Happiest places to live in UK revealed after pandemic made people 're-evaluate' their lives

24 November 2021, 10:25

Hexham, Richmond-upon-Thames, Harrogate and Hove are the four happiest places to live in England
Hexham, Richmond-upon-Thames, Harrogate and Hove are the four happiest places to live in England. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

The happiest places to live in Britain in 2021 have been revealed.

Hexham in Northumberland took the crown for the second time in three years, having previously took the title in 2019.

It is owing to a number of things including lower-than-average house prices, access to green space, a "wonderful" community spirit and an abundance of sporting and cultural events, according to the mayor Derek Kennedy.

"Hexham is thrilled to be awarded the happiest place to live in Great Britain," he said.

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"We are a small town with great history, Hexham Abbey and other historical buildings, and our market place is 800 years old.

"There is a wonderful community spirit, people are very supportive of one another."

Mr Kennedy said there are many sporting events organised locally, including a park run, cricket, tennis, squash, golf and rowing.

"The open countryside is wonderful with Hadrian's Wall on our doorstep," the mayor added.

He said the local council recently introduced free live music events, adding: "We have big ambitions to progress our sustainable development and we work with interested groups to enhance the town.

"We all know how great it is to live in Hexham but to win this accolade is fantastic."

Hexham's victory may be partly due to changes in people's lifestyle, according to Hexham-based estate agents Andrew Coulson.

Director Ailsa Mather said people were moving to the town - which has an average house price of £297,008 - from big cities after "re-evaluating" their priorities.

"The last 12 months in the market have been phenomenal," said Ms Mather.

"People have re-evaluated what they want out of their lives, moving closer to family and moving from the city to the countryside.

"Over 38 per cent of our sales in the last 12 months have been from people south of Birmingham, as more people now have the opportunity to work from home, and don't need to be in the city five days a week."

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Richmond-upon-Thames took the second spot in the index, despite having an average house price four times that of Hexham.

Harrogate in North Yorkshire came third, with its Victorian spa heritage, boutique shops and afternoon tea establishments.

In Scotland, Stirling was the happiest place to live, whilst Llandrindod Wells was named the happiest place to live in Wales.

The poll asked more than 21,000 people across Britain how they feel about where they live.

The happiness measures in the index, compiled by Rightmove, include friendliness and community spirit, whether people feel they can be themselves, nature and green spaces, local opportunities to develop skills, and the quality of amenities such as schools, restaurants, shops and sports facilities.

As well as the ratings, a number of patterns were also detected in the study - for example, people living in coastal villages tended to be the happiest group, and around a third of this year's top 20 happiest towns are market towns.

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Tim Bannister, Rightmove's director of property data, highlighted the role of the pandemic in the ratings.

"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," he said.

The study found that more than two thirds of whose who have moved in the last year relocated to a different area, suggesting their moves corresponded to a wider shift in lifestyle or priorities.

Nearly two thirds of these people reported feeling happier where they live now - and eight in 10 who moved from a town to a village say they are now happier.