5 Best Cities for People with Disabilities

Published on: February 28, 2019


Looking for a new home in a new city, perhaps away from the support of friends and family, can make even the most independent person nervous. If you are a person with a disability, this anxiety can be compounded by a list of factors. People who are disabled often have to consider not just public transportation, but the accessibility of facilities, service providers, career opportunities, and even more diverse or specially equipped entertainment options.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four U.S. adults has a disability that affects how they lead their daily lives. That’s about 60 million Americans. Considering the costs of many disabilities, expenses for people can quickly spiral out of control. In 2017, only 5.7 million people with disabilities were employed—a significant disparity when compared to those without any disability. Others struggled to acquire Social Security benefits that provide only $1,065 monthly, for an annual income of $12,780.

The result is a need for solid choices when deciding on a new place to live. Many resources exist with completely different selections of cities, which can be confusing. In this article, we will explore five cities that appeared in multiple resources that verified the Top 5 choices made by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. Established following actor Christopher Reeve’s tragic spinal cord injury and subsequent death, the foundation elaborates on their selection process representing several regions as having:

…the best combination of health and livability-related factors, which enable a disabled person to live a fuller, longer life. Health factors include clean air, Medicaid eligibility and spending, access to physicians and rehabilitation facilities. Livability factors include access to fitness facilities and recreation, access to paratransit and the percentage of people living with disabilities who are employed. The city's age and climate are also taken into account.

Seattle, Washington

Ask someone about Seattle and most will mention the Space Needle, Pike’s Place Market, coffee houses, and the 90’s grunge scene. They might also mention the rain, winding roads, and hills. But don’t let that deter you; Seattle’s transit system and light rail lines are top notch. All are wheelchair accessible, display maps of accessible routes, and offer reduced services. There are even paratransit van services to supplement them. This makes the otherwise complex layout of Seattle easy to navigate and get to places such as Harborview Medical Center, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Swedish Medical Center, University of Washington Medical Center, and the VA.

Reno, Nevada

Contrasted against Seattle’s rain is Reno, known for its sunshine, winds, and casinos. Little precipitation means that it’s easy for people to get around the city. The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) offers wheelchair-accessible bus and rapid transit lines assist in that with reduced fares for passengers with disabilities. RTC buses help by providing paratransit service throughout downtown and, in many cases, suburbs.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Known for its International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque is also fortunate to have warm winters and pleasant weather year-round. It’s also known for having New Mexico’s best health care. Among its premier facilities is the University of New Mexico Hospital, Presbyterian Hospital, and Lovelace Women's Hospital. The city's ABQ Ride bus and bus rapid transit services are 100% ADA compliant, also offering discounted fares, and providing SunVan curb-to-curb paratransit to any anywhere in the city.

Denver, Colorado

A beautiful city that has been listed on many different sites, Denver is one of the best cities for those needing wheelchair access. There are many services and conveniences available to the disabled, including a fully accessible metro transportation system. Perhaps more important and worth mentioning is the city’s incredible advocacy for those with disabilities. Denver prides itself on ADA compliance and is constantly moving in a positive direction with that in mind. For those with a debilitating disease or in chronic pain, medical marijuana is completely legal in Colorado (1 of only 10 states).

Orlando, Florida

Because it boasts both Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, Orlando is one of the world’s most disability-friendly cities in the world—according to disability publications such as 101 Mobility, New Mobility, Access2Mobility, and more. It’s also worth mentioning that not only is Orlando in the Top 5, but many cities located in the Sunshine State are included, according to sites such as Wallethub. Cities such as Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Miami, Pembroke Pines, Port St. Lucie, and Tallahassee all made the Top 100.

No matter what city you’re looking to relocate to, consider the expenses mentioned and look to disability experts to get the most to assist you. The Disability Experts of Florida have over 35 years of specializing in Social Security Disability and SSI claims, handling the paperwork, procedures, and government. Let them alleviate the burdens of the frustrating and complicated paperwork, so you can focus on a new home and adventure in a friendly city.

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