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Seattle ranks high in three categories, but below-average on the environment

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Seattle ranks among the top 10 large cities based on AARP’s recently redesigned Livability Index with a score of 60, placing it 8th on the list. The Emerald City notched strong performances in the transportation, neighborhood, and health categories, but was below the national average on its environment score.

AARP Livability Scores for Seattle

Livability Scores

San Francisco topped the rankings of large cities (population of 500,000+) with an overall score of 65, followed by New York and Washington, DC, with each getting a score of 63. Also finishing ahead of Seattle were Boston (62), Portland (62), Philadelphia (61) and Denver (61).

AARP’s Livability Index uses 61 characteristics from 50 national sources of data to evaluate communities across seven categories: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement, and opportunity.  A locale’s total livability score is an average of the scores in each of the seven categories.

Philadelphia was the only large city in the top 10 list to score high in housing. Housing is measured by metrics and policies that promote affordability, availability, and accessibility.

San Jose, which made the “top 10” list for the first time, was the only large city to score high in opportunity, which considers job availability, government creditworthiness, and graduation rates.

Among mid-sized cities, which covers areas with populations ranging from 100,000 to 499,999, the top three cities were Alexandria, Virginia; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Arlington, Virginia with each having an overall score of 67.

St. Louis Park, Minnesota and Watertown, Massachusetts attained scores of 66 in the small cities category to finish atop that list.

An area’s overall Livability Score can range from 0 to 100. Users can enter an address, city, state, or zip code in a search box to explore and compare communities, and can also adjust the weight of each category to personalize scores for what matters most to their own livability.

With soaring housing costs, supply-chain disruptions, and rising mortgage rates hampering the real estate market and creating affordability challenges for older Americans, AARP’s Public Policy Institute redesigned its Livability Index and expanded its data fields to improve navigation.

AARP acknowledges it can be difficult to achieve high scores across all categories, noting issues surrounding livability are complex and interconnected.

In its Policy Book, AARP Public Policies state:  “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.”

With nearly 38 million members, AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. During 2020, AARP produced 565 educational and advocacy TeleTown Halls reaching 1.2 million people. Its Public Policy Institute focuses on advancing “innovative, equitable, evidence-based and actionable solutions that empower people to choose how they live as they age.”

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