Best Cities for Lesbian Expats

Best Cities for Lesbian Expats

With anti-queer rhetoric ramping up across the U.S., LGBTQ+ folks of all stripes are looking to leave for new homes where they can live loud and proud. Here’s the best cities for lesbian expats looking to move abroad.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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One of the most queer-friendly cities in the world, Amsterdam hosts a number of queer-centered events all year long, from Roze Filmdagen to Milkshake Festival and Pride. You’ll find the gay epicenter at Reguliersdwarsstraat (gay street), while other lesbian-centric spaces like Bar Buka and Flirtation will make you feel right at home.

Antwerp, Belgium

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While it may not be top of mind when it comes to queer-friendly cities, Antwerp offers plenty of socializing options for gay women. Atthis, a blue-collar bar for older lesbians, creates community spaces off the tourist path, while spots like Red & Blue or Café den Draak cater to a more dance-driven crowd. Chloé Lenaerts, program coordinator at Het Roze Huis, invites you to come for Pride, stay for the chocolate.

Bangkok, Thailand

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Thailand in general adopts an inclusive approach to queer life, thanks to certain cultural factors promoting tolerance of all. Bangkok, in particular, welcomes gay women to live out and proud; events like Go Grrrls, Vibe, and Lesla offer great opportunities to meet other expats and Thai locals.

Barcelona, Spain

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Spain’s been lauded as an ideal home for LGBTQ people, tying with the Netherlands for best country in this regard. Aside from its vibrant art scene, many queer locals make their home in the “Gaixample” neighborhood.

Berlin, Germany

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Germany recently appointed its first commissioner for LGBTQ affairs, developing a national plan promoting acceptance and diversity. Christopher Street Day, one of Europe’s biggest gay events, memorializes the 1969 Stonewall Riots every July.

Brussels, Belgium

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The second country to legalize same-sex marriage, Belgium supports its queer citizens. Aside from Brussels’ vibrant gayborhood and diverse LGBTQ scene, lesbian couples can adopt and access in-vitro fertilization, making this a great home to raise a family.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Buenos Aires has led the way for queer representation since guaranteeing gay rights in 2002—the first city in South America to do so. It draws many queer expats with its open embrace of gay culture. Experience life on the Atlantic with hotspots like Casa Brandon and Babieca. For women living out their golden years, there’s even a gay retirement center, founded by Argentina’s first married lesbian couple.

Cape Town, South Africa

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Considered the gay capital of Africa, Cape Town has a number of queer events to help you feel right at home. Check out Cape Town Pride around March, Out in Africa Film Festival in October, and the Mother City Queer Project each December.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

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Chiang Mai continues Bangkok’s tradition of welcoming queer women to Thailand. The gay scene is more tame here than its sister city, making Chiang Mai a great destination if you’re looking to blend in more than stand out.

Copenhagen, Denmark

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Copenhagen’s been taking the lead for gay rights since recognizing unions of same-sex couples in 1989 and granting joint adoption since 2010. MIX Copenhagen, the LGBTQ film festival, and Copenhagen Pride draw enormous crowds each year to this historical city.

Lisbon, Portugal

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Lisbon marks a welcoming place for lesbians of all ages to settle down. Principe Real is the most prominent queer neighborhood and hosts the annual Pride March. Be sure to attend Queer Lisboa, the international gay and lesbian film festival, every September.

Madrid, Spain

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Just like Barcelona, Madrid welcomes the LGBTQ+ community with arms wide open. Heck, we could’ve made a whole list of gay-friendly cities just in Spain! Roughly 10 percent of Madrid’s metro population—about 500,000 people—are part of the queer community.

Melbourne, Australia

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Forget about Sydney: this Reddit thread insists that Melbourne “by far is more fun for lesbians.” Hit the dance floor at Danceteria Party, Lick, and Pinkalicious. If you’re looking to slow down, try knitting group Queer Melbourne Stitch’n’Bitch or the Hares and Hyenas LGBTQ bookstore.

Montevideo, Uruguay

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Like Amsterdam and Madrid, Montevideo consistently ranks among the best cities for wlw expats. This South American nation has been striving for gay rights since legalizing homosexuality in 1934. Visit old town Ciudad Vieja by day and meet new people at Cain Club or Chains Pub by night.

Montreal, Canada

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When it comes to Canadian destinations for gay women, you just can’t beat Montreal for options. The Village on Rue Saint-Catherine anchors the city’s main gayborhood with numerous businesses, but don’t sleep on Montreal Pride, its queer film festival, or the LGBTQ+ Community Centre. Rent’s also lower than hotspots like Toronto, though you’ll want to brush up on your French to really blend in.

