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New Way to Comparison Shop Neighborhoods

An online tool is now live that allows you to compare towns, cities and states using the AARP Livability Index that crunches more than 60 factors. Credit: Wikimedia Commons - Iracaz
An online tool is now live that allows you to compare towns, cities and states using the AARP Livability Index that crunches more than 60 factors. Credit: Wikimedia Commons - Iracaz
April 23, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. - It's one of those vexing questions: How do you know if you are living in the right place? Comparison shopping for towns and cities now is available on the web. It all comes down to "livability" according to Erica Michalowski, associate state director for community outreach with AARP-Connecticut.

She says the new index can be a powerful tool for local officials and others in adapting communities so residents of all ages can stay healthy and active.

"If you take a walk, can you safely cross the street," says Michalowski. "Can you ride a bike, use public transportation, really live comfortably in a way that you want to live? And it's really for people of all ages."

AARP's Public Policy Institute crunched 60 factors to come up with the new "livability" index. It went live on the web this week and is available at the AARP website (aarp.org/livablecommunities).

Michalowski says she gave the system a try and found towns and cities in Connecticut are running in the middle of the pack on the scale of one to 100.

"Quite a few of the towns in Connecticut fell into that median range of 50, 56 but you can drill it down even more, looking at very specific things like housing, neighborhoods, transportation," she says.

Some towns may think they are more livable than their rating and Michalowski says the index might serve as a reality check that provokes conversation and action.

"A town may have to take a look at what they have," she says. "The social inclusion, being able to being part of the community; that's all of the things that they need to take a look at and if they do have questions about this, that begins the conversation."

AARP also has volunteers providing outreach to local civic groups and businesses to help them access what they have versus what they may need in the future on the road to livability. The next public session is planned for the Litchfield town annex on May 13.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT