Combining Households? Here’s What You Need to Know.

Perhaps you’ve discovered this article because you find yourself in a relationship that makes you very, very happy – happy to the point that you’re considering moving in with the man or woman of your dreams. If so, congratulations! Love is wonderful, and there’s truly nothing in the world quite like it.

Maybe you’re young, and unencumbered, and falling in love for the first time. On the other side of the coin, perhaps you’re 30, 40, or 50.  Perhaps each of you already have homes full of furniture, full-time jobs with retirement accounts, pets, and well-established daily routines. If all of this sounds familiar to you, you may be asking yourself – how do we go about combining our lives, and everything they entail? That question is certainly a reasonable one, and at GayRealEstate.com, it’s one that we’ve heard often.

While love is certainly wonderful, the truth is that like anything in life, it’s not without its own particular kinds of stress. Despite how much you may love someone and want to be with them, there are still plenty of logistical matters to think through. This can be true if you live in the same city, and it is certainly true if you’re in a long-distance relationship that will require one or the other of you to relocate across the country.

The good news, however, is that no matter how far apart you may live, or how complicated your life may be, it doesn’t mean this transition can’t ultimately become the start of a wonderful new chapter in your life. When you think it through carefully, and take the necessary steps to combine your households after thoroughly planning ahead, it can be a very positive and life-changing experience for both of you.

What sorts of things should you consider, as you think about combining households? At GayRealEstate.com, we have been fortunate enough to help many couples, just like you, transition from two households to one.  Here are a few helpful tips that we’ve learned along the way:

  • Living Arrangements: Perhaps first and foremost when merging your households and your lives is deciding which house you will actually live in. If both of you own a home, your first step should be to discuss which of the two homes is the more ideal spot for you to reside as a couple. For some, this may be dependent upon a job – perhaps one partner is able to work from home, while the other has to be on-location for his or her job. In other cases, it might be dependent upon family circumstances – does one partner have young children who are happy in school and used to a daily routine? In other cases, perhaps it’s more about location – where do you, as a couple see yourselves living? Where, ideally, would you like to be? You may also take a look at the markets in your different communities – is one market better for selling right now than another? All of these factors are important, and can be helpful to consider as you decide whether to sell or rent out one or both of your homes, or buy a new one entirely.
  • Envision Your Space: It’s likely that if each of you have lived on your own for some time, you’ve likely accumulated a good deal of furniture and other household belongings. As you prepare to combine your households, it only makes sense for each of you to consider paring down some of your own belongings so that together, you can combine the things that you truly love into one happy home. For example, when you’re living together, chances are that you won’t need two toasters, two coffee makers, or two master bedroom sets. Think carefully about which items have personal meaning and value and keep those, but be willing to discard or donate some of the rest. Work together to make the space you share peaceful, happy, and personal to you both.
  • Planning for Pets: Do you, or your partner have a pet (or several pets) that you love? If so, you may be worried that your pet might not like your partner’s pet – that they might literally fight like cats and dogs. While this is an understandable concern, the good news is that gradually, most pets do adjust. It is best to be patient, to not try to force the pets to spend too much time in close quarters at first, and to reward them for instances where you do see them behaving well and getting along together. Eventually, your pets will likely adjust, and you can all have a happy home together.
  • Thinking Through Your Financial Future: As you initially begin testing the waters of living together and all that it entails, it is generally wise to keep the majority of your finances, retirement accounts, and investments separate. As your relationship deepens, or if and after you marry, you can decide how much you want to comingle your finances.  For some couples, particularly those who come together after both are financially established, some make the choice to keep the finances they accumulated prior to moving in together in separate accounts, but to combine their incomes to contribute toward their home and lifestyle moving forward. In truth, each couple, and each set of circumstances is different, and an arrangement that might be perfect for one couple may not work out well for another. Often, as you try to determine what is best for you as a couple, it may be wise to meet with a financial advisor who help you understand your options and decide on what’s best.

