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Alexandria and Arlington Among Top Ten Livability Cities According to AARP

Alexandria and Arlington Among Best Medium-Size Cities on AARP Index

Updated AARP Livability Index Reveals the Top 10 Cities in America 

ALEXANDRIA, VA—Despite continued suburban sprawl, communities across the nation are taking steps to become better places to live and age in, according to data analyzed from the newly updated AARP Livability Index. 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.

Alexandria and Arlington made the top 10 list of cities with populations 100,000-500,000.  Both are part of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities.

Arlington, which ranks second on the AARP Livability Index of medium-sized cities with a score of 65, is a suburb of Washington, DC, but has its own nightlife and cultural attractions that separates it from the capital. Ranked at #1 as America’s Fittest City, Arlington does not disappoint with options to stay active whether it’s at one of the many parks or trails. Many neighborhoods are walking distance to downtown centers or public transit that is either part of Arlington County or WMATA. Housing can be expensive though and opportunity is lacking for older adults.

Alexandria is new to the list, with a score of 61 on the AARP Livability Index of medium-sized cities, giving it ninth place. Alexandria lies just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC and has its own culture and nightlife that attracts residents. With convenient public transit, plenty of recreational activities and affordable housing, Alexandria is a desired area to live especially with the small historic area of Old Town. With Alexandria’s location, it makes many neighborhoods accessible and close to work for many residents.

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 are also members of the AARP Network of Age Friendly States and Communities. New cities that joined the lists include:

  • Large cities (population 500,000+): Austin, TX
  • 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.

“The majority of older adults want to stay in their current homes and communities as they age,” said Rodney Harrell, director of livability thought leadership at the AARP Public Policy Institute. “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 as the number of older adults in America continues to grow.”

The 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

Mary Wadland

Mary Wadland is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of The Zebra Press, founded by her in 2010. Originally from Delray Beach, Florida, Mary is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hollins College in Roanoke, VA and has lived and worked in the Alexandria publishing community since 1987.

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