Gay Couples Discover Acceptance, Home Buys in Palm Springs
The Desert Sun
By Chris Grillot
June 23, 2012
There were two things Ed Lefkowitz and Brian Harradine had in mind when looking for a California city to call home: It had to be gay friendly and near Harradine’s family.
The couple looked at San Francisco, San Diego and Long Beach.
They chose Palm Springs — but not just for the warm weather, spectacular scenery and open attitude. It also had the hottest prices.
Two Palm Springs ZIP codes are among the most affordable in America with the highest concentration of same-sex male couples, according to research by online real estate company Trulia. The findings come as cities across the country celebrate LGBT Pride Month.
“We fell in love with it, and this is where we could get the most bang for our buck money- wise,” Lefkowitz said.
In ZIP codes 92264 and 92262 — No. 2 and No. 4 in the list — gay couples share 12.4 percent and 11.3 percent of the households, respectively.
In those ZIP codes, the average price of real estate is $141 per square foot.
Trulia used information from the 2010 U.S. Census to determine the top 10 ZIP codes in America with the highest concentration of gay and lesbian couples. The company also determined the average cost per square foot of real estate in each area.
The only ZIP code with a median price per square foot of real estate lower than Palm Springs is Pleasant Ridge, Mich., at $107.
The Castro District in San Francisco, which boasts the gayest ZIP code with 14.2 percent, is also the most expensive at a $671 per square foot.
John Tanzella, president and CEO of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, said San Francisco has the highest concentration of gay and lesbian couples because of the history of gay rights in that city. He said people find a trade-off between cost of living and the amenities of a major metro city.
Other cities in the top 10 with the strongest populations of same-sex male couples in America were California’s West Hollywood; Provincetown on Massachusetts’ Cape Cod; Wilton Manor, near Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Oak Lawn, near Dallas; Rehoboth Beach, Del.; and Pleasant Ridge, near Detroit.
Affordability is just an extra perk for gay couples to choose Palm Springs, said Kevin Stern, president of the Desert Gay Tourism Guild.
“A majority of them move here because of the warm weather, the acceptance of everyone and openness,” he said.
Michael Green, president of the Desert Gay Tourism Guild attested.
“People retiring or who are taking early retirement want a place that’s safe and secure to be open, ” he said. “And it’s affordable, which makes it better.”
Historically, retirement influenced migration to Palm Springs, Gary Gates, a demographer at UCLA School of Law, said in an email to The Desert Sun.
He said older members of the LGBT community came of age when there was “substantially more social stigma around their sexual orientation” and they are probably more attracted LGBT- specific areas such as Palm Springs.
Though the city topped the list for same-sex male couples, the Coachella Valley did not have any ZIP codes with a high concentration of lesbian couples.
“Relatively expensive urban areas with fewer child- oriented amenities are probably less attractive to them,” Gates said. “I’m not sure that I can cite a particular reason Palm Springs has attracted proportionally more gay men.”