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.

Buying within Budget – Do LGBTQ Homebuyers Spend More?

According to studies done by Nielsen and by Prudential, LGBTQ individuals and families tend to spend more than straight individuals and families. Some believe this is because LGBTQ individuals feel a pressure to look a certain way in order to fit in. For example, gay men often feel as if they have to be fashionable because the stereotype is that gay men dress very nicely. This often leads to a large amount of credit card debt.

According to the studies, many LGBTQ people spend their money at liquor stores and on wine. This corresponds with the fact that many young LGBTQ people often turn to alcohol and drugs to deal with their conflicting emotions about their orientation or gender identity.

But what about housing? Does this trend of spending more continue?

 

Buying in the Gayborhood

Buying within Budget – Do LGBTQ Homebuyers Spend MoreFor those who want to buy in a gay village or gayborhood, it often does. That’s because these neighborhoods are often gentrified or historic. The Castro district in San Francisco, for example, is home to some amazing properties that have been maintained over the years, thus pushing the price up. New York, especially Manhattan and other neighborhoods where LGBTQ people often live, is also highly expensive. It’s more than housing costs, too—the price of living in these cities is also much higher.

While this isn’t true for every gay village or neighborhood, it is the case for many of them. These homes are generally more expensive due to their condition. Those that are considered historic houses may be even more expensive.

 

States with Lower Costs of Living Are Often Not as Welcoming

It’s easy to say that you’ll simply move to a state with a lower cost of living, but it’s not always that simple. Many of those states that do have lower costs of living are also the ones where LGBTQ people do not have as many protections.

Most of Arkansas, for example, has a cost of living that is between 15 and 20 percent lower than the national average. But it’s also a state that does not have hate crime laws or protections in place for LGBTQ individuals and families. The one area that is very welcoming, Eureka Springs, is also more costly.

Still, you can often find places even in the most conservative of states where you’ll be welcome, just like there are places in states with high costs of living that are more budget-friendly. Simply find a good gay or lesbian real estate agent to help you find the perfect home.

Wilton Manors – A Gay Village for Retirees

Wilton Manors in Florida is home to a very large LGBTQ population. Many of these individuals are retired individuals and couples who have moved to Florida to spend their golden years in peace. The city has the second highest percentage of LGBTQ residents to total population (behind Provincetown, MA), with 140 out of every 1,000 identifying as a member of the community. This 14% is much, much higher than the national average of 1.1% of the U.S. population, so if you want to spend time with other LGBTQ people, Wilton Manors is definitely one of the places to go!

The History of Wilton Manors

Wilton Manors – A Gay Village for RetireesWhile it may not play as big a part in the struggle for equality as gay villages in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, Wilton Manors still has an interesting history. It’s a somewhat young city—it was incorporated in 1947. Despite that, it quickly became a haven for LGBTQ individuals. As more and more LGBTQ people moved to Wilton Manors, related organizations came into the area. This led to the funding of the Wilton Manors Pride Center, a branch of the Stonewall National Museum, and the World AIDS Museum and Educational Center. The city’s police department features LGBTQ officers and a liaison officer, plus a number of elected city officials, including at least one mayor, have identified as members of the community.

Senior Living

In addition to the condos, apartments, and single-family homes that retirees can purchase in Wilton Manors, the city is also home to an LGBTQ senior housing complex. This development features more than 50 housing units, all of which are priced for the limited income retirees often find themselves with. They also offer extra features to help those in need, including assistance getting to doctor’s appointments and other locations.

A Great Location

While Wilton Manors isn’t a huge city—it has a regular population of a little over 11,000, although that number greatly increases during vacation season—it is located near Fort Lauderdale and Oakland Park. Both of these cities are also home to a number of LGBTQ individuals and families, plus they offer many different shopping and dining options. The city is also considered a part of the Miami Metro Area, and thanks to several major highways, it’s easy to get to travel to many of the events Miami hosts.

Pricing in Wilton Manors

Wilton Manors does have a wide range of housing prices. Those who qualify for living in the senior living center may find that their housing costs fit nicely into their budgets. Those who are looking to purchase a home, though, may end up spending $500,000 or more depending on where in Wilton Manors they want to be located. A gay or lesbian real estate official can assist you with finding a home that fits your needs and your budget.

