Best Cities for People with Disabilities
How to Choose the Best Place for a Disabled Person to Live?
Not all cities are friendly to people with disabilities.
If you’re on the hunt for a new home in a new city, and you are a person with a disability, the process can be daunting. Searching for a new house is hard on its own. Throw in the many factors a disabled person has to consider before making a decision is a recipe for anxiety and stress.
Disabled people have to think about:
- Accessible public transportation
- Service providers
- Available healthcare facilities
- Career opportunities
- Ease of collecting Social Security benefits
- Entertainment options with special equipment
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention report that one in four adults in the U.S. (60 million) has a disability affecting their daily lives. Living with a disability is not cheap, and for some people, things can go south in a hurry. About 5.7 million people with disabilities had jobs in 2017, a drop in a bucket compared to employed people without any impairment.
The Ranking Process
There is a pressing need to assist persons with disabilities in finding a right home in an ADA compliant city. There are plenty of resources that tackle this topic. Most of them, however, feature different cities without any clear ranking system. Special thanks go out to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and WalletHub for the verified core list of towns on this article.
The selection process includes a combination of livability and health-related factors. These factors should enable disabled people to live a longer and fuller life, such as:
- Clean air
- The city’s age and climate
- Access to doctors
- Accessibility of rehabilitation facilities
- Medicaid eligibility and spending
- Access to fitness and recreation facilities
- Paratransit access and availability
- The number of employed people with disabilities
The Top 15 Cities for Disabled People
Here are the Best Cities for persons with disabilities based on the selection process mentioned above.
1. Seattle, Washington
While Seattle is well-known for its winding roads, hills, and rainy days, the city is friendly to persons with disabilities. The city’s efficient light rail and transit system is excellent, setting the bar pretty high for other cities on this list.
Here’s what Seattle’s transit system has to offer:
- Wheelchair accessible
- Discounted fare for PWD’s
- Display maps of available routes for the disabled
- Paratransit van services
Seattle’s world-class transit system makes the city’s complex layout easy to navigate. Disabled people have easy access to healthcare facilities such as:
- Virginia Mason Medical Center
- Harborview Medical Center
- University of Washington Medical Center
- Swedish Medical Center
- The VA
2. Denver, Colorado
Denver is a beautiful city that has many services available for the disabled. The town has a fully-accessible metro transportation system. Denver also boasts of unparalleled wheelchair access all over the metro for persons with disabilities. The city prides itself on ADA compliance and has shown to be an incredible advocate for the disabled.
Denver is always moving forward, making positive changes to aid people with disabilities who are also in chronic pain. The city one of only ten states that legalized medical marijuana for therapeutic use.
3. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Nature blessed Albuquerque with warm winters and fantastic weather all year-round. The city’s pleasant weather is suitable for people with disabilities who are prone to pain when the weather gets cold. Albuquerque also has the best health care in New Mexico.
The city has several world-class medical facilities, including:
- Lovelace Women’s Hospital
- Presbyterian Hospital
- University of New Mexico Hospital
When it comes to public transportation for disabled people, Albuquerque doesn’t disappoint. The city’s ABQ Ride bus and Rapid Transit Services are all 100% ADA compliant. The town offers the disabled reduced fares and provides paratransit services (SunVan) to anywhere in the city.
4. Orlando, Florida
Orlando attracts tourists from all over the world, thanks to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. Being a premier tourist destination, the city is also one of the world’s friendliest when it comes to people with disabilities.
The state of Florida requires all hotels to have a special room or rooms equipped for wheelchairs and wheel-in showers. Disney World’s Coronado Springs Resort has 99 rooms designed for guests with disabilities.
Almost all public and private establishments in Orlando provide accessible entrances for PWD’s. Most modes of public transportation have easily accessible doors.
