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America’s Most Paw-some Rental Markets for Pet Owners

By bonnie | April 30, 2015
For renters with pets, finding a place to live can be tough, but by no means impossible. Overall, San Francisco is the most pet-friendly metro, while Dallas has the highest percentage of rental listings that allow pets, and San Diego has the highest concentration of pet stores and services. Washington, DC, is the most expensive, with sky-high pet deposits, pet fees, and pet rents.

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they’re not necessarily your landlord’s. Nor are cats. If you’re a renter with a pet, one of the biggest challenges is finding a place to live. May is National Pet Month, so we’ve set out to find rental markets where your furry friend is as welcome as you are.

San Francisco Opens Up the Golden Gate for Pet Owners

To find America’s most pet-friendly places to live among the 25 largest rental markets, we’ve looked at several factors and combined them into a single ranking:

  • Most Pet-Friendly Landlords: Since finding an apartment that allows pets is crucial, we combed through all the listings on Trulia Rentals to see which market has the percentage of rental listings that allow cats, small dogs, or large dogs.
  • Least Expensive Pet Fees: Another pain point for pet-owning renters are all the added fees that landlords charge for Fido or Whiskers. So to figure out how much extra rent you’ll need to pay, we also calculated the average pet deposit, pet fee, and pet rent in each market using the listings on Trulia Rental.
  • High Concentration of Pet Stores and Services: Lastly, we used Trulia’s neighborhood amenity map to see which rental markets have the highest concentration of pet store or services, including vets, groomers, and dog walkers.

Turns out, pets will leave their hearts in San Francisco. Of the 25 largest rental markets, the City by the Bay tops the list, thanks to plenty of rentals that allow pets, low pet fees, and plenty of pet stores and services. But San Francisco isn’t the West’s only metro that’s gone to the dogs … and cats. Seattle, Denver, Oakland, and Portland, OR, round out the list of the top five cities for pets. The next five pet-friendly metros include four in other regions. Chicago, St. Louis, New York, and Dallas consistently rank high for each of our pet-positive measures. However, on any given measure, there’s lots of variation. Below is our overall ranking of metros from most to least pet friendly, taking all measures into account. In the rest of this post, we’ll show you the rankings for each of our seven pro-pet qualities.

25 Most Pet-Friendly Rental Markets
# U.S. Metro
1 San Francisco, CA
2 Seattle, WA
3 Denver, CO
4 Oakland, CA
5 Portland, OR
6 Chicago, IL
7 St. Louis, MO
8 New York, NY
9 Dallas, TX
10 San Diego, CA
11 Phoenix, AZ
12 Philadelphia, PA
13 Cambridge, MA
14 Boston, MA
15 Newark, NJ
16 Los Angeles, CA
17 RiversideSan Bernardino, CA
18 Atlanta, GA
19 Orange County, CA
20 MinneapolisSt. Paul, MN
21 Miami, FL
22 TampaSt. Petersburg, FL
23 Houston, TX
24 Washington, DC
25 Baltimore, MD
Note: 25 largest U.S. rental markets ranked from most to least pet-friendly based on # of rentals that allow pets, low pet fees, and plenty of nearby pet stores and services

Cats vs. Dogs: Landlords Friendlier to Cats

Nationally, landlords would rather hear a meow than a woof. Among the 25 largest rental markets, 20% of rentals explicitly allow cats, slightly more than the 18% that allow small dogs. Unfortunately, if you’ve got a St. Bernard or a Great Dane, you’re barking up the wrong tree: Nationwide, just 4% of rental listings say your big dog is welcome.

When we look at individual markets, Dallas comes out on top for rentals that allow cats and dogs of all sizes. Since 2013, over 60% of Trulia’s Dallas rental listings specifically allowed cats and small dogs, while 20% allowed large dogs. Chicago, Denver, Phoenix, and Portland also make the top 10 in these three categories, and they show landlords favoring cats over dogs and small dogs to large dogs.


Sheet 1

The “Hidden” Cost of Housing Your Pet

Finding a rental is just the first hurdle for pet owners. They may also have to fork out extra charges tacked on to the rent. These charges typically come in three forms: pet deposits, pet fees, and pet rents. What’s the difference? A pet deposit is a refundable fee paid upfront to the landlord on top of your regular rental deposit. A pet fee is similar, except it is not refundable. Pet rent is a monthly nonrefundable payment paid in addition to regular rent. The good news is that it’s very unlikely renters with pets would need to pay these fees. Less than 1% of the rental units listed on Trulia that allow pets specifically say they charge one or more of them. And, of all the rental units that impose pet fees, a whopping 78% charge only one. Just 22% charge two of these fees and less than 1% slam you with all three.


Washington, DC: The Capital of Pricey Pet Deposits, Fees, and Rents

Washington, DC, is first in war, first in peace, and first in extracting money from pet owners with a litany of extra fees. In our nation’s capital, the average pet deposit is over $350, the average pet fee is over $425, and the average pet rent is nearly $45 per month—all three of which tops each fee category. Only three other metros make the top 10 most expensive lists in each of these categories, but they aren’t nearly as expensive as Washington. Dallas has relatively high pet deposits and fees of $288 and $275 respectively, but relatively low monthly pet rents of $9; Baltimore has pet deposits and fees of $261 and $235, but relatively expensive pet rents of $35 per month; Portland, OR, is even lower in average pet deposits and fees, $247 and $184 respectively, while pet rents there average $10 per month. Meanwhile, of the 25 largest rental markets, several average close to zero because few listings include pet fees. These metros include Cambridge, MA, Newark, NJ, Boston, MA, Philadelphia, PA, and Orange County, CA.


Sheet 2

Does Muffy Need a Wash? Does Rover Want a Biscuit? Go West.

Like kids, our furry companions require lots of stuff. Finding a place to live that has abundant pet stores and services like vets, groomers, boarders, and dog walkers may be just as important as finding a pet-positive home.

Last year, Americans spent nearly $60 billion on pet supplies and services—everything from pet food to veterinary visits, grooming, and boarding. However, the concentration of these services varies significantly. To find the metros with the greatest density of pet-oriented businesses, we’ve tallied up every establishment tagged by Yelp in the pet category, including pet services, dog walkers, pet boarding, pet sitting, veterinarians, pet training, pet stores, pet groomers, and animal shelters.


Housing Markets with the Most Pet Stores and Services
# U.S. Metro Ratio of Pet Business per Household
1 San Diego, CA 1: 817
2 San Francisco, CA 1: 848
3 Seattle, WA 1: 891
4 Orange County, CA 1: 927
5 Portland, OR 1: 955
6 Oakland, CA 1: 978
7 Denver, CO 1: 997
8 Riverside-San Bernardino, CA 1: 1125
9 Los Angeles, CA 1: 1157
10 Cambridge, MA 1: 1170
Data Source: Yelp; Among the 25 largest rental markets

Once again, the West is top dog. Nine of the top 10 metros with the highest concentrations of pet businesses are either in Washington State, Oregon, California, or Arizona. San Diego tops the list with one pet business for every 817 households. San Francisco, Seattle, Orange County, CA, and Portland, OR round out the top five. The only metro outside the West that makes the list is the college town where Harvard and MIT are located, Cambridge, MA, which ranks tenth.

To sum it up, Dallas, TX is the place to be if you want to find a rental that takes pets. You’ll get dinged with the most expensive pet charges in Washington, DC. If you’re looking to live somewhere with lots of businesses catering to your furry companion, San Diego is the place to go. Overall, San Francisco and the rest of the West are paw-some, offering plenty of pet-friendly rentals, low fees, and lots of opportunities to buy stuff for your four-legged friend.