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Top 10 most LGBT-friendly places to retire in America

A woman dances in the street in the French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Sean Gardner | Getty Images

An estimated 4.5% of the U.S. adult population, or about 11 million people, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to a May 2018 Gallup report.

Research also shows that the gay population skews younger, with just 23% age 50 or older. So in America, some cities are more LGBT-friendly when it comes to retirement. Senior Advice, a website that focuses on senior living, recently ranked the best cities for LGBT people to retire in 2019.

For its report, Senior Advice looked at multiple factors, including the percentage of LGBT population in the area, the city's score on to the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index (HRCME, which looks at things like laws, policies and services for LGBTQ people), LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce presence, the number of gay-friendly senior communities, local and state legislation protecting the LGBTQ community and cost of living (based on things like housing, food, transportation and healthcare).

Here are the top 10 cities for LGBT people to retire.

1. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, known for its historic French Quarter, is a "haven" for the LBGT community due to its "abundance of gay inclusiveness," according to Senior Advice.

The city has a Gay Easter Parade, Southern Decadence (an annual gay festival and parade held around Labor Day each year) and more than a dozen gay bars. It's also one of the cities in North America with the largest LGBT population (5.1%), according to The Street.

Home healthcare costs average $36,608 annually, according to Senior Advice, which are "very low" compared to national costs, and the overall cost of living in New Orleans is "average" compared to the national average.

2. West Palm Beach, Florida

West Palm Beach has more than 40 miles of beaches, plenty of shopping — like 40 antique shops on Antique Row in its Arts and Design District — and while relatively small, there is gay nightlife, including popular neighborhood gay bar H.G. Roosters, which has been in business since 1984.

In 2018, West Palm Beach adopted an LGBTQ-inclusive resolution to eliminate bullying at city facilities and in city programs.

Home healthcare costs average $37,477 annually, which are very low compared to national costs, according to Senior Advice, but the overall cost of living is "very high" compared to national averages.

3. Tucson, Arizona

With a perfect score on the HRCMEI, Tucscon is one of the "fastest growing retirement destinations in the nation," according to SeniorAdvice, which also notes it's an affordable city with warm weather all year, with great food scene, particularly Mexican cuisine.

University of Arizona's Institute For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies there is one of the first of its kind, according to SeniorAdvice, and Tuscon was the first Arizona city to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents and city workers back in 1999.

The overall cost of living is "average" compared to national averages, according to Senior Advice.

4. Toledo, Ohio

Toledo scored 100 on HRCMEI in 2018, climbing from a score of 70 in 2013, showing it's made great strides to become more gay friendly. Conversion Therapy is banned in Toledo, and there are anti-discrimination protections, according to SeniorAdvice, like equal employment opportunity laws and housing non-discrimination laws.

Toledo is also one of the top 10 U.S. cities where you can buy a house for under $100,000. The city's overall cost of living is "average" compared to national averages, according to Senior Advice.

The city is known for its art and culture, including Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo Zoo and Toledo Botanical Garden.

5. Alexandria, Virginia

A few miles from Washington D.C., Alexandria, Virginia has abundant outdoor spaces, from parks to nature trails, and it has more than 100 golf courses, according to Senior Advice.

The Alexandria metro area (which includes Washington D.C. and Arlington) has a LGBT population of about 4% and a senior population of 13%, according to Senior Advice, and Alexandria has non-discrimination laws and provides transgender-inclusive health benefits for city employees. There are LGBT organizations that are supportive of gay seniors, like Alexandria Gay and Lesbian Community Organization, The DC Center for the LGBT Community and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Veteran Care.

Though assisted living and adult care costs are significantly higher than the national average in Washington, DC, the average cost of home healthcare is $44,044 per year, which is lower than the national average of $46,197, according to Senior Advice. The overall cost of living is "very high" compared to national averages.

6. Tempe, Arizona

Tempe is a few miles east of Phoenix and has everything from the mountains to the desert as well as museums, festivals and galleries. Seniors are almost 10% of the city's population, according to Senior Advice, and there is a LGBT population of about 5% in the state.

The city has scored 100 out of 100 on the HRCMEI for the last five years in a row and Tempe celebrates gay pride with Phoenix Pride every May.

