Americans are making moves. Despite economic uncertainty, home sales rose to a 14-year high in 2020, and the trend looks set to continue into the new year. According to Pew Research, one in five Americans have moved or know somebody who has due to the pandemic. Fido and his family are snapping up properties as soon as they hit the market for a variety of reasons, including companies going permanently remote, at-risk residents moving away from populous cities, and interest rates being at historic lows. We’ve taken key factors like liveability, growth, job opportunities and most importantly, pet-friendliness to create our list of the top 10 cities you and your pooch should consider if you’re planning on relocating in 2021.
Posted by Billy Francis
10. Charlotte, North Carolina
Like many other cities on this list, Charlotte rewards newcomers with an exciting job market, a flourishing economy and an excellent school system. Sports fans can cheer on local teams like the Hornets and Panthers, and watch their favorite NASCAR drivers at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Active pups can get their adrenaline pumping at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. This outdoor adventure hub offers kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding down the scenic Catawba River. After your trip, towel off and head to The Dog Bar, located in the NoDa Arts District. Sit, stay and drink in the climate-controlled indoor area. Continue your bar crawl at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, home to the largest biergarten in the southeast.
Spend the night downtown at Le Meridien Charlotte while you and Fido decide if you want to become Charlotteans.
9. Huntsville, Alabama
Whether it’s the economy and diverse job market, low housing prices and cost of living, or the best schools in the state, Huntsville is hopping these days. Fly into Rocket City for job opportunities with numerous leading aerospace organizations, including NASA and Boeing, but touch down for the food, affordability and 5-star pet-friendly attractions. Walking is never boring in Huntsville, and there’s a trek for every taste. Out-and-out hikers can take a tour of Alabama’s diverse backcountry on more than 14 miles of trails at Monte Sano State Park, while art lovers might prefer the sculptures at Big Spring Park. Wherever you decide to stroll, make sure you hang out with your hound at Humphrey's Bar and Grill’s delightful courtyard afterwards.
Get a taste for the Huntsville housing market with a few nights at this lovely old bungalow with a huge fenced yard.
8. Portland, Maine
Dogs who love the feel of cobblestones under their paws should consider a move to Portland, Maine. First settled in 1632, the formerly bustling port city is attracting a new generation of transplants who don’t need their sea legs to prosper. Portland is affordable, safe, adorable, and small enough for Fido to feel like a big fish in a little pond. Start your tour of the city by water with a “Sunrise on the Bay” cruise from Casco Bay Lines. “Land-puppers” can then head to Hadlock Field to cheer on the aptly named Portland Sea Dogs at their annual Bark in the Park event. Give your pooch the runaround at Quarry Run Dog Park, a 7-acre fenced park full of winding trails and open grassy space. After a game of fetch, stop by the Portland Lobster Company to enjoy a classic Maine lobster roll, then head to one of the city’s many pet-friendly breweries to sample a New England IPA.
Rest, recuperate and discuss relocating at Residence Inn by Marriott Portland Downtown/Waterfront.
7. Boise, Idaho
Located in Treasure Valley, you and your pooch could find your fortune in Idaho’s capital of Boise. Over the past few years, this flourishing city has enjoyed high economic, wage and employment growth. Despite this, it maintains its welcoming small-town feel and community spirit. It’s also home to the best schools in the state, has easy access to Idaho’s stunning backcountry, and is a “pawsome” place for dogs to live. Boise has ample hiking opportunities, but none are more popular than Table Rock Trail. This moderate climb features blooming wildflower displays in the spring and features an overlook of the valley below. Cultured canines can get their steps in and a taste for Boise’s buzzing art scene with a stroll along Freak Alley Gallery. Before you finish your fact-finding trip, swing by Westside Drive-in, a delicious local hangout for more than 60 years.
The Riverside Hotel offers pet-friendly rooms with fenced outdoor spaces and river views, the ideal location to decide where Fido’s future lies.
6. Austin, Texas
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Austin has been one of the top five fastest growing cities over the past decade. Drawn to the tech jobs, incredible food and vibrant music scene, newcomers think this laid-back city is “alright, alright, alright.” Austin is just as inviting for four-legged residents. Zilker Park Boat Rentals offers a pet-friendly scenic float with magnificent views of the city skyline. Back on dry land, local pups can while away the weekend at Zilker Botanical Gardens, which showcases a diverse selection of plant life from around the world. Another popular spot among Austin’s ever-growing canine community is Red Bud Isle. Located on a peninsula surrounded by water on three sides, this off-leash swimming spot is always bustling. More fun can be found at Yard Bar, a hip restaurant with a dog park attached.
