The ditty on gay cities
Gay cities are cities, big and small – size don’t matter – that are openly queer-friendly. From NYC to San Fran and Pitt to Port, if I can hold hands with my husband without fear, it’s a gay city. But some gay cities are more affordable than others. Find out which below.
What you’ll find here:
- Gay cities of the Northeast USA
- Gay cities of the Southeast USA
- Gay cities of the Midwest USA
- Gay cities of the Northwest USA
- Gay cities of the Southwest USA
- Gay cities around the world
- 10 best gay cities for gay singles
- 8 best cities for gay couples
- 5 best cities for LGBTQ millennials
- Checklist for moving out of state
- Live fabulously in affordable gay cities
Migration to gay cities
There’s been a migration of corn-fed boys and small-town girls with big-city dreams to major (and expensive) LGBTQ-friendly cities for decades.
Back in yore, gays and lesbians hid in these gay cities — like San Francisco, the queen gayborhoods — to live their lives in truth. We gathered in pockets of less desirable hoods in these larger cities.
The Castro today, though, isn’t The Castro of Harvey Milk. Chelsea and Boystown weren’t the exclusive enclaves they are today. Pre-Madonna, these hoods were dirty, crime-ridden places citizens forgot and governments tried to forget.
These were great sanctuaries for queer people to hide and thrive. It’s irony that our places of refuge made many marginalized residents marginally rich with their patience and DIY skills.
Live fabulously in affordable gay cities
Acceptance has improved in many parts of the country, and some still yearn to escape the phobia of smaller and rural towns. So, there’s still a draw to these now big-budget cities — one that poses a money problem for the average mo.
Many seeking personal safety and acceptance now struggle with financial insecurity.
While real estate and the cost of living has increased nationally since the 70s — exponentially in these first- and second-tier metros — many once-affordable gay locales are now million-dollar residentials Google employees can’t afford.
For gays and lesbians without six-figure incomes, that’s a problem.
That’s why we’re advocating for more people of “alternative lifestyles” to consider alternative cities to call home.
Big gay cities, empty pockets
While it’s fabulous living in a city with thousands of things to do seven nights a week with millions who look, act and vote like you, it’s also easy to become fabulously broke. Here’s the cost of living for premier gay cities:
- New York – cost of living is 129% above average; housing is 369% above average
- Los Angeles – cost of living is 50% above average; housing is 355% above average
- San Francisco – cost of living is 192% above average; housing is 198% above average
- Chicago – cost of living is 20% above average; housing is 46% above average
- Seattle – cost of living is 24% above average; housing is 82% above average
A regular mo needs multiple jobs to afford to live in these prime gay cities. Without a high-paying job or a thriving business, you may feel like your options are either personal security and community or financial security.
We’re here to say that’s another option.
Listen to our take on the pros and cons of Big Gay Cities on Queer Money®:
Smaller gay cities, deeper pockets
The road out of the closet doesn’t just lead to these emerald cities.
Below are 25 alternative and amazing gay cities (around the world) with higher concentrations of queers per capita and lower costs of living. Best yet, when budgeted correctly, most queer residents in these gay cities can easily jet to the uber urbans with the click of their heels.
Get ready to fall in love with cities such as Madison, Albuquerque and Spokane. Because they’re all cities with thriving queer communities with significantly cheaper costs of living.
They’re where you can simultaneously buy a home, save on expenses, invest your money and have enough financial wellness for a fabulous life.
Top gay cities by region
Let’s first take the best gay cities by region. These are the tops of the top.
The big gay city of Portland OR (NW)
Portlandia’s pretty white and pretty gay – so gay, Advocate listed it as the 20th gayest city in the US in 2014 and Business Insider ranked it the sixth-best city for queer singles. LGBTQ people make up 8.8% of its city’s population and 6.1% of its metro.
To be fair, Portland ranks as one of the more expensive gay cities on this list with a cost of living about 27% higher than the national average, yet it’s cheaper than the top-tier gay cities above. Best of all, queer couples and throuples of all shapes and sizes can comfortably hold hands walking around NW Downtown, Pearl District and NE Alberta, where the artisans flock.
Gay city Salt Lake City, Utah (SW)
Salt Lake City isn’t the “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” we’ve come to love visa vie The Book of Mormon. It’s way better for a gay.
Salt Lake City’s LGBTQ people make up a solid 4.7% of its total population. Its cost of living is 8% over the national average, and its housing is 33% over the national average, yet considerably lower than the numbers above.
Salt Lake’s close to premier skiing – hello 2002 Winter Olympics – and cycling and has a growing music scene with free concerts in Pioneer Park.
Gay city New Orleans, Louisiana (SE)
Gay people make up 5.1% of The Big Easy. New Orleans’ cost of living is 2% below the national average and its housing is just 1% higher than the national average.
New Orleans’ flamboyance makes Las Vegas J and is a foodie’s buffet. With as much history as hurricanes, both wind/water and libation, New Orleans is rumored to be the home of David’s favorite drink.
That, alone, might make us move there.
Gay city of Pittsburgh PA (NE)
Pittsburgh, PA may not be top of mind when we think of gay cities. But with its plethora of colleges, it’s home to a large student population. Plus, it’s Queer as Folk.
Pittsburgh’s metro is estimated to have an LGBTQ density of about 3%, which puts it in the top 50 US metro areas.
Where it really scores is the cost of living. Renting a one-bedroom in the city center costs about $1,100. The overall cost for a single person, excluding rent, runs about $950 a month. Find roomies, and your total cost could land south of two grand a month.
This is doable on $35,000 a year with room to invest for retirement, a dash of travel and the occasional splurge.
