why not ask a millennial what the deal is when it comes to dogs and buying homes?
A Millennial’s Perspective
In case you haven’t guessed from reading this article, I’m a millennial. And I bought a home. And the ability to have pets in that home was a factor. It wasn’t the top factor, as cost and location are still important things, and renting is like throwing money in a hole, but it was something I considered. I don’t speak for my entire generation, so you may not be able to make judgments about other people who are my age from what I’m about to tell you, but at least you won’t have to guess about my motivations.
I don’t feel pressured to get married, nor do I feel the need to have children. The idea of being legally bound to another person when more than half of marriages end in divorce these days seems like a chance I don’t feel obligated to take, especially considering the financial toll it would have. And kids are expensive. Healthcare and education are insanely costly, and they’re only getting more so as time goes on, and while the economy is doing well for now, wages haven’t gone up. I’m lucky to have a decent paying job, but health insurance, a retirement fund, and taxes are all my responsibilities. Having a kid would probably be irresponsible for me. Even if I could afford it or just find ways to get by, as many of my friends and family who have kids are able to do, I don’t feel the urge or the cultural pressure that people may have felt in the past.
That said, I still have the need for love and companionship that previous generations had. That certainly hasn’t changed. So that’s where dogs come in. I’ve had dogs my entire life, and I’ve always loved them. There was never a time where I didn’t consider a dog to be a part of my family. It wasn’t The Dog Whisperer that made me feel that way. It wasn’t my expensive college education or being in touch with nature. I just love dogs, and at my income level with my lifestyle choices, having a dog is more feasible than a family–and more desirable for me at this time.
I’m not closing myself off to marriage or a family. If those things happen in the future, that’s just fine. But I don’t feel rushed, and if those things don’t come at all, that’s okay, too. As long as I can still consider a dog a part of my family and my home, I’ll have all I need. And when it came to buying a home, that was the more immediate necessity.
As for why other millennials think about pets when buying homes, I couldn’t generalize the whole generation. I expect there are many different factors they consider. Certainly, my friends who are burdened by college debt and low pay aren’t in a rush to have families, though many of them do own dogs and love them like family. They, like me, are far more attracted to homes with nearby dog parks than playgrounds.
Why do you think millennials consider dogs when buying homes? What were some things you considered when you chose where to live? Let me know in the comments below!