Best pets for students: An overview and tips for making a decision

Written by Kerstin Lakits, Feb 24, 2022

Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish or birds – pets can enrich our lives and brighten our daily life. As a student, you ask yourself which pet is perfect for you? Then this is for you! We show you what you have to keep in mind and present you the best animal companions for students with all the advantages and disadvantages. Let’s go!

Decision making

Whether you should get a pet, is a hard decision. Every animal deserves a great home and loving owner. Therefore, there are some aspects to consider before you choose an animal companion. Now we want to look at these aspects.

1. Costs

Pets cost money and often times it’s underestimated how expensive pets can be. Therefore, your first question should be: “Can I even afford a pet?”. Costs can be divided in acquisition and maintenance costs.

Acquisition costs:

  • Pet (animal shelter, breeder, pet shop…)
  • Habitat (cage, terrarium, aquarium…)
  • Supplies and accessories (food bowl, transport box, toys, leash, collar, sleeping cushion, litter, cat toilette…)

Maintenance costs:

  • Food (dry food, fresh food, treats…)
  • Vet visits (regular check-ups, vaccinations, injuries, illnesses…)
  • Possibly insurances and taxes (liability insurance, dog taxes…)

Acquisition costs vary a lot. For example, pets from a breeder are much more expensive than animals from an animal shelter. Depending on the animal and race, the maintenance costs may vary as well. Keep in mind that the maintenance costs arise monthly.

2. Living situation

Next you should think about your living situation and if it can accommodate a pet. Are pets even allowed in your apartment or student dormitory? Often (big) pets are not permitted. But there are exceptions, in the STUWO dormitory Dückegasse Vienna and Smart Living Graz your pets are welcome. Even if pets are allowed in your apartment or student dormitory, you should ask yourself if your pet would be happy there and has enough space. For example, a small apartment is not made for a husky.

3. Time

Most of all, your animals need you, your time and your attention. How much your pet needs, partially also depends on the kind of animal. Dogs need more attention than fish. Therefore, you should ask yourself how much time you want to invest in your pet. An animal is not a pretty accessory, but a living being that needs love and attention.

4. Pet-sitter?

Who takes care of your pet, if you want to go on vacation or spend all day at university? Talk to your family, your friends and your flat-mates beforehand, if somebody wants to take care of your pet when you aren’t home all day or several days. Worst case, there are also special animal pensions and professional pet-sitters, which can take care of your pet in your absence.

5. Interactions and excursions

Lastly you should also ask yourself how much you want to do with your pet. If you want to go on long hikes with your animal companions, then a dog would be the right choice. Cats are perfect for intense cuddle sessions. Reptiles, birds and fish are good for making your home more lively because they usually stay in their cages and limited habitats and brighten up your apartment from there.

How can I find the perfect pet?

Please remember that pets aren’t decoration or toys. They are living beings that deserves a loving and species-appropriate life. But if you can offer your pet the optimal living conditions, then there is nothing stopping you from getting a pet.

After making sure that you can afford a pet financially and time-wise, you should think about which type of animal is appropriate for your living situation. The rest is up to you: Pick a breed and look for offers in animal shelters, pet shops or breeders.

Before making a definite decision, you should also inform yourself about the correct keeping and care and then prepare your home for the new animal.

Pets for students

It can be difficult for students to find an appropriate pet because the environment is often times not ideal. Neither money nor time are normally available in abundance. However, you don’t automatically have to renounce a pet. Here are types of animals that, depending on your living circumstances, can be appropriate for students.


Approx. acquisition costs: 250-500€

Approx. monthly costs: 90-100€

Dogs are man’s best friend. They are incredibly intelligent, loyal and playful. Dogs are perfect for everybody who wants to spend a lot of time with their pet and go through thick and thin. You shouldn’t leave your dog alone for more than max. four hours. Some breeds are more patient than others. But you should definitely make time for going on a walk three time a day. Your dog will be with you for the next 10-15 years. You need a dog handler license for some breeds in some states. Moreover, there are dog taxes in Austria (depending on the county, between 7 and 100€ yearly).