If you, or the special person you love find yourself considering selling an existing home and relocating, at GayRealEstate.com, we’re here to help. If you’re both considering selling and buying a new home together, we’re here to help with that too. With our helpful free relocation kit, free seller’s market analysis and buyer’s representation, and access to a network of talented and experienced gay, lesbian, and gay-friendly real estate agents across the country, we’re here to make your buying, selling, and relocating experience the best it can be. Wherever you ultimately decide to begin this chapter, we can point you toward an agent who will be able to help. Congratulations on the love you’ve found, and the life you’re working to build together. We would be honored to help. Call us today 1-888-420-MOVE (6683).

Winter in Real Estate: Tips for those who feel the chill.

Seasoned (pun intended) real estate professionals understand that the winter months can be difficult to negotiate (no pun intended) for those in the business of buying, selling, and building homes. The weather in most of the USA is inhospitable, and can put many projects and plans on hold, until the springtime market kicks in and buyers again resume their house-hunting activities. But those who plan for the winter slowdown actually view the cyclical time-out as an opportunity, and sometimes even look forward to it after a hectic year.

Many of us take time out each April or May for a deep cleaning and reorganization of our living space. Similarly, the months of December, January, and February provide a scheduled chance to catch up on errands and strategies related to real estate – and to get a jump on the next year’s market – whether you are buying or selling.

Here are tips on how to make the most of a cooled-off real estate season:

For Sellers

If you are selling, take advantage of the wintertime – especially during the holidays and the post-holiday doldrums – to prepare your house for showcasing it to potential buyers.

  • Clean out the clutter and make your house look more spacious. By simply emptying closets and clearing out furniture – leaving only the minimal essentials to provide a sense of warmth and style – you can boost the perceived value of your property immensely.
  • Freshen up the interior. When it is freezing cold outside you can’t paint the exterior but you can stay indoors and put a new coat of paint on any rooms that need it. Fix the dripping faucets and squeaky doors; refinish the floors, and do other indoor home improvement projects. Most contractors have less business in the wintertime, so it is a good time to hire them. By the time spring rolls around, they won’t even be answering the phone because they will be “off the hook” busy with outdoor construction projects.
  • Get your paperwork in order. Make a file that includes your annual utility bill history, copies of warranties on appliances, and MLS data on your home. Put these things together in an attractive folder and your Realtor can share it with potential buyers. If you need a survey, get it done.
  • Take time to relax. Selling a home in a buyer’s market is sometimes a stressful experience. Instead of worrying that there are no “lookers” during winter, take time for yourself and catch up on reading, yoga classes, or spending time with friends and family. You’ll be rejuvenated and ready to hit the ground running when the ice thaws.

For Buyers

During the wintertime, most property languishes on the market and motivated sellers are more inclined to offer discounts. They are paying stiff heating bills, taxes, and maintenance fees, but may not have many offers for purchase. If you are seriously shopping for property, make offers in the winter and you may have a new home in time for spring planting of flower beds and window boxes.

  • If you have not done so, meet with lenders and get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage. When you approach sellers with financial backing in hand, they will be more inclined to accept your offers.
  • Get your finances in order. This is a good time to deal with any budgetary issues that are affecting your down payment. If you haven’t decided on what type of loan is best for you, winter is a great time to sit down and do the homework needed to make your important decisions.
  • Compare and contrast. Have your Realtor provide you with market data so that you can compare prices, options, and locations. You may want to build a new home, or perhaps rehab an existing one. Research helps make this kind of decision easier and wiser, so use the winter to examine your alternatives.
  • Shop ‘til you drop during the holidays, but not at the mall – get out and look at houses with your Realtor.

Interest rates remain super attractive. The best plan is to use the winter months to do whatever is necessary to tip the market in your own favor, by planning ahead. Then, no matter what 2020 presents, you’ll be in the best possible position to take advantage of it. To find a qualified real estate agent, visit www.GayRealEstate.com. The company offers a depth of experience in buying homes throughout the entire USA, and specializes in serving the GLBT community.

Ybor City – Tampa’s Gay Ghetto

Tampa, Florida, may not be home to Disney World, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the state’s busiest tourist areas. The Tampa Bay Area is home to over 4 million people, while the city proper has a population of over 400,000. With such a large city, it’s no surprise that it has a gayborhood. While Tampa is certainly very LGBTQ-friendly, the neighborhood of Ybor City tends to be the most welcoming and diverse.

