Retirement can be an exciting time for seniors to explore the opportunity to dwell in a new vibrant city or a sleepy suburb of their choice. Factors such as weather, location, cost of living, healthcare options, senior living facilities, activities and culture can be a lot to consider when planning where to spend the golden years.
Between 2010 and 2050, the United States is projected to experience rapid growth in its older population. Over the next four decades, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to double from 40 million in 2010 to over 88 million in 2050. Baby Boomers are largely responsible for this increase in the senior population, as they began turning 65 in 2011.
The growing senior population includes a demographic often difficult to calculate: seniors who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT). Older members of the LGBT community have to be even more selective about choosing where to retire. Not all cities in the US are welcoming to those living "non-traditional" lifestyles.
According to the national nonprofit Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders (SAGE), today there are 3 million LGBT people age 55+ living in the United States. With that number increasing each year, the need to discover locations that are welcoming to LGBT elders also increases.
Here are the best cities in America for LGBT seniors in 2018:
1. Fort Lauderdale, FL
There is a reason the senior population is nearly 20 percent in the state of Florida: the mild year-round climate. Fort Lauderdale is the 10th largest city in Florida and along with its warm weather, it offers a warm welcome for those in the LGBT community. Wilton Manors, a community of 12,000 bordering Fort Lauderdale, has a 14 percent per capita LGBT population. The area has many gay-friendly businesses, bars and restaurants.
Fort Lauderdale has several city parks, gay-specific beaches, resorts and over 130 area golf courses. Celebrating 25 years of service, Pride Center Florida was established in the city to meet the distinct health, social, educational, socio-economic and safety needs of the LGBTQ community and its allies.
In Florida there is no state income tax and Fort Lauderdale has very low assisted living and home healthcare costs compared to national averages. Seniors make up just over 15 percent of the city's population.
2. Austin, TX
With a LGBT population of just over 5 percent, it is no wonder that this Capital city in the middle of Texas made our list again. With its welcoming attitude, low-crime rate, warm weather, abundance of restaurants, arts and culture activities, nature trails and gay-owned businesses, Austin is a gem for LGBT seniors.
Austin drives progressive policies and ongoing advocacy for the LGBT community, and there is a strong support network for gays living in Austin. With a huge number of attendees to the annual gay pride festival and parade, Austin clearly celebrates the LGBT community. To empower and strengthen LGBT businesses and offer advocacy, connections and education programs, the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, was formed in 1997.
The overall cost of living in Austin is average compared to the national US average and Texas has no state income tax which is an attractive perk for seniors. Austin has a high number of Medicare registered doctors in the city, 20 hospitals and over 100 senior living facilities in close proximity to the area.
3. Atlanta, GA
The senior population in Atlanta is just under 10 percent and the general LGBT population there is just over 4 percent in the metro area. The city has one of the highest LGBT populations in the south. An annual LGBT pride festival draws roughly 200,000 people. Several Atlanta neighborhoods have businesses that market heavily to the LGBT community. Offering support for these and future businesses is the Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
Atlanta is a diverse city with rich cultural and art influences. With relatively short and mild winters and stellar quality healthcare like the Emory University Hospital System and other health facilities, Atlanta is a great place for seniors to call home.
There are over 200 senior living facilities in the Atlanta vicinity. Costs for senior living facilities in Atlanta are all below the national average. The cost of living in Atlanta is average compared to other cities in the US.
4. Portland, OR
The LGBT population in Portland is about 5.5 percent, making it one of the largest per capita in the country for individuals identifying as LGBT. Portland is known for its excellent and inexpensive public transit which can be used to travel to its many gay-friendly neighborhoods. The Burnside Triangle near downtown is known for its abundance of restaurants, nightlife and boutiques catering to the LGBT community.
The Oregon Equality Act prohibiting discrimination for those identifying as LGBT became effective in 2008, but Portland has long been one of the most progressive cities in the US when it comes to legislation supporting gays. SAGE Metro Portland has developed several initiatives including a program designed to assist senior housing providers in reaching their goals of having an attractive housing option for the growing LGBT senior community.
With a wealth of senior living facilities in close proximity, no weather extremes and a plethora of nature trails, golf courses and parks in the area, Portland proves to be a smart choice for the LGBT population. Check out the Rainbow Vista LGBT Senior Community nearby.
5. Palm Springs, CA
With the cost of living above the national average, Palm Springs is still a great alternative to San Francisco for those LGBT seniors who seek a more financially reasonable California city to call home. A diverse west coast city, it boasts a vibrant gay community and people from all kinds of religious, ethnic, liberal and conservative backgrounds.
