It’s official: You’re more likely to feel happy if you live in Yorkshire

Who wouldn't be happy with this as your back garden? Picture: Tanya St. Pierre/Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust
Who wouldn't be happy with this as your back garden? Picture: Tanya St. Pierre/Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust
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TO OUTSIDERS we may be bluff, plain speaking and uncompromising, but that, according to researchers, may be why Yorkshire people are so content to live here.

God’s Own Country has emerged as one of the regions of Britain where residents are most fond of their surroundings - more so than the broad shires of the affluent south-east, more even than the highlands of Scotland.

Well over nine in ten Yorkshire folk - 92.8 per cent - consider themselves happy with their surroundings, an insurance company survey found. Only Wales scored better, and then just marginally.

It can’t be the value of property that’s the only attraction, because Northern Ireland, where house prices are the lowest in the UK, languished at the bottom of the table.

Researchers from Co-op Insurance pointed to the size of gardens, storage space and access to transport links as reasons for householders feeling content with their lot.

But the poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan, whose distinctive Barsnley tones are among the most oft-heard Yorkshire voices on the airwaves, reckons the reasons are more idiosyncratic and personal.

There is, he said, an “emotional maturity” about the county, one that comes with confidence of its place in the world.

“People often say that Yorkshire folk are braggarts,” he said. “But it’s a stereotype that’s based on truth. There’s a climate of confidence here, a history of endeavour.

“Yorkshire is always going through transition but it still feels as though it has a sense of direction.”

Mr McMillan, whose column appears in The Yorkshire Post magazine today, noted that the character of the county lay in stark contrast to its neighbour across the Pennines.

“Lancashire is never sure of what it is,” he said.

However, the practical value of Yorkshire to its people may play to another stereotype - that of fondness for brass, according to a leading estate agent.

The proximity of unrivalled countryside to Yorkshire’s biggest cities is considered the county’s biggest selling point, with the trend towards working from home making centres like Ilkley, Skipton and the Dales even more desirable.

Peter Leadbeater, a director of Dacre, Son and Hartley, said: “It’s absolutely true that people are attracted by the ability to work in a big city and commute a short distance to somewhere completely different.

“Even if you’re living in Ilkley, you can go up to the Cow and Calf to walk your dog and you feel miles away from anywhere.”

While past generations tended to live and work in the same area, new technology and the trend towards working from home was pushing Yorkshire’s suburbs even further out, Mr Leadbeater said. “People will travel further now to get to the coast and the national parks. Places like Skipton have benefited from technology, and commuting from Harrogate, Pateley Bridge and even as far as Thirsk, comes much easier if you’re just doing it two or three times a week.”

Canny investors had used Yorkshire’s geography to their advantage by buying second homes in the hinterland to use as holiday lets or to rent out with a view to retiring there later, he added.