Rightmove’s annual Happy at Home Index reveals that Hexham in Northumberland has once again been crowned the happiest place to live in Great Britain with Richmond upon Thames second and Harrogate third. Stirling is this year’s happiest place in Scotland, while Llandrindod Wells, fifth place overall, is the happiest place to live in Wales
This year’s index found that residents in the market town of Hexham were happier than any other area with a sense of belonging the most important factor for overall happiness. It is also popular with residents due to its easy access to nature and green spaces, and the friend and polite nature of those who live there.
The average asking price for a home in Hexham is £297,088, an increase of 6% compared to last year (£280,128) and an increase of 20% compared to five years ago (£246,919). This is lower than the current national average of £342,401. The average monthly rent is £842. In Harrogate, the average asking price for a home is much hgher at £353,624 with average rents now £1,163.
This year’s study found a sense of belonging, the friendliness of the locals, and being able to be yourself were the most important factors in feeling happy in the area in which you live. It shows how important having a sense of community is to overall happiness. A third of this year’s top 20 happiest towns were market towns, with weekly markets bringing the local people together.
This importance of connection carries over into this year’s study following the lockdown periods, and builds on the findings from last year, where people felt they had reconnected to their area and local community.
The importance of togetherness can also be seen in the types of settlements that made people most happy. Those in villages were more likely to be happy in their area than those in towns or cities, as they were more likely to feel the sense of community in their area, and have access to nature and green spaces. Those living in a coastal village were the happiest of all, and those living in a coastal town or city were more likely to be happy in their area than someone living in a similar home inland.
The record-breaking housing market over the past year means that Rightmove predicts by the end of the year 1.5 million transactions will have taken place. The results of this year’s study show that those who have made a move are happier in their area than those who haven’t, regardless of where they have moved to. More than two-thirds (69%) of people who moved in the last year, chose to move to a different area. Nearly two-thirds of these people (64%), said they are happier in the area they now live, compared with where they moved from. One in five (21%) said they were just as happy in their new area.
Being happier in a new area was highest amongst those who moved from a town to a village, with 81% saying they were happier where they now live, and 11% were just as happy as where they lived before. Interestingly, the study showed people were more likely to stay in the same type of settlement, or make a ‘single stage’ move in the search for happiness.
Those that lived in a city, were more likely to move to a town than a village, while those who lived in a town, were more likely to move to a village than a city. Those who lived in a village were more likely to move to a town than a city.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s Director of Property Data, says: “It’s been an incredibly busy year in the housing market, with a lot of people deciding that now is the right time to move. It is fascinating to see that people who moved in the last 12 months were more likely to be happy in their areas than those who did not. Whether it may be a couple looking for a small change in the same area, tenants looking for more space, or a family completely changing their lifestyle and moving from the city to the coast, this has been the year that people have really seized the opportunity to move, and turned ideas into action.”
Daryll Digpal, Managing Director at Beadnall Copley in Harrogate said: “The Harrogate market has been incredibly busy with property prices across both lettings and sales markets soaring due to unprecedented demand fuelled by lockdowns and the Chancellor’s Stamp Duty holiday. The town boasts a thriving high street with many international retail brands, a booming hospitality industry and excellent state and private schools. Furthermore, at its heart is the famous Stray owned by the Duchy of Lancaster, a much enjoyed haven, particularly over the past 18 months. As such is it no surprise that this attractive spa town is one of the country’s happiest places to live.”