Harboring a relaxed vibe in this highly walkable city, with its mild weather, beaches, golf courses and abundance of outdoor leisure, Palm Springs is an active playground for LGBT residents and tourists alike. Palm Springs ranks third among the top cities nationally with the highest number of same-sex couples per 1,000 people, according to census data from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.
In December of 2017, Palm Springs made history by becoming the only city in the US with an entirely LGBT city council. Coupled with its gay-friendliness and being one of the most senior-dense cities in the US, Palm Springs is a good destination to spend the post-retirement years.
Those in need of full service care will find Stonewall Gardens, a luxury assisted living facility that provides support and dignity for LGBT seniors in Palm Springs.
6. Santa Fe, NM
Located in the beautiful southwestern desert, Santa Fe is dubbed ‘The City Different' due to its quirky and casual vibe. It may be America's oldest capital city, but when it comes to the LGBT community, Santa Fe has a fresh and progressive stance. A small city chock full of unique shopping, dining, nature, culture and art, no wonder the Santa Fe area is a destination for gay retirees.
Active in Santa Fe, the ACLU of New Mexico has been at the forefront of protecting the rights of LGBT people since 1962. That includes fighting for equal rights and fair treatment by the government; protecting LGBT people from discrimination in jobs, schools, housing, and public accommodations.
A high percentage of seniors inhabit Santa Fe because it offers a laidback and reasonable lifestyle so desired by many in older demographics. For a city with a general population just over 80,000, it has an abundance of senior living facilities in and around the city. One such place is the Birds of a Feather facility located 30 minutes away. It is an LGBT-friendly senior community for people over 50. Homes are designed for "aging in place" in a setting offering a supportive and social environment.
7. Providence, RI
Four seasons, diverse neighborhoods, beautiful beaches, plenty of golf courses and rich history make this small East coast city a draw for retirees. Providence has over 120 senior living facilities and was once considered a top food city in America by Travel & Leisure magazine. Providence is located in the "Ocean State" enveloped by nature and miles of gorgeous coastlines.
Since 1995, Rhode Island law has outlawed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in employment, credit, housing and public accommodations has been outlawed since 2001.
The percentage of individuals identifying as LGBT in the Providence area is nearly 4.5 percent. Supporting the gay community is Rhode Island Pride, ACLU of Rhode Island and other civil rights organizations and Meetups promoting equal rights and visibility for the local LGBT community. In June, Providence hosts its annual RI Pride Fest drawing large crowds from all over the area.
8. Seattle, WA
Another west coast city that is welcoming to the senior gay population is progressive Seattle. The LGBT presence in the city is nearly 5 percent. Seattle has mild seasons and gets less rain annually than Boston, New York City, and Miami among other areas. The mountains and water make Seattle a draw for nature lovers. Similarly to Portland, Seattle is one of the most tolerant and supportive cities for LGBT businesses and legislation protecting gay-rights.
The state of Washington requires no state income tax, and with over 500 senior living facilities near the Emerald City to choose from, it is a good for a place to dwell during the later years. "Gay and Grey Leads the Way" is the slogan of the NW LGBT Senior Care Providers Network which was established in Seattle to provide education and support for the LGBT senior community for navigating the health care continuum while ensuring that dignity and individual choices are respected.
9. Columbus, OH
Home to Ohio State University, the third largest college in the US, Columbus is an open community with many different cultures, including a LGBT population of almost 4.5 percent. Seniors over 60 can audit college classes for free in the state and there are over 30 colleges nearby. There are a few active gay neighborhoods in the city and 31 percent of the city's population is over age 50.
The gay pride festival in Columbus is one of the largest in the Midwest and has been an annual event for over 36 years. Established LGBT resource groups in Columbus include:
Specifically supporting older gay men in Columbus is the Prime Timers which is a worldwide organization first established in 1987.
Being that the overall cost of living in Columbus is low, has an income tax below the US average, and over 140 senior living facilities in the area, Columbus is an attractive Midwest setting LGBT seniors.
10. Los Angeles, CA
The liberal attitude and mild climate of the West Coast is a sought after place for many gays in their golden years. The greater Los Angeles area has just over 4.5 percent of its population identifying as LGBT. The city has long been an eclectic mix of cultures, races, lifestyles and a strong LGBT presence.
In 1999, California became the first state in the US to legalize domestic partnerships between same-sex couples. It was also the first state to officially ban the use of gay panic and transgender panic defenses in murder trials. There is a long list of legislation advocating for the LGBT community originating in Los Angeles and other California cities.
Acknowledging the growing number of gay seniors in the area, the Los Angeles LGBT center helps connect seniors by offering a wide range of fun programs, services, activities, and events.
There is an astonishing 650+senior living facilities in close proximity to the city, including the nation's largest affordable housing development specifically for LGBT seniors: Triangle Square Senior Apartments in Hollywood.