The History of Ybor City

Ybor City – Tampa’s Gay GhettoYbor City is named after its founder, Vicente Martinez-Ybor. Originally, the area was home to dozens of cigar factories and populated mostly by immigrants from Cuba, Italy, and Spain. It was actually fairly unique because of this—few other cities in the South were home to an all-immigrant population. This had an impact on the food, the style of homes, and much more, creating a very unique neighborhood.

As Ybor City grew over the years, its population changed. During the Great Depression, cigars were a luxury few people could afford, leading to many factories closing. The neighborhood continued to decline during World War II, and by the 1970s, much of it was abandoned. Finally, in the 1980s, a number of artists took advantage of the low housing costs of the area, and gentrification began. By the 2000s, Ybor City had become known for its nightlife, and many of the old cigar factories had been renovated and transformed into bars, offices, and even apartment complexes.

The Gayborhood

A number of the artists who worked to renovate the area were part of the LGBTQ community. Their influence led to a number of different gay bars, restaurants, boutiques, shops, and other organizations opening up in Ybor City, many of which were situated between 8th Avenue and 15th Street. Today, this area is home to the GaYBOR Coalition, a nonprofit group made up of various LGBTQ-owned businesses in Ybor City. The group hosts the annual GaYBOR Days event around the Fourth of July and helps promote the LGBTQ community through Tampa and the entire state. The GaYBOR coalition is noted for including a number of businesses owned by straight allies.

Moving to Ybor City

Thinking about moving to the Ybor City neighborhood? Homes here can range from around $150,000 to $300,000 or more. It all depends on the size and the exact location in the neighborhood. A gay or lesbian real estate expert can help you find the home that’s perfect for your needs.

Should I Retire to an LGBTQ Neighborhood?

If you’re getting close to retirement age, you’ve probably already started thinking about where you want to spend your golden years. While some people plan on staying right where they are, others want to embark on a new adventure now that they’re retired and free to do what they please with their lives. Determining where you want to live is a key component to your retirement plans. If you’re a part of the LGBTQ community, you may be thinking about retiring to a gay neighborhood. Should you?

Look at Your Finances

Should I Retire to a LGBTQ NeighborhoodThe first thing to do is to take a good, hard look at your finances. Many traditional gay neighborhoods are also quite expensive. Boystown, the Castro District, and most of the neighborhoods in New York City are very costly, and you may simply not be able to afford to live there. Some up-and-coming communities that are filled with LGBTQ residents may be more affordable, but they often don’t have the character that some of the older neighborhoods have. Some are also new construction in downtown areas, which can be costly as well.

Are You Active in the LGBTQ Community?

If you’re an active part of your LGBTQ community, moving into a gay neighborhood or even a retirement complex aimed at LGBTQ seniors can be a great way of continuing to play an active part in your new home. As you age, you may have to face the fact that your driving capabilities are no longer what they once were. By settling yourself in an LGBTQ community now, you can be sure you’re within walking distance of the local community center and other locations. Being able to walk to many locations can also help you maintain your health and watch your budget.

Are You Concerned About Hate Crimes?

Some seniors are worried that they will be unable to defend themselves should they be attacked or the victim of any sort of hate crime. Living in an LGBTQ neighborhood can help protect against this since you know your neighbors either identify as LGBTQ or are very supportive—otherwise, they likely wouldn’t live in the area. If you are concerned about safety, you’ll find that some gay neighborhoods are also gated communities, especially the newer areas conceived as housing developments. These locations can bolster your sense of security and may come with other amenities such as included yard maintenance.

No matter where you want to retire to, you may want to see if there’s a gay neighborhood in that area. Even if you aren’t looking to live specifically in a gay district, it can be a good place to start your house search.

San Francisco’s SoMa Neighborhood

Looking for a great place to live in San Francisco that is welcoming, but also more affordable than the Castro District? One area to consider is South of Market, better known as SoMa. The SoMa neighborhood is actually pretty large, so there are a good number of homes here. In fact, SoMa is so big it’s actually been divided further into smaller neighborhoods, including Rincon Hill, Yerba Buena, South Beach, South Park, and the Financial District South area.

