Saturday, May 16, 2015

What's Your Livability Score?

     This is a short post to refer you to a site I found on the AARP website called the Livability Index. It was developed by the AARP Public Policy Institute as a "web-based tool to measure community livability."

     You can search the Index by zip code or the name of your town to find an overall score. The total score is an average of scores for seven categories: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement, and opportunity. You can click on each category to see what criteria they use.

     Presumably, the livability quotient is relevant for everyone; but there's extra focus on older people. For example, the housing category is based on affordability, but also on availability of multi-family housing and accessibility in terms of wider doors and hallways and fewer steps.

      I realize these kinds of rating systems have limits when people are trying to decide where they might want to relocate in retirement. For example, this Livability Index does not take climate into account, which is an important factor for many of us. My daughter lives in Buffalo, and her neighborhood rates an enviable 62 -- but you wouldn't find me living there through the winter.

     My own town scores a 51, which is okay, not great. It rates low on housing (27) and transportation (31) -- housing is expensive and geared toward families not retired people, and we have no public transportation other than a train that's a 15-minute drive away. But my community scores high on health (81) and engagement (63), and reasonably well on environment (53).

     Even if two communities score at the same level on an overall basis, they may show very different profiles. My sister lives in Florida. Her zip code also rates a 51; but housing and transportation in her area score higher while health comes in lower.

     So, I guess you have pick out what's important to you, and be happy where you are. But even if you're not thinking about moving, it could be fun to check out the Livability Index for your own community -- or those of family and friends -- to see how they rate on various measures.

14 comments:

DJan said...

Mine is 56, with the environment getting a 64, which I must agree with! Thanks for this, Tom. I do so enjoy your blog. :-)

Stephen Hayes said...

Portland ranked at 57. I would have thought it would be higher but I think cost of living and expensive housing lowered our score. See you in three weeks when I return from vacation.

Olga Hebert said...

Venice, FL, got a 53. Only a 15 for opportunity, so probably not a place for anyone but retirees. Jericho scored a 55 but some of the scores surprised me there.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Florence, AZ scored 27 overall, largely, I'm sure, because we're in a rural area with no public transportation and very little shopping or entertainment nearby.

Douglas said...

I am shocked to find that Paradise (here) got only a 44. On the other hand, we have no public transportation, high unemployment, and it gets very hot. Did I mention the bugs and humidity? Stay away!

Anonymous said...

Here in Vancouver WA it is 56 or was it 59 I am so busy I cannot remember, homes are not accessible to many, rent is sky high for nothing a one bedroom and ususally it is over 200 days of clouds and rain, not this year drought and dry and going to be hot and humid in the summer and no winter predicted again! One can't make that much to live here so why try, we are moving soon, we are tired of the crime creeping up and don't need a home to be happy, we just will be okay with a place so our two furballs can live out their lives and us to as we travel and take them with us when we go to the shore if there was a hospital there we would move there permanently but no hospital no us, we cannot be living in an area with no hospital in case of a dire emergency.. Washington has become the playing ground where we live on the Oregon border for criminals and people who don't work and think they will get EBT cards and welfare we have workfare and they learn quickly to get a job or starve..no so nice anymore where we live!

Florence said...

46 for Richmond, TX. Honestly, I don't agree with the way this is skewed. I choose to live in the country. I don't want to be surrounded by people and buses and much of what seems to be valued by the survey. I get along better with my wildlife and garden.

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom! Thank you for sharing this because it offers some interesting perspectives on what people value about where they live. My city rates a lowly 41 but I know that some of the problem is that it rates homes as being unaffordable. That's because about half the city is "gated" and the rest live outside. The medium home price is skyhigh because of the high end country clubs. But there are plenty of reasonably priced homes if you live outside gates. The environment does rate high because we live in the desert and dust can be a problem creating issues with air quality (but thankfully it's not smog!) But best of all was the questions it raises about where we all live and why we live there. As you said, if climate is important to you, much of the other things won't matter. A lot to consider for sure. Thanks again. ~Kathy

Anonymous said...

My town, Sayreville NJ had a score of 50. Some of the metrics appears to be incorrect, so the score should be taken with a grain of salt. My Dr. says that I need to limit my intake of salt, so I will skip the AARP Livability Score index. ;)

Dick Klade said...

As Florence said, living in the country tends to skew these ratings downward. Here in SW Michigan, the most desirable places to live are outside the cities, and the very best are lakefront properties, all of them in rural areas.

As questionable as these types of ratings are, they are fun to consult. Thanks for guiding us to this one.

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

Not to make you envious or anything, but Arling is one of the top 10 places to live in the u.S. We can barely afford it, however.

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

Arlington is a 64. Air quality drags the score down as does traffic congestion. However we have a very high score on health issues and above the national average on affordable housing and parkland for biking, hiking and dog walking.

christina neumann said...

Our little tow came in at 49. But somethings weren't accurate.
Tom, I have a question completely off topic on signing up for Medicare. My husband turns 65 this year. He still works and we have great insurance. What do we sign up for ? Is it just part A???
Thanks for any advice!!!

Tom Sightings said...

Hi Christina, I'm not a Medicare expert and so don't feel qualified to answer a specific question. You can look at my post "Tips for Enrolling in Medicare" and other Medicare posts for some background advice. (Go to my right-hand column and find Medicare under Labels, or just search Medicare in the search box.). Otherwise, I can say you may be subject to penalties if you don't sign up right away and then try to sign up later. But you can also contact Medicare directly (1-800-MEDICARE)and get the answers from them. Good luck!