Oslo, Norway

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This cool-climate country legalized gay marriage in 2009 and has protected gay rights since 1981. Oslo hosts one of the best gay choirs in the world and biggest Pride event in the country, highlighting Norway’s vibrant LGBTQ culture.

Perth, Australia

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Much like Melbourne, Perth is a sleeper hit for wlw hoping to live in Australia. One Redditor says, “One of my best friends is a lesbian and she’s constantly going to gay bars and drag shows!”

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

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Puerto Vallarta has long been a destination for gay expats from the U.S., loved for its Pacific beaches and welcoming atmosphere. By day, you’ll meet other LGBTQ people around the Blue Chairs club on Los Muertos beach or visit the Botanical Gardens Vallarta. You’re also sure to find new queer-friendly experiences around Zona Romántica, a vibrant district paved with cobblestone streets and lined with vendors, trendy galleries, and queer-friendly bars.

Reykjavík, Iceland

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Home to “the biggest little Pride in the world,” Iceland’s capital supports its queer community like few cities could even imagine. While the prices may be higher and lifestyle a little sleepier, Reykjavík welcomes you with open arms. Representation extends to its politics, too—the firstly openly gay political leader was Icelandic, former Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Home to 5M+ people, Rio de Janeiro shows off its beating heart in its annual Carnival celebration and vibrant LGBTQ+ community all year long. Brazil ranks among the best countries for lesbians, supporting gay marriage and gender identity in its human rights laws. With its gay district located near Farme Gay Beach, Rio offers a hot and sunny life for gay expats. Check out Copacabana and The Week for popular nightlife spots.

São Paulo, Brazil

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São Paulo is our final lesbian hotspot. Its Pride is the biggest in the world, once reaching 5 million attendees in a single day. Lesbian bars can be found throughout the city; you can even pick the type of women you want to meet, based on the bar. A couple of caveats: although the homophobic Jair Bolsonaro is no longer president, you’ll want to steer clear of his hotheaded supporters. It’s reported to be particularly dangerous for trans people, as well.

20 Best Countries for Women Who Want to Leave the U.S.

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American women who want to move abroad gather in hundreds of Facebook groups that target female expats. If you’re a woman considering immigration for yourself, the Women Peace and Security Index is a good place to start. The index, which is from 2022, ranked the United States in 21st place prior to overturning Roe V. Wade. These countries were ranked as the top 20.

➤ 20 Best Countries for Women Who Want to Leave the U.S.

How to Leave America: 6 Steps to Your New Life

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Are you thinking about leaving the United States? You’re not alone; as many as 15% percent of Americans say they want to leave the country permanently.

➤ How to Leave America: 6 Steps to Your New Life

20 Best Countries for Transgender People Who Want to Leave the U.S.

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In 2023, state legislatures have proposed 566 anti-trans bills in 49 states (all but Delaware), and legislators have also introduced at least 31 national anti-trans bills. Although 128 of those bills have already failed, 80 have passed without veto, revoking rights from transgender individuals in 22 states.

If you’re considering moving your family to a country that’s more welcoming to transgender people, travel journalists Asher & Lyric have created a guide to the best and worst countries for trans rights and ranked the United States in 40th place. Here are their top 20 countries.

20 Best Countries for Transgender People Who Want to Leave the U.S.

Here Comes the Pride: Where Gay Marriage Is Legal Around the World (Including a Former Soviet State)

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Since the Netherlands legalized same-sex marriage back in 2001, other countries have continued to follow suit. The fight for equality continues to bear fruit, with a former Soviet state being the latest nation to sign gay marriage into law.

Love is love, no matter who you share it with or where. Here’s the countries that have legalized same-sex marriage as of 2023.

Love Wins: Countries with Legal Same-Sex Marriage

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Co-founder at Expatsi | + posts

Brett Andrews is the co-founder of Expatsi, a company that helps expats discover how to leave the U.S. Brett and his partner Jen developed the Expatsi Test to recommend countries to move to, based on factors like budget, visa type, spoken languages, healthcare rankings, and more. In a former life, he worked as a software developer, IT support specialist, and college educator. When he's not working, Brett loves watching comic book movies and reading unusual books.

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bed49dc5d4263d6d37b46cb09574d411?s=150&d=mp&r=g
Co-founder at Expatsi | + posts

Brett Andrews is the co-founder of Expatsi, a company that helps expats discover how to leave the U.S. Brett and his partner Jen developed the Expatsi Test to recommend countries to move to, based on factors like budget, visa type, spoken languages, healthcare rankings, and more. In a former life, he worked as a software developer, IT support specialist, and college educator. When he's not working, Brett loves watching comic book movies and reading unusual books.