The Best Neighborhoods To Live In Phoenix, Arizona If You're LGBTQ+

If you're sick of the rain and seeking a perma-tan from year-round sun, but you don't want to spring for the pricey lifestyle of a southern California beach town, you may want to consider Phoenix, Arizona. Phoenix rests in the middle of the famous Valley of the Sun, but it's starting to be known for reasons other than its weather: Phoenix is ranked exceptionally high when it comes to openness and acceptance of the LGBTQ community and has been for almost an entire decade, according to Visit Phoenix.

 Phoenix boasts not just one but two large events to celebrate LGBTQ people, Phoenix Pride and the Rainbows Festival. A number of neighborhoods in Phoenix showcase a variety of queer-owned and queer-friendly businesses, including drag shows, nightclubs, and welcoming and inclusive bars and restaurants. The desert may not be the first place that comes to mind when you picture a gay haven, but Phoenix will certainly change your mind with its open-mindedness and awesome culture.

The best gayborhood: the Melrose District

If you are looking for the most gay-friendly neighborhood within the city of Phoenix, it would be hard to rule out the Melrose District as the top contender. As Queer in the World explains, Phoenix doesn't really have any true "gayborhoods," but the Melrose District comes pretty close to that title. Located in the central part of the main city, the Melrose District features homes built between 1929 and 1949, so the area has a lot of historic charm. Additionally, many of the houses built during that period are cottage-sized, making them the perfect option for a first-time home for a gay couple or a fun rental for gay singles to live with awesome roommates.

As for entertainment, there really isn't much the Melrose District doesn't have. With a ton of LGBTQ-themed nightclubs and bars, there are endless options for sipping tasty drinks and meeting new like-minded friends. Fly your rainbow flag proudly in the Melrose District!

For the queer professional: downtown Phoenix

You don't have to make your home base within the Melrose District in order to feel welcome and at home as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in Phoenix. According to Queer in the World, Downtown Phoenix is another hub of progressive establishments and inclusive communities within the city. If the older age of the Melrose District buildings feels more dated to you than charming, you will love the sleek, modern feel of much of downtown Phoenix's architecture. This section of the city is a perfect spot for young queer professionals, with high-rise apartment complexes located within walking distance of many offices.

In fact, living in downtown Phoenix is a great option if you are looking to minimize your carbon footprint by no longer owning a car. The City of Phoenix has committed to a Transportation 2050 plan, which aspires to expand public transit options within the city, particularly in the downtown area, which is already a public transportation hub. But even without taking the bus or riding the light rail, downtown Phoenix is quite walkable, with numerous shops, restaurants, and nightlife and entertainment options all within strolling distance. If you want to live in an open, welcoming environment where you can have pretty much anything you would ever need without hopping in a car, downtown Phoenix is the queer-friendly neighborhood for you.

Progressive politics in a college town: Tempe and the Mill Avenue district

Tempe is a suburb outside of central Phoenix, perhaps best known as a college town and the home of Arizona State University. Like many college towns, Tempe boasts a more politically progressive record than other parts of the swing state, and LGBTQ+ inclusivity has been an integral component of Tempe culture for years, as the Tempe Tourism Office reports. Since 1999 — 16 years before the national legalization of gay marriage by the Supreme Court — the City of Tempe has been providing its employees' domestic partners with the same spousal benefits they provide to their employees' spouses, ensuring that queer partners could access city-sponsored healthcare even if their unions were not legally recognized. The Tempe Tourism Office also has a longstanding partnership with Pride Guides, a national directory that provides information on local businesses that are either LGBTQ-owned or LGBTQ-friendly, particularly businesses related to travel and tourism.

The Mill Avenue district is one of the most famous sections of the Tempe area, with everything you would expect to see in a thriving college downtown area — and some things you wouldn't, like the giant Hayden Butte mountain smack dab in the middle of downtown (it's known locally as the "A" Mountain because of the Arizona State "A" on the side). But if you're not into hiking, you can still enjoy the Mill Avenue district, which boasts microbreweries, local shops, bars, and restaurants that are proudly LGBTQ-friendly.

For the queer family: Scottsdale

You may know Scottsdale as the fancy-schmancy retirement destination of the Southwest — probably not an image you associate with being particularly LGBTQ-friendly. But you may want to reconsider: Scottsdale is a complex Phoenix suburb that continues to grow and divide into smaller sub-neighborhoods, each with its own unique character, some of which defy the traditional Scottsdale stereotype. Yes, as Queer in the World reports, Scottsdale remains a retirement destination — which might be what you're looking for if you're of retirement age and seeking to live somewhere with sunny weather all year round. But Scottsdale is also approachable for queer people at any stage of their lives.

North Scottsdale continues to hew most closely to the traditional image of Scottsdale, with its multi-million dollar mansions and elite golf clubs. But smaller, single-family homes are beginning to spring up in South Scottsdale, and the good quality of the schools and the low crime rate are turning that neighborhood into an excellent, welcoming place for a queer couple to raise a family. Scottsdale is becoming so large that it really has everything anyone could ever need: modern developments and planned communities, old historic homes, and even fun nightlife — as The New York Times reports, Scottsdale is recently exploding in popularity for bachelorette parties. Why not add some queer love into that mix?

To access all of the above: the Biltmore Area

The Biltmore Area is a section of Phoenix that is famous not only for its own attractions but also for being only 20 minutes away from all other desirable areas within the city, including all of the neighborhoods listed above (and the airport, if you love to travel), as the Home Smart Historic Phoenix Group explains. Not only does living in the Biltmore Area provide you with amazing access to all other LGBTQ-friendly parts of Phoenix, but it also has a number of outstanding characteristics of its own. The Biltmore Area is more upscale than some of the other neighborhoods on this list, with an enormous shopping center in the Biltmore Fashion Park and Shopping Plaza, as well as two elite championship golf courses. But it's not all glitz and glam in this neighborhood — the Biltmore Area is also home to the Arizona Canal Trail, a great spot for walking your dog, biking, or going for a run.

The Biltmore Area may be a little bit more pricey than some of the other LGBTQ-friendly neighborhoods mentioned above, but living within the Biltmore comes with quite a few perks, such as access to award-winning restaurants and inspiring art galleries. It is one of the more cultured sections of the city and is well-known for being open and welcoming to members of the LGBTQ community.