Where Is SoMa?

San Franciscos SoMa NeighborhoodSoMa is, as the name suggested, located south of Market Street. San Francisco Bay sits to the northeast of the area, while the south is boarded by Division Street and US Route 101. The boundaries of SoMa aren’t exactly set, which does make it somewhat unclear where one neighborhood begins and another ends. Specifically, SoMa, the Mission District, and Mission Bay tend to overlap in areas. While the boundaries have changed, it doesn’t really matter too much if you live in one of the areas where it’s unclear what neighborhood you’re in.

The LGBTQ Community in SoMa

One of the most unique sub-neighborhoods in SoMa is the LGBTQ and Leather Cultural District. It’s fairly new—the area was officially created in 2018. It’s situated between Howard St, US 101, 7th Street, and I-80. The district was formed as a way of maintaining and sharing the history of the leather subculture that had been active in SoMa for almost 50 years. The area includes The Stud, the oldest gay bar in San Francisco.

Activities and Events

You don’t have to be a part of the leather subculture in order to enjoy everything SoMa has to offer, of course. There are many different arts and cultural events held in the area, plus many museums to visit. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is located in SoMa, as are the Old Mint, the Yerba Buena Gardens, the SOMArts cultural facility, and more.

SoMa is home to the Folsom Street Fair, a leather subculture fair held during Leather Pride Week. There are also a number of Filipino cultural events held throughout the year thanks to the large Filipino community that lives in the area.

Want to learn more about housing options in SoMa? Ask a local gay or lesbian real estate agent to show you properties in the area.

Hell’s Kitchen – Don’t Let this LGBTQ Neighborhood’s Name Fool You

Hell’s Kitchen is one of the more notorious-sounding neighborhoods in New York. Just based off the name, it certainly doesn’t sound like a place you’d want to move. While it’s true that the area did once have a poor reputation, in recent years it has undergone gentrification. While it was originally the home of many poor immigrants, today Hell’s Kitchen is populated by many actors and young professionals. It’s also one of New York’s primary LGBTQ communities.

How Hell’s Kitchen Got Its Name

Hell’s Kitchen Don’t Let this LGBTQ Neighborhood’s Name Fool YouThe neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen is more officially known as Clinton, but few people call it that. It occupies the area between 34th and 59th and from Eighth Avenue to around 43rd Street. No one is actually certain how the neighborhood got its unique nickname. There are a few different stories. One claims that Davy Crockett coined the term while making horrible comments about the Irish immigrants in the area. Another says Hell’s Kitchen was originally used to describe a building on 54th Street but later expanded to the entire district.

Greenwich Village and the Gay Exodus

Greenwich Village was one of the first gay villages in New York City, but because of gentrification and other changes in the neighborhood, the cost of living has increased over the years. In the early 1990s, the neighborhood saw something of an exodus due to the expensive housing prices and other costs. Many gay and lesbian residents moved to nearby Chelsea. However, it didn’t take long for housing prices in this area to also skyrocket.

The gentrification in Chelsea led to a number of people moving to Hell’s Kitchen. The neighborhood is now considered by some to be the new gay center of Manhattan. However, while it’s still more affordable than Greenwich Village and Chelsea, it’s true that costs are increasing in Hell’s Kitchen.

Points of Interest

One of the central locations in the Hell’s Kitchen LGBTQ community is the Metropolitan Community Church of New York. This church is primarily focused on serving the LGBTQ community, though it does have members of all orientations and gender identities. The church was founded in Los Angeles, but it has moved several times until it found its current location in 1994.

The Actor’s Studio, an organization for actors, directors, and writers, is located in Hell’s Kitchen. A number of well-known actors have studied here under the direction of Lee Strasberg. The studio draws a number of aspiring actors to Hell’s Kitchen, many of whom live in the Manhattan Plaza.

The USS Intrepid is docked on the Hudson River Pier 86 on 46th Street. The aircraft carrier serves as the main part of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, which also includes a Lockheed A-12 plane, a submarine, and the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

Interested in moving to Hell’s Kitchen? The many restaurants, studios, and other locations make it a great place for aspiring actors, directors, and writers. A gay or lesbian real estate agent can help you find the perfect place in this unique LGBTQ neighborhood.