Some suggested neighborhoods include Shadyside, home to some gay bars, queer-owned shops and the most LGBTQ-friendly restaurants. Look at the interesting name Strip District tucked between downtown and Pitt’s revitalized riverfront. Finally, the hipster mecca of Lawrenceville is super queer.
Cheesy (in a good way), Madison WI (MW)
This isthmus capital just west of Milwaukee boasts a growing tech, biotech and health systems tech economy for those interested or trained in such fields. While the cost of living, at 8%, is slightly over the national average, monthly rent is 62% below NYC, and purchasing power is 25% above the Big Apple.
While Madison is one of the more suburban recommendations on our list, it’s also home to a thriving art scene, and it has all the shopping every gay boy doesn’t need. Plus, being a university town, Madison has a much younger vibe than many US suburbs and was ranked America’s Fittest City in 2016.
Finally, Madison’s metro has a higher percentage of gay couples than any other city in the area outside of Chicago and Minneapolis, for those gay couples looking for a suburban, midwestern vibe – yes, some of us want this.
Gay cities of the Northeast USA
As the most economically developed, populated and diverse region in the US, the Northeast is nestled between our cold Canadian neighbor and the Atlantic. Home to P-Town, Chelsea, Washington Square West and Dupont Circle, it puts the gay in the US of Gay.
Here are the gay cities of the Northeast.
1. Gay city of Columbus OH
- LGBTQ Population Density – Columbus has one of the top 20 densest LGBTQ populations in the US at 6.7%.
- Cost of Living – For the cost of living, it comes in on the lower end. Although, there’s some new concern with increasing rents. Compared to New York City, Columbus is about 65% cheaper, with a one-bedroom in the city center renting for about $1,100 a month and a 3-course dinner for two, sans alcohol, costing $47.
- Gayborhoods – Don’t miss Short North for its shops and hip restaurants. Include the North Market for a variety of food vendors – a snack or full-on lunch is a great way to sample the local fare.
- More to Know – Columbus is so gay-friendly its tourist office has a free, bi-monthly LGBTQ-themed e-newsletter with events, activities, special offers and – our favorite – discounts.
2. Queer as Pittsburgh PA
- LGBTQ Population – 3% of the overall population, putting it in the top 50 gayest metro areas.
- Cost of Living – The overall cost of living is 94.7% of the national average, which is great for a city this size
- Rent- the average two bedroom apartment runs about $1,333 per month
- Homes – the median home value (50% above & 50% below) runs about $193,000
- Income – median income is $57,000 and average income is $76,000 per the 2021 U.S. Census
- Gayborhoods – Shadyside, Strip District and the revitalized riverfront.
- More to Know –
- Advocate named it the 8th gayest city in the US in 2017
- HRC (Human Rights Campaign) lists Pittsburgh with a perfect 100 out of 100 on their Municipal Equality Index in 2022, just one of 4 cities in PA to garner this
Watch to learn more about Gay Cities in Pennsylvania
3. The gay city of Baltimore MD
- LGBTQ Population – Baltimore, Maryland is the 15th queerest cities in the U.S., with a queer-density of nearly 7%!
- Cost of Living – Costs for singles are like Pittsburgh and Columbus, but rent’s $200 more a month. Higher rent means you’ll need an extra $3,500 a year. But hey, Baltimore’s still cheaper than D.C. and NYC, which are both under three hours away.
- Gayborhoods – Fells Point near the water is great for dinner and walks near the water. Much of the South Harbor neighborhoods are great for museums and the arts. Don’t miss the ever-changing American Visionary Art Museum. Many of the queer bars and restaurants are found in the Mount Vernon and Old Groucher neighborhoods to the north.
- More to Know – Baltimore hosted one of the country’s first Gay Pride Parades in 1975.
4. Gay city of Providence RI
- LGBTQ Population – The city proper, home to Brown University and several other liberal colleges, boasts an LGBTQ density of nearly 5%.
- Cost of Living – Providence is pushing the boundaries of “affordable” but is much cheaper than NYC and San Fran. Rent for a one-bedroom in the city costs about $1,350. The average monthly salary after taxes is about $2,500. That income leaves room for a nicer lifestyle and some travel.
- Gayborhoods –Providence isn’t the gayest of gay cities with its gay life. It’s within a couple of hours of Boston and is close to great gay attractions further down the coast, making it a good bedroom community.
- More to Know – Business Insider ranked Providence the 5th best gay city for LGBTQ singles + it was home to the first openly gay mayor of a US capital in 2002 + it’s home to the largest gay bathhouse in New England + was named one of the best cities for lesbians.
5. The gay city of Rochester NY
- LGBTQ Population – Rochester’s LGBTQ density comes in at nearly 7%, putting it in the top 15 gayest cities.
- Cost of Living –Rochester wins big with cost of living, making it our topmost affordable gay city of the North East. Rent for a one-bedroom in the city center hovers around $900 a month and overall costs minus rent for a single person runs about $900 a month. With an annual salary of about $35,000, you’d be looking pretty good.
- Gayborhoods – The Park Avenue corridor is where most of the action’s at, plus there are the Fabulous Finger Lakes.
- More to Know – Advocate named it the 12th gayest city in the US in 2014. Plus, Rochester’s also been rated as one of the best cities to raise a family, which more LGBTQ people are doing.
Gay cities of the Southeast USA
1. Gay city by the bay, Tampa FL
- LGBTQ Population – 5.9% of Tampa’s metro area IDs at LGBTQ.
- Cost of Living – Tampa’s cost of living is 3% below the national average, and Tampa’s purchasing power is 22.7% higher than in NYC, making it an affordable and fun city.
