The availability of public transportation, proximity to grocery stores and parks, and access to high-quality healthcare with a focus on healthy behaviors kept San Francisco once again at the top of the list of the most livable big cities across the U.S., according to the 2022 AARP Livability Index.

The index is a web-based tool that scores neighborhoods and communities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for the services and amenities that affect people's lives the most as they age, according to the AARP.

The index, launched in 2015, measures the characteristics of 61 communities across seven categories—housing, neighborhoods, transportation, environment, health, engagement and opportunity—using more than 50 national data sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau American Communities Survey.  Each neighborhood, city, county, or state is scored on a scale from 0 to 100.

Rodney Harrell, AARP vice president of family, home and community, said in a prepared statement that the index “provides the clearest picture yet of how well a community meets needs across one's lifespan, regardless of income, physical ability or ethnicity. ... The majority of older adults want to stay in their current homes and communities as they age, which requires walkable neighborhoods, public transportation options, opportunities to engage in community activities, and affordable and adaptable housing.”

Most of 2018's high-scoring large cities returned to the 2022 top 10 list, but while most shuffled places, San Francisco held on to the top spot. New York City jumped to second from sixth place, replacing Boston, which moved to fourth place. The biggest jump was Washington D.C., which moved from 10th place to third, replacing Seattle, which dropped to the eighth spot.

Like San Francisco, New York, Boston and Seattle had strong showings in the transportation, neighborhood and health categories. Washington D.C., Portland and Denver also scored high in transportation and health, in addition to engagement, which measures how well a community fosters social interaction and encourages civic action to ensuring Internet access.

Philadelphia, which moved up three spots to sixth, was the only large city in the top 10 to score high in housing, which measured policies that promote affordability, availability and accessibility.

New to this year’s list is San Jose, Calif., which bumped Austin, Texas, a newcomer to the 2018 list. San Jose ranked ninth and was the only city to score high in opportunity, which measures a community’s fiscal health and how it can provide residents an equal chance to earn a living wage and improve their well-being, from jobs to education.

The Index also includes the top-scoring mid-size, and small cities, and for the first time this year, it showcases the top-scoring “small towns” with populations between 5,000 to 24,999. These towns tend to have lower housing costs and more opportunities for civic and social engagement, compared to mid- and large-size cities, the AARP noted.

The AARP Livability Index top-scoring cities and small towns by population size are as follows:

Large cities (population 500,000+):
• San Francisco (65)
• New York City (63)
• Washington, D.C. (63),
• Boston (62)
• Portland, Ore. (62)
• Philadelphia (61)
• Denver (61)
• Seattle (60)
• San Jose, Calif. (58)
• Milwaukee (58)

Mid-size cities (population 100,000-499,999):
• Alexandria, Va. (67)
• Cambridge, Mass. (67)
• Arlington, Va. (67)
• St. Paul, Minn. (66)
• Minneapolis(66)
• Madison, Wis. (64)
• Elizabeth, N.J. (64)
• Rochester, Minn. (63)
• Sioux Falls, S.D. (63)
• Berkeley, Calif. (63)

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