10 retirement communities where you can live as your authentic self

10 retirement communities where you can live as your authentic self
Photo: Stonewall Gardens

Finding a safe and supportive environment to age in place has become increasingly possible in recent years in traditionally friendly enclaves. San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Wilton Manors (near Miami), and Provincetown, MA, are some of the towns and cities where older adults can continue to live their best lives in the gayborhood.

For many, though, a planned community is the preferred destination. A growing number are built and run with LGBTQ retirees in mind. Still, with an estimated 2.7 million people in that group, supply dedicated to this population segment has a long way to go to catch up with demand.

Here’s a list of 10 communities at the leading edge of serving LGBTQ retirees. From high-rises to log cabins, like-minded neighbors can also find comfortable living from coast to coast – and on the golf course.

1. Fountaingrove Lodge  Santa Rosa, CA

Fountaingrove Lodge

If you’re looking for a resort-like community with a continuum of care, Fountaingrove Lodge is ideal. Amenities on the 10-acre campus in Santa Rosa, CA, include golf, fine dining, a comprehensive wellness program featuring fitness instruction, and, as residents age, in-home continued care services. A memory center program for residents with cognitive impairment related to Alzheimer’s or dementia eases the burden of care for loved ones.

2. Stonewall Gardens  Palm Springs, CA

Stonewall Gardens

In California, Palm Springs is already a mecca, so it makes sense that the desert oasis would be home to a first-class assisted living community for finding your chosen family. The development has 24 units and comes with the features you’d expect such as chef-prepared meals and an on-site nurse. It also offers multiple levels of medical care.

3. The John C. Anderson Apartments  Philadelphia, PA

John C. Anderson Apartments

Life at the John C. Anderson Apartments in Philadelphia, located in the middle of the city’s gayborhood, centers around the 6000 sqft garden courtyard maintained by building residents. Built in 2014 with community input, the modern, airy complex features 67 affordable one-bedroom apartments with ceramic-tiled baths, wall-to-wall carpeting, and sun-filled, open floor plans, plus a community room adjacent to the courtyard for events, and retail shops serving senior needs on the ground floor, including a convenient coffee spot.

4. The Resort on Carefree Boulevard  Ft. Myers, FL

Resort at Carefree Boulevard

Options for lesbian-only communities are few, but this Ft. Myers retirement village is a popular choice. The site features 278 home and RV lots on 50 acres, many overlooking two women-made freshwater lakes. Amenities include a clubhouse with pool, fitness center, hot tub, billiards room, library, clay room with kiln, card room, “a really great dance floor” and a wide variety of art programs, plus tennis, pickleball, shuffleboard, and bocce courts.

5. Carefree Cove  Ashe Co., NC

Carefree Cove

This 165-acre gated community started as an entirely queer development but has welcomed straight allies in growing numbers. Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northwestern North Carolina, the forested community features 28 log-cabin homes and 78 lots available to build on; major development was stalled in the last recession. The tranquil setting, which includes a mountain stream and plenty of wildlife, is the development’s most-prized amenity.

6. Birds of a Feather  Pecos, MN

Birds of a Feather/Lucas Matthew Stein

Just 30 minutes outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, Birds of a Feather is a 140-acre gated community founded in 2004. The independent living compound is designed for aging in place, with up to 3 acres ready for building either a custom home or one of several plans designed by architects for the community.

7. Rainbow Vista  Gresham, OR

Rainbow Vista

Fifteen miles from Portland, OR., you’ll find Rainbow Vista, an apartment development geared toward active seniors. Studios and one-bedrooms come with a kitchenette, with prices ranging up to $1,245 per month. The communal facilities include a large event space, a video theatre, an exercise room, a game room with a pool table, and a music room.

8. A Place for Us  Cleveland, OH

A Place for Us

For those not into snowbirding south for retirement, this modern apartment complex in Cleveland, Ohio, offers city living in affordably priced one and two-bedroom apartments, plus amenities like a fitness center and community room. Conveniently located close to transit, shopping, and parks. It’s the first LGBTQ-friendly senior housing complex in the state.

9. Town Hall Apartments  Chicago, IL

Town Hall Apartments

Chicago’s Town Hall Apartments, located in the North Halsted gay district, comprises two buildings: a historic former police station and a colorful new six-story building next door featuring 79 units dedicated to affordable senior housing. Studio and one-bedroom apartments offer sweeping city views; a senior center provides programs, services, and a full-time social worker. Outside, a sprawling, second-floor rooftop terrace is a popular destination, while the community Rainbow Room features event programming. The building also has a fitness and computer area. 60 percent of residents are LGBTQ older adults.

10. Village Hearth  Durham, NC

Village Hearth

Located on 15 acres in Durham, North Carolina, Village Hearth is a first-of-its-kind cohousing community that includes 28 single-story, fully equipped cottages with open floor plans, skylights, vaulted ceilings, and hardwood floors. The main complex features a common house with a gourmet kitchen, plus exercise, game, and craft rooms.

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