AARP’s Public Policy Institute announced the launch of the updated AARP Livability Index, a web-based tool that scores every neighborhood and community in the U.S. for the services and amenities that affect people’s lives the most as they age.
Launched in 2015, the Index scores livability by using more than 50 national data sources, such as the U.S. Census Bureau American Communities Survey, to measure 61 community characteristics across seven categories: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement, and opportunity. It aims to inform and encourage residents, local advocates, researchers, and policymakers to take action to make their communities great places to live for people of all ages. Users can search the index by address, ZIP code, or community to find an overall or categorical score, identify challenges in their community and compare their neighborhood to others across performance benchmarks.
“The majority of older adults want to stay in their current homes and communities as they age, which requires walkable neighborhoods, public transportation options, opportunities to engage in community activities, and affordable and adaptable housing,” said Rodney Harrell, PhD, AARP VP of family, home, and community. “The AARP Livability Index provides the clearest picture yet of how well a community meets needs across one’s lifespan, regardless of income, physical ability or ethnicity.”
For the first time, the 2022 AARP Livability Index includes accessory dwelling units (ADUs), highlighting states that have enacted laws to support and promote ADUs (also known as in-law suites or guest houses).
In addition to the top-scoring large, mid-size, and small cities, the new Index showcases the top-scoring “small towns” of populations between 5,000 to 24,999. Compared to mid- and large-size cities, top-performing small towns tend to have lower housing costs and more opportunities for civic and social engagement.
The 10 top-scoring cities by population size include:
- · Large cities (population 500,000+): San Francisco, California , New York, New Yrok, Washington, DC, Boston, Massachusetts, Portland, Oregon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Denver, Colorado, Seattle, Wwashington, San Jose, California, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- · Mid-size cities (population 100,000-499,999): Alexandria, Virginia, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Arlington, Virginia, St. Paul, Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Madison, Wisconsin, Elizabeth, New Jersey, Rochester, Minnesota, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Berkeley, California
- · Small cities (population 25,000-99,999): St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Watertown, Massachusetts, Belmont, Massachusetts, Arlington, Massachusetts, Somerville, Massachusetts, Bergenfield, New Jersey, Richfield, Minnesota, Roseville, Minnesota, North Bethesda, Maryland, Silver Spring, Maryland
- · Small towns (population 5,000 to 24,999): Aspen, Colorado, Los Alamos, New Mexico, Great Neck Plaza, New York, Orange City, Iowa, Falls Church, Virginia, La Crescent, Minnesota, St. Anthony, Minnesota, White Rock, New Mexico, Salida, Colorado, Manorhaven, New York
Several of the top-scoring communities are expensive places to live with higher housing costs than the national average. The Index is designed to highlight all communities’ challenges and how each can improve to become more livable, according to AARP.