11. New Orleans, LA
Its nickname is the "Big Easy" for a reason: New Orleans offers an open, relaxed and affordable way of life. Festivals, cultural attractions, distinctive cuisine, and music provide this major port city much to offer both young and old. LGBT-friendly neighborhoods are nestled on both sides of the great Mississippi River dividing the city.
The city has just over 5 percent of its population identifying as LGBT. Although the state as a whole has experienced some challenges with LGBT legislation, today New Orleans is one of a handful of cities in the state with an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
As advocates on behalf of the LGBT older adult community, NOAGE was established to ensure that all LGBT older adults live their best lives with the dignity, respect, and good health. There are several other LGBT resource groups throughout the city that can be found here.
The cost of living in the area is average compared to other cities in the US. Property taxes in New Orleans are below the national average and nursing homes and other senior living facilities are below national averages as well.
12. Tampa, FL
Tampa has been a warm and temperate place for the LGBT community both literally and figuratively. The Tampa Bay metro area is a sprawling and diverse region that encompasses three cities – Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater. The area is one of the most senior-dense cities in America and is supportive of gay-owned businesses. An example is the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce which began over 30 years ago to provide an environment for business owners and local organizations to build a community based on shared goals, friendship, and trust.
One of the most popular communities of its kind, partly because it was the first retirement community in America to openly welcome LGBT seniors, is The Palms of Manasota in Palmetto. It is a beautiful, vibrant, friendly and warm atmosphere with activities, comfortable common areas, and a convenient location.
The beaches in Tampa are some of the best in the country and the city is easy to navigate. There are several ethnic neighborhoods which is a sign of the general diversity of the area. Since there is no state income tax in Florida and the city offers very affordable assisted living costs and a low overall cost of living, it is a good option for an older LGBT crowd.
13. Boston, MA
Beantown just may be the city for you if you are into professional sports, cultural entertainment and history, culinary exploration, boating on the Charles River or simply strolling through the gay-friendly walkable city. There are over 150 golf courses in and around Boston. The weather is mild in the summers, and a bit chilly in the winters.
A long-time advocate for LGBT individuals, in 1989 the state of Massachusetts prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, employment, union practices, housing, and public accommodation. It was the second state in the US to add sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination statute in 1982. Those who identify as LGBT make up 5 percent of the population in Boston.
Groups such as GLAD, Stonewall Seniors, Boston Primetimers, and a large number of Senior LGBT Meetup groups are active in Boston. Fenway Health has been an especially strong force behind LGBT issues and advocacy for older LGBT individuals.
There are over 50 area hospitals in Boston and a very high number of home health providers and Medicare registered doctors in the city limits. Property taxes are lower than national averages.
Check out the Seashore Point gay-friendly senior residences about two hours outside of Boston in beautiful Provincetown.
14. Salt Lake City, UT
Rights for LGBT people in Utah have become increasingly enacted in recent years, despite the state's reputation as socially conservative and highly religious. Adopting bills prohibiting employment and housing discrimination and requiring LGBT sensitivity training for the local Police are two of the successful actions Utah's capital city has implemented to benefit gays in the community. In 2015, the city elected it first openly gay mayor. In March 2017, lawmakers in Utah repealed a law that prohibited the "advocacy of homosexuality" in public schools.
Salt Lake City has a lot to offer beyond a supportive LGBT community. Residents have access to world class health care from over 20 area hospitals, including some that are nationally ranked. Low property taxes are also a perk of living in Salt Lake City.
Slightly fewer than 5 percent of the metro area's population identify as LGBT. The Utah Pride Center was established in 1992 to support Salt Lake City's gay social scene, much of which is centered in the "gayborhood" of Marmalade District. With its beautiful mountains and well-kept city parks like Liberty Park, Ensign Peak Park, and the International Peace Gardens, Salt Lake City is a good option for LGBT retired life.
15. San Diego, CA
It is no surprise that sunny San Diego in the gay-friendly state of California makes it onto the list as one of the top places for LGBT seniors. San Diego's gay neighborhoods, inclusive events, thriving LGBT community, diverse culture and history, gorgeous beaches and natural sights make it a top spot for LGBT-friendly senior living.
The LGBT population is just under 4 percent in San Diego. San Diego LGBT Pride and San Diego Human Dignity Foundation are strong forces for positive LGBT action in the city. This includes the San Diego LGBT Community Center which embraces, promotes and supports cultural diversity and the health and well-being of gays by providing activities, programs and services that empower the community and provide resources and advocating for civil and human rights.
With below average crime rates, low property tax rates, and average assisted living rates, San Diego is another California city that ranks high as a retirement destination for LGBT seniors.
