May 19, 2011 at 2:26 pm EDT | by David Placher
Life’s a beach in retirement

Marvin Miller (left) and Dan Kyle say Rehoboth Beach, Del., is an ideal place for gay retirees. (Photo courtesy of Tony Burns; Letters to Camp Rehoboth)

If you’re looking for an area to retire, Rehoboth has become an increasingly popular place for the LGBT community.

With salty fresh breezes and the sound of waves gliding across sandy beaches, Rehoboth provides retirees with the opportunity to experience living on relaxing coastal waters. At first glance, escaping to a small town may concern a gay retiree coming from a large and diverse city, but with Rehoboth’s gay-friendly community and small-town atmosphere, Rehoboth is a place any retiree can feel comfortable calling home.

Marvin Miller and his partner of 34 years, Dan Kyle, both retired schoolteachers, relocated to Rehoboth from Baltimore in June of 2009.

“We wanted to move to an environment that is lighter, easier and accepting, but we also wanted the amenities of a city, such as a plethora of shopping venues, good medical centers and great restaurants,” Miller says.

Miller also alludes to the small town, friendly feel that Rehoboth offers.

“Everyone here is polite and kind. It’s a good feeling living here. We are really happy.”

When deciding where to retire, Miller says they couldn’t just move anywhere and that cost and standard of living weighed heavily on their decision.

“There are no sales taxes on purchases here and property taxes are extremely low. That makes living here that much nicer.”

Miller is not the only one to notice Delaware’s many tax advantages. In 2010, AARP noted that Delaware is one of the nation’s best places to retire because there is no inheritance tax for most residents, no Social Security tax, and if you are 60 years or older, you can exclude up to $12,500 of investment and qualified pension income from your taxes.

John Black, a Realtor with Ocean Atlantic Sotheby’s International Realty, says Rehoboth and the surrounding area is becoming increasing popular for retirees.

“I see folks in their 50s looking to buy a place in or around Rehoboth Beach as a second home they can use now, and then someday retire to,” he said.

Not all parts of Rehoboth Beach are affordable, Black cautions. “Prices in the city limits still start at approximately a half million and go up from there,” he says.

Steve Elkins, executive director of Create A More Position (CAMP) Rehoboth, believes that by next year, Rehoboth will be even more alluring for gay retirees. On May 11, Del. Gov. Jack Markell signed a historic piece of legislation legalizing civil unions, which provide same-sex couples who enter into civil unions with the same rights, protections and obligations now granted to married couples. It goes into effect Jan. 1.

“Gay couples that enter into civil unions will no longer have to worry about certain inheritance issues that gay couples one faced here and continue to face in Maryland or Pennsylvania,” Elkins says. “Who ever thought Delaware would have civil unions before Maryland or Pennsylvania? That is what now makes us more attractive to gay retirees.”

Elkins also believes that the expanding town has not struggled to cope with the growth in senior population.

“We have better medical facilities than we did 20 years ago. It is amazing how fast things have improved.”

Elkins believes Rehoboth’s nickname, “The Nation’s Summer Capital” is no longer fitting, especially to retirees, because people are starting to stay year-round now.

Elkins notes that retirees leaving big cities may have to adapt to Rehoboth’s slower pace.

“We don’t have an effective public transportation system. You have to drive everywhere, including to Rehoboth,” he says.

With retirees often looking back on the hardships they encountered disclosing their sexual orientation, Rehoboth reminds us that without such bravery, an accepting and diverse community could not exist.

“It is the diversity that makes us a community.” Miller says. “It is who we are that makes us a family.”

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