California Panel Addresses State’s Youth Homelessness

One of the issues that California faces is that many young people, especially young LGBT people, face homelessness. According to information presented before a panel hosted by the chairs of the California Senate Human Services Committee and the Assembly Human Services Committee, about a third of all homeless young people in the country are in California. Conservative estimates put that number at 12,000 or more, and around 40 percent of these homeless youth identify as part of the LGBT community.

California Panel Addresses State’s Youth HomelessnessAs many gay and lesbian real estate agents can tell you, housing prices in parts of California are incredibly high. Many neighborhoods in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego have housing prices that are much higher than the national average.

Of course, housing costs are only one thing that makes it difficult for those between 16 and 24 find and retain housing. Many young LGBT individuals are made homeless because they’re kicked out of their homes after coming out. Some of these people actually end up coming to California after losing their place to live in other states. Those who are moving from areas in the south or the Midwest, where the cost of living is much lower are often surprised at what it costs to rent even a very small apartment. They end up on the streets, unable to find work or a place to live.

The panel invited many of these young people and others who were once homeless to discuss the issues the state faces. Many believe that the state hasn’t dedicated sufficient resources to helping these individuals. With so many homeless people in the state, many see it as an issue that needs to be made more of a priority than it currently is.

The panel was held at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, a place where many homeless people come every day for help. The center offers assistance in finding low-income housing, jobs, and other resources. The center often works with local real estate agents and others in the housing market to find homes for those in need.

Many nonprofits have worked with real estate owners and agents in California to create low-income housing to assist LGBT seniors with finding affordable living. This has resulted in many seniors being able to live in a comfortable setting. One solution to the housing crisis many young people are facing may be something similar.

Living in Honolulu as Part of the LGBT Community

Are you thinking about moving to Honolulu? Situated on the large island of Oahu, Honolulu is a large port and is considered to be the gateway to the gorgeous state. It’s the most populous city in Hawaii, has many different international businesses, and, best of all, is very LGBT friendly. Both the state and the city itself are quite welcoming to gay and lesbian residents and newcomers, so if you’re considering a move to the tropical state, you may want to give Honolulu a look-over. Of course, you do have to be okay with dealing with tourists year-round!

Honolulu and the LGBT Community

Living in Honolulu As Part of the LGBT CommunityThere are about 400,000 permanent residents of Honolulu and thousands more visitors, so you’re bound to run into a good number of other LGBT people. The city is quite large, especially when you take into account the consolidated Honolulu Metro Area with its population of around one million.

The city and Hawaii itself have offered benefits to same-sex couples since 1997. In fact, Hawaii was the first state to do so. Unfortunately, voters also approved a Constitutional Amendment shortly thereafter that restricted marriage to opposite-sex couples only. That was changed in 2013 when the legislature passed a bill allowing same-sex marriage. Since then, sexual orientation has been added to the state’s anti-discrimination laws and hate crime laws. Gender identity is also protected, although not to quite the same extent.

Moving to Honolulu

The city has a number of different areas that you could consider gay ghettos. The main LGBT neighborhood, however, is definitely Waikiki. Most people know about this beach as a major tourist destination, and it is one of the loveliest spots on the island. It’s also, while not an official gay neighborhood, home to a number of LGBT people.

Sadly, as you might expect, Hawaii and Honolulu in particular is not a cheap place to live. Because of the climate, housing prices are quite high, plus the prices of a lot of items are very expensive in the touristy areas. If you do move to Honolulu, you’ll quickly discover grocery stores and other places off the beaten tourist track that are cheaper. Also, don’t expect to live on the beach—most of the beachfront is taken up with resorts and other rental properties.

With all that said, if you do want to live in Honolulu, it is possible, and it’s very welcoming to LGBT people. The Hawaiian culture has always been open to same-sex attraction, despite the marriage ban.

What does 2016 Have in Store for LGBT Home Buyers and Sellers?

