15 Top Retirement Cities for Dog Lovers

RETIREMENT - RETIRED LIFE
Find a place where you and your best friend can enjoy long walks and dog-friendly spots.
Updated May 8, 2024
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Couple walking dogs

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Whether you’re closing in on retirement or already enjoying your post-work years, the question of where you’ll live is possibly the most important decision you’ll make. 

Some people will choose a location based on family or weather, while others, focused on the ways seniors can save money, will look at areas where taxes and cost of living are low. Then you have another group: Those who put their dog as No. 1 and want to be sure the pup likes the location too. 

These retirees want to find a dog-friendly city where there are parks for long walks, treats at every store, and restaurants that wouldn’t dream of turning away Fido. To help, we've put together the 15 top retirement cities for dog lovers.

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Asheville, N.C.

Robert Kneschke/Adobe senior couple with pet checking wallet

Asheville is a favorite of retirees thanks to its peaceful setting in the mountains. It’s perfect for those looking for both culture and outdoor activities, as well as those prioritizing their dog.

You’ll find multiple dog parks, including the French Broad River Park and Azalea Dog Park, as well as many dog-specific businesses for grooming and boarding. Plus, most of the breweries love their canine customers.

Helena, Mont.

encierro/Adobe dogs guarding backyard behind steel fence

While Montana doesn’t have a sales tax, the state ranks 35th in cost of living, due to its high housing cost. In Helena, the median home price was $440,958 in October, according to RocketHomes.com. Yet retirees flock to the state.

You’ll find over 50 dog-specific businesses, including veterinarians, groomers, and kennels, and that’s in a town of just 30,000. There are also dog-friendly parks, state parks, and breweries.

Indio, Calif.

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe golden retriever dog playing

With one of the largest 55+, active adult communities in the area, Indio in the Coachella Valley is the perfect spot for retirees. 

There’s already one dog park, with another in the works, and the area is a favorite of people who love to get outside and be active with their pups.

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Tigard, Ore.

InsideCreativeHouse/Adobe senior couple petting their dog

For Pacific Northwest retirees who want to get out of the city but maintain proximity to family in Portland, Tigard is a suburb that combines the charm of a small city with access to the outdoors.

When it’s time to walk the dog, put on your shoes and get ready to explore the 16 miles of paved trails and 550 acres of park, most of which is dog-friendly.

Naples, Fla.

Lunja/Adobe group of dogs running in lawn

Naples is a perennial favorite of retirees, both for its warm weather and its lack of income tax.

But it’s also a great place to live with a dog! Take them to the Naples Dog Park, Canine Cove, or Keewaydin Island, where they can frolic along the eight-mile barrier island. Plus, almost every restaurant with outdoor seating welcomes dogs.

Bend, Ore.

Seventyfour/Adobe A happy dog lying in bed, while the owner watches television in the background.

While much of the Pacific Northwest has a reputation for cloudy, dreary weather, Bend is in the high desert, which means it has moderate, sunny weather — something retirees are drawn to.

Bend is known for being dog-friendly, with most shops downtown allowing dogs and nearly all restaurants welcoming dogs on their outdoor patios.

Tucson, Ariz.

Africa Studio/Adobe senior woman walking with dog in park

Enjoy the warm weather, desert sunshine, and active lifestyle in Tucson, where retirees go to enjoy the incredible hiking and outdoor activities that the Southwest has to offer.

Dogs love it, too, since they can accompany their owners on their adventures, then join them at a restaurant afterward for a quick bite.

Rocky Mount, N.C.

didesign/Adobe veterinary examining dog

If you have children who’ve settled in the Research Triangle, then Rocky Mount is a great place to find a quiet retirement and low cost of living, with quick access to family.

There are three highly respected veterinary practices in the area to take care of your best friend, along with walking trails to keep you both active.

Portland, Ore.

Prostock-studio/Adobe old man hugs dog in park

For those who like to pamper their pooches with everything from nutritionists to pet psychics to massage therapists, Portland could be the right spot to retire.

This city is full of people who totally embrace their pets as people, and the amenities are there to prove it.

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Colorado Springs, Colo.

Ljupco Smokovski/Adobe sitting on a bench

Colorado is a lovely place to retire for those who love the outdoors. It’s also a great spot for dog lovers.

You’ll find eight off-leash dog parks in Colorado Springs alone, and that doesn’t count all of the incredible hikes you and your best friend can go on. Many shops and restaurants are also dog-friendly.

Louisville, Ky.

adogslifephoto/Adobe adult female watching tv with dogs on sofa

Looking for a midsize city with a reasonable cost of living for your retirement? Try Louisville for you and your perfect pooch.

Not only are there leashless dog parks throughout the city, but you’ll also find lots of pet-oriented businesses, including boutiques and doggy spas.

Santa Cruz, Calif.

Creative Sparks/Adobe senior woman in the wheelchair

“Beautiful weather and dog-friendly beaches.” That should be Santa Cruz’s slogan. This gorgeous California city is a favorite of retirees who aren’t concerned about cost of living. And it’s also a favorite of those who love dogs.

There are many dog-friendly beaches through the Santa Cruz area, which isn’t always the case in beachfront towns.

Nashville, Tenn.

Halfpoint/Adobe senior woman sitting on bench at terrace enjoying coffee

Tennessee doesn’t have state income tax, which is one reason why retirees flock here. For seniors who want a city experience, close to the action, Nashville is a prime spot to retire.

It’s also a great spot to have a dog. From pup-friendly bakeries to doggie groomers to the dog-friendly Centennial Park, this city has gone to the pooches.

Albuquerque, N.M.

ArgitopIA/Adobe happy dog with head out of the car window

Enjoy New Mexico’s warm weather and stunning landscapes with your pup. This retirement destination is beloved by those looking to stay active outdoors.

Dogs will love all of the dog-friendly spots from Tom Bolack Urban Forest to the lakes of Tinley Beach.

Eugene, Ore.

Kay Abrahams/peopleimages.com/Adobe elderly couple and dog pet

Retiring in Eugene will put you in close proximity to the South Willamette Valley, where you can spend afternoons sipping on a red while you have your best friend sitting nearby.

You’ll also find pet-centric events, leashless dog parks, and more than one organic dog treat seller.

Bottom line

Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe couple walking in the park

Have your eye on a retirement destination that’s perfect for Rover, but don’t see it on this list? The most important things to look for when considering a dog-friendly retirement are access to dog parks, whether most restaurants and establishments will allow dogs, and how many veterinarians are in the area.

And the most critical of those may be the vet, especially as your pet gets older. Ask about after-hours services and know where you’d go in the case of an immediate medical situation.

You may even fall in love with a dog-friendly town and want to retire early.

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Author Details

Heather Bien Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.

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