Living Well

Austin makes list of nation's most livable cities for first time ever

Austin makes list of nation's most livable cities for first time ever

view of downtown Austin from Boardwalk Trail on Lady Bird Lake
Austin appears for the first time among the most livable cities in America.  Photo courtesy of The Trail Foundation/Facebook

They say living well is the best revenge, and according to a new study, one of the best places to live well is right here in Austin. On June 21, AARP, the nonprofit dedicated to empowering Americans aged 50 and older, released the AARP Livability Index.

For the first time ever, Austin made an appearance among the 10 best large and livable cities, coming in at No. 8. The index, which measures the livability of cities based on a series of factors and uses data from more than 50 sources, was created by the nonprofit's Public Policy Institute. The index is then divided into three categories: 

  • Large cities of 500,000 residents or more
  • Mid-size cities between 100,000-499,999 residents
  • Small communities with a population between 25,000-99,999

In order to determine the livability of a city, AARP examined seven factors: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement, and opportunity. The factors, the nonprofit points out, aren't only important to those nearing retirement but reflect near universal reasons why a community is attractive to residents of all ages. 

"It turns out that many of the characteristics that make a community 'livable' are the same across all ages: safety and security, affordable and appropriate housing and transportation, and the ability to live near family and friends who can be relied upon," said AARP in the study. 

Austin's entry into the list isn't a fluke (or a reflection of the fevered hype that's surrounded the city for the better part of a decade). Instead, it's the result of actions by civic leaders to create a more conducive living environment. 

"The arrival of Austin to the Top 10 Cities list reflects the influence of Austin’s Age Friendly Action Plan, a comprehensive blueprint created by the City of Austin Commission on Seniors, AARP, and AustinUP in conjunction with city leaders," said AARP in a release. "This plan, adopted by City Council in 2016, is designed to guide decision making about Austin’s infrastructure as the city continues to grow."

San Francisco, Boston, and Seattle took the top three spots in the large city category. For mid-sized communities, Madison, Wisconsin (No. 1); Arlington, Virginia (No. 2); and St. Paul, Minnesota (No. 3), rounded out the top three. Those looking for smaller cities to call home should check out Fitchburg, Wisconsin; Sheboygan, Wisconsin; and La Crosse, Wisconsin, which landed at Nos. 1-3, respectively.