Many gay and lesbian Realtors expect to see a good number of LGBT couples looking to buy a home now that they are legally married. However, you may want to take a look at what the market looks like before you do.  Here are a few trends experts are predicting will dominate the real estate market during the rest of 2016, but always do research on the local market before buying or selling.

The Market Will Normalize

2016 Has Quite a Few Things In Store for Homebuyers and SellersThe housing market has been up and down, as anyone who has bought or sold a house in the past 15 years has noticed.  Fortunately, experts are predicting that the housing market is actually going to go back to normal, or as normal as it ever gets.  This is great news for LGBT first-time homebuyers since it means lenders will be less afraid of making loans.  However, many also believe that interest rates are going to rise next year, especially in areas where home prices are already high.  Unfortunately, this will make gay neighborhoods like the Castro area of San Francisco, which is already difficult to afford, even more out of reach for many.

New Homes Will Be More Affordable!

If you’ve been looking for a new home, you may be very dismayed to find prices are fairly high.  That’s because builders have had to deal with higher costs and fewer skilled workers.  However, most experts believe that new homes will actually drop in price because many of the new homes that have been built over the last year haven’t sold.  This means that those new LGBT neighborhoods that have stalled out due to a lack of buyers may suddenly explode, plus new gayborhoods may spring up in some areas.  Definitely keep an eye on the costs of new houses in the area you want to move to because you may be surprised at how cheap they get.

Don’t Rent

Finally, Realtors are predicting that rent is going to continue to rise. 2015 saw many rental properties jump in price.  A large number of people now pay more than 30% of their income to rent.  Because the housing market is expected to normalize, mortgages are actually going to be cheaper than renting, making it the time to seriously reconsider your housing situation if you rent.

Anyone that is considering the market for the remainder of 2016, needs to think about what normal looks like in the area that they want to buy. Don’t worry about last year, take this year and make that perfect house your new home.

Gayborhoods and Increasing Property Values

Ever since a study done in 2001 on areas with high concentrations of LGBT homeowners and property values, gay and lesbian realtors have continued to notice that gayborhoods often have more expensive real estate.  This phenomenon continues today.  While it’s not always true, studies have shown that neighborhoods where a large number of LGBT people live tend to have overall above-average property values.

Property Values in So-Called Gayborhoods Are Higher than Comparable Suburbs, Is This a Coincidence?Of course, this won’t always happen—a home won’t automatically increase in value just because a gay or lesbian couple moves in, nor is it always true for every LGBT-heavy housing area.  However, this trend does appear to be a legitimate statistic, not merely an urban legend.  When people say that when gays move in, your property values increase and you get a new Whole Foods, it may not actually be a joke.

While the original study done in 2001 may be outdated, a recent analysis done by Trulia economist Ralph McLaughlin shows that its conclusions continue to be valid.  He looked at housing data and population statistics from 2012 to 2015.  Overall, he discovered that the average cost of a home in an area with a higher concentration of same-sex couples (both married and those who considered themselves married) was, on average, higher than comparable neighborhoods with a higher concentration of opposite-sex couples.  For areas with more male couples, home prices were about 23 percent higher overall, while areas with more female couples saw an increase of about 18 percent.

In addition to having higher home values when compared to similar neighborhoods, McLaughlin’s analysis showed that gayborhoods tend to have higher home prices on average when compared to the rest of the city.  He points to areas like the Castro district of San Francisco, the West Hollywood part of LA, and the Provincetown part of Cap Code, Massachusetts, as examples.  Housing in West Hollywood, for example, is 123 percent of the average LA cost.  In fact, out of all of the LGBT districts he studied, only one was actually cheaper: Guerneville, a part of northern San Francisco.

Is there a reason for this?  Some people assume LGBT people simply keep their homes in better shape or make more improvements than straight couples, but that seems unlikely.  Instead, McLaughlin suggests that most LGBT neighborhoods were already fairly expensive when compared to the rest of the city they are located in.  The housing crash may not have hit them as hard as other areas.  Same-sex female couples are also more likely to have children, which means that they tend to move to better areas with good schools.

Get the Most House for your Money in these 4 Markets

Buying your first home is a large undertaking that taxes you physically, emotionally, and (most of all) financially. It can be scary at first, but you can leave the experience with a fabulous piece of property that’s easily able to be resold if you choose. All you need is to conduct your research properly; pick the right location; and have a good realtor on your side.

