According to a new study, a welcome mat for pets is the number one must-have for Queenslanders considering retirement living.

A survey of more than 750 Queenslanders aged over 45 found that allowing pets in retirement homes was more important than access to on-site health care, Wi-Fi technology, a garden or exercise facilities.

The survey coincides with controversial reforms proposed for Queensland’s strata laws, including a super-law restricting pets.

Elements Retirement Living village developer, Chiou See Anderson says banning pets was a bad idea.

“Numerous studies have proven the health and happiness benefits that come with owning a pet, not just for older people but for all ages,” she says.

“Banning pets through body corporate laws will be bad for unit sales and re-sale values. But retirees and their best friends are welcome at Elements.”

“I believe so strongly in allowing pets, I went to Queensland’s planning and environment court to overturn a council ban.

“More than half the residents at Elements Retirement Living, our village at Springwood south of Brisbane, have at least one pet. We have dogs, cats, birds – you name it.”

And that’s exactly why Geoff and Julie Ferguson moved into Elements.

“It was a top priority for us,” Julie says.

“We have two Tenterfield Terriers, Lily and Ruby, and when we first considered retiring here animals weren’t allowed because of government regulations, so we stayed put.”

“But when approval was given to allow pets we changed our minds too and moved in.”

Neighbour Margaret McGee was one of the first residents to move to Elements three-and-a-half years ago, and brought her two rescue cats, Pippa and Demelza.

“I simply would not have come if they weren’t welcome,” Margaret says.

“People that have pets are very close to them and at this stage of your life they are like substitute children. It’s very important to have them with me.”

Chiou See says pets are known to reduce stress levels, speed up recovery after an illness, and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

“The savings to our health and aged care systems are priceless.”

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