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5 Affordable Gay Cities You’re Forgetting

  August 31, 2017  |    #Live Fabulously

The ditty on gay cities 

What the eff are gay cities? Gay cities are cities, big or small – size doesn’t matter – that are openly friendly to queer people. From New York City to San Francisco and Pittsburg to Portland, if I can walk down the street and holding my husband’s hand without fear, it’s a gay city. If you are looking to move, get your 22 point Moving Affordability Checklist here. 

Note: This article contains affiliate links. This means we’ll receive a small commission at no cost to you if you buy items through these links. We only recommend products that we use or have thoroughly vetted and would recommend to our moms.

Migration to the gay cities

For decades, there’s been a migration of corn-fed boys and small-town girls with big city dreams to major cities that became the norm within the LGBT community.

Not long-ago gays and lesbians had to hide in bigger gay cities — like San Francisco, the queen of all gayborhoods — if we wanted to live our lives as ourselves. We gathered in pockets of less desirable neighborhoods in these larger cities.

The Castro in San Francisco today is not The Castro of Harvey Milk. Chelsea in New York City and Boystown in Chicago weren’t the exclusive enclaves they are today. Pre-1980, these neighborhoods were dirty, crime-ridden places citizens forgot and governments hoped to forget.

With the number of people these cities housed, it was easy for gays and lesbians to hide in plain sight. It’s been either irony or recompense that these places of refuge made many marginalized residents marginally rich with their DIY skills long before shirtless HGTV stars showed them how.


Live fabulously in affordable gay cities

Times have changed and, in many parts of the country, we no longer need to seek refuge. There’s still a draw to these bigger cities — one that now poses a financial problem. While real estate and the cost of living has increased nationwide since the 1970s — exponentially so in these first- and second-tier metros — many once affordable gay locales are now million-dollar enclaves Google employees can’t even afford. For gays and lesbians who don’t earn six figures, that’s a problem.

To be sure, today’s economy requires multiple streams of income and an entrepreneurial spirit. That’s why we’re advocating for more queer people to become gay bloggers. This can increase your streams of income to make more money at your own pace and on your own time. We’re also advocating for more people of “alternative lifestyles” to consider alternative residence.

Big city, empty pockets

While it’s fabulous to live in a city with tons things to do seven nights of the week with millions of people who look, talk and act like you, it’s also easy to become fabulously broke there. Here is the cost of living numbers for premier gay cities per PayScale:

  • 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 incomes just to afford to live in one of those premier gay cities. If you’re committed to living on one of the above or other expensive cities, commit to starting your own business to generate income.

Smaller cities, bigger pockets

Gays and lesbians today should know that the door out of the closet doesn’t just lead to these emerald cities. Here are five alternative and amazing gay cities that rank in the top 15 for the highest concentration of LGBT per capita and have a more affordable cost of living. Best of all, when budgeted correctly, most queer residents in these gay cities can quickly hop on a plane and visit any of the above with the click of their heels.

Use This Moving Affordability Checklist to Plan Your Next Move!

  1. Austin, Texas

Austin boasts an LGBT population of 5.3% of the general population. Its cost of living is 3% below the national average and housing is 4% below the national average. Austin has an amazing music scene and is becoming a mecca for comedy and improv theater. It’s also known for great food, yet is one of the fittest cities in Texas. Austin’s gay community bookends the summer with Splash Days on Memorial and Labor Day weekends, which is the place to be Memorial and Labor Day weekends. For a full breadth of entertainment, fun and gay community, Austin may be your best bet.

  1. Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City is not the Sal Tlay Ka Siti we’ve come to love from The Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City’s LGBT people make up a solid 4.7% of the total population. Its cost of living is just 8% over the national average, and its housing is 33% over the national average. Salt Lake City is close to premier skiing and cycling destinations and has a growing music scene with free concerts in Pioneer Park.

  1. New Orleans, Louisiana

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 jealous and is a foodie’s buffet. With as much history as hurricanes, of both the wind/water and libation varieties. Lastly, New Orleans is rumored to be the home of David’s favorite drink, the Sazerac. That, alone, might make us move there.

  1. Louisville, Ky.

Louisville’s queer people make up a healthy 4.5% of Louisville’s overall population. Louisville’s cost of living is 10% below the national average, and housing is 22% below the national average. The city is filled with beautiful historic homes and — put on your best hat —it’s home to the Kentucky Derby! Louisville also has a thriving art, culture and zombie scene – yes, zombie scene; it’s the site of one of the world’s biggest annual Zombie Walks.

  1. Jacksonville, Fla.

Jacksonville can be proud of its 4.3% of LGBTQ people in it’s The River City. Jacksonville’s cost of living is 4% below the national average and housing is 15% below the national average. If you want to live near the beach, but can’t afford it, Jacksonville is the next best thing and much better than the movie of the same name. Jacksonville has a thriving downtown scene, including great restaurant and nightlife. It also has the largest urban park system in the U.S.

The above list isn’t all-inclusive of the best third- and fourth-tier cities for queer people to live, but they’ll give you money conscious considerations to live fabulously, not fabulously broke even with a single job. With multiple streams of income, you could be sitting like the queen or king you want to be.

What affordable gay cities do you recommend?


Note: This article contains affiliate links. This means we’ll receive a small commission at no cost to you if you buy items through these links. We only recommend products that we use or have thoroughly vetted and would recommend to our moms.

