April 30, 2014 | Permalink
Growing up gay is not an easy road to travel, but growing old gay can present a unique set of challenges unto itself. After a lifetime of judgment, consternation, and overcoming obstacles, somewhere along the way you come to own yourself and never look back. So, what would you do if all of that soul searching and self-embrace began to evaporate? What would happen if you felt that you couldn’t be yourself because of where you lived?
Unfortunately, for many LGBT seniors, that is a heartbreaking, unjust reality. Landlord abuse and discriminatory treatment in retirement centers is not uncommon. “Outing Age,” a comprehensive report published by The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, found that LGBT seniors face frequent harassment and compromised care in retirement and assisted-living communities. Another study conducted by National Senior Citizens Law Center found that up to 93 percent of LGBT seniors feared publicly identifying as gay because of suspected ill treatment from residents and staff.
So, here’s the deal. You’ve come way too far to go crawling back into a closet. Here are some tips for staying out and staying proud during your golden years.
Fortify Your Nest Egg
Did you know that 11 percent of the senior population lives below poverty level? Did you also know that strapped financial resources foster detrimental feelings of pressure and isolation that many LGBT seniors experience? That sense of loneliness can vault someone backwards, ending up right where they don’t want or need to be: closeted. Find ways to have a nest egg on tap when you need it. Money isn’t everything — but it can empower your situation when necessary.
Strengthen Your Support Group
According to a Boston Globe article published in December 2012, only 22 percent of LGBT seniors feel comfort being out in long-term care communities. Compared to the substantially larger LGBT population, that number is depressingly small. If you find yourself one of a few, then it’s important to galvanize your tribe. Seek out a support group to revalidate your truth. Not only will you find collective strength to remain vigilant, you just might give someone else the incentive to do the same.
Dive into Exercise
Exercise does wonders for improving mental health and thwarting depression. It’s a great way to counter stress, as well. Take a few minutes of each day and dedicate that time to health-appropriate physical activity. Feeling good is an excellent way to keep the world from trying to make you feel bad.
The wise adage to ‘know thyself’ has never rung truer. Sometimes, it’s important to get back to basics in order to have a healthier future. Meditate, read past journals, and sort through photo albums. Revisit those spaces and instances to remind yourself of who you are. Knowing and being proud of your personal history is a beautiful way to self-validate.
Keep Contact Information Handy
Hope for the best, but prepare for potential ignorance, too. Keep LGBT-friendly resources nearby, including emergency contacts like family, friends, advocates and attorneys. Society is making great strides in tolerance, but a phone list in your pocket provides some extra security.
There’s no doubt that the Philippines is very much at the forefront of Asia’s, if not the world’s established destinations for gay people. The scene thrives here, particularly in the larger cities such as Manila, Cebu, and Davao.
Furthermore, there are two gay retirement villages, Malate in the southern part of Manila towards Manila Bay, and Timog in Quezon City on the island of Luzon.
While the LBGT lifestyle is generally highly respected in this part of the world, at the same time, the Philippines is devoutly Catholic. This may seem to shed something of a backwards inclination on the country as a whole, but in some respects, that can come as somewhat refreshing to the aggressive, in-your-face festivities of our next destination – Thailand.
Although Thailand is not currently host to any gay retirement villages, Bangkok is regarded as being the gay hub of Asia. Arguably however, this is an understatement. Many people see Bangkok and Thailand in general as being the gay ‘capital’ of the world.
Bangkok does not solely tolerate gay people, but rather, it’s a city where being gay is to be revered.
Nevertheless, it’s not merely Bangkok that cherishes the gay lifestyle. Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second city, is also a notable gay destination. While traditional holiday resorts and expat haunts such as Phuket and Pattaya also do a very fine job of courting exuberantly with the gay scene.
We all recognize Brazil as being something of a party haven, whereby various festivals encourage party-seekers to throng the streets and dance the night away. However, it’s also recognized as a superior destination for those who are looking to retire within the gay scene.
