What is the Livability Index?

The AARP Public Policy Institute developed the Livability Index as a web-based tool to measure community livability. Users can search the Index by address, ZIP Code, or community to find an overall livability score, as well as a score for each of seven major livability categories: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement, and opportunity. Users also can customize the Index to place higher or lower emphasis on the livability features of most importance to them. The Livability Index website provides resources to help consumers and policymakers use livability scores to effect change in their communities. It is the first tool of its kind to measure livability broadly at the neighborhood level for the entire country, and it is intended to inform and encourage people to take action to make their communities more livable.

Photo Reel

Why did AARP develop the Livability Index?

As the U.S. population ages, we face a serious challenge: our communities are not prepared for an aging society. In an effort to address this urgent problem, AARP sought to help consumers and policymakers decide whether their communities are places where residents can easily live as they get older. Taking a multifaceted approach to assessing livability at the neighborhood level, AARP developed this ground-breaking tool to jump-start community conversations about livability and encourage action by consumers and policymakers alike.

  A livable community is one that is safe and secure, has affordable and appropriate housing and transportation options, and has supportive community features and services. Once in place, those resources enhance personal independence; allow residents to age in place; and foster residents’ engagement in the community’s civic, economic, and social life.  

  – The Policy Book: AARP Public Policies

What does livability mean? 
For some, a livable community makes it convenient to travel by foot, bike, or transit to access nearby stores, parks, and other amenities. For others, affordable housing or open space is more important. Because people look for different things when searching for a satisfying place to call home, measuring the livability of cities and towns across the United States can be challenging. This Index gives higher scores to communities with diverse features that help people of all ages, incomes, and abilities—not just older Americans. Livability is about realizing values that are central to healthy communities: independence, choice, and security. Livable communities help residents thrive, and when residents thrive, communities prosper.

What livability measurements does the Index consider?

Taking a holistic approach to assessing community livability is important, because every place has unique strengths. Central neighborhoods in major cities have the advantage of being close to job opportunities, shops, and entertainment options, while rural towns often have more affordable homes, safer streets, and less pollution. The Livability Index measures housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement, and opportunity characteristics. For each category, the Index evaluates current conditions using a diverse set of metric indicators, and considers policies and programs that can enhance community livability over time.


Livability Categories Explained

How is the Index unique in representing AARP’s mission?

While livable communities benefit people of all ages, livability is especially important to older adults for many reasons. Retired residents on fixed incomes need affordable places to live; those who don’t drive need other transportation options; and those with mobility challenges need accessible transportation and housing. No one wants to be forced to leave their community because of changing income or physical agility. During a lifetime, people develop deep connections to places and to others, and our definition of livability considers whether everyone can continue to take part in the vibrant communities they know and love as they age.