Many LGBT retirees don’t want to live the stereotypical retirement of golfing and spending time with their grandchildren. Beyond the fact that we may not be fully welcomed in the country club-style retirement communities. The needs of LGBT retirees when it comes to where we want to live and how we will get the most enjoyment from our golden years goes beyond the needs of the average (heterosexual) retiree. Loren Ostrow of KOAR International LLC thinks he has the solution with the new Living Out property currently under construction in the gay, gay, gay destination Palm Springs.
Over the years, LGBTQ+ Americans have been drawn to gayborhoods like The Castro, Boystown, and West Hollywood, as well as gay resort towns like P-Town, Fire Island, and Palm Springs. As a gay financial planner in Los Angeles, many of my clients own second homes in Palm Springs, and I know many more people who have chosen to retire full-time in Palm Springs. It is estimated that between 40-50% of Palm Springs residents identify as LGBTQ+. If you go out to dinner on a Friday or Saturday night, it will appear that the rest of the population are bachelorettes who are celebrating their upcoming nuptials with their friends.
I recently sat down with Ostrow, a highly respected leader in the LGBTQ community, philanthropist, developer, and the visionary behind Living Out, to talk about his new LGBTQ+ focused property for active gay seniors, which recently broke ground in gay hot spot, Palm Springs.
With Palm Springs being so gay (and fabulous), I asked Loren why Palm Springs? He responded, “Historically, Palm Springs has been the number one safe space for the gay community. People are used to coming to Palm Springs, it really felt like the perfect place for the first Living Out property.”
With such a large gay population and some fabulous homes throughout the Palm Springs area, is a new luxury property really needed? “As LGBTQ people, we had to learn to navigate a world that wasn’t built for us. But now, Living Out reverses that paradigm by building a world especially for us,” Ostrow emphatically responded.
Isolation and loneliness are major drags on happiness and joy for any retirement. These issues are often even more present with gay retirements. Many gay seniors face going back into the closet as they age. While the LGBTQ+ community has made huge strides for equality, homophobia is still a huge issue. Great examples are the horrific “Don’t Say Gay” bill from Ron DeSantis in Florida and the anti-trans policies in Texas from Greg Abbot. This is beyond the staggering percentage of teenage homeless youth who identify as LGBTQ+.
Living Out has been designed to help build a sense of community. This won’t be just an apartment building catering to LGBTQ+ active seniors. It is its own community with common areas and robust amenities. Ostrow added, “Nobody has done anything at this level specifically for the LGBT+ community.”
This really sounds like an opportunity to have a Golden Girls style retirement with 122 friends filling in for Rose, Dorothy, Blanche, and Sofia. Living Out will feature an upscale, full-service restaurant and bar operated by nationally known chefs and restaurateurs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, a movie theater with reclining seats, game room, card room, state of the art fitness center, arts and crafts studio, massage rooms, a hair salon including manicure and pedicure facilities, and an innovative community lounge that will include a coffee bar, prepared food options, and workspace.
The exterior of the property will include covered surface parking for all residents as well as guest and retail parking, an event lawn, BBQ and entertainment areas, a resort-style swimming pool, three separate jacuzzi spa areas, bocce ball courts, a putting green, orchards, rose gardens, and walking paths. One of the unique features of the project will be a large pet park, with areas for large and small dogs adjacent to a full-service pet facility, including a retail store, grooming facilities, pet daycare, and overnight boarding.
It sounds like you would have to work hard to stay isolated when living here. Beyond the amenities, are there any thoughts on helping your residents age in place? “We have planned for some great solutions to help our residents age in place,” said Ostrow. “We’ve carved out over 20 units in phase two in order to provide assisted living as our residents see the need for additional care.” A full-time concierge who can help fill your dinner reservation (matching guests from the community) will also be available to residents. Living Out Palm Springs will also work with local LGBTQ+ organizations to recommend in-home care companies with LGBTQ+ cultural competency when and if residents are in need of these services.
The property will also have some great amenities for pet lovers. “People love their pets; we have designed an amazing dog park for the large and small dogs. We will also have on-site dog sitting.” For many, travel is a major part of the fabulous gay retirement; these pet amenities will be a huge benefit to residents.
Ostrow added, “Nobody has done anything at this level specifically for the LGBT+ community. You need a great developer who understands the needs of the gay community to really pull this off.” Living Out Palm Springs will be the inaugural property for KOAR International LLC, with plans to develop similar LGBTQ+ focused developments across the United States.
Obviously, as a financial planner, I know that money is part of a secure and happy gay retirement, but as a gay financial planner, I know that all the money in the world may not buy you the community you want during your golden years. Perhaps, you skip buying the gated mansion on an acre in the Old Las Palmas neighborhood of Palm Springs and enjoy the community and amenities of a new apartment and the amenities of Living Out. They are expecting to start welcoming residents in early 2023, and they already have a robust number of future guests on their reservation list.