Age in place or make a move? AARP tool helps you score your neighborhood

Should you stay or should you go? It’s going to be a key question in an aging America, as people try to decide if their homes and communities still work for them as they grow old.

And now there’s an online tool that can help with answers. AARP just released a free Livability Index that grades every neighborhood and city in the U.S. on a zero-to-100 scale as a place to live when you’re getting older. Just plug in an address to see how a location scores for seven key attributes: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, civic engagement and opportunity.

AARP hopes the online assessments will spark conversations in households across the country – and among local politicians and policymakers – about making communities better places to age. “We wanted to help people look at their neighborhoods to see if they are going to meet their needs – and also help communities think about how they can make neighborhoods better for older residents,” said Rodney Harrell, director of livable communities at the AARP Public Policy Institute.

There’s no shortage of lists and rankings of places to live in retirement. Many are superficial, measuring factors such as sunshine, low tax rates, or the number of golf courses. More thoughtful studies reframe the question to consider quality-of-life issues that affect everyone – affordability of living, health care, public safety, public transportation, education and culture.

The Milken Institute’s annual ranking of the Best Cities for Successful Aging, which breaks out results for different age groups and large vs. small cities. Getting away from sunshine and golf yields some surprising results: Milken’s top-ranked metro area large metropolitan area this year is Madison, Wisconsin; the largest big city scoring well was Boston at number four.

The new AARP tool adds value by making it possible to score any neighborhood and community in the country – and drill down into the details. It draws on 40 metrics of livability and 20 policies that AARP believes will determine how communities fare over time for aging in place. Learn more at Reuters Money.

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