Phoenix – A LGBTQ Haven in the Southwest

The southwest is known for its dry heat, native American influences, and deserts. It’s not exactly known for being an LGBTQ destination or a place to live, but Phoenix, Arizona, has a thriving gay and lesbian community. This metro area is gorgeous all year long, so if you love bright, sunny days, it may be the perfect place to call home. There’s a lot to do in both the LGBTQ community and in Phoenix as a whole.

Phoenix is home to dozens of luxury resorts, so there are many tourists here throughout the year. Many of these tourists and residents alike love taking hot air balloon rides or riding horseback through the unique landscape. Golf is another popular hobby in Phoenix, and the city has an astonishing 200+ golf courses. With shopping, art exhibits, and sporting events, there’s a ton to do in the city.

Phoenix’s LGBTQ District

Phoenix – A LGBTQ Haven in the SouthwestUnlike some cities, Phoenix doesn’t really have a major LGBTQ neighborhood. The city is very spread out, and the LGBTQ community is, too. Even though there’s not really a gay ghetto here, there are a number of LGBTQ-owned businesses in the Melrose District. You’ll also find the Central Phoenix LGBT Community Center there along with some great clubs and bars. The Phoenix Pride festival is held every year at Steele Indian School Park and brings in thousands of LGBTQ individuals and allies from Phoenix and the surrounding areas.

One of the more unique things about the Phoenix LGBTQ community is that it spreads out beyond Phoenix. Many of the suburbs and nearby cities that have grown into Phoenix have large gay and lesbian populations. Scottsdale, for example, has a thriving LGBTQ community thanks to the large arts movement there.

Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, Gilbert, and Apache Junction, collectively called the East Valley cities, also have a good number of LGBTQ communities. Arizona State University brings many younger LGBTQ individuals to Tempe, while Mesa is one of the fastest growing cities in Arizona. Many have moved there in response to the commercial boom the city is experiencing.

No matter what brings you to the Phoenix area, it’s certainly a great place for LGBTQ individuals and families. Home prices in the area are reasonable, especially if you compare them to other large metros such as New York, LA, or Chicago. You’ll find many gay and lesbian real estate agents who can help you find the perfect home in Phoenix.

Cleveland: A Great Place for LGBTQ People

When you think of some of the most popular and well-known gay villages and welcoming cities, you probably don’t think of Cleveland, Ohio. In fact, Cleveland is often the butt of jokes because it seems so boring and dull. But Cleveland is home to at least four gay ghettos, and its LGBTQ community is quite large and active. If you’re considering a move to the Midwest, you can do much worse than the “Forest City.” Let’s take a look at the different neighborhoods in and around Cleveland that are considered gay villages.

Detroit-Shoreway

Cleveland A Great Place for LGBTQ PeopleThis neighborhood is located on the western side of the city and sits on the shore of Lake Erie. For those who love swimming and other beach activities, it may be the ideal home. Shopping in Detroit-Shoreway centers around Gordon Square, an area with a number of retail buildings and restaurants. Capitol Theatre offers some amazing shows and concerts, while residents can quickly travel to other parts of Cleveland via rapid transit and the Cleveland bus system.

Ohio City

One of the historic neighborhoods of Cleveland, Ohio City is also home to many LGBTQ individuals and families. Like Detroit-Shoreway, it also sits on the shore of Lake Erie. It was once its own city, but in 1854, it was rolled into the expanding Cleveland metro. For those who love craft beers, Ohio City is the place to go. It contains a large number of breweries and pubs. The neighborhood is also home to the auxiliary location of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Tremont

Tremont, like Ohio City, is an historic neighborhood. It was once home to many German immigrants. Today, the area includes a number of art galleries and restaurants. It has been going through a revival of sorts since 2000, becoming an area where many LGBTQ professionals, hipsters, and even older couples find attractive. The dog park, historic Lemko Hall, and the various older churches make the area feel homey and add to its historic charm.

