Growing up, we all watched countless movies and TV shows that showed us how great it is to have a pet. Some of us even had pets growing up and we know that owning a pet can be a great support system when other parts of life aren't going so splendidly.
One thing that our experiences never taught us is that owning a pet is really hard. You have to feed them, bathe them, take them to the vet; all things that cost you time and money. How easy your life with your pet is, is largely determined by where you live.
This article will highlight the 10 best cities to live with Spot and 10 that are frankly not ideal at all.
Whether consciously or by accident, each city on this list has taken a major stand on pets. This isn't to say that pets are excluded or totally accepted in these cities. The factors that I looked at to make this article are 1) how easy it is to find housing when you have a pet, 2) Which places your pets allowed in and 3) any restrictions placed on pet ownership.
20 Best - Ideal for pets more than humans (Detroit)
Sometimes there are advantages to living in a city that is in disrepair. When the industrial boom of the mid-20th century ended, it sent shockwaves through the part of the country known as the Rust Belt. Unemployment became terrible in cities like Detroit, leading many impoverished workers to move away from the city.
Since this time, Detroit's population has been steadily declining, leading to a surplus in available housing. Because tenants are a premium in the city, landlords cannot afford to discriminate against people with pets. This has made for a very pet friendly situation in Detroit. Some businesses have made their stores pet friendly to take advantage of this situation.
19 Worst - You Can’t Have Everything In the Big Apple (New York)
There are a lot of bad things about housing in New York City. Because the city's population is so huge and its land mass is so small, there are not enough apartments to house all the city's residents. This has led to major problems of homelessness as well as undersized and overpriced apartments.
It is very hard to find an affordable apartment in New York City. It is even harder when you own a pet.
Landlords in New York City know that there are a dozen people waiting to get into their apartment at any given time. Therefore, they are under no pressure to rent to someone with pets if they decide that they don’t want to take the risk.
18 Best - Seattle (Affordable Pet Housing)
Seattle is a very liberal city. The city government has their faults (just like that of any major city) but it seems like they have a genuine appreciation for the things that people need, not only to survive, but to make their lives enjoyable.
A perfect example of this is how accommodating the city is to people with pets. It is very hard to find housing in Seattle but certain laws and programs have made it so that owning a pet does not make the task of finding an apartment appreciatively harder. Hopefully this doesn’t change as Seattle becomes more overcrowded.
17 Worst - Careful With Your Pets In Appalachia (Louisville)
I was kind of surprised to see how bad life is for pets in Louisville, Kentucky. I lived for a number of years in the western portion of West Virginia and I thought that I was familiar with Appalachian culture.
In West Virginia, everyone has pets. It is very easy to get an apartment with pets and there are tons of shops that cater to pet owners. This is not the case in Louisville. The city has almost no pet infrastructure and it is apparently very hard to get an apartment with a cat or dog.
16 Best - The Hipsters In Portland Love Their Pets
For all of Portland's faults (and there are a lot), the city is a very nice place to live for people with pets. For starters, the city has put some regulations in place that make it very hard for landlords to refuse you merely for having a pet.
Now that you have a place for you and your pet to live, you can enjoy the several pet destinations within the city. It seems like there is a dog park on every block in Portland and there are also these things called “cat cafes”. Essentially, they are restaurants that have a separate section where you can hang out with cats.
15 Worst - Indianapolis Purposefully Excluding Pets
There seems to be a conscious decision in Indianapolis to make the city unfriendly to pets. There are several regulations in place that make it very hard for someone with pets to find housing in the city. In addition to this (or perhaps because of this), there isn’t a lot of things for pets in the city. This includes a noticeable lack of pet supplies in the local grocery stores.
This has been noticed by several Indiana newspapers. The state as a whole is very pet friendly, so it is odd that a large city like Indianapolis would be so anti-pet.
14 Best - Pittsburgh, Parks, and Pets
I have lived in several different cities across the United States and I can attest that there are some cities that make you feel like you are still living in a small town. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is one of those cities. Despite being one of the largest cities in the Ohio River Valley, Pittsburgh gives off a small town feel that is unlike anything that I have witnessed in another major city.
I think part of it has to do with the rivers, which separate the city and make each individual neighborhood feel like its own community. Part of this small-town atmosphere is the city’s acceptance of dogs. It isn’t hard to find a pet friendly apartment in Pittsburgh and there are several restaurants throughout the city that allow you to bring your animals.
13 Worst - The Historical Limitation of Pets In London
In the 21st century we have gotten used to cities being overcrowded. Technological advancements like high rises and modern sewers have made it possible for huge numbers of people to live in close contact with one another without succumbing to disease.
This wasn’t always the case. There was a time when London, England was so overcrowded that the standard of living in the city was almost unbearable. If there wasn’t enough room for people, there certainly wasn’t enough room for pets. This anti-pet stance has bled into modern London. The city is not very accommodating to pets and having certain animals can make it very hard for you to get an apartment.
12 Best - Colorado Springs Becoming Noteworthy
It seems like Colorado Springs has been in the news a lot lately. I recently read a book about a police officer from Colorado Springs who infiltrated the KKK in the 1970s, and now Colorado Springs gets to be one of the best cities for pets.
Colorado Springs is relatively close to Denver, the biggest city in Colorado, but it is distinct enough that it has not yet adopted a big city feel. Colorado Springs is often ranked as one of the best cities to live in the United States and its pet friendliness is a big part of this.