Farme de Amoedo Street is located within the heart of the city of Rio de Janeiro. The area plays host to one of three gay villages in Brazil. The other two being located in São Paulo – Frei Caneca Street and Jardins.
Medellin, Colombia’s second city after Bogotá, has more latterly become a real sanctuary for North Americans in general as an enticing place to retire to. Nevertheless, it boasts a particularly upbeat gay culture in itself.
If you’d prefer gay retirement community life, then look to Chapinero in the north eastern region of the Colombian capital city of Bogotá.
France has long been hailed as one of the ultimate destinations to head to if you’re a retiree. And for obvious reasons – the peoples tend to be friendly and welcoming, the food is wholesome and appealing, the culture is rich, the climate attractive, while the cities are romantic and the villages are most thoroughly picturesque. What more would you wish for?
But when it comes to retirement for gays, France also has a lot to offer besides all the above attractions. There are a plethora of gay retirement villages dotted throughout the country. From Le Marais in Paris to Saint Pierre in Bordeaux. From Le-Vieux Lille in Lille, to Vieux Port in Cannes. And from Place du Marché-aux-Fleurs, Promenade du Peyrou in Toulouse, to Grosso Quarter in Nice.
Similar to France, Spain offers a wonderful climate, beautiful beaches, and a rich culture to the visitor and the retiree alike.
Both Barcelona and Madrid provide for a ubiquitous gay culture, while the islands such as Gran Canaria and Ibiza likewise provide attractive options for gay travelers and retirees.
And once again, in the same manner as France, there are numerous gay retirement villages from which to choose.
The most important step to making the most of your pension is to review your situation carefully and often. If you find you’re not getting the most out of your pension, you might want to reassess some of your decisions. If you find that your retirement decisions seem to be going well, there are still other steps you can take to make sure you’re getting the most you can and not letting any valuable money go to waste!
For seniors, and LGBT seniors in particular, saving money during retirement can help ensure that your nest egg lasts longer and life feels comfortable long after you stop working. One of the best ways to help stretch out your pension is by moving to a state with lower taxes.
If moving is an option, look into tax rates before you make a choice. Some states have tax perks for retirees and don’t tax Social Security or pension income. However, property and sales tax rates should be taken into consideration as well, especially if you’re buying instead of renting. Here is some information on six states that don’t tax pension or social security.
With low property taxes and state sales taxes as well as no pension or social security taxes, Alabama is at the top of the list for states to retire to. Not all parts are particularly gay-friendly, however, so do your research or pay a visit before you make any decisions.
The only state in the U.S. with no income or state sales tax, Alaska is a pretty desirable place for retirees! However, property taxes are sky high, so take that into account when you’re looking to buy.
No wonder so many retirees head to Florida. With summer all year round, no state income tax or pension tax and a moderate sales tax, it’s a great way to keep costs down during retirement. There are also a number of 55+ communities for GLBTQ.
Mississippi boasts low property taxes and no pension taxes but the sales tax is on the steep side at 7%.
With entertainment galore and no state income tax or pension tax, this state has a lot of appeal for seniors. Property taxes are creeping up toward 7%, but with property prices as low as they are here, that’s almost a fair trade.
6. New Hampshire
No sales tax or pension tax, reduced income taxes and a whole lot of natural beauty and liberalism make the granite state pretty appealing to retirees. Property taxes are about as high as they get, however, so beware of that!
No matter if you’re newly retired, thinking about retiring in the next year or two, or just thinking ahead to the future, it’s great to have some ideas about what your future holds. Making decisions about what age to retire, where to retire to and what kind of lifestyle you want to have after retirement are important things that it never hurts to start thinking about early! While there are a number of different factors that will help you decide when to retire and where you’ll want to go, one thing that you can start thinking about is how to stay involved in the gay community after you’ve retired.
Many people worry that retirement might be lonely or isolating but that doesn’t have to be the case! If you start thinking about what you want your life to look like after retirement, think about the ways you’d like to spend your time, hobbies that you love and the types of people you like to be around. Once you’ve figured that out, there are some great resources to make sure you stay happy and connected to the gay community. Here are some ways you can ensure that you stay in touch with your gay community.
