Australia has one of the world’s highest rates of pet ownership. So it’s no surprise that many Australians want to bring their beloved companion animals when they move into a retirement community.
Although keeping a pet is an expense, many studies have shown that pets also help to keep our minds and bodies healthy. This is because they help to keep us mobile and active, and also assist with mental stimulation and social cohesion.
The good news is that, if you want to find and research pet-friendly retirement communities, you’ve come to the right spot.
During 2019, our website supported around 26,000 consumer searches for pet-friendly communities.
In addition, over the course of the year, a total of 4,653 pet-friendly properties were listed on the website.
To find a pet-friendly property, follow these three simple steps:
- Click this link, which provides a list of all pet-friendly properties across Australia
- Enter your preferred suburb at the top of the page, and then press Search, to narrow the search results
- Lodge an email inquiry with your preferred community, asking them about their pet policy.
Rules for pets in retirement communities
In general, retirement villages, residential land lease communities and aged care facilities, have their own policies relating to the keeping of pets.
These policies are typically included in the rule book for the community or village. You should ask for this before signing any contract.
For instance, in NSW, residential land lease communities may choose to adopt the NSW Government-supplied model community rules, or adopt their own different rules.
The government’s model rules state that all pets in a land lease community must be desexed and dogs must be kept on a leash on common areas. In addition, the rules state that cats must be kept inside after dark and must wear a collar and bell at all times. There are also rules about cleaning up after your pet, and ensuring your pet does not cause a nuisance through excessive barking.
Also, in NSW, under the Retirement Village Act, retirement villages can create pet policies as part of site-by-site village rules. Village rules created under this legislation apply to units owned under a leasehold or licence arrangement.
Meanwhile, in South Australia, you must be provided with a copy of a retirement village’s residence rules before you enter into a contract. These rules are required to address pet issues.
Rules relating to pets for freehold general downsizer-friendly residential properties, including apartments, villas and townhouses, can be imposed by the relevant owner’s corporation. You should be aware of these rules, if they exist, before moving in.
Emergency pet care at NSW Central Coast retirement village
A NSW Central Coast retirement village last year developed a new volunteer program which, among other things, helps to support pet ownership among the village’s 450 residents.
Retire Australia’s Glengara Retirement Village has a team of 20 volunteers as part of its Good Neighbour Program.
These volunteers arrange care for pets when their owners are unwell.
They also undertake other activities including welcoming new residents, arranging internal village transport to social events and delivering books and DVDs from the village’s library to residents’ doors.
Program chairwoman Cathy Aird said she had been thrilled with the response to the initiative, from the enthusiasm of the volunteers to the positive feedback from within the community.
“We have been overwhelmed, for instance, with the number of people coming forward to volunteer for emergency pet care, as well as people just coming up and saying what a good thing the program is,’’ Mrs Aird said.
“Our aim is to make people feel welcome and part of the community, including those who are new to the village, by simply offering the hand of friendship.
“It’s about bringing people together and we are already excited about expanding our services.’’