Best Countries to Live In for Expats with Pets

. 5 min read

Congratulations! You've been hired for an excellent multi-year contract in your field, with a salary which will reward you handsomely. You've told your significant other, your adult-age son and daughter, and your extended family. Everyone is excited for you about your opportunity. Your destination country ranked highly as one of the best countries to live for expats in your age bracket.

You gaze with amusement out the window into your back garden at your loyal dog, who is happily chasing a squirrel she will never catch. You feel your cat rubbing against your leg, and revel in the contented purring. It must be feeding time.

Then, it dawns on you. What are you to do with your pets when you move? You just got used to the idea of living overseas, but what about Chewbarkah and Mr. Whiskers? What should you do with them?  

For many expats, the question of what to do with their furry, feathered, and finned friends when they emigrate is truly perplexing. Not to mention the related preparations you'll have to make, like:

  • Obtaining a pet passport and health certificates and import certificates as required
  • Researching what vaccinations are required by law in your destination country, besides the standard ones for rabies and kennel cough  
  • Arranging transport of your pet by air, land or sea
  • Micro-chipping your pet
  • Teaching your pet to take commands in a foreign language, or even how to speak foreign languages is a great way to prepare them for life abroad (Le woof! Les Mew!). Just checking if you were paying attention that time.

If you've got four legged friends that you intend to take with you, here are five countries that are very accommodating to canines, felines, and other pets.

  1. Canada

I will admit that I am somewhat biased on this one, however the Great White North is a great place for dogs, provided they are properly prepared (either genetically or with appropriate pet clothing). Expat pet owners living in Canada can outfit their darling dog with Muttluks dog boots and a Chillydogs dog jacket, but overdressing them with a scarf, Deerstalker hat and tailwarmer will only get them teased at obedience school.

Photo by Eric Ward / Unsplash

Canadian winters can be long and cold, and the salt used on streets and sidewalks can hurt your dog's feet. Dog boots may sound silly, but if you settle in a city like Toronto, Edmonton or Saint John, they could save you and your pet a lot of misery. Expats with cool cats should keep their feline friends in at night in the summer, unless you are certain they will return the next day. Many pet shelters have more cats than they know what to do with. Be sure you research the bylaws in the area where you settle as far as dog tags, leashes in parks and whether beaches are dog-friendly.  

Canadian veterinarian bills can get costly if you lead with your heart instead of your budget priorities when it comes to your pet. Consider pet insurance to offset vet bills if possible. It may seem like a needless annual cost - but like most insurance, you will only think that until you need to make a claim.

2. France

Planning to move your family to France? Whether you new home will be in Paris, Avignon or Nice, you and your four-legged friend will be welcomed with open arms even in some restaurants and other public establishments. Though poodles are likely "le première chien" (first dog) from France you think of, there are many popular breeds like French bulldogs, Löwchens, Bassets Bleu de Gascogne and Coton du Tuléars which you should consider if you are looking for a native canine.

Sophie, my canine niece

If you are bringing a pet to France, they will need a "pet passport", be brought into the country in an approved IATA container and have proof of vaccination. France, like Canada and other countries on this list, wants to protect domestic pets, so they have high health standards.

3. Great Britain

Bulldogs, beagles and boxers, oh my!

Like France, the UK is very welcoming to dogs in public places.

A 2008 article reported there were up to eight million reptiles living in the UK compared to 6.5 million dogs. That said, recent Statistica data shows dogs lead the ways as far as pet ownership, while reptiles and amphibians barely register. With all the Brexit turmoil rocking the country, have lizards leapt out of the UK and snakes slithered into the London underground? Mind the gap, indeed!

Cat cafés are popular in Britain, and dogs are quite welcome almost anywhere. Just ensure you have your pet micro-chipped and vaccinated before transporting them into the country, and bring the documentation with you.  

4. The USA

If you plan to move to the United States, you'll find there are many dog parks, a smattering of cat cafes and even pet relocation consultants. I keep mentioning cat cafes because besides feeding them, cleaning up after them and looking for them under the bed, I'm not sure what anyone does with cats. It's my experience that traveling with a cat in a car is a bigger ordeal than with a dog, and it takes some time for cats to adjust to a new living environment.

Stella, globetrotting bulldog fur baby of Scott, XE Los Angeles

Most pet species (especially dogs) are literally creatures of habit, especially as they age. Some animals don't acclimate to a new environment well, with new smells,and different food than they are used to. Moving from a suburban home with a backyard to a downtown apartment can be especially traumatic for some dogs. Researching the temperament and adaptability of your pet's breed is recommended. If you only plan to travel abroad for a year or two, having a friend or family member take care of your pet while you're gone is often better for the psychological well-being of your pet.

5. Australia

Australia might be one of the more challenging countries to bring a pet into the country with you, but once you and your furry friend meet all the requirements, it's well worth the effort. The most popular dog breeds in Australia are the cattle dog, the heeler, the terrier and the Kelpie.

King, best friend of Marco, XE Newmarket

Did you know Australian shepherds are actually an American breed, and dingoes are originally from New Guinea? Definitely an expet story or bit of trivia to tell your friends. Maybe don't use it as an icebreaker with your new Australian neighbours though. Nobody likes a cheeky drongo bragging about their knowledge of doggos.

Are you preparing for a move overseas, and need to transfer money for your new house, or even temporary accommodations for your pet while you get sorted in your new home?  

Register for an XE Money Transfer account with ease, and get a quote for an international transfer to any of the countries in this article or many more.