Retire To A Gay Community
One of the best ways to make sure you stay connected to like-minded folks is to retire to a gay community. There are dozens of gay communities cropping up all over the states and the intention is exactly that – to cater to the interests of the LGBTQ population and to provide an exciting and gay-friendly atmosphere. Though many strides have been made in the gay rights movement, there is still a problem with the mistreatment of aging gays and lesbians at long-term care centers. Finding a gay community to retire in means that you’ll instantly be part of a warm, gay community.
Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders (or SAGE) is an organization that provides resources and information to help ensure that LGBTQ Elders stay connected and get help if and when they need it. They provide a nationwide network of affiliates to enhance the lives of LGBT elders and support older people around the country. If you haven’t yet, contact them and get involved! They can link you up with other gay elders in your area to make sure that you’re included in the gay community.
LGBT Aging Project
The LGBT Aging Project was founded in 2001 in order to provide LGBT elders with services and to make sure they remain a part of the gay community and the community at-large. It uses the work of hundreds of activists to address different goals, and keeping a close-knit community of happy and healthy gay and lesbians is one of their foremost goals! Visit their website to find out more about what they do and how you can become a part of their community.
Retirement shouldn’t have to be a stressful time in your life. As you’re coasting into the golden years of your life, you should be able to rest assured that you will get the compassion and care you deserve as an elder. There are almost four million gays and lesbians age 55 and over and it makes sense that there should be active-adult communities out there that make for happy and comfortable places to live.
Getting the same support systems that heterosexuals do, however, can be a struggle sometimes. Here are a number of gay and lesbian retirement communities that are open or being developed in order to make sure that the LGBT population has desirable living options for after retirement.
The Resort on Carefree Boulevard
This is a gorgeous resort for lesbian in southwest Florida with almost 300 homes and RV lots with tropical freshwater lakes and preserves. It’s a very warm environment with beautiful Florida weather and its prices are very affordable, ranging from $79,000 to $145,000.
The Palms of Manasota
This is one of America’s first gay and lesbian retirement communities. It’s located in Palmetto, Florida, sandwiched between Sarasota and St. Petersburg and has new villas available for under $300,000 and single-family homes for a little more than that. It’s expected to get a clubhouse, pool and an assisted-living facility soon
Birds Of A Feather Resort Community
Birds of a Feather is a magical place located in Northern, New Mexico where the sun shines all year round. It was created to be a thoughtful and open community for the LGBT population to trust as a safe and friendly place to retire and has since built itself into a full-fledged, full-service, affordable community.
Rainbow Vision Properties
Rainbow Vision Properties opened in 2006 and isn’t an exclusively gay community but is based upon the idea of providing equal care and support for all. It’s a very progressive model for senior living and strives to create communities all over the states and the world that work toward the goal of helping LGBT seniors ease into the retirement lifestyle together.
While the Midwest has many wonderful attributes, enlightenment and tolerance toward LGBT populations could stand some improvement. For aging LGBT groups, this is of particular concern and importance because of the severe lack of gay-friendly retirement communities. Populations comprised people 65 years of age and older are estimated to outrank kindergarten-age children by 2020. Admirable strides have been made on the East and West coasts for establishing groundbreaking long-term care facilities that cater to LGBT seniors. However, the Midwestern part of the U.S. is sorely lagging behind.
While certain cities like Chicago have begun establishing LGBT-friendly retirement homes, other areas have yet to see such innovation. According to one report, 3.4 percent of the Midwestern population identifies as LGBT. While the percent seems small, remember that it is based on an overall Midwestern population count of more than 50 million people. That puts that ‘small’ percentage into the millions. Unfortunately, not everyone lives in Chicago and — even if they did — not everyone can live at Halsted.
