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If you’ve been thinking about buying U.S.-based property in a retirement-friendly community for the months when you’re a snowbird, AARP just released a useful tool that can help you but narrow your options and find that ideal spot.

And it’s a cinch to use.

Plug in the zip code of your prospective retirement venues and the AARP Livability Index ( gives you a snapshot of the town or city based on seven categories -- housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement, and opportunity. 

AARP considered 60 factors in those categories when ranking communities, and it gives them scores ranging from 0 to 100. You also can create side-by-side comparisons of three zip codes at a time. In addition to using the tool, see its “Most Livable Places at 50+”     (  for a number of extra features, including the best cities for date night for the 50+ set and the best cities for staying healthy.

Another feature ranks the top 30 livable places around the country. You can quickly find the top 10 small, medium and large cities.

San Francisco, Boston and Seattle top the list of big cities and La Crosse, Wis, Fitchburg, Wis and Bismarck, ND land among the list of best small cities - those with populations of 25,000 - 100,000.