Ronni Hannaman: Carson City scores 56 out of 100 on Livability Index

Ronni Hannaman

Ronni Hannaman

When it comes to overall livability, Carson City, as compared to other cities nationwide, received a rating of 56 out of 100 points, putting us in the top half of a study on communities in the United States according to the AARP Livability Index just released.
Carson City’s overall livability score is higher than those counties surrounding us when it comes to income spent on housing, poverty levels, median income, aging population, subsidized housing levels, walkability, and the opportunity for those coming from low-income households to advance up the income ladder.
Washoe County ranks 49 out of 100 possible points with the livability score, with Reno at 51. Douglas County ranks 50 and Lyon County ranks 41. Each city within those counties is ranked as well with none as high as Carson City which, as a consolidated municipality, is both a city and county.
The AARP study sheds more light on our community and can dispel some of the popular myths. The study can even narrow statistics within zip codes if you want to dig that deep.
For example, the popular Carson City zip code 89703 which encompasses most of the west side has a livability score of 58 with a population of just over 9,700. The city’s most populous zip code is 89701 for a total population of just under 27,000 scoring a 56 and includes most business addresses. 89706 comes in at just under 22,000 earning a score of 54 although this includes Mound House in Lyon County with a livability score of 42 so the stats can be a bit misleading since this postal zip code extends beyond the Carson City municipality.
When comparing Carson’s over 65 population of 20% to surrounding area, Reno comes in the lowest at 14% which is expected for a university town. Douglas County comes in at an overall 27% and within that county, 44% of Genoa is in the 65-plus age range followed by Minden at 33% and Gardnerville has the youngest population at only 21% over 65.
Median income finds Carson City at $62,332 per capita with Douglas residents earning an average of $69,611 with some areas such as Gardnerville weighing in at $55,212 and Genoa at $107,188 raising the overall average. Reno is at $66,102 and Lyon comes in at an average of $58,786.
Cost of housing continues to be of concern nationwide. According to the study, interestingly, the current Carson City housing burden is less than it was in 2015 when it was almost 20%. Today, 16.4% of income is now spent on housing which is just a fraction of a point higher than the U.S. median of 16.3%.
We don’t know how to interpret this since housing costs have risen considerably, but then, so have salaries.
While some may think Carson lacks in subsidized housing, stats show currently there are 144 housing units per 10,000 population with more in the works. Compare that to Lyon at 87 units per 10,000 and Douglas at 105 units. Reno is the winner at 318 units per 10,000.
The index measured 61 community characteristics across seven categories: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement and opportunity. Users can search the index by address, ZIP code or community to find overall or category scores, identify challenges in their community and compare their neighborhood to others. Go to,%20Nevada,%20United%20States?print=true
Within the 10 top small cities between the population of 25,000-99,000, AARP ranked St. Louis Park, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, as the most livable with an overall score of 66, just 10 points higher than our city. Four out of the top 10 ranked cities are within Massachusetts and three within Minnesota. Here’s why AARP ranked St. Louis Park number 1: “Known for its small-town charm and big-city excitement, the area features walkable neighborhoods, numerous retail shops and family-owned businesses, ample outdoor spaces and diverse restaurants and attractions.”
Overall, Carson City ranked well. The AARP study gives us a look at where we should be concentrating our efforts in the future.


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