- Gayborhood – Ybor City is the most well-known gayborhood with an eclectic mix of shops, bars and clubs with the hottie disco boyz if we do say so ourselves. Seminole Heights is another LGBTQ hood in Tampa.
- More to Know – Advocate named it the 19th gayest city in the US in 2017, Business Insider ranked it the 3rd gayest city for queer singles.
2. The big gay easy of New Orleans LA
- LGBTQ Population – New Orleans City has a 5.1% queer-density.
- Cost of Living – Cost of living’s on par with the national average, which is lower than most big gay cities. Rent in NYC runs a whopping 145% higher than in New Orleans.
- Gayborhoods – The French Quarter’s the most popular gay neighborhood, where home prices run highest. Baywater, home to many artists and creatives, is another gay enclave.
- More to Know –Advocate named it the 5th gayest city in the US in 2017 and 16th gayest city in the US in 2014. Business Insider ranked it the best city for LGBTQ singles. Plus, the Big Easy’s home to Southern Decadence. Need we say more?
3. Gay Bayou City of Houston TX
- LGBTQ Population – Houston-proper is 4.4% gay, and its metro is 4.1%.
- Cost of Living – The cost of living is 6% below the national average. Rent in New York City runs about 135% higher than in Houston, and the purchasing power’s about 31% higher than in NYC. Texas is also a no-income-tax state, so you’d pay less in taxes with a primary residence in TX.
- Gayborhoods – Montrose and the Downton Theatre Districts are the most popular gay neighborhoods, and more are cropping up in the Southwest parts of the city where older mid-century modern homes exist.
- More to Know – Houston boasts the 4th largest Pride in the nation.
4. Grand Ole gay city of Nashville TN
- LGBTQ Population – Nashville-proper is at 5.1%, and Nashville-metro’s 3.8% LGBTQ.
- Cost of Living – Cost of living is 5% below the national average. Rent’s about 115% higher in NYC than in Nashville. Purchasing power’s about 20% higher in Nashville than in NYC.
- Gayborhoods – East Nashville and the midtown areas are the most LGBGT-friendly hoods, though other neighborhoods like Germantown and Hillsboro attract young and hip gay folks.
- More to Know – Ironically, you’ll find the best gayness is on Church Street.
5. Gay city of Asheville, NC
- LGBTQ Population – Asheville doesn’t rank in the largest cities in the US, so the data’s a bit inconsistent. That said, the US Census shows that the LGBTQ population in Asheville is 83% higher than the US average.
- Cost of Living – Asheville’s cost of living is 2% higher than the national average, yet rents are 60% cheaper than NYC. Overall, Asheville’s one of the more desirable and, thus, expensive places in the area to live, but it’s considerably more affordable than many first- and second-tier LGBTQ cities.
- Gayborhoods – Downtown, Montford, North Asheville and West Asheville are some of the more desirable gayborhoods.
- More to Know –Advocate ranked Asheville as the 12th gayest town in the US.
Gay cities of the Midwest USA
1. Prince’s gay city of Minneapolis MN
- LGBTQ Population – Minneapolis-proper is 12.5% gay, and its metro is 5.7% gay (LBTQ included), making it one of the gayest areas in the US of Gay.
- Cost of Living – Cost of living is 8% above the national average. Rent’s 56% lower and purchasing power’s 28% higher than in NYC.
- Gayborhood – Minneapolis doesn’t have a gayborhood per se. The two main areas of town for queer businesses and homes are Lyn-Lake and downtown Minneapolis. Both are a bit pricey for housing. In addition, East Lowry Hill is the hot spot for those looking for mid-century style.
- More to Know – In 1975, Minneapolis was the first city in the nation to pass a non-discrimination ordinance. Minnesota was, then, the first state by popular vote to reject a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Last but not least, Advocate named Minneapolis the 22nd gayest city in the US in 2017.
2. Dorothy’s Kansas City KS
- LGBTQ Population – Kansas City’s 6.7% queer and its metro’s 5.1% queer, making it one of the gayest cities per capita in the center of the country.
- Cost of Living – Kansas City’s cost of living is about 13% below the national average, making it one of the cheapest bigger gay cities in which to live. Rents are 70% lower and purchasing power is 35% higher than New York’s.
- Gayborhood – The Plaza is a great area of town to live and work in because of its pedestrian, mall-like feel and its high-end, eclectic shops. Brookside’s filled with charming homes as is the Historic Northeast area with its older, Victorian-style homes. Old Briarcliff is also an area of interest because of its cheaper homes and shopping.
- More to Know – The Kansas City LGBTQ community has just that, community. From its numerous LGBTQ-themed theater groups and subsequent entertainment to its craft beer culture and its active Mid-American Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce for the LGBTQ-entrepreneurs, there’s a lot to do and lots of friends to make here.
3. Gay city of Madison WI
- LGBTQ Population – About 3% of Madison’s residents ID as LGBTQ.
- Cost of Living – Cost of living in Madison is 8%, slightly above the national average, although rent’s 62% below NYC and purchasing power’s 25% above NYC.
- Gayborhoods – One of Madison’s hottest spots is the Middleton Neighborhood, where many gays are settling down. Yes, it’s suburbia, but it has a thriving art and shopping scene. Plus, as Madison’s a college town, there’s a younger, hipper vibe in and around the University.
- More to Know – In 2014, Advocate named Madison the 7th gayest city in the US.
4. The indy city of Indianapolis IN
- LGBTQ Population – Indy City is 4.8% and Indy Metro’s 4.5% queer.
