August 5, 2013

“I've been downsizing for the past three years and am ready now to retire and move abroad with my partner. What are the best gay-friendly countries to retire to?”

--William M., United States

We get this question often. Here's what our correspondents in different parts of the world have to say:

Regarding Latin America, Panama Letter Editors David Sexton and Denis Foynes have this to say:

“Without doubt, Panama is more socially conservative than the United States. That said, I don't think a gay person from D.C., for example, would be uncomfortable living in Panama City, and D.C. is one of the most gay-friendly cities on the planet. They may not be as happy here, but I just don't see anything in Panama City that I'd interpret as hostility toward the gay community.

“Outside Panama City, in other parts of Panama, would be a different story. But that's true worldwide. Younger, urban populations don't really care if someone's gay. It's not even interesting, let alone a source of hostility. I believe this is true in Panama City, Buenos Aires, Bogota, etc. Stick to major international cities, and you should be fine.”

Regarding Europe, Euro-Editor Lucy Culpepper suggests:

“Spain, especially Catalunya, could be a good choice, and any medium to large town in France would be fine. In fact, my parents live in a small village in France where there is a number of gay couples.”

In Asia, Wendy Justice advises:

“Avoid Malaysia, where all forms of gay sexual activity are illegal and punishable by fines, prison, even whipping or caning. Legally, you can't even watch a film depicting homosexuals unless the characters either ‘repent' or die.

“Thailand would be a much better option. This country has an active gay scene.”


“Kathleen, I enjoyed your account of buying carpets in Turkey. I had a similar experience in China, which started with a complete tour of the silk factory—from hand-selecting the biggest and healthiest silkworm cocoons from a conveyor spinning the creating the the presentation in the sales room. It's amazing how low the cost was (even with raised decorative details), considering some of these carpets took a year for one woman to create. As for shipping, the two I purchased beat me home and were waiting in California less than a week later.”

-- Bob M., United States and Mexico