New York City, and the Upper West Side in particular, are being recognized today by AARP as among the most livable places in the country to live for people 50-plus. The Upper West Side was named the second “Most Livable Neighborhood,” in the nation while New York City as a whole was named among the top five “Most Livable Cities” among large cities.
The rankings are featured in the May issue of AARP Bulletin and are based on the new AARP Livability Index, launched today by the AARP Public Policy Institute. The index is a first of its kind resource that allows people to determine how well their communities are meeting their current and future needs.
People, policy makers and the private sector can use the Livability Index to measure how their location – down to the neighborhood level – rates across a comprehensive range of metrics that reflect user friendliness, and customize their search based on their own priorities.
The AARP Bulletin feature, which can be read at www.aarp.org/mostlivable2015, says that the Upper West Side, despite its expensive housing, offers a multi -generational and walkable community with great restaurants, world-class culture, cheap and convenient mass transit, as well as easy access to gyms and Central Park jogging paths. The UWS was runner-up in the most livable neighborhood category to Mifflin West, in Madison, Wisconsin.
New York City was cited in the feature for its numerous initiatives that are focused on improving living standards for 50-plus residents, earning it the designation as the fifth most livable city with a population over 500,000.
The city also ranked high among large cities for its extensive transportation network, claiming third place in the category of “Easiest Cities to Get Around,” and when romance is in the air for the 50-plus set, the city’s range of options for a night on the town makes it the fifth best in the nation for date night.
“New York City is known as great city for many reasons, and many of its best features make it attractive to people who are 50-plus,” said Beth Finkel, State Director of AARP in New York. “The Livability Index allows us to see how we can plan for the needs our residents who want to stay here as they age and AARP New York will be here working at the local level to ensure New York remains one of the best cities to live, work and play for people 50 and over.”
AARP defines a livable community as one that has affordable and appropriate housing, supportive community features and services, and adequate mobility options, which together facilitate personal independence and the engagement of residents in civic and social life. It’s a place where people can get to where they want to go, living comfortably and in good health, and being able to remain active and engaged. Importantly, the elements that make a community livable are useful for people of all ages, not just Americans 50-plus.
The AARP Livability Index, available at www.aarp.org/livabilityindex, was designed to provide the best basis for comparing localities across the nation by dozens of experts at the AARP Public Policy Institute and elsewhere. Aided by a national survey of 4,500 Americans 50-plus about the aspects of their communities most important to them, these experts selected 60 factors spread across seven categories: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement and opportunity. For example, the “Transportation” category includes metrics on the frequency of local transit service, traffic congestion and crashes, and household transportation costs.
Users can also incorporate their own preferences by changing the weights of how different components are scored. Taken together, the AARP Livability Index, which uses more than 50 national sources of data, provides the clearest picture yet of how well a community meets the current and future needs of people of all ages.
The arrival of the AARP Livability Index will be particularly important in the coming years to address the changing needs and wants of this country’s aging population. According to AARP NY research, nine-in-ten New Yorkers 50-plus want to stay in their current homes and communities as they age, yet 53 percent of Boomers say they may be flee New York because of financial pressures like affordable housing.
The AARP Livability Index can be a powerful tool for local officials and others in adapting their cities so that residents of all ages can stay healthy and active.
“We all have a role to play in developing the public, private and personal solutions needed to keep our communities as vibrant as the people who live there,” added Finkel.