- Cost of Living – The cost of living in Indianapolis runs about 10% below the national average, rents are about 72% lower than NYC, and purchasing power in Indy’s just over 10% higher than The Big Apple.
- Gayborhoods – The Mass Ave Arts District is attracting a number of LGBTQ businesses and folks to live because of its theaters and shops. Downtown Indy has revitalized like many other city centers over the past few years, making it more welcoming and diverse. Broad Ripple Village is another hood attracting diverse folks to its cafés, boutiques and art galleries.
- More to Know – RuPaul performed at the closing event of Indy’s week-long Pride celebrations in 2006.
5. The Gaytway city of St Louis MO
- LGBTQ Population – St. Louis City’s 6.8% and St. Louis metro’s 3.6% queer.
- Cost of Living – The cost of living in St. Louis runs about 12% below the national average, rents are about 71% lower than New York City and purchasing power’s just over 24% higher than NYC.
- Gayborhoods – If you want to be in the center of gay nightlife in St. Louis, check out the Grove Neighborhood filled with bars and restaurants. For something more chill but just as hip, the Central West End is full of restaurants, galleries and pubs. If you thrive in historic neighborhoods, visit Lafayette Square with its old mansions, row homes, craft beer and liquor bars and great restaurants.
- More to Know –Advocate named Madison the 6th gayest city in the US in 2014, Business Insider ranked it the 13th best city for LGBTQ singles.
Gay cities of the Northwest USA
Denver, Seattle and Minneapolis make up the Bermuda Triangle of queer folks in the US.
There just aren’t many cities of significant size outside these cities that have attracted much of a stronghold of LGBTQ people. That said, there are pockets of diversity including LGBTQ folks that build small but strong communities in this triangle.
Granted, you might not be able to walk down the street holding hands in the entire city. But these towns deserve mention.
1. Gay Lilac City of Spokane WA
- LGBTQ Population – Although Spokane is on the east side of the state and has a total population pushing 600,000, it’s the second-largest city in Washington next to the combi Seattle/Tacoma area.
- Cost of Living – Spokane comes in about 4% below the national average for cost of living, with housing being one of the bright spots with affordable homes to both buy and rent. Rents in NYC are about 240% higher than in Spokane.
- Gayborhoods – The downtown neighborhood of Riverside attracts the most LGBTQ residents. With the nearby Davenport Arts District, you’ll find bars, shops and restaurants to keep you happy. If you’re into mid-mod, you’ll love the Garland Historical District, which is artsy and full of restaurants and bars.
- More to Know – Advocate once named Spokane one of the Top Gay Cities.
2. The gay city of Boise ID
- LGBTQ Population – Although Boise’s population is under 250,000, it’s one of the more liberal cities between Minneapolis and Seattle. Its LGBTQ population is small but connected. With the influx of more folks from around the country, Boise’s make-up is changing, and its LGBTQ community is growing.
- Cost of Living – Boise’s cost of living matches the national average. Rent in Boise runs about 66% lower than NYC, although the local purchasing power is about equal to NYC. This means your dollar goes about as far in Boise for purchases as it would in NYC. But with rents so low, Boise’s appealing.
- Gayborhoods – Boise doesn’t have a gay neighborhood per se, but the historic neighborhood around Hyde Park, known as the Northend is quite gay-friendly.
- More to Know – Boise offers affordable mid-century modern homes and is ripe for a tech boom.
3. The city of roses Portland OR
- LGBTQ Population – 8.8% for the city and 6.1% for the metro area claim to be LGBTQ.
- Cost of Living – Portlandia ranks as one of the “better cities” in the Northwest, which means higher demand and higher prices. Portland’s one of the more expensive cities on this list with its cost of living coming in 27% higher than the national average. Rents are still 51% lower than in NYC and local purchasing power is about 10% higher than in NYC.
- Gayborhoods – Portland has one of the densest LGBTQ populations in America, which means many parts of the city are accustomed to seeing same-sex couples hand-in-hand walking down the street. That being said, there are some gay hotspots such as NW Downtown, Pearl District and NE Alberta where the artisans flock.
- More to Know – Advocate named Portland the 20th gayest city in the US in 2014, Business Insider ranked it the 6th best city for LGBTQ singles. Portland’s so gay, its community is super tight-knit. So, new queers may find it takes a while and a little extra effort to make friends.
4. The gay city of Tacoma WA
- LGBTQ Population – Tacoma falls into Seattle’s metro area, which makes LGBTQ people 6.5% of its population.
- Cost of Living – The cost of living in Tacoma runs about 10% higher than the national average, which isn’t bad. Rents are also lower. Like Texas, Florida and Nevada, Washington doesn’t have a state income tax. This usually means much of these state’s income comes from sales tax, pushing the cost of some items higher than the national average.
- Gayborhood – Tacoma boasts neighborhoods as nice and as hip as Seattle at a much cheaper price tag. Visit Proctor, McKinney, Hilltop and Stadium District/St. Helens. Although, because of its popularity, Hilltop is kinda ‘spensive.
- More to Know – Advocate named it the 18th gayest city in the US in 2014. Oh, and it offers roller derby.
5. Gay Rocky Mountain city of Bozeman MT
- LGBT Population – In a 2018 survey, 25% of LGBTQ folks in the US live in cities with a population of 250,000 or less. This means many of us want to stay in smaller cities. Good reasons to stay in Bozeman are its beauty and access to nature.
- Cost of Living – Bozeman comes in at about 10% higher than the national average for the cost of living, yet rent’s a whopping 65% cheaper than NYC and local purchasing power is 47% higher than NYC. This means you’ll get more for what you spend and have plenty left over for trips to the big gay cities for vacation.
