Is Your Dream Retirement Destination All That You Think It Is?

Want your retirement to be as pleasant, stress-free and fun as possible?

In many cases, the quality of life you’ll experience during your retirement comes down to one factor: location.

And to help soon-to-be-retirees find the retirement destination of their dreams, the AARP recently released its Livability Index, a free tool that rates how well a retirement location will support retirees today and into the future.

According to an April 30 MarketWatch article, the Livability Index takes a holistic look at which places allow seniors to age well — and aging well involves much more than typical “dream retirement” images of sun, sand and the golf course.

The Livability Index ranks every ZIP code in the U.S., assigning the location a score ranging from zero to 100. By plugging in a ZIP code to the tool, you’ll receive the area’s scores for seven vital attributes to quality of life: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, civic engagement and opportunity.

San Francisco rose to the top of the rankings for large cities, with a livability score of 66, according to The Fiscal Times. The Golden Gate City earned top marks for its walkability, excellent and affordable public transportation, and overall health levels of residents.

For mid-sized cities, Madison, WI took the top spot with a score of 68. La Crosse, WI was the best-ranked small town.

Ultimately, it’s telling that even the best senior living locations didn’t even come close to a score of 100. No place is going to be the perfect utopia of your dreams — and your retirement is what you make of it.

The AARP says its Livability Index should act as an impetus for America’s cities to provide better places to age for seniors, as it’s the perfect time for these types of discussions to begin.

“The goal here is to provide a tool that helps people make their communities better,” Rodney Harrell, director of livable communities at the AARP Public Policy Institute, says.

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