A New Home for Fido…And the Rest of the Family

Anyone who owns a pet knows: a pet is family. And when you’re the parent of a pet and considering a move, you want to be sure your new home and neighbourhood are pet-friendly.

Start by Googling pet-friendly neighbourhoods. A million sites appear with blogs, maps, and articles to help you find your way. Studies show that bringing pets to work improves productivity and decreases sick time; and studies prove that pets increase longevity and decrease the effects of chronic illnesses. Other benefits include community forums, neighbourhood pet parties, pet chat rooms, and even pet-friendly dating services.

Most of these can be excellent information sources. But when it comes to the actual living space, you may want to consider a few questions. Are there too many stairs for an elderly pet to climb? Too many rugs to keep clean and hair-free? Or are the floors too slippery for a pet’s comfort? Is there easy access to a safe, fenced-in play space? Safe routes for a long, leisurely walk?

When you’re satisfied the living space is appropriate, check out the local ordinances and, if you’re condo-bound, read the homeowners association rules, which may limit the number, species, or size of pets.

To be sure Fluffy or Fido is in a healthy environment, investigate the municipal codes, including vaccination and licensing requirements; local animal control service websites are good places to start.

Then, take yourself for a walk.

In a recent article in RISMedia, author Drake Ernest suggests you search for signs the neighbourhood welcomes furry family members. Are there dog-friendly restaurants? Do shopkeepers keep doggie water bowls out in the summer and welcome the well-behaved pooch into their stores? Are there nearby veterinary services, cat sitters, dog walkers, an off-leash dog park?

Once you’ve done your homework, you can be sure your new home will be right for all your family members.

Us, Them & the Housing Market

The way things have been going, Torontonians and Vancouverites can’t be blamed for thinking housing markets are hot across the country. But according to several reports, “it ain’t necessarily so.”

Sure, the Toronto market is facing a record 2015, and Vancouver continues to post double-digit sales increases, but markets in many parts of Canada are moving at a different speed.

And as RBC’s senior economist Robert Hogue told The Globe and Mail earlier this year: “This sort of two-speed, if not multispeed, market is likely to be the central theme for the year.”

So how are other cities faring? Here are just a few examples: Resale markets in Alberta and Saskatchewan have indeed been weakened by the dramatic drop in oil prices, and Calgary, in particular, has suffered greatly from the rapid decline in prices.

In Montreal, real estate prices have been in a long-term slump, thanks to an over-supply of housing of all types, but activity has begun to stabilize. Even luxury properties are selling well in the city. Prices remain stagnant throughout Atlantic Canada. In Halifax, sales dropped to a 17-year low, thanks to a sudden increase in listings that seriously unbalanced the supply and demand pattern.

This picture may not change anytime soon. In a recent Globe and Mail article, BMO senior economist Sal Guatieri noted: “Strong demand from international migrants and young millennials, an influx of foreign wealth, and low mortgage rates are driving the two markets (Toronto and Vancouver).” And, so far, that’s not likely to change, either.