- Gayborhoods – There are no gayborhoods or – gasp! – gay bars to speak of, as Bozeman is pretty all-inclusive everywhere. Come on! A town that includes both Montana State University and The Green Coalition of Gay Loggers for Jesus must be pretty open and accepting.
- More to Know – Bozeman is a college town, giving it a dash of liberalism and lots of acceptance in an otherwise red region. Plus, between meetups and Facebook groups, Bozeman has a tight-knit and welcoming LGBTQ community. In fact, a specific non-discrimination ordinance was even passed by the city commission.
Gay cities of the Southwest USA
1. The gay city of Salt Lake City UT
- LGBTQ Population – Salt Lake City’s LGBTQ population is 7.6% and its metro is 3.7% queer, clearly highly concentrated in the city.
- Cost of Living – SLC runs about 6% higher than the national average. Rents are about 64% lower than NYC and local purchasing power’s 31% higher than NYC – more bang for your buck.
- Gayborhoods – Check out the Marmalade District (where the LGBTQ center is) and Capitol Hill neighborhoods.
- More to Know – Salt Lake City’s slowly becoming a gay mecca in the West – a gay crossroads, of sorts. Advocate named it the 8th gayest city in the US in 2014. Gallup ranked it the 7th gayest city in 2017. It’s so lesbionic –the lesbian version of “gayest”? – Salt Lake has a lesbian mayor.
2. The gay city of Phoenix/Tempe AZ
- LGBTQ Population – The city proper of Phoenix/Tempe is 6.4% queer, and its metro is 4.8% LGBT and Q.
- Cost of Living – Phoenix/Tempe runs about 6% higher than the national average. Local purchasing power is 31% higher than NYC which, again, means money for more fun because your money goes further.
- Gayborhoods – Camelback, East Camelback and Downtown Phoenix are the bright spots in gay Phoenix. In addition, the Melrose District – no Place – has many LGBTQ owned bars and restaurants.
- More to Know – Business Insider ranked Phoenix/Tempe the 13th best city for LGBTQ singles. Phoenix/Tempe kinda has two Prides a year, the Phoenix Pride Festival and the Rainbows Festival.
3. Gay Albuquerque NM
- LGBTQ Population – 4.5% of Albuquerqueans claim to be LGBTQ. The ABQ, also, ranks as one of the densest cities for same-sex couples – 5th highest in the Make America Gay Again nation.
- Cost of Living – ABQ is one of the lower costs of living cities on our list, coming in 5% lower than the national average. Rents are a staggering 73% lower than NYC, and the local purchasing power’s 13% more than NYC. That ABQ trifecta gives you more money to invest, vacay and retire fabulously.
- Gayborhoods – North Valley is one of the queer friendliest hoods, and other such areas include Nob Hill and the University of New Mexico’s surrounding areas.
- More to Know – Albuquerque may be one of the last places you’d think of when you think of gay cities, but for LGBTQ seniors it ranks as the best. SeniorAdvisor.com ranked Albuquerque in the top 20 cities for gay seniors considering its weather and low cost of living. And clearly, if you’re hitched, ABQ’s appealing.
4. Sin City, Las Vegas NV
- LGBTQ Population – Vegas proper’s 4.6% and Vegas metro’s 3.9% queer.
- Cost of Living – The cost of living in Vegas comes in just 1% lower than the national average, making it one of the lower-ranked gay cities on our big gay list. Rents run 63% lower than NYC, though, and the local purchasing power’s a massive 28% higher than in the NYC. Your buck goes a long way, giving you plenty of money to gamble save and invest.
- Gayborhoods – Vegas is so much more than a gambling city. It has a thriving arts and hipster districts in both its downtown and East Fremont areas, the latter of which is home to Vegas’ LGBTQ center. Additional areas, such as North Las Vegas, Paradise and McNeil Manor have higher concentrations of queer peeps.
- More to Know – Advocate named Vegas the 21st gayest city in the US in 2014. Having just spent a few weeks in Vegas’ metro, we can attest to its openness to two men holding hands without fear.
5. Sac city/Gay city Sacramento CA
- LGBTQ Population – Sacramento’s city is 9.8% and its metro is 5.5% LGBTQ.
- Cost of Living – It’s hard to not have a city in CA on this list because the whole state is pretty damn expensive, especially near concentrations of queer folks. Sacramento’s cost of living is about 19% higher than the national average, but rents are 54% cheaper than NYC and local purchasing power is 15% higher than NYC. So, there’s a yin and a yang.
- Gayborhoods – The neighborhoods of Curtis Park, Land Park, McKinley, Hershel, East Portal and Lubin, are gay-friendly areas. But the gayest of gay hoods in Sac City is Lavender Heights.
- More to Know – For the high cost of living, you get a very LGBTQ-supportive community and city council. Plus, there are numerous LGBTQ-friendly social groups, such as the Sacramento LGBT Tennis Association, the Lambda Players Theatrical Group and more.
10 gay cities around the world
1. Montreal, CA
Montreal’s gay village, which runs along Rue Sainte-Catherine, is one of the most cohesive and fun gay villages in the world. It’s packed with gay bars, restaurants, clubs, shopping and Pride displays, making every LGBTQ visitor or resident feel welcome.
Although many in the area speak French as the native tongue, many can speak English with the common courtesy of visitors saying, “Bonjour! Je ne parle pas français.”
On average, you’d spend about half as much living in Montreal than in NYC, with a cosmopolitan vibe and access to great LGBTQ amenities. Rent, specifically, runs about 72% lower than NYC.
