In arguably one of the unhappiest years in living memory, some happy news at last. Hurrah! And quite literally too as the latest research from Rightmove reveals where in Great Britain has been crowned the happiest place to live.
Rightmove’s annual Happy at Home Index asks residents how they feel about where they live based on ten happiness factors and found that this year, residents of the Cornish town of St Ives are happier than any other community with their local area’s nature and green spaces.
Residents in St Ives also rated their neighbours as the friendliest in Great Britain.
The average asking price of a home in the picturesque seaside town is £413,414, which is 5% up on this time in 2019, and 19% higher than five years ago. Demand for property in St Ives has also more than doubled (+120%) compared to this time last year.
The 2020 study, with over 21,000 respondents, found that coastal areas, in general, are where people feel happiest where they live.
Five of the top 20 happiest places this year are coastal locations. As well as St Ives, these are Falmouth, Weymouth, Plymouth, and Poole – all places in the South West.
Furthermore, people living in rural and coastal areas were found to be happier with where they live than respondents living in cities and urban areas, which reflects a nationwide trend of people desiring better access to outdoor spaces.
The study also discovered 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, with our study suggesting that access to green spaces made people more appreciative of where they live.
Of the people who plan to buy or rent in the next 12 months, over half (56%) claimed they now place greater importance on access to nature and green spaces when deciding on the area and home they want to live in.
This trend is most notable amongst younger home-movers in the 18-34 age group.
Overall, the experience of spending more time at home and in their local area this year has positively impacted how much people like where they live. Over one third (36%) said they now like their area more, 46% said there’s been no change in how they feel, and only 18% said they now like their area less.
The Rightmove study, now in its ninth year, asks residents to tell us how they feel about where they live, as well as asking them to rank ten happiness factors.
The ten factors range from how friendly the neighbours are and how good the local services are, to the sense of belonging and the quality of nature and green spaces in the area.
Richmond upon Thames finished tenth in this year’s national table, whilst also being named London’s happiest place to live for the sixth consecutive year.
Llandrindod Wells was named the happiest place to live in Wales and also returned the highest score across Great Britain for residents feeling able to be themselves.
Perth tops the Scottish list and boasts one of the strongest community spirits, according to the study.
Overall, the 20 happiest places to live in Great Britain in 2020 are St Ives, Skipton, Leamington Spa, Llandrindod Wells, Perth, Kendal, Stratford-upon-Avon, Dorchester, Harrogate, Richmond upon Thames, Falmouth, Hexham, Weymouth, Shrewsbury, Tonbridge, Plymouth, Poole, Northwich, Barnstaple, and Guildford.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s Director of Property Data, comments: “Our latest research shows that despite all the challenges that this year has brought, many people have been able to reconnect with their local area and community which has had a positive effect on how they feel about where they live.
"Overall, I think lockdown has enabled people to rediscover what’s on their doorstep, and spending more time in their local areas has made people value their surroundings and communities so much more. This year’s study shows a greater appreciation for green spaces and nature and a strong correlation between people living in coastal and rural areas and how happy people are where they live.
"Since lockdown, we’ve since a trend towards more people looking to live in smaller communities, and so it’s very fitting to see that the picturesque town of St Ives has taken the top spot in 2020.”