Progressive Mobility in Other Places
There is promise building in other Midwestern locations. In fact, PFund, an Upper Midwest community organization, conducted a thorough study examining aging LGBT populations and the ardent need for supportive communities. Pfund took a survey of the most desirable and necessary services that Twin City-based LGBT seniors needed. Retirement housing was high on the ‘most wanted’ list, with a sizable portion of responders noting a preference for an LGBT-specific environment. Studies such as these are helpful for spearheading movements to create LGBT-based services for aging groups, including retirement housing. While there seems to be movement in major Midwestern cities, where does that leave the rural LGBT population?
No Man’s Land
What happens to the aging LGBT population living in rural areas? Unfortunately, the research hasn’t been extensive, although it is strongly recommended by several advocacy organizations. One report issued by Heartland Alliance celebrated Chicago’s push toward LGBT retirement housing — but mentioned the dire need for exploring such accommodations for rural Midwestern locations as well. Another report issued by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force also advocated that rural, aging LGBT populations could benefit from much needed research for many senior services — including retirement housing. While distinct federal laws and policies aim to protect older LGBT populations, those that live in rural areas may have less access to resources to reinforce those laws. Outreach can also be difficult to extend when LGBT individuals are hard to locate and, therefore, identify.
As the population grows older, so does the aging LGBT group. There’s no doubt about the fact that progress is being made — but not fast enough. As social awareness grows and civil rights become more equitable there is the grand hope that all LGBT seniors will find a residential community to be a part of and belong to that addresses specific needs. After all, what do any of us truly have without a bit a hope?
Although a large number of gay-friendly neighborhoods within the U.S. are located in the country’s more costly real estate markets, there are still a plethora of neighborhoods to be found that are more budget-friendly.
A study conducted by Trulia (http://trends.truliablog.com/2012/06/welcome-to-the-gayborhood/) firstly identified U.S. zip codes where the heaviest concentrations of gay women and men resided by way of examining Census Bureau statistics. Then, they determined the affordability of each neighborhood by considering the median price tag per square foot of the homes listed in each zip code over the previous year.
Here are the results of that study:
Among same-sex female couples, the most popular neighborhood in New York is Park Slope, Brooklyn at $664 per square foot. Whereas, the more affordable alternative is Nyack, New York at $266 per square foot.
Among same-sex male couples, the most popular neighborhood in New York is Chelsea at $1,199 per square foot. Most affordable alternative is Jersey City, N.J. at $452 per square foot.
For same-sex female couples, the most popular neighborhood in Washington D.C. is Alexandria, in Va. at $405 per square foot, where a more affordable alternative is Hyattsville, Md. at $101 per square foot.
For same-sex male couples, Logan City in Washington D.C. at $525 per square foot is the most popular neighborhood. A somewhat more affordable alternative is Columbia Heights in Washington D.C. at $333 per square foot.
In San Francisco, Castro, San Francisco is the most popular neighborhood at $671 per square foot for same-sex female couples. A good and much more affordable alternative is Redwood Heights, Oakland at $230 per square foot.
For male same-sex couples, Castro is also the most popular destination at $671 per square foot, where a more affordable alternative to Castro is Brisbane, Calif. at $311 per square foot.
In Chicago, for both same-sex female as well as male couples, Edgewater, Chicago is the most popular neighborhood, priced at a reasonable $131 per square foot. However, Rogers Park in Chicago at $95 per square foot makes for an even more affordable option for both males and females alike.
For same-sex female couples, Mount Airy, Philadelphia is the most popular and most affordable neighborhood at $120 per square foot.
For their male counterparts however, Washington Square West, Philadelphia is the most popular location at $341 per square foot, while Center City, Philadelphia is the more affordable alternative at $160 per square foot.
For same-sex females, the most popular neighborhood in Los Angeles is West Hollywood, Los Angeles at $481 per square foot. However, a more affordable option is Eastside, Long Beach at $207 per square foot.
On the other hand, for same-sex male couples, like their female counterparts, West Hollywood, Los Angeles at $481 per square foot is also the most popular, where a more affordable alternative is Signal Hill in Long Beach at $200 per square foot.