2. Mexico City, MX
Mexico City’s becoming one of the top LGBTQ gems in the Western Hemisphere with its Zona Rosa where many gay bars, restaurants and shops have popped up. Same-sex marriage became legal in Mexico in 2010, five years prior to the United States.
Like many large cities in the U.S., Mexico City became a safe place for LGBTQ folks in the 20th century and thus the LGBTQ community grew and became stronger with many of the same features common in US gay cities.
On average, you’d spend about 30% less living in Mexico City than in NYC. Learning Spanish is key to living it up at a lower cost in Mexico City. Rent’s about 80% lower than in the Big Apple, which means you’d have access to residences than anything you’d get in NYC for the same price or less.
3. Sitges, ES
Sitges is a seaside town of about 29,000 people, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s a small and unwelcoming to LGBTQ people. Sitges is a 45-minute train ride south of Barcelona, which allows access at a much lower cost of living. Rents run between $800-1,000 a month for a 2-bedroom/2-bathroom apartment. Plus, it’s a gay mecca for vacationers and retirees, full of gay bars, restaurants, beaches, shopping and LGBTQ-themed celebrations all year long.
Two of the biggest celebrations each year are Carnaval with a gay influence and an estimated 60,000 visitors over the weeklong event, and Pride, which brings in 45,000 folks from around the area. In addition, International Bear Week each September attracts gay bears, cubs and bear lovers from all over the globe, making it the high revenue-generating two-week period each year.
Since 1996, when a few locals with anti-LGBTQ sentiments influenced the murder of a gay waiter, the City of Sitges has come out strongly condemning those actions and supporting a free and equal community for all in the area. Because of this, queer folks have become even more attracted to the beautiful beaches, low cost of living and the vibrant Catalan lifestyle.
4. Dublin, IR
The Dublin of today is very different from that of U2 and the Cranberry videos of the 80s and 90s. Dublin saw a revival when taxes were lowered for both residents and corporations, the latter of which attracted jobs and job seekers from all over Ireland and Europe.
In 2015, roughly 4% of folks polled said they identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual. With LGBTQ rights since improving in Ireland, that’s likely higher now. Some neighborhoods in the gay city, such as Stoneybatter, Grand Canal Dock and Christchurch have over 8% of residents in same-sex couples. Holy moly!
Because of the high demand for nicer neighborhoods, jobs and the influx of money, prices in Dublin are not as low as many other European cities. But they’re much lower than NYC and many other US cities, with rents about 40% less and overall cost of living about 30% lower than the Big Apple.
5. Johannesburg, SA
Did you know that South Africa’s constitution is one of the few in the world that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation? That’s more progress than the US, many European countries and gay cities to which we flock for travel and living.
NBC Out named South Africa as one of the 15 best countries for Expat Americans to move, too.
It’s roughly 70% cheaper to live in Johannesburg than NYC with rents running 83% cheaper. Your dollar will stretch further, too, especially if your earnings come from the US – taking advantage of geoarbitrage.
6. Melbourne, AU
Melbourne’s Australia’s second-largest city and the largest city in the state of Victoria, wherein the 2016 census showed that 27.1% of all same-sex couples lived. This makes it second only to New South Wales, Sydney’s home. Overall, roughly 3% of Australians identify as gay, lesbian or other, compared to just 2.6% in the US.
Melbourne’s most expensive city on this international list because of its size and Australia’s booming economy. That being said, the cost of living in Melbourne is about 45% lower than NYC, with rents being a big chunk of that at about 63% below NYC.
7. Bangkok, TH
Bangkok’s long been a draw for LGBTQ people because of its diversity and low cost of living. In 2017, the queer community, via a reader poll, named Bangkok the second most gay-friendly city in Asia, behind Tel Aviv.
In 2018, estimates of the LGBTQ population of Thailand was 8%, well above any other country on this list. Thailand enacted comprehensive anti-discrimination laws covering sexual orientation and gender identity in 2015, although many locals still feel that discrimination exists.
Including rent, living in Bangkok would cost you about 60% less than living in NYC. Rent’s approximately 75% cheaper.
8. San Jose, CR
San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and near the center of the country. It’s also the epicenter of LGBTQ activity in Costa Rica. 2019 was the first year that a president of Costa Rica marched in its annual Pride Parade, which attracts over 100,000 people. Same-sex marriage is set to become legal in 2020, as well.
The cost of living in San Jose would run about 61% lower than in NYC with rent coming in about 80% lower. This makes San Jose one of the most affordable international gay cities for queer Expats.
9. San Juan, PR
Puerto Rico’s a commonwealth of the United States and, thus, there many similar legal protections. Some protections, such as anti-discrimination employment laws, which the U.S. still doesn’t have, have been in place in Puerto Rico since 2013.
San Juan has a thriving gay scene, with many bars, restaurants, shops and hotels that are either LGBTQ-owned or are LGBTQ-friendly.
Like many other cities on this list, rents in San Juan are much cheaper than in NYC. In fact, rents run about 76% lower, keeping San Juan’s overall cost of living about 52% below NYC’s.
10. Tel Aviv, Israel
The queer capital of the Middle East, Tel Aviv, is full of great food, shopping, LGBTQ bars and clubs, beaches and festivals. In 2017, LGBTQ people named Tel Aviv the most gay-friendly city in Asia.
Rents in Tel Aviv run about 55% below NYC and overall costs are 33% lower.
