The happiest place in Britain, revealed

Ned Browne 20 January 2021

As we come to the end of one of the most difficult years in living memory, it’s worth shining a light on one positive: our homes. Long weekends have been spent clearing out, redecorating, planting and weeding. And, if we’re forced to stay at home, it has to be a place that makes us happy.  Which brings me onto Rightmove’s Happy Home Index, which is now in its ninth year

How do you measure happiness?

Rightmove wanted to work out the happiest places to live in the United Kingdom, and it considered the following as the bedrock of its research:

1. I feel a sense of community spirit
2. I feel a sense of belonging
3. I can be myself
4. The people are friendly and polite
5. Sports and recreational activities
6. Artistic and cultural opportunities
7. Opportunities to develop new skills
8. Nature and green spaces
9. Essential local services (doctors, schools)
10. Non-essential amenities (shops, restaurants)

So, each year, they don’t actually ask about people’s happiness or well-being, rather they try to ascertain the factors that are likely to make people happy.


So, where won?

Top of the pile in 2020 was St Ives in Cornwall, which is known for its surf beaches, such as Porthmeor, and its art scene. The seafront Tate St Ives gallery has rotating modern art exhibitions. There are also regular boat trips to Seal Island, just west of town, to see the seal colony.
In fact, five of the top 20 happiest places to live in 2020 were on the coast. The other four were Weymouth, Plymouth, Falmouth and Poole.

Has 2020 changed our opinions?

Rightmove’s research suggests that, “people living in rural and coastal locations were more likely to have developed a greater affinity with their local area during the initial lockdown period, suggesting that accessibility to green spaces made people more appreciative of where they live.”  So, it would seem, the great outdoors is now a greater factor.  
Silver and bronze medals
Second on the list was Skipton in North Yorkshire. Skipton is a market town famed for its 900-year-old castle, romantic ruined priory and historic cobbled high street. Moreover, it’s a stone’s throw from the stunning Yorkshire Dales.
Third on the list was Leamington Spa. Set on the winding River Leam, Leamington Spa is known for its Regency architecture and broad boulevards. The collonaded Royal Pump Rooms, a 19th-century bathhouse, now houses the Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum.


The best of the rest

Llandrindod Wells was named the happiest place to live in Wales. Llandrindod Wells evolved from a small farming community into a popular resort and Spa town where Victorians flocked to take the waters. You can still try the waters at the Chalybeate Spring.
Perth tops the list north of the border. Scotland's ancient capital for five centuries, the “Fair City” of Perth is beautifully situated on the banks of the River Tay. Nestled between two sprawling public parks are elegant Georgian townhouses, cobbled streets and medieval spires. Perth boasts an array of outstanding monuments, art galleries and museums.

Richmond upon Thames was crowned London’s happiest place to live, and the tenth happiest place to live in the United Kingdom. Located on the River Thames and by the magnificent Richmond Park, Richmond upon Thames manages to combine the sophistication of city living with wide open spaces and countryside.


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Would we all be happier if we moved to places on the Happy Home Index? Probably not. But it is food for thought. If where we live could make us happier, perhaps we should, at least, ponder this more.

Read more: Is it a good time to buy a house?

Read more: Everything you need to know about home staging

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