Lakewood

Lakewood isn’t a neighborhood in Cleveland, but it is a nearby suburb. Home to more than 50,000 people, Lakewood provides a gorgeous view of Lake Erie to its residents. This thriving city is home to many LGBTQ individuals and couples. It’s been named as one of the best places to raise children by Business Week and as one of the Top 10 suburbs in the country.

As you can see, not only is Cleveland a great place for LGBTQ people, it also has plenty of options. Contact a gay or lesbian real estate agent in the area today to begin finding your perfect home.

What to Look for in a Gayborhood

If you’re ready to talk to a gay or lesbian real estate agent about moving into a gayborhood, you may be so focused on the overall area that you don’t stop and consider other aspects of where you’re moving to. Yes, it can be great being surrounded by other LGBTQ neighbors, but sometimes, a gay village has too many downsides to truly be the right place for you to move. Here are a few factors you should always take into consideration before you move to one of these neighborhoods.

Is it Conveniently Located?

What to Look for in a GayborhoodGay districts are often located in great parts of the city, but sometimes those locations simply aren’t that convenient for you. If you have to commute 30 minutes or aren’t in the right school district, you may need to weigh living in a gay neighborhood against being located closer to work or school. Even if you think the commute won’t be that bad, you may find yourself considering another move in a few years because you’re tired of it.

What Are Your Neighbors Like?

Many people love the idea of living near other LGBTQ individuals and families, but don’t stop and consider what their neighbors are really like. For example, some people aren’t comfortable or don’t see the need to make a big deal out of their sexuality. If you’re one of these people, are you really going to like living next to someone who has rainbow flags hung everywhere? If you like living on a quiet street, will you want to be near people who throw dinner parties or come home late at night after the clubs close?

Don’t simply look at your neighbors as LGBTQ people—look at them as the people they are. If you drive through the neighborhood and hear a lot of noise or see a lot of cars parked up and down the street on the weekends, you may not be happy there.

Do the Homes Meet Your Needs?

This is perhaps the most important question—are the homes in the gay neighborhood what you really need? You don’t want to buy a home that’s too small or too large for you and your family. You also don’t want to purchase a home that costs more than you can afford. Sometimes, moving into the gayborhood simply isn’t financially a good idea. When that’s the case, you shouldn’t hesitate to look elsewhere.

Things Straight Real Estate Agents Might Not Understand

There are many great real estate professionals out there, and chances are any of them will be able to help you find the perfect home. However, there are some things that gay or lesbian real estate professionals will understand right away while straight agents may not. Here are a few things these real estate experts might not grasp right away and why going with an LGBTQ agent might be a better option for you.

They May Not Realize You’re a Couple

Things Straight Real Estate Agents Might Not UnderstandSome straight real estate agents might assume you’ve brought a friend, or worse, your brother/sister, to look at the property with you. They won’t realize you’re looking for a home for the two of you. Correcting them can be a little stressful since you never know how they will react. An LGBTQ agent may ask if you’re together rather than assume you are.

They May Not Look for Family Homes

Another thing a straight real estate agent may do, often unconsciously, is assume that you won’t be starting a family. They may look for smaller homes for the two of you that simply won’t work for children. If you’re planning on starting a family either through adoption or surrogacy, it’s important to let them know upfront that you need a home that will support this. Some may assume that since the two of you can’t biologically have a child together, you’re not planning on a family.

They Sometimes Fall into Stereotypes

While even LGBTQ real estate professionals can do this, it’s more common for straight agents to stereotype gay and lesbian couples. They may assume that lesbian couples want a large shop for their home improvement projects or that gay men want very fashionable houses with a lot of color and extravagant décor. They might show you homes that play into these stereotypes at first, which can be frustrating.

They May Assume You Want to Live in the Gay District

If the city you’re moving to has a gay district, a straight real estate agent might assume that’s where you want to live. You might not have any interest in that area. A good agent, no matter what their orientation, should ask you upfront what part of the city you’re interested in or if there are any particular areas you need to be close to.

Overall, a straight real estate professional may simply make some assumptions. Often, they aren’t actively discriminating against you or purposely doing hurtful things. If you want to avoid any misunderstandings, though, working with a gay or lesbian agent will help you get your housing search off on the right foot.