AARP Relaunches its Livability Index to Reveal America’s Top-Scoring Cities and Towns in 2022

Posted on 04/18/22

A group of people walk along the water in Lansing, Michigan.

AARP’s Public Policy Institute launched the updated AARP Livability Index today, the most comprehensive, web-based tool of its kind that scores every neighborhood and community in the United States—in all 50 states and the District of Columbia—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 Vice President 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). As housing costs rise and home options remain limited, ADUs are a viable and affordable housing solution for people of all ages. However, only nine states and the District of Columbia have passed statewide ADU legislation.

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, CA, New York, NY, Washington, DC, Boston, MA, Portland, OR, Philadelphia, PA, Denver, CO, Seattle, WA, San Jose, CA, Milwaukee, WI
  • Mid-size cities (population 100,000-499,999): Alexandria, VA, Cambridge, MA, Arlington, VA, St. Paul, MN, Minneapolis, MN, Madison, WI, Elizabeth, NJ, Rochester, MN, Sioux Falls, SD, Berkeley, CA
  • Small cities (population 25,000-99,999): St. Louis Park, MN, Watertown, MA, Belmont, MA, Arlington, MA, Somerville, MA, Bergenfield, NJ, Richfield, MN, Roseville, MN, North Bethesda, MD, Silver Spring, MD
  • Small towns (population 5,000 to 24,999): Aspen, CO, Los Alamos, NM, Great Neck Plaza, NY, Orange City, IA, Falls Church, VA, La Crescent, MN, St. Anthony, MN, White Rock, NM, Salida, CO, Manorhaven, NY  

Several of the top-scoring communities are expensive places to live with higher housing costs than the national average. This is particularly true for top-performing large and mid-size cities. Nonetheless, they overwhelmingly score high on neighborhood and transportation measures, where residents can easily walk to or access services and amenities. These features increase overall livability even though factors such as expensive housing lower it. The Index is designed to highlight all communities’ challenges and how each can improve to become more livable.

The AARP Livability Index is a trusted resource among organizations to promote livability and support location decision making in communities nationwide. Through a collaboration with AARP, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) is helping homebuyers make informed housing decisions that best support their needs by integrating the Index with NAR’s data platform, the Realtors Property Resource®.       

To view the AARP Livability Index or see your community’s score, visit www.aarp.org/livabilityindex.


For further information: Madison Daniels, mdaniels@aarp.org, 202-531-9026; Alex Guerin, aguerin@aarp.org, 202-710-0472

This story is provided by AARP Michigan. Visit the AARP Michigan page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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