16. Cleveland, OH
Cleveland might get its share of snow in the winter, but the area has over 130 golf courses, beautiful Cuyahoga Valley National Park and more than 21,000 acres of designated park space in the city, not to mention beautiful Lake Erie beaches. Seniors over 60 can audit college classes for free in the state at the 30+ colleges in and around the Cleveland area.
According to a poll, most Ohioans think it's already illegal to fire or deny housing to someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, but the bill (Ohio Fairness Act) extending protections against discriminatory practices based on sexual orientation and gender identity has yet to be passed. There is progress being made and 16 Ohio cities have anti-discrimination ordinances on the books.
Plexus was founded to promote networking and business development within the Cleveland LGBT community. The LGBT Cleveland organization was formed in 1975 to offer support and resources for the LGBT community. About 3.7 percent of the city's population identifies as LGBT.
Cleveland is also known for its excellent transit system. A Place for Us is a LBGT-friendly senior community located conveniently along the transit system for easy access to parks, entertainment and retail nearby.
17. San Francisco, CA
Often referred to as the gay mecca of the US, San Francisco is undoubtedly a solid choice for seniors seeking an inclusive LGBT community and support system to thrive in well into their later years. For decades, the city was, and remains, a hub of racial, ethnic and cultural diversity at the forefront of the LGBT liberation crusade.
The first know lesbian rights foundation was founded in San Francisco in 1955 and today there are numerous LGBT support and advocacy groups such as Openhouse, Lavender Seniors, and the Castro Senior Center that specifically serve older members of the LGBT community.
The city has numerous assisted living and retirement communities that are LGBT-friendly. The Fountain Grove Lodge located about an hour outside of the city in Santa Rosa is a modern, yet rustic, pet-friendly and scenic LGBT-welcoming community.
San Francisco may be one of the most expensive cities to live in the world, but the uniquely rich gay culture, LGBT advocacy and community support there is priceless.
18. Albuquerque, NM
Whether it is the red or green chili, the stunning sunsets, the international hot air balloon festival, the beautiful Bosque trails or hiking in the Sandia Mountains, the Duke City is a the perfect playground for outdoorsy seniors who enjoy a place with all four seasons. Albuquerque has mild and dry summers and gets an average of about 9.5 inches of snow each winter.
Equality NM is located in Albuquerque and spearheads policy changes that improve the lives of the LGBTQ community statewide. The state of New Mexico has provided benefits to same-sex partners of state employees since 2003. The state repealed its anti-sodomy law in 1975, making it one of the first US states to do so. New Mexico has seen prominent advances in LGBT rights with homosexuality being legal since 1975 and more progress has been made since then, especially in recent years.
With an average cost of living and significantly lower property taxes than other cities on our list, Albuquerque is a solid choice for those desiring a relaxed and affordable city.
19. Baltimore, MD
Whether you're a LGBT senior preferring the hustle and bustle of city life, or the peace and quiet of suburbia, Baltimore boasts over 200 neighborhoods, several of them gay-friendly. The city is a unique blend of history, ethnic heritage and urban vitality. Although recent decades have inspired a cosmopolitan atmosphere in the city, Baltimore has retained the distinctive flavor of its past as a port city on the Chesapeake Bay.
With 3.9 percent of Baltimore's population identifying as LGBT, it is no surprise the area has several events and festivals supporting the gay community throughout the year. The annual gay pride parade draws over 30,000 visitors to the area annually. For over 35 years the GLBT Community Center of Baltimore has been catalyst for LGBT people in the city and state.
The LGBTQ community has many protections in place in Maryland including anti-discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but there is still much work to be done.
With over 250 senior living facilities in the area, a high number of Medicare physicians and home healthcare providers, and several high-performing hospitals in the city, Baltimore is a great option for LGBT seniors throughout their golden years.
20. Pittsburgh, PA
Dubbed the "City of Champions" due to its many professional sports teams, Pittsburgh not only scores high for sports fans, but for those in the LGBT community as well. In 2017, Pittsburgh received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's annual assessment of LGBTQ-friendly laws which is far superior to the average of 57 in other cities nationwide. About 3 percent of the city's population identify as LGBT.
The gay-friendly city of Pittsburgh is chock full of culture, museums, attractions, award-winning restaurants, friendly people, affordability and walkability. The weather may not be world-class but the healthcare is. There are several top-notch hospitals in Pittsburgh, including the innovative University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
There are several LGBT Meetups and groups for older LGBT individuals such as the PrimeTimers and the SAGE Western Pennsylvania at Persad Center.
Pittsburgh is an attractive location for LGBT seniors due to the low cost of living, low assisted living costs and a very high number of Medicare physicians in the city.