Money is the biggest hurdle for many first time home buyers. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of five great places in the U.S. that are affordable for first-time homeowners. We have also taken employment rates into account so you can hit the ground running.

There Are Some Cities That Are Just Better When It Comes to Buying Your First HomeKansas City, MO

Kansas City, Missouri is an urban sprawl with a variety of entertainment and cultures. It also has an extremely diverse economy which makes finding employment a snap. The unemployment rate is 5.3%, which is about average today.

The best part is that the average listing price on Zillow is just barely above $101,000. This means that the monthly payment on the average Kansas City house with a 30-year mortgage would be under $500!

Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis has a highly educated work force that’s filled with people in their late twenties and early thirties. Combine this with the bustling downtown area and you have a great spot for a young bachelor or bachelorette who’s looking to strike out on their own.

The median home value in Minneapolis is just about $200,000 on Zillow. This isn’t prohibitively expensive, but it’s not cheap either. However, with its 3.4% unemployment rate, high gay population, and gorgeous neighborhoods, you may be willing to overlook it.

Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska is probably the best place to raise children on this list. It has a sizeable population of roughly 434,000. The state of Nebraska has an unemployment rate well below 3% which is absolutely amazing. The median housing on Zillow is cheap, coming in at $137,000. There’s also a big arts scene here as well.

Des Moines, Iowa

It doesn’t get much better than Des Moines when it comes to value. The average home price on Zillow in Des Moines is $110,000. If you break that down into mortgage payments, that’s under $550 monthly on a 30-year mortgage with average interest. With pricing so flexible, you could up your monthly payments and pay off your home in a fraction of the time!

The median pricing according to the census is only $118,200 which isn’t much higher than Zillow is reporting. The unemployment rate in Des Moines is only 3.2% as of this May and it has a decent population of about 207,000. There’s plenty to do, though not as much as some of the other cities listed here.

5 Best LGBT States to Find Jobs

The best thing you can do before moving to a different state is to get to know the job market. After all, it’d be silly to move somewhere and get a shiny new mortgage without having a way to pay for it! Luckily there are many places for the LGBT community to settle down with a promising job and to fit right in with the community!

California and Washington

Some States Have More LGBT Friendly Jobs Than OthersCalifornia and Washington are both tied for the number 5 spot. In 2014, their job markets both saw a 2.2% increase which (while good) is pretty modest compared to some of the other cities. However, the thing that distinguishes them is their social attitudes. They both are extremely liberal and very welcoming of LGBT folk.  They both have had gay marriage, gay adoption, gender reassignment, and hate crime laws for some time now. If you’re looking to build a life for yourself, you absolutely cannot go wrong in either of these states.

The thing that distinguishes them from the others is the housing prices. Washington is moderate with an average of $268,400. But California is guaranteed to put a dent in the average person’s wallet. California’s average price is a whopping $439,500.

Delaware

Delaware is number 3 with a job growth of 2.5% in 2014. It’s progressive, and all of the major LGBT rights such as marriage, gender reassignment, and adoption are all legal. There’s also a meticulously crafted system of hate-crime laws that protect LGBT people. It’s not quite as progressive as California or Washington, but it’s not bad by any means. Delaware housing prices are quite affordable. They average $203,500

Colorado

Colorado’s employment market growth in 2014 was 2.7%, which is very good. Colorado is also quite liberal, meaning that adoption, marriage and gender reassignment are legal. Colorado also has laws banning the use of conversion therapy on minors, which is a VERY good thing. The housing prices are moderate, as they average around $265,000.

Nevada

Nevada wins the top spot for job growth with a giant 3.6% increase in 2014. Public opinion polls as well as legislation in Nevada also indicate that the social climate is very tolerant. Straight couples and LGBT couples are treated the same. Opinion polls taken in Nevada show that over 75% of Nevada citizens agree that same-sex couples should be legally recognized; 39% of people believe that same-sex marriage should be legal, and another 38% believe that it should be civil unions. The average housing price is tied with Colorado for $265,000.