When Lindsay Ford and her boyfriend, Domenic Riley, moved to Indianapolis last summer and started looking for someplace to live, they were concerned about more than just square footage, location and rent.
Their choice also hinged on who could best accommodate their dogs—Riley’s 10-year-old blue heeler, Maggie, and Ford’s 1-year-old Pembroke Welsh corgi, named Cooper.
“If pets weren’t welcome, that definitely was a deterrent for us,” said Ford, who is 23. “We don’t have kids; we have our dogs. We treat our animals as if they’re human beings, and I feel like that’s kind of how my generation is right now. I needed a place that accommodates our pets.
“I wouldn’t leave my kid behind if I moved,” she said, “so why would I do that to my dog?”
The digs they picked are pet-friendly with a capital P. The couple and their dogs live at Avant Apartments in Carmel’s Old Meridian District, in a ground-floor, two-bedroom apartment with a small, fenced yard where Maggie and Cooper can relax unleashed. But there’s also a half-acre private dog park and a “pet spa” (a dog wash area that can accommodate everything from a Chihuahua to a Great Dane).
“They have plenty of dog-friendly amenities,” Ford said. “And their dog park was one of the biggest we saw.”
The fact that the couple saw a lot of private dog parks at the places they visited illustrates that providing pet accommodations has become a top priority for apartment complexes seeking younger tenants. The American Pet Products Association found in a survey that 73% of millennials own at least one pet, and 33% of millennials’ home-buying decisions are driven chiefly by the needs of their animals.
The trend is so powerful that new-home construction is also seeing an uptick in pet-friendly perks.
Thank the pandemic for supercharging what was an already-growing trend. COVID sent millions of people in search of furry friends to share lockdown with—friends who are now integral parts of their owners’ lives.
Apartment complexes old and new are dropping “no pets” policies, scaling back other animal-related restrictions, and going all-in for on-site dog parks and washing stations. Indeed, the Indianapolis rental scene has become so aggressively pet-positive that the Virginia-based real estate company Homes.com named Indy the second-most pet-friendly U.S. city, with 62.1% of area residential rental properties allowing pets.