These Are the 10 Best Animals for Apartment Living

published Jul 4, 2022
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Credit: Erin Derby

As someone who’s had a lot of dogs in a lot of apartments, I can tell you one thing for sure: It isn’t easy. From picky landlords to potential damage, dogs — for as cute and loving as they are — might even make it more difficult for you to find a place to live.

With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of the 10 best animals for apartments. These are the ones you typically won’t need to worry about during the day, and who will generally be quiet for your neighbors.


Talk about low maintenance! For most types of fish, you just need to put them in an aquarium, sit back, and watch them swim around. Obviously you’ll need to feed them and clean the tank, but for easy-to-care-for pets, fish are the top of the list. Plus, you can decorate their swimming space with all sorts of fun stuff to show off your (and your fish’s) personality.


In addition to being desperately adorable, chinchillas are pretty clean and don’t really have much of a smell. You also don’t need a ton of space: A single one can be kept in a cage that’s about two feet by two feet — just make sure it’s tall so they can enjoy the space. Chinchillas are playful, so don’t forget to take them out every day and play with them. It’ll be easy for those of you with full-time office jobs, too. They’re nocturnal so they’ll sleep all day while you’re working.


For your cat, you’ll need a litter box, a place for them to eat, and some toys — but the size of your apartment can be relatively small, especially if you use your vertical space wisely. “While they do need room to explore and play, this space can easily be created vertically with hanging seats and shelves,” says Jodi Farbish, Common’s chief move-in officer. “Plus, cats feel safe in small enclosed spaces.” They’re also pretty talented at amusing themselves.


Don’t be put off by the idea of owning a rat. They’re actually incredibly intelligent and love to cuddle and form bonds with their owners. Rats are also pretty clean and don’t need a ton of engagement — though that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still take them out of their (relatively small) cages and play with them.

Credit: Samara Vise


If you have children in your apartment, a hamster is a great choice. They clean, they don’t shed, and they’re generally hypoallergenic. (Some kids and adults may have allergies to the bedding choice, though, so be sure to double check.) Hamsters also don’t need a ton of space, but if you wanted to build a hamster trail around your entire apartment, no one would stop you. Just saying.


Which bird you get should depends on the size of your apartment. You’ll need a cage, and they get bigger for bigger birds. So if your apartment is smaller, aim for a small bird like a parakeet or a cockatiel. You’ll need to get a good amount of toys for them because birds are naturally curious and problem-solvers. Generally, though, they can entertain themselves in their cages most of the day while you’re at work.


If you want a sociable small animal that you can let roam around your apartment all day, but don’t want a dog or cat, a rabbit might be the way to go. Just make sure you pick up stray cords and keep them away from carpeting, because they love to chew on things. Rabbits can be litter trained and don’t make a ton of noise, and they groom themselves regularly — so it won’t be a major intrusion on apartment life.


Ferrets are quiet, small, and nocturnal, but they love to play. They’ll be fine while you’re gone for work, and then you can have endless fun together when you get home. But keep in mind that ferrets also have a tendency to get into trouble by hiding in places they shouldn’t. Be prepared to keep a watchful eye on your pet when they’re out of their cage to make sure they stay safe.

Guinea Pig

Just like hamsters, these are great pets to get if you have both an apartment and children. They do make noise, but it’s not loud enough to be bothersome to neighbors. They’re also friendly and social and love time outside their cages. You can let them roam around your apartment with supervision.

Credit: Samara Vise


For lizards, the habitat takes a bit more work and expense — you need to get special lighting and food like crickets or mealworms. But once all that’s taken care of, they’re relatively low maintenance. They like to bask in the UV light and don’t care as much about being social as other pets. Plus, they’re quiet.