Have a deep chat with your dog about shipping out to Austin at South Congress Hotel.
5. Tampa, Florida
Thanks to waterfront renovations, urban redevelopment and ever-expanding job opportunities, Tampa has seen an impressive resurgence in recent years. From Ybor City’s bustling nightlife to nearby Saint Petersburg’s up-and-coming food scene, the Tampa Bay area is the place to be if you and your pooch are considering a move to the Sunshine State.
As a future Floridian, Fido will want to know where to go to get his paws sandy. Picnic Island Beach Dog Park combines the best bits of a dog park with a day at the beach. Afterwards, get a feel for the city at Hyde Park Village, one of Tampa's premium shopping districts. You’ll find pet cleanup stations throughout, and many shops and restaurants with water and treats at the front door. Wrap up your day by getting to know the “paw-trons” at Two Shepherds Taproom, Tampa's first fully air-conditioned indoor/outdoor dog park and bar.
Enjoy the city’s vibrant energy at Aloft Tampa Downtown.
4. Sedona, Arizona
Surrounded by unique red rock formations that once provided the backdrop for a whole host of Western movies, there’s nowhere on the planet quite like Sedona. This spiritual spot is said to be home to many vortex sites, where the earth's energy is increased and residents receive a dose of self-awareness and inner healing. If you’re a skeptic, the small city still exudes a strong sense of community and a welcoming attitude toward four-legged residents. Add outdoor activities, great schools, a comfortable climate and stunning homes that blend into the natural surroundings, and you might be ready to call the movers! Embark on a grand tour of Fido’s future stomping grounds with A Day in the West Jeep Tours, or explore the red rocks on foot via Little Horse Trail. After your adventure, sample the local cuisine on the most pet-friendly patio in town at Creekside American Bistro. The dog menu includes cheddar omelet with chicken jerky, venison stew, steak tartare and dog cookies.
Sky Rock Inn Of Sedona offers guests stunning views of the rock formations that have helped put Sedona on the map.
3. Seattle, Washington
Seattle is home to tech giants like Amazon, which is part of the reason why economic growth and job opportunities remain high. It also explains Seattle having the third-highest population growth nationwide between 2014 and 2019. Fido will be pleased to know the home of grunge and the birthplace of the Puppuccino is one of the most pet-friendly cities in the U.S., too. Warren G. Magnuson Park Off-Leash Dog Area is an epic dog park just a short drive from downtown. While you’re at the park, keep a nose out for The Seattle Barkery in their colorful canine food truck. For a bird’s-eye view of your future home, take a Seattle Scenic Seaplane Tour with Kenmore Air together, and then sample one of the West Coast’s most happening food scenes with Hawaiian brunch on the pet-friendly patio at Super Six.
Share notes with your best friend in the cozy surroundings of Kimpton Alexis Hotel while you decide if you want to become Seattleites.
2. Bend, Oregon
With an average commute of under 15 minutes and ample opportunities to explore outside, you can see why millennials are flocking to Bend. Wallethub ranks it as the second-fastest growing city in the U.S., due in part to a flourishing economy. The picturesque downtown has a river running through it, and offers access to a variety of pet-friendly dining, activities and lodging. Take a hike along the Deschutes River Trail, or venture farther afield into the high desert surroundings of nearby Smith Rock State Park. Bend is also home to a bounty of pet-friendly breweries along the Bend Ale Trail, like 10 Barrel Brewing Company. If Fido’s a water dog, navigate the river on a self-guided kayak tour of the Old Mill District or the Cascade Lakes with Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe, or make a splash at Riverbend Beach Dog Park.
McMenamins Old St. Francis School is home to a pet-friendly brewery in the basement, where you can enjoy a brew and wonder how quickly you can move to Bend.
1. Boulder, Colorado
The People's Republic of Boulder is the place to be in 2021. First, you can check excellent public schools and ample job opportunities in a variety of sectors off Fido’s moving list. Located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, this small city within a park is also a gateway to the “grrreat” outdoors. Bring Fido for a dip at Boulder Reservoir, hike the beautiful Flatirons Vista and Doudy Draw Trail, or meet the local canine community at Foothills Community Dog Park. You can even sign your pup up for a Boulder Voice and Sight Tag for off-leash access to designated trails. With 300 days of sunshine a year, there’s plenty of time for outbound hounds to experience all that Boulder has to offer. In the summer, the free Park-to-Park shuttle welcomes dogs on board.
If you’re visiting Boulder to decide whether it’s the right fit, Foot of the Mountain Motel is the city in a nutshell. Enjoy its quaint welcoming vibe, mountain views and a park on the doorstep.