10 best gay cities for gay singles
5 best expensive gay cities for gay singles
- San Francisco CA – 44.7% of folks are single, 6.2% of folks are LGBTQ, Business Insider ranked it the 13th best city for LGBT singles
- Boston MA – 39.2% of folks are single, 4.8% are LGBTQ
- Los Angeles CA – 37.7% of residents are single, 4.6% of are queer, Business Insider named it the 12th best city for LGBTQ singles
- Ft. Lauderdale FL – 37.2% of people are single, 4.2% (Miami metro) of folks are LGBTQ
- Seattle WA – 36.3% of folks are single, 4.8% are LGBT
5 best low-cost gay cities for gay singles
- Detroit MI – 44% of folks are single, 3.9% are LGBT, Business Insider ranked it the 9th best city for LGBT singles
- New Orleans LA – 39.1% of folks are single, 5.1% are LGBTQ, #1 2019 by Business Insider for the best gay dating scene
- Las Vegas NV – 37% of folks are single, 4.3% of folks are queer
- Albuquerque NM – 36.8% of folks are single, as mentioned earlier ABQ has a high percentage of same-sex couples, making it 5th in the country
- Memphis TN – 36.5% of folks are single, 3.1% of residents are queer
8 best cities for gay couples
- San Francisco/Oakland CA – Both cities rank high for both male and female same-sex couples, a great location for tech jobs and 6.2% of LGBTQ population.
- Seattle WA – Seattle ranks high for both male and female same-sex couples, another great location for tech jobs and a queer population of 4.8%.
- Portland OR – Portland ranks high for both male and female same-sex couples, 8.8% for the city and 6.1% for the metro area respectively and Advocate named it the 20th gayest city in the US in 2014.
- Washington DC – DC ranks high for both male and female same-sex couples, high for same-sex couples and high for job seekers. It’s also the city with the highest LGBTQ concentration in the nation, 8.6%. It’s a very expensive city but has access to high paying jobs for those with the experience for the right fields.
- Long Beach CA – Long Beach ranks high for both male and female same-sex couples. Plus, it’s more relaxed than LA with a slightly lower cost of living.
- New York, NY – NYC ranks high for both male and female same-sex couples. With access to pretty much anything you’d want for food, entertainment and lifestyle, the cost of living is the highest in the country. That said, there are pockets, such as Brooklyn and Astoria, where rent is more reasonable and daily needs can be more easily met than other pockets in NYC.
- Minneapolis MN – Minneapolis ranks high for both male and female same-sex couples.
- Albuquerque NM – ABQ ranks high for female same-sex couples and has a low cost of living for those who want to raise a family. Albuquerque offers warmer weather than many northern cities on the list. Plus, the low cost of living allows for more travel, dining out and investing for retirement. Albuquerque ranks as one of the best places for queer retirement, too.
More information about the best places for queer people to retire can be found here.
5 best cities for LGBTQ millennials
- Boston MA – 39.2% of folks are single, 4.8% of folks are LGBTQ and Boston ranked high in WalletHub’s best cities for job seekers.
- Washington DC – DC ranks high for same-sex couples, as well as high for job seekers. It’s also the city in the nation with the highest queer concentration, at 8.6% of the population, which is good for finding a partner or a roommate.
- Orlando FL – 4.1% of the population ID as LGBTQ. WalletHub gave Orlando the highest ranking for job seekers, in addition, roughly 33% of the population is single.
- Phoenix AZ – Phoenix’s city is 6.4% and its metro is 4.8% identify as queer. Business Insider ranked it the 13th best city for LGBTQ singles, but it has two areas nearby, Chandler and Scottsdale, that both rank great for job seekers. Phoenix also has a lower cost of living than most LGBTQ-dense cities.
- Denver CO – Our own Denver’s become the mecca of the west, making it a home to some of the highest numbers of LGBTQ and Millennial folks. Denver’s cost of living has gone up over the past few years, yet it’s still much cheaper than San Fran or NYC. There are thriving arts, microbrew and outdoor enthusiast scenes, too.
How to finalize where you want to move
The American Moving and Storage Association says the average cost of to another state (moving 7,400 pounds 1,225 miles) is about $4,300 and the average cost of moving with your state (4 movers moving 7,400 pounds at $200 per hour) is about $2,300.
With that in mind, how do you budget and plan for a move? We share 15 steps below.
Checklist for moving out of state
There’s more to moving than daydreaming or wanting to get out of Dodge. First, you want to be sure where you’re moving to is better than where you’re moving from. We like the places listed above but you might not.
Second, you’ll need to get your ducks in a row to make your move happen successfully. That’s what we spell out in the list below. Complete these 15 steps and it’ll be smooth sailing to the new gay city you’ll soon call home in no time.
1. Visit new states or cities to move to
Once you picked the two or three cities you’d consider moving to, it’s time to decide which city wins your coveted crown. Here’s our 2-step plan to do just that.
The best part is that you get a mini-vacation with each visit and you’ll start funding your actual move.
First, apply for a cash back rewards credit card. You’ll need a credit card from the start to the end of your move. It’ll make life easier and offer some protection. Examples include booking your Airbnb and flights to scope each city, as we recommend below, to hiring your moving company and buying your packing materials.
Second, schedule a trip to each city by booking both an Airbnb stay and, for cities that aren’t within driving distance, flights. We recommend staying in each city for three to five days, ideally including both week and weekend days. Try to book your Airbnb in the neighborhood(s) you’d most like to live in, if possible.
Using Airbnb rather than hotels will help you save money. Plus, if you get an Airbnb with a kitchen or kitchenette, you’ll save money by cooking most of your meals at the Airbnb.
2. Find a place to live once you pick a state or city
Once you pick the new gay city you’ll call home, pick a place to live. If you’re buying a home, hire a real estate agent. The agent will assess your budget and needs, then find suitable homes for your review. Hopefully, from there, you find the perfect home and make an offer.
