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AARP Ranks Communities on Services That Impact Peoples’ Lives

The AARP Livability Index, which relaunched this week, scores towns, cities and counties for the services they provide based on several metrics, including housing, transportation, environment and health.

Old Town, Alexandria, Va.
Alexandria, Va., was ranked top mid-sized city by the AARP Livability Index.
This week AARP announced the relaunch of its Livability Index, an online tool that scores U.S. communities for services and amenities that affect people’s lives as they age, as well as the country’s top-scoring livable cities and towns in 2022.

The Index evaluates every neighborhood, town, city and state in the U.S. for the likelihood that residents do enjoy and can continue to enjoy the areas they live in as they age by quantifying the services which affect its residents’ lives the most. The Index compiles data from more than 50 sources to provide clear pictures of how well a community is meeting the current and future needs of its people, regardless of age, income, physical ability or ethnicity.

The Livability Index ranks areas on seven different categories: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement and opportunity and produces an overall score on a scale of zero to 100, in which a higher number represents greater livability.

AARP hopes to provide data to community leaders and individuals so that they may learn about what makes their community successful and how might they improve, but it also recognizes how livability means different things to different people and communities.

Each area is evaluated for several metrics and policies that are more quantifiable and that also coincide with a person’s livability within each of the seven categories, such as job availability, access to clean drinking water, transportation safety, smoking cessation, voting rights and housing accessibility.

This year the AARP Livability Index also identified the top-scoring communities in four classes: large cities, with populations greater than 500,000; mid-sized cities, with populations from 100,000 to 499,999; small cities, with populations of 25,000 to 99,999; and a new category of small towns, with populations of 5,000 to 24,999.

San Francisco, Calif.; Alexandria, Va.; St. Louis Park, Minn.; and Aspen, Colo., were the top-ranked in each of their categories, earning scores of 65, 67, 66 and 72, respectively. The top 40 cities and towns were spread among 15 states and the District of Columbia; none of the top-ranked cities and towns were in the South. Minnesota, with eight, had the most top-ranked communities, while Massachusetts had the second-most with six.

Only two of the top-ranked communities were in states that voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, Orange City, Iowa, and Sioux Falls, S.D., while all other cities and towns were in states that voted for Joe Biden.

Of the large cities, nine of the cities had made it to the top 10 before, with San Jose, Calif., being the only first-timer. In contrast, in the small cities category, only one of the cities had made it to the top 10 in prior years, Silver Spring, Md., while the other nine cities were making their first appearances.

Zoe is the digital editor for Governing.
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