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New AARP Livability Index Reveals the Top 10 Cities in America (Including Austin!)

Autumn colours in leafy suburban street with cars in distance.
Leafy suburban street with Autumn colours and cars in distance. Logos and ID removed.
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Despite continued suburban sprawl, communities across the nation are taking steps to become better places to live in and age in, according to data analyzed from the newly updated AARP Livability Index. And Austin is being recognized among those cities, joining the Top 10 list for the first time among cities with a population of 500,000 or more.

Across the U.S., more communities are enacting policies to improve livability with notable increases in housing trust funds that set aside revenue for a variety of affordable housing strategies—now in over 200 counties. Along with overall livability trends, AARP identifies the top ten large, mid-size and small cities.

This is the first, full update of the index since its launch in 2015. Based on the seven categories of livability measured in the index—housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement and opportunity—19 of the 30 top-scoring cities in 2015 made their respective top ten list again in 2018. Half of the top-scoring cities, including Austin, are also members of the AARP Network of Age Friendly States and Communities. Other newcomers to the lists include:

  • Mid-size cities (population 100,000-499,999): Boulder, CO, Columbia, MD, Alexandria, VA and Berkeley, CA.
  • Small cities (population 25,000-99,999): Sheboygan, WI, Lafayette, CO, Silver Spring, MD, Brookline, MA, Harrisburg, PA and Portland, ME.

“Most older adults want to stay in their current homes and communities as they age,” said Bob Jackson, state director at AARP Texas. “The livability index is a valuable tool to help community leaders and individuals improve their communities and better meet the needs of people of all ages.”

The AARP Livability Index uses more than 50 national data sources to score every neighborhood and community in the U.S. based on seven categories of livability, which includes areas such as affordable housing, public transportation, social engagement and more. New features include updated data with the ability to see change over time among the different categories of livability.

To find out your community’s score or for a full list of the top ten large, mid-size and small cities in America, visit

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