5. Reno, Nevada
Reno is well known for its casinos and almost year-long sunshine. It seldom rains in Reno, making it easier for people with disabilities to get around the city. The RTC or Regional Transportation Commission offers rapid transit lines and wheelchair-accessible buses. Passengers with disabilities enjoy reduced fares and priority support. RTC buses also aid the disabled by providing paratransit services throughout downtown and the suburbs.
6. Overland Park, Kansas
Topping WalletHub’s list is Overland Park, Kansas, a city in middle America that has impressive scores in both economy and health care. While the quality of life in Overland Park is pretty average, the city had the fifth-lowest percentage of PWD’s living in poverty.
7. Lincoln, Nebraska
Lincoln is a town in the Midwest that’s an excellent option for people with disabilities wanting to live a good life. The city boasts a low cost of living and a high employment rate for people with disabilities. It also helps that Nebraska is one of the top states to practice medicine. Residents of Lincoln have plenty of access to primary care physicians and healthcare services.
8. Scottsdale, Arizona
Another Arizona city that caters to people with disabilities, you can live off disability income here in Scottsdale. About 5.2% of the population in Scottsdale reported to living with a disability, and the city has the 2nd best economy rating in the United States.
9. Gilbert, Arizona
Arizona’s climate and forward-thinking disability programs have made the state an ideal home for PWD’s. Gilbert follows suit and turns living with a disability an affordable endeavor. This suburb southwest of Phoenix has a high employment rate for people with disabilities and a good quality of life.
10. Peoria, Arizona
Peoria has the 3rd lowest percentage of persons with disabilities living in poverty. Combining this metric with Arizona’s programs for the disabled make Peoria an ideal town for PWD’s.
Peoria ranks high in several critical factors, including:
- Quality of life
- Economic security
Arizona’s own Developmental Disabilities program is showing impressive results. The program reports that 99% of its participants live in their own homes, rather than in institutions.
11. Huntington Beach, California
What’s not to love about Huntington Beach? Great sunny weather, fantastic beaches, low cost of living, and high quality of life. This slice of the Golden State has all the factors people with disabilities look for in a home, plus it ranked pretty high when it comes to healthcare.
12. Irvine, California
Irvine may be expensive, but analysts say that living here is worth every penny. Irvine scores high for its healthcare services and quality of life. These are critical factors to those living with a disability. If sunshine, happiness, and being a trendsetter are your priorities, you can’t go wrong with Irvine. A trendsetter how? Only 3% of the population reported having a disability, so you’ll have a chance to be one of the few.
13. Honolulu, Hawaii
If you value a city’s quality of life and happiness above all else, Honolulu is the city for you. Beautiful weather and stunning beaches aside, you’ll have to make a few adjustments to get a house here. Hawaii’s median income for persons with disabilities is $66,100, but a Honolulu home costs about $635,000. If you can make the necessary financial adjustments, you’ll enjoy living in a city that ranked number 1 in quality of life according to WalletHub.
14. Chandler, Arizona
If you’re looking to settle out west, Chandler, Arizona has what you need. Located southeast of Phoenix, Chandler boasts of great weather all year round and low cost of living. Wheelchair accessibility, services, and facilities for the disabled remain excellent. The median household income of persons with disabilities who are of working-age in 2014 was $40,300. The employment rate of people with disabilities for the same year was 33.2%.
15. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
9.8% of people are living with a disability in Oklahoma City, and you won’t feel isolated or alone. If you favor top-notch healthcare over comfort, you should consider Oklahoma City. OKC has the most doctors per capita in the U.S., but the lowest quantity of accessible trails for those with mobility issues.
While there are a lot of cities advocating equal opportunities and accessibility for disabled people, some don’t care. If you’re a disabled person looking to move to a new city, it is in your best interest to avoid all non-disabled friendly cities at all costs. You should be choosing a city that provides wheelchair accessibility and transit systems that cater to PWD’s.
You should also look at the cost of living, the employment rate for PWD’s, and quality of life before you settle in a town you like. Any of the 15 cities listed here are lovely, disabled-friendly options you can choose from.
Good luck with your search!