Happiest Places to Live in Britain: Skipton and Harrogate named among best places to live in Britain by Rightmove

The borough of Richmond upon Thames in London has been crowned the happiest place to live in Britain in Rightmove’s 12th annual Happy at Home Index, the first time an area from London has taken the top spot.

Residents of the borough of Richmond, home to Twickenham, Hampton and Richmond itself, scored it highly for feeling a sense of belonging to the area and being comfortable to be themselves there, as well as its access to nature and green spaces, which includes Bushy and Richmond Royal Parks. The average house price in this area is £952,305 and the average monthly rent is £3,148.

Winchester in Hampshire, average house price £571,613, came second in the list of happiest areas to live. Monmouth in Wales, average house price £349,312, is third, the first time an area from Wales has made the top three since 2018, and Galashiels, average house price £163,634, is the happiest place to live in Scotland for a second consecutive year.

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Yorkshire locations also feature with Skipton, average house price £259,692, taking sixth place in the top 20 table and Harrogate, average house price £394,085, taking 12th place.

The entrance of Skipton CastleThe entrance of Skipton Castle
The entrance of Skipton Castle

The Happy at Home Index asks residents how they feel about their area based on 13 happiness factors. The study found that feeling a sense of pride, belonging, and community is most likely to contribute to feeling happy to live in an area, more so than having access to things like public transport, schools and job opportunities.

One of the key trends to emerge from this year’s study is that those living in rural areas are more likely to be happy where they live than those in urban or suburban cities and towns, especially those living near a national park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Delving deeper into the findings, residents who live near woodland, mountains, the coast or a river, were more likely to be happy in their area than those who live in a built-up area. The analysis showed that having access to nature and green spaces is more important to residents than having access to public transport, shops and restaurants, and employment opportunities.

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Around one in three residents think that they would be happier living in a different area. This group is most likely to be younger, age 18-34, currently living in an urban or built-up area, or come from London, the East Midlands or the West Midlands. When considering where they may be happier living, this group are split between staying in the same region and moving to a completely new part of Britain.

The UK's happiest places to liveThe UK's happiest places to live
The UK's happiest places to live

Of those who think they’d be happier living in a different region, the South West is the most popular choice. However, only a third of those who think they’d be happier living in a different area are planning on moving in the next year. Top reasons for wanting to move include finding an area that makes them happier, moving to a bigger home, looking for better value for money, a change of lifestyle and changes to personal circumstances.

Downsizing, reducing energy costs and taking advantage of remote working to live somewhere new were other factors for those planning a move. Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s property expert said: “Searching for new areas outside of the city that are still commutable on office days and looking for cheaper properties that are in need of renovation are just some of the actions we’ve seen determined movers take this year.

"The results of this year’s study highlights that residents continue to value living near green spaces and natural beauty, features that became all the more important during the pandemic. With moving to an area that makes them happy a key motivator for people looking for their next home, highlighting these types of features nearby could really help sellers looking to appeal to potential buyers”.

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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m delighted for Richmond to win this award. It has so much of what makes London so special – its access to beautiful green spaces, its real sense of community, and an array of shops, cafes and local culture that makes it stand out.”

Dawn Platt, Associate Director of Chestertons’ Richmond branch, says: “Richmond really has got it all. Access to nature, schools, entertainment, good eateries, bars and shops. On top of this, the borough benefits from a riverside location and great transport links. Thanks to its lifestyle offerings, it’s not difficult to see why Richmond has established itself as one of London’s most sought-after locations nor why residents are happy living here.

“We encounter a lot of house hunters who have always had the goal of living in Richmond one day and once they have moved here, couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Due to its community feel, many see Richmond as an area to settle down long-term.”

Skipton and Harrogate have long been Yorkshire hotspots thanks to their easy access to countryside, rail links, good schools and wealth of amenities.

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