For same-sex female couples in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area, the most popular neighborhood is Wilton Manors, Fla. which costs $206 per square foot. A good and far less pricey alternative however is Lake Worth, Fla. at only $66 per square foot.
For same-sex male couples, like their female counterparts, the most popular neighborhood in this area is also Wilton Manor, Fla. at $206 per square foot, while Oakland Park, Fla. is the more affordable option at $115 per square foot.
In Atlanta, the most popular and most affordable destination for same-sex female couples is Avondale Estates, Ga. costing a mere $96 per square foot.
For same-sex males, Morningside/Piedmont Heights/Lenox Park, Atlanta is the most popular neighborhood at $129 per square foot. While a slightly more affordable option is Grant Park, Atlanta priced at $104 per square foot.
In Dallas, the most popular and most affordable neighborhood for same-sex female couples is Lake Highlands, Dallas at $128 per square foot.
For same-sex males in Dallas, the most popular neighborhood is Oak Lawn, Dallas at $160 per square foot, while the most affordable location is Northwest Dallas which costs $92 per square foot.
In Boston, the most popular neighborhood for same-sex female couples is Jamaica Plain, Boston which costs $304 per square foot, while a more affordable alternative is Roslindale, Mass at $277 per square foot.
On the other hand, for same-sex male couples, the most desirable neighborhood is South End, Boston at $608 per square foot. A far more affordable alternative being Dorchester, Mass at $209 per square foot.
When it comes to retirement, there's no reason to sell ourselves short when it comes to contentment. While there is little doubt that much progress has been made with regard to lifestyle acceptance, there are still too many areas where more needs to be done. If your job has kept you living in a place where there's not the kind of tolerance everyone deserves, consider retiring somewhere else.
Guest Article by Nisha Sharma, on behalf of http://mha.org.uk
Whether you are interested in retiring in the next few years or if you simply want to have a plan in place for what your future holds, choosing the best age to retire can depend on a number of factors as well as your current financial situation and security. Determining the best age to start thinking of retiring can be done by reflecting on your current financial security as well as the plans you have after retirement and the amount of money you will require.
Retirement Stages and Retiring Early
It is possible to plan for "early retirement", retiring on time and even late retirement depending on how many years you have worked and whether or not you have been disrupted from work due to health problems or injuries during the course of your time working. Retiring early and relying on benefits often occurs between the age of 55 and 62, as 62 is the standard age to retire and to begin collecting a pension and Social Security benefits.
One of the major advantages of retiring early is the ability to take up new hobbies, travel and explore new interests. However, retiring earlier does not necessarily mean pensions and Social Security benefits will be immediately available and the amount of retirement funds you are qualified for will not be as much as opposed to retiring on time or even later. Retiring early will also require you to pay for your own health insurance until you are qualified for Medicare.
Retiring On Time
Retiring on time often occurs between the ages of 62 and 67, allowing the retiree to begin collecting Social Security benefits, pensions and even the support of Medicare nearly immediately after retirement begins. Retiring on time is a way to ensure you are adequately covered financially and that you can still continue to get the healthcare you need. However, retiring on time may leave less time overall to pursue traveling, hobbies or even a potential second career.
Having a late retirement after the age of 67 is possible if you simply enjoy working or if you believe you want to save more for your retirement fund. Although you may have less time to enjoy your retirement fund, you will also have more money accumulated from working additional years. It is also still possible to file for Medicare assistance at the age of 65 regardless of whether you choose to continue to work. Working past the traditional retirement age is a way to guarantee you will not struggle financially once you do choose to leave work.
Choosing When to Retire
Because everyone lives their lives differently, choosing when to retire greatly depends on how long you have worked, whether you enjoy your work or not and the amount of financial planning still left to be done. When you choose to retire at any time, having a clear understanding of your financial picture and future plans will help you to determine when retiring is best for you and your family.
Nisha Sharma represents a Website called MHA.org.uk.
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