18 responses to “5 Affordable Gay Cities You’re Forgetting

  1. I can definitely agree with you that New York City is EXPENSIVE!!! Going out with your friends and ordering just one drink can cost you $15 when you can get that same exact drink for $7 anywhere else!!

  2. You missed Columbus Ohio. We have one of the largest gay populations in the Mid-west, second only to Chicago. Plus we’re the home to a multitude of large companies, so there are plenty of jobs to go around. Check us out!

    1. Thanks for the hint. We didn’t find Columbus ranking high on the per capita for LGBT populations. Maybe the lists we were looking at need some updating. We are going to be in Akron for a speaking event in 2017. We may have to drive on over.

  3. Hey David! It’s Zanaan; thanks for including Salt Lake City on your list. I moved from Denver to Salt Lake and I always tell people it’s the biggest best kept gay secret in America!! The LGBTQ community is thriving here in the city, with a Lesbian Mayor, Gay city council members, booming economy and one of the largest populations of gay families with children, it’s no wonder why Salt Lake City is being touted as the new San Francisco.

    1. Thanks Mike, we may need to add that to our list. We also pull from the listing of cities with higher than average LGBT populations. I am not sure where LV stands on that list. Do you?

  4. I certainly hope that you don’t truly believe that Louisville, KY is a city where gay couples can walk down the street, holding hands, without experiencing frequent comments, jeers, or threats! To believe that, would only demonstrate that you haven’t done so yourself. And if you have, and didn’t have a negative experience, then I assure you, it’s not the norm!

  5. Looking for a safe and gay friendly- gay population city with a large Asian and Pacific Islander presence

    Healthcare is a very important consideration

  6. Austin has gotten much more expensive over the past several years and only getting worse. Our diverse neighborhood (ethnically and LGBTQ, older ppl and families) is becoming less so because of housing prices and property taxes. It’s sad and we’re looking for a less expensive place to retire when the time comes.

  7. Do you have a list of the best LGBTQ small towns? I would love to find a quaint town that it is gay friendly and liberal, somewhere out of the South, and somewhere that hasn’t become overly gentrified. I know, that’s a lot to ask for.

    1. Replying to Jeremy about seeking small towns in the south that are LGBTQ friendly — it almost doesn’t exist unless you are interested in the small towns near Atlanta like for instance Avondale Estates. To find liberal communities you have to study how these places vote. If predominantly Republican, then go elsewhere. The very best small city in the US I think is Port Townsend, WA. Housing is relatively cheap and cost of living is not exorbitant. No state income tax in Washington state. The closer you get to Seattle, however, is almost cost prohibitive.

  8. I agree with others about SLC being a good place to locate. I’ve considered Austin too, but I think we should let politics be our guide. If for instance one were interested in Louisville, KY, all you have to do is look at who your senators and congressmen are. In Kentucky would you as a LGBTQ person depend on Mich McConnell, Rand Paul, or the up and coming Kim Davis (who got national attention for her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gays) to defend your rights? Nowhere is perfect for us, but don’t set your sights on backwards towns, cities, and states.

  9. I’m a 63 yr old gay woman who is in a nursing home in Novato, CA! I’m basically healthy I just got stuck here due to unfortunate circumstances and nowhere to go! I lived in Northern NJ my whole life and in 2016 my Mother passed away! I had been living with her for 16 years, I gave up my life and at the end I couldn’t take of her or myself any longer! My younger sister suggested I move here for s better life and I thought I was! I thought she was going to help me get back on my feet and find permanent, affordable housing! At the time I did not know the Bay Area was not only the most expensive place to live in the country but the 2nd most expensive in the world! I ended up in shelters at the age of 62! I didn’t know how to do this but somehow I survived! I ended up in a nursing home because of knee surgery and I believe the only reason I’m here still is because of some medical difficulties and because I tried to take my life! I want to live but I want housing I can afford without 3 or 4 20 year olds sharing a bathroom! I want to be honest about who I am and enjoy some of the things I use to! I want to work and help others! I been so abused and taken advantage of and that is not happening any longer either! I have no roots any more I just want my own space and bathroom and to find lgbt friendships again! And possibly even a relationship! I wish my experience here in CA had been better but I wasn’t prepared and I planned to be now! If you can help me find housing without being in the middle of the boon docks where I’d be slaughtered if I used the gay word I’d be grateful! I’m in a nursing home in Novato and believe me a lot of these older people are Trump lovers and they scare the hell out of me! I appreciate the roof over my head but it’s time to find a place to call home and to have a key to my own door! Thank You for your time and listening and I hope you can help me!

    1. I live in Portland and unfortunately it’s not what it seems in terms of being “gay friendly”. Portland was decent for gay and lesbians couples but, a few years ago we started seeing more and more anti-gay religious groups come in and buy the buildings that had many of the gay and lesbian establishments. When they did that they didn’t let the businesses renew their leases or they increased the rent so much that it wasn’t affordable. On top of all this Portland is getting to be on our with Seattle as far as cost of living goes. In fact my husband and I were looking at moving to Chicago, and we discovered the cost of living is higher in Portland than Chicago. So I am glad that Portland didn’t make the list.

  10. I’ve lived in Kentucky my entire life. There are no cities where you can comfortably live as a gay man. Lots of toxic masculinity, racism, and religious ignorance and intolerance. Do yourself a favor and do not move to Louisville.

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