Assisted living, nursing home and home healthcare costs are "average" as compared to national levels, but the overall cost of living is high in Tempe compared to national averages, according to Senior Advice.

7. Fort Lauderdale, Florida

An hour north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale has 23 miles of beaches, scenic parks and canals, and strings of restaurants and shops run parallel to the beach.

Senior advice calls Fort Lauderdale the "gay capital city" of Florida and says it's a mecca for the gay locals and visitors alike. There is a small gay nightlife scene, and Senior Advice also singles out Wilton Manor, a community there of nearly 12,000 with a 14% LGBT population, according to the site, and it's considered Florida's most famous gay neighborhood.

Broward County enforces local ordinances protecting LGBTQ rights involving housing, employment, services and other discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation, according to Senior Advice, and Fort Lauderdale has many LGBT organizations, including Senior Action in a Gay Environment (SAGE) and Sunserve, an organization that provides life assistance and mental health services to the LGBTQ community.

Fort Lauderdale ranked in the top five best U.S. places to retire overall, according to WalletHub, with an affordability rank of 76 out of 100 (based on cost of living, taxpayer friendliness, retired taxpayer friendliness, tax friendliness of on estate or inheritance tax, annual cost of in-home services and annual cost of adult day health care).

The overall cost of living is "very high" compared to national averages, according to Senior Advice.

8. Austin, Texas

Austin, ranked the No. 1 place to live in America in 2019, is a "big city with a small-town heart," according to Lonely Planet. It has a lively music scene, plenty of parks and lakes and it's ranked as one of the best foodie cities in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report. Its annual gay pride festival attracts 25,000 attendees every summer, according to Senior Advice.

Austin is an "oasis" for LGBT seniors who account for just over 5% of the city's population, according to Senior Advice. And there are organizations for LGBT seniors like Austin Prime Timers, a group for gay senior locals, and Austin LGBT Coalition on Aging, a group helping to improve the future of LGBT older adults.

The city scored a perfect score on the HRCMEI, and the Austin City Council formed the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Quality of Life Advisory Commission in 2017.

Assisted living and home healthcare costs are "high" compared to national figures, but adult daycare costs average $15,600 per year, "low" compared to national numbers, according to Senior Advice. The overall cost of living is "average" compared to the national average.

9. Dayton, Ohio

Dayton has more than 300 miles of paved trails and an abundance of parks for outdoor enthusiasts. It's also home to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, which has a collection of vintage aircrafts, and other great sites like Dayton International Peace Museum and Carillon Historical Park, bringing attention to the city's rich history.

Dayton has a ban on conversion therapy, has a perfect score on the HRCMEI and there is a non-discrimination ordinance on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in private employment, housing and public accommodations, according to Senior Advice.

There are organizations that cater to the LGBT senior community, like Rainbow Elder Care of Greater Dayton and Senior Resource Connection, which helps seniors "maintain independence and dignity."

The cost of living in Dayton, Ohio, is low compared to similar Ohio cities, according to Senior Advice, and 9% lower than the national average, according to PayScale. The median home value in Dayton, Ohio is $66,500, making it one of the top 10 U.S. cities you can buy a home for under $100,000.

10. Tampa, Florida

Sunny Tampa is close to other popular beach towns like Clearwater and St. Petersburg (15 minutes by car), it has a thriving restaurant scene and cultural experiences, like the Tampa Theatre (built in 1926), Ybor, which is the center of the city's Latin community, a National Historic Landmark District and Busch Gardens theme park.

It also has a perfect score on the HRCMEI, and Tampa offers many LGBT events, like Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Tampa LGBT Meetup Groups and Tampa Pride that's held every March (the next one is March 28, 2020). Nearby beachtown St. Petersburg is June 21 to 23. In April, Jane Castor was elected Tampa's first openly gay mayor.

The LGBT population is estimated to be over 6% in Tampa, according to Senior Advice.

Assisted living costs are "low" compared to national figures, and home healthcare costs are "average," according to Senior Advice, while the overall cost of living is "low" compared to national averages.

Correction: The story has been updated to reflect Tampa Pride is held every March, and St. Petersburg Pride is June 21 to 23.

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A woman dances in the street in the French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Sean Gardner | Getty Images
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