  • Loyal companion
  • Motivation to move
  • A lot of interaction


  • A lot of time required (a lot of interaction, going for walks…)
  • Dog training and school (house-trained, training, tricks…)
  • High costs (dog taxes and liability insurance…)
  • Dog handler license
  • Smell and dirt (dog hair, animal smell, wear of furniture…)


Approx. acquisition costs: 200-400€

Approx. monthly costs: 60-80€

Not only dogs, but cats are also really popular pets. Cats are especially fitting for people who prefer to cuddle with their pet at home than go hiking in nature. Cats can sometimes be a bit moody, but they warm our heart with their playful and cuddly nature. If you’re not at home throughout the day, your cat will seek a sunny place to relax. Cats can get up to 20 years old.


  • Loner (alone throughout the day, single-housed animal…)
  • Cuddle sessions
  • Very clean (cat toilette, cat’s laundry…)


  • Cat toilette (smell, cleaning…)
  • Smell and dirt (animal smell, cat hair, wear of furniture…)

Bunnies, guinea pigs and more

Approx. acquisition costs: 70-160€

Approx. monthly costs: 17-57€

Bunnies, guinea pigs and the like will quickly nibble their way into your heart. With their long ears or fluffy fur, bunnies and guinea pigs will get you on their side. While bunnies enjoy living outside (stable + open enclosure), guinea pigs are very content with a cage in your warm apartment. However, the social rodents cannot be kept alone (at least two) because even your presence cannot replace that of a partner. Bunnies get between 6 and 14 years, guinea pigs only live 4 to 8 years. Apart from the food from the pet store, your rodents are also happy about your organic waste like carrots, cucumbers, salad…


  • Less time-consuming
  • Cage or stable keeping (not a lot of dirt or wear in the apartment…)
  • No noise


  • Cannot be kept alone (at least 2 animals)
  • Cleaning the stable
  • Feed multiple times a day


Approx. acquisition costs: 300-500€

Approx. monthly costs: 30-50€

Geckos, lizards, snakes and the like are especially popular because they live among themselves pretty well and don’t need much attention – so perfect if you are at university the whole day. Reptiles also provoke admiration from your guest. Depending on the species, reptile get 10 to 20 years old.


  • Easy care
  • Not time-consuming
  • Exotic eye-catcher


  • Little interaction
  • High energy costs for the terrarium


Approx. acquisition costs: 200-350€

Approx. monthly costs: 5-20€

Budgies, zebra finches, canaries and many other bird species are also very popular pets. Because of their easy keeping and low cost, birds make particularly good pets for students. However, your birds need enough time and space for daily excursions in your apartment. The apartment should therefore not be too small or too low. Your bird will delight you with its happy chirping for the next 10-15 years. With enough patience and time, you can even teach your bird tricks.


  • Happy and uplifting pets
  • Easy keeping
  • Amaze you with tricks


  • Noise and dirt
  • No cuddling
  • Wear of furniture


Approx. acquisition costs: 80-120€

Approx. monthly costs: 10-20€

Fish are the most undemanding and easiest pets. The often colourful water animals as well as their aquariums can be really beautiful accessories for your apartment. Taking care of fish is quite simple and apart from the daily feeding there is not much to do. Depending on the species, fish can even get older than 4 and up to 8 years old.


  • Aquarium
  • Easy care
  • Low costs


  • Little interaction
  • Cleaning and service of aquarium

Easy keeping

Some animal species are easier to take care of than others. While dogs need a lot of care and attention, fish and reptiles are very undemanding animals. In this table we have all the important aspects in comparison for you.

Food & WaterMovement & Free runningCleaningPlay & TrainingAnimal hygiene
Dogsmin. 2x daily3-5x daily walks2h dailywhen dirty, shorten claws (3 weeks)
Catsmin. 2x dailymove freelycat toilette (1x daily)min. 30 min dailywash max. 2x a year
Rodentsmin. 2x dailyfree running enclosurestable (1-2x weekly)approx. 1h dailyshorten claws (3-12 weeks)
Birdsmin. 1x dailydaily 2h free flyingcage (1x weekly)training
Fish1x dailyaquarium glass regularly (big cleaning once a year)
Reptilsapprox. 1-2x weeklyterrarium (1x weekly)

Hopefully all this information make your decision if and what pet you should get easier. Maybe a cute little animal brightens your student life soon. Here are some tips for travelling with a pet!

We wish you a lot of fun with your new animal!


We are happy to help!