11 Worst - Harsh Pet Restrictions in Riyadh
Most of the pet restrictions that you will find in this article are burdensome but I don’t think that any are as harsh as the ones in our next entry.
In 2008, Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, banned selling dogs as pets.
Some Islamic scholars had argued that dogs were impure. The political apparatus of the city (which has always been closely tied to Islam) decided that dogs were at fault for the behavior of some men in the city.
10 Best - Boston Pours Money Into Pet Stuff
I think Boston proves that a city can have a troublesome housing situation and still be pet friendly. Finding an apartment in Boston is hard, and having a dog certainly doesn’t make it any easier. Aside from finding an apartment, however, Boston is a very pet friendly city.
Almost every neighborhood has its own dog park and in the most progressive parts of the city there are stores and restaurants allowing dogs to accompany visitors.
If this isn’t enough, the laws of the city are very pet friendly. The only drawback is that you have to register your dog with the city which costs about $20 a year.
9 Worst - Dangerous Living For Pets In Hong Kong
This is certainly one of the most severe entries on this list. In 2014 and 2015, there was a serious problem in Hong Kong of people's pets disappearing from their home. The public seemed especially concerned about this recent pattern of activity.
Eventually it was discovered that a large gang was stealing the pets for two reasons; 1) to sell the valuable animals to people in other countries on the black market and 2) to sell the 'non-valuable' dogs to local butcher shops.
8 Best - There Are Pets Everywhere In Beijing
This next entry comes down to what you mean by best. If by best you mean places where there are dog parks and lots of nice things for you and your pets to do, then Beijing probably isn’t the best pet city. But if by best you mean a place where all sorts of pets are generally accepted, then the capital city of China is perfect.
Owning pets in other countries isn’t like owning pets in the United States. For many countries, animals roam the streets and are kind of just there. It isn’t like in the U.S. where people treat dogs and cats like they are their kids. In Beijing, you cannot go a block without seeing someone's pet wandering solo.
7 Worst - The Lincoln Let Down
When I began compiling this list, I assumed that most of the cities that were bad for pets would be large cities on the east and west coast. Lincoln, Nebraska shows that my assumption was (at least partially) wrong.
Lincoln might be one of the largest cities in the Midwest but it is nowhere near as large as places like Chicago and Boston, where pets are appreciated.
In Lincoln, owning a pet will cost you an average of $300 a month in additional rent. This has dissuaded most of the population from owning pets, so things like dog parks are few and far between in the city.
6 Best - Pet Heaven In the City By the Bay (San Francisco)
The price of rent may be sky high in San Francisco but at least your pets will be happy there. Of all the entries on this list, this is the one that has been picked up by most other publications. Everyone knows that San Francisco is a great city for people with pets and because everyone knows this, more and more people who have pets have flocked to the city.
In response to this pet migration, city officials have increased the number of pet infrastructure projects.
It is a vicious cycle of pet love that makes San Francisco one of the best cities in the world for animal lovers.
5 Worst - Paris, Maybe Because The Eiffel Tower Looks Like A Fire Hydrant
I have never been a big fan of Paris but I never fully turned against the capital city of France until I heard about how hard it was to live in this city with pets.
The housing agreements are very restrictive in Paris and if you have more than one pet, you can forget about finding an apartment in the nicer parts of the city. If this wasn't bad enough, the city has never caught on to the whole dog park thing. There aren't very many pet friendly things to do in the city, making it very hard for you to have fun with your pets.
4 Best - Austin Loves Pets
I was not surprised to see Austin, Texas on this list. I have never been to the hometown of the University of Texas but everything that I have heard about the city makes me think that it would be very pet friendly. We think of Texas as a deep south state but some major cities in the Lonestar State are very progressive.
Austin combines this with a very young population and you can see the cool culture that has been created. Austin has a huge pet infrastructure and actually boasts one of the biggest dog parks in the country.
3 Worst - No Vets In (San Antonio) Texas
By this point in the list, some of you might be wondering what I mean by "pet infrastructure". Basically, these are the things that make your pet ownership possible and enjoyable. This includes things like pet supplies stores but also dog parks and other things that you can take your pets to for fun.
San Antonio, Texas is an extreme example of a city lacking pet infrastructure.
For some strange reason, there are not enough veterinarian offices in San Antonio to support the city's pets. Vet checkups are a huge part of pet ownership, so you cannot live in a city that has such a shortage.
2 Best - Chicago: The Real Monsters of the Midway
Despite the fact that the city is freezing cold for four months out of the year, Chicago is a pretty great city if you like to be outside. There are tons of parks and trails to encourage people to get out of their houses and enjoy the outdoors. You know who loves the outdoors? Pets.
It is also fairly easy for people with pets to find housing in Chicago (at least compared to how easy it is for everyone), making this a simple pick for this article. There is a famous picture of a group of dogs celebrating the Chicago Cubs victory parade when the team won the World Series.
1 Worst - Problems With Pit Bulls in the Mile High City (Denver)
Denver has had a reputation for not being the best pet city for a while but recent developments have put the capital of Colorado squarely on the team of anti-pet cities.
A new law in Denver states that the city has a zero-tolerance policy for pit bulls and pit-bull mixes. This means that no one who lives in the city limits are allowed to own the breed.
Since 2008, local authorities have impounded (or worse) as many as 4,000 pit bulls. I am not an advocate for pit bulls but it is hard to classify a city as pet friendly when they have a law as Draconian as this one.