The right agent can make or break this experience. So, pick the right gal or guy.
Of course, you may prefer or need to rent an apartment. Renting makes more sense than buying, too, until you’re 100% sure you want to live in your new city for more than five years.
Apartment hunting can be even harder than house hunting because so many apartments can feel the same, and like most guys on first dates, they can put on a good face until you make it your home and realize it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
You can now estimate that your move will cost between $2,300 to $4,300, and the sooner you start budgeting the better. This’ll ensure Dorothy doesn’t find herself broke before she clicks her heels. To avoid that, we’ve got two resources for you.
Sign up for our Budget Buster Bundle. With this bundle, we’ll walk you step-by-step with creating a dynamic budget that we and all our course members use. It’s super-detailed and will help you incorporate all your future moving expenses, so you aren’t caught off guard and aren’t stressed out.
4. Prepare to move yourself
If you decide to physically move everything yourself to save even more money, you’ll need a truck. Gone are the days of throwing everything you own in the back of a VW.
U-Haul has a great reputation and has proven itself to be easy and reliable to use. In fact, I used U-Haul to move from Central Pennsylvania to Denver Colorado after I decided to make my own move to my own gay city.
If you’d rather not drive your own truck, cause it can be kinda scary, hook yourself up with U-Pack once all your boxes are packed. U-Pack will deliver you a crate to put all your items, then you have three business days to load your crate before U-Pack returns to pick up your crate and move it to your new home.
Upon arrival, you unpack everything yourself, and you save yourself a ton of money compared to hiring movers.
Remember to use the credit card you sign up for in step 1 to book your reservation.
5. Or, hire movers
If you choose to hire movers, do so ASAP so you have the flexibility to pick moving dates that work best for you. If you wait too close to moving day, you’ll have to be flexible with your dates. Fortunately, you can also hire U-Haul’s movers to move your stuff.
Again, remember to use the credit card you sign up for in step 1 to book your reservation.
6. Buy moving insurance
Moving’s not easy, things break and people can get hurt. So, protect yourself and your assets by purchasing moving insurance. It’s better to pay the small premium for insurance than to arrive at your new home with your dining room table broken into two.
7. Clean house
The less you have to move, the cheaper and easier it will be to move. Here are four ways to downsize.
- Go all Marie Kondo and decide which of your belongings actually spark joy.
- Take the 12-12-12 Challenge: Pick 12 items to throw away, 12 to give away and 12 to be returned to their proper home.
- Try the 4-Box Method: Grab 3 boxes and a trashcan. Label the boxes “Put Away,” “Give Away” and “Sell.” Then, fill up each box and the trashcan accordingly.
- Do the Past/Future Exercise: Assess your emotions with every item you own (clothes, furniture, technology, art, etc.). If it generates a positive vibe, decide if it belongs in your new life in your new gay city. If not, donate it, sell it or trash it. If it generates a negative vibe, donate it, sell it or trash it.
While you’re doing this exercise, remember that there are people in need. Before trashing anything, decide if you want to give it to a loved one or donate it to your local LGBTQ Center that has a donation program or Goodwill.
8. Start packing
Once you’ve unloaded your non-essentials, start packing. Set a goal of packing one to two boxes a day over several weeks and packing won’t feel so painful.
9. Update your utilities
When you’re a month out from your move, start updating the utilities of yours that you’re moving with you.
Some utilities, electric and landline phones, for example, depending on where you’re moving will follow you. Others, such as cable, you’ll have to cancel where you currently live and reconnect at your new home.
10. Update homeowner’s/renter’s insurance
Also, a month before your move, update your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, as appropriate. Even though you’re calling in advance of your official move, your insurance company or companies will be able to schedule the ending or starting or your insurance at the appropriate times.
11. Say farewell
Moving week will be hectic. If you wait until then to say goodbye to everyone, you’ll go crazy and you’ll forget someone. Start saying your goodbyes two weeks out. This way you won’t miss someone, and you reduce moving-week-stress.
12. Update and forward your mail
Two weeks before your move, let everyone and everything, including the US Postal Service, know that you’re moving and what your new address is. Most of these updates, including the US Postal Service, can be made online to save a ton of time and hassle.
13. Get your new driver’s license and vehicle registration
Once you’ve moved, update your driver’s license and vehicle registration. If you’re moving in-state, this can be updated online in most states. If you’re moving out of state, you’ll likely have to – UGH! – go to the DMV.
Sorry, but it’s true.
But busting this out sooner rather than later will make your life way easier to start. Plus, doing so will update your permanent residence for your voter registration. You don’t want to miss voting in an election, both local and national.
14. Purchase pet license and tags
If you have a pet, update your pet’s license and tags as soon as you move. You don’t want Fido to get in trouble with the local authorities. That’s too scary for both of you.
15. Update/buy pet insurance
While you’re updating your pet’s license and tags, update or buy adequate pet insurance.
Live fabulously in affordable gay cities
The leading spends in the LGBTQ community are travel, dining out, entertainment and personal hygiene – gurlz gotta have good hair.
None of these are cheap, and they’re made less affordable if rent, transportation and taxes eat up most of your income. So, what do most of us do when we’re confronted with high living expenses and the desire for a fabulous life?
We use our credit cards to support a lifestyle we can’t afford, rather than use them strategically and in our favor.
Thus, the reason why credit card debt is the leading financial concern of queer people. But personal security and financial security don’t need to be mutually exclusive. Living in one of the affordable gay cities above will give you the best of both.
More tips for preparing for a big move:
- Why Nothing Will Change Until You Change Your Mind
- Freelance Writing Income Nets Gay Writers $60,000 a Year