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A Livable Community Survey of the Greater Kingsport, TN Area: A Place to Live, Work, and Play for a Lifetime

AARP Member Opinion Research

This and Related Reports

AARP defines a livable community as one that allows people to maintain their independence and quality of life as they age and retire. Specific aspects of a livable community include adequate mobility options, supportive community features and services that allow residents to maintain their independence and enjoy an engaging civic and social life, and affordable and appropriate housing.

AARP Tennessee commissioned a mail survey of AARP members residing in the Greater Kingsport, Tennessee, area. A supplemental survey of community residents was also administered to various groups and at various locations in the Greater Kingsport Area. Overall results show that AARP members and community residents are rooted in their community. Respondents have lived in their community about four decades: the median length of residency in the Greater Kingsport Area is 43 years, and nearly half of survey respondents have lived in the Greater Kingsport Area for over 35 years. Members and residents are satisfied with their communities and think Kingsport is a good place for older adults to live. Members and residents would like to stay in their community and neighborhood for as long as possible.

Key findings include:

  • While health care affordability tops the list of personal concerns for both members and residents, concerns relating to livable communities come next. The second personal concern for members and residents is being independent as they age, and the third personal concern is safety and security in homes, neighborhoods, and communities.
  • The biggest gaps identified between what is important and what exists in the Greater Kingsport Area (what is important to residents, but what is not available to them) include good job opportunities, bus stops with benches and shelters, attractive gateways and entrances to Kingsport, well-maintained sidewalks, well-designed and maintained streets, affordable housing, removal or upkeep of abandoned buildings or lots, and clean air.
  • Respondents say that they cannot safely walk to many places of necessity, such as a grocery store, pharmacy, or public transportation, presumable because of community design.
  • Many members and residents say their home needs to be modified to allow them to successfully age in it.


This mail survey was conducted in October-November, 2009. A simple random sample of 3,000 AARP members was selected from AARP’s membership database. These members lived in the Greater Kingsport, Tennessee, area as defined by five zip codes: 37660, 37662, 37663, 37664, and 37665. The sample was also proportionally stratified by three age segments: 50-59, 60-74, and 75+. A total of 1,331 completed surveys were returned by the cutoff date. A supplemental survey of community residents was administered to various locations and groups in the survey’s zip code area. Nearly 300 copies of the same survey that was sent to AARP members were hand-distributed to persons at community locations and gatherings. For further information, contact the report’s author, Terri Guengerich, at 202-434-6306. (64 pages)

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