How Livable is Your Community? Back »

Written by Bethany Stoutamire (Former SDSU Extension Aging in Place Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA Member) under the direction and review of Leacey E. Brown.

Our state is infamous for its cold, windy winters and open landscapes. To many outside the Midwest, it may be difficult to imagine living in South Dakota. However, South Dakota offers great communities for people of all ages and is consistently highly ranked as a great place to age in. For instance, in a 2012 survey by AARP, Sioux Falls was ranked as the number one small metro to successfully age in, while Rapid City was ranked tenth. In 2017, Sioux Falls was once again recognized when a MetLife Foundation report ranked it as the fifth best small metro to age in.

AARP Livability Index Scores

What is it that makes our South Dakotan communities such a great place to live? Using the AARP Livability Index, we can type in your address, zip code, city, or state, and then receive a score on different community attributes (and then compare it to two others).

The data used to compute these scores comes from a variety of sources and is a conglomeration of traits. For instance, the engagement index contains several metrics including broadband cost and speed, voting rate, and art and cultural institutions, among others. By being able to examine specific components, it makes it easier to see the areas where our communities excel and where they fall short. This makes the livability index a valuable tool in determining where improvement is needed.

Location Sioux Falls Rapid City Aberdeen
Total Index Score 66 63 63
Housing 61 61 61
Neighborhood 54 47 52
Transportation 71 67 71
Environment 64 65 66
Health 60 56 45
Engagement 83 91 80
Opportunity 72 53 68

Community Livability Resources

To help communities be more livable, AARP offers several resources to help make this a reality. For instance, AARP offers community survey templates in both English and Spanish to better understand what individuals think about where they live. Research Reports about a variety of topics, including housing and transportation, are also available and offer valuable information. AARP also offers several other more condensed information packets and toolkits to improve the community.

These toolkits are part of AARP’s network of age-friendly communities. The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities provides resources and opportunities to connect with other communities working to increase livability. The website includes resource guides, expanded information about the 8 domains of livability, planning timeline, and recommendations for sustainability. Please visit AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities to learn more.

Regardless of the size or demographics of our communities, there is always room for improvement. With passion, hard work, and resources at the tips of our fingertips, we can help make South Dakota an even better place to live.

Would you like to learn more?

This article is just one in the series. Please check out What is needed for aging in place? for additional information.

References & Additional Readings:

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