Sponsored Content

The AARP Livability Index Platform: A Planning Resource for Livable Communities

AARP's support for livable communities and affordable housing options traces back to its origins. Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, an educator, and AARP founder, recognized the need to address the needs of older adults when she went to check on a retired schoolteacher, only to discover the woman, destitute, was living in a chicken coop. The experience turned out to be a catalyst for the founding of AARP.

Ever since creating livable communities has been at the heart of AARP's mission. Today, AARP continues this work in a variety of ways, including our longstanding relationship with the American Planning Association (APA) to highlight and promote effective housing solutions. Central to AARP's livable communities work is the AARP Livability IndexTM platform.

How the Tool Works

The AARP Livability IndexTM platform is an online interactive tool that examines how communities meet the current and future needs of their residents by measuring their performance across seven categories that reflect key factors of livability: housing, transportation, neighborhood, environment, health, engagement, and opportunity. The tool's scoring incorporates over 60 indicators consisting of metrics that consider the livability of communities today, as well as adopting policies that will shape their livability in the future. In addition to the scoring indicators, the tool also displays demographic and climate data — such as race and ethnicity, median income, age distribution, and average temperature and precipitation — to provide greater insight into every neighborhood and community across the country.

A new release of the tool was launched in October 2023, complete with a new list of top-performing communities and updated community scores, metric and policy datasets, and demographic data.

The tool is meant for consumers and professionals alike — e.g., individuals interested in moving to a new place, community members or organizations seeking more data to advocate for change, and, of course, planners.

A Tool for Planners

For planners, the tool can help identify existing conditions to inform a comprehensive plan or zoning study, track community progress after the implementation of a new plan, and convey data to communities during a public engagement process. Planners can also use the tool to assess public space access, understand where environmental impacts are most concentrated, identify gaps in policies, and inform potential policy changes to make communities more livable and equitable.

Here are some real-world examples of the tool in action:

  • The City of Lexington, KY's comprehensive plan, Imagine Lexington (2019), utilized the tool's seven categories of livability in the framing of its Jobs and Prosperity theme.
  • The City of Archdale, NC used the tool to inform policy recommendations in its comprehensive plan, Plan Archdale (2020), incorporating an analysis of the city and neighboring communities by using the tool and its seven livability categories to form the basis for recommendations.
  • Genesee County, NY used the tool to understand the differences between the challenges facing its urban and rural areas in support of the Community Wellness element of its comprehensive plan, Genesee 2050 (2021).
  • The City of Seattle's Age Friendly Seattle Action Plan 2018-2021 assessed potential areas of concern within the seven livability categories, such as local industrial pollution, transit accessibility, and income inequality, which supported the development of the plan's recommended goals and actions.

AARP and Livability

The AARP Livability IndexTM platform is one of many resources AARP provides that can assist planners in their efforts to address housing affordability and accessibility, increase housing and transportation options, and advance livable communities for people of all ages. Additional resources include:

Through the AARP Livability IndexTM platform and other livable community resources, AARP seeks to support efforts by planners and APA to help inform policy, increase community awareness and participation, and improve the quality of life for people of all ages.


321 x 83 sized red AARP logo for sponsored blog post.

AARP is the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to the more than 100 million Americans 50-plus and their families: health security, financial stability, and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the nation's largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org/about-aarp/, www.aarp.org/español, or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspañol and @AARPadvocates on social media.

January 8, 2024