Britain’s ‘happiest and unhappiest towns’ revealed: Interactive module shows where locals do (and DON’T) feel most pride in their community… so is YOURS on the list?
- Rightmove says Richmond-upon-Thames in London is happiest place in UK
- Winchester, Monmouth, Wokingham and Cirencester are also highly rated
Every corner of Britain was today ranked in a new happiness index showing the happiest places to live – with Richmond-upon-Thames in London coming out on top.
Winchester in Hampshire, Monmouth in South Wales, Wokingham in Berkshire and Cirencester in Gloucestershire are also in the top five of the study by Rightmove.
Others ranking highly were Skipton in North Yorkshire, Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, Kensington and Chelsea in London and St Ives in Cornwall.
But spare a thought for those living just ten miles away from Richmond in the West London borough of Hillingdon, which is the least happiest place out of all 218 areas.
The other areas in the bottom five of the list were Slough in Berkshire, Bradford in West Yorkshire, Croydon in South London and Rotherham in South Yorkshire.
Rightmove said Richmond coming in first place marked the only time a London location had topped its ‘Happy at Home Index’, which is now in its 12th year.
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The experts added that Monmouth’s position in third place was the first time an area from Wales had made the top three since 2018, while Galashiels was the happiest place in Scotland for the second year in a row.
Rural residents were said to be happier than city residents, especially those living near a national park or National Landscapes, previously known until last month as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Residents who live near woodland, mountains, the coast or a river were found to be more likely to be happy in their area than those living in a built-up area.
The Happy at Home Index quizzes residents over how they feel about their area, with 26,000 respondents this year.
The report also found that feeling a sense of pride, belonging and community is most likely to contribute to feeling happy to live in an area.
These were said to be more important than having access to public transport, schools and job opportunities.
Nearly one in three (30 per cent) of people think they would be happier living elsewhere – with this group most likely to want to move to the South West.
People aspiring to live in a new area said they want to be happier, move to a bigger home, or enjoy a change of lifestyle.
This group is also most likely to be younger (18-34), currently living in an urban or built-up area, or come from London, the East Midlands or the West Midlands.
Janet Lewis said Richmond is an expensive place to live but she loves the independent shops
The Cricketers pub in Richmond upon Thames in South West London is a popular spot
John Osborne, who has lived in Richmond for 43 years, said he was not surprised at the borough coming top of the Rightmove happiness index because it is a ‘lovely town’
Richmond-upon-Thames is known for its green spaces. Pictured above are deer at Bushy Park
Downsizing, reducing energy costs and taking advantage of remote working to live somewhere new were also key factors for those considering moving.
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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.’
Speaking about Richmond, London Mayor 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.’
And 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.’
Elizabeth Ward, 67, has lived in Richmond for 15 years and said it is a ‘fantastic place to live’
Richmond sits next to the Thames, with the path alongside the river a popular walking area
The borough of Richmond is home to Kew Gardens (above), the world-renowned green space
It comes as MailOnline spoke to residents in Hillingdon – Britain’s unhappiest place to live – who said crime and gang activity has blighted their streets and keeps them from going out at night.
The borough – where the average house price is £483,556 – is the largest in West London and takes in Hayes and Harlington, Ruislip, Uxbridge, and Yiewsley and West Drayton.
A longtime Hillingdon resident is not surprised the suburb – where celebrities including James Cordon, Andy Serkis and Ronnie Wood come from – was named one of the worst places to live in the country, saying it’s ‘pretty rough’ and filled with ‘pickpockets, beggars and gangs’.
Meanwhile, only ten miles away in Richmond, locals welcomed the news it had been voted the happiest place to live in Britain, with one even claiming the area was ‘better’ than the south of France.
The South West London borough, home to both Sir David Attenborough and Britain’s Got Talent’s Amanda Holden, scored points for its picturesque green spaces and strong sense of belonging.
But it’s not a cheap enclave of the capital, with house prices averaging £952,305.
However, others reacted with surprise to the news that Hillingdon had been voted ‘Britain’s unhappiest town’.
Uxbridge local Margaret Ward, 31, said: ‘I think it’s bonkers that Hillingdon came out last. I came here as a baby and it’s a really homely place to live. Whenever I go on holiday I am always aching to get back home.’
Margaret Ward who lives in Uxbridge said she thought the survey result was ‘bonkers’
Sleeping bags, cardboard, a mug and some rubbish is pictured under shelter in Uxbridge
‘We have everything on our doorstep here, and I can walk to the shopping centre that has every kind of shop you might need.
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‘The only thing that is not great is the introduction of the new ULEZ tax locally.’
Friends Carol Toombes, 75, and Donna Norman, 63, were also shocked to hear their borough sank to last in the ratings.
Sipping mulled wine from a stand in the nearby Christmas market, Ms Toombes, from Uxbridge, said: ‘Look around you, it’s a fantastic place to live. I can’t believe that so many people here claim to be unhappy.
‘It’s got everything you need, and has brilliant amenities for OAPs. I love using my Hillingdon resident card to get discounts.’
Ms Toombes said the only thing she was sad about was the fact that Boris Johnson was no longer the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
Ms Norman, who brought up her family in nearby Ickenham, added: ‘The open spaces here are great, and were especially so during lockdown.
‘We have an excellent leisure centre and a local lido, and some great parks. The centre of London is on our doorstep, so is Windsor Castle, and if we ever need to go anywhere, we can jump on the M25.’
Ilva Henderson, 74, has lived in Uxbridge since 2010, and used to work as admin clerk before retiring.
Donna Norman, 63, said she was shocked to hear Hillingdon was last in the happiness ratings
Ilva Henderson, 74, has lived in Uxbridge since 2010 and said she loved the ‘community spirit’
‘When I first came here from Fulham, I found it very quiet. But I love the community spirit here and the facilities like the local libraries are great,’ she said.
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She said that she found the results of the survey ‘really odd’ adding that Hillingdon won a Green Flag award earlier this year for being the greenest borough in London for the eleventh year running.
One resident, 74-year-old Malcolm John Innes – who used to work as a groundsman at Brunel University – has lived in Uxbridge for over 30 years and said the area has gone downhill.
He said: ‘The crime rate here is pretty bad. It’s pretty rough in many of the town centres, and there are pickpockets, beggars and gangs around. I certainly would not go out here at night.’
On the other side of the capital, it was the first time Richmond upon Thames has topped the ‘happy at home’ poll conducted by Rightmove – which asked more than 26,000 people how they feel about where they live.
John Osborne, who has lived in the town of Richmond for 43 years, said: ‘I am not at all surprised. It’s a lovely town.
‘Apart from the high street you only have to look around to see all the green spaces we can enjoy. I regularly enjoy a visit to the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park.’
Mr Osborne, 76, who brought up his family in the town and whose children attended local schools, added: ‘The community spirit is great here, you don’t actually need to leave as it’s all on your doorstep, including two excellent theatres.’
The Chimes shopping centre in Uxbridge, which is within the London Borough of Hillingdon
A bus passes through Uxbridge in West London, which is part of the Borough of Hillingdon
Richmond upon Thames features more than 500 hectares of green areas such as Kew Gardens and Bushy Park, and is also home to attractions such as Hampton Court Palace.
Elizabeth Ward, 67, originally from Belgium, has shared a flat in Richmond for 15 years with her British lecturer husband.
She said: ‘I love it here. We also have a house in the South of France, but every time I come back here, I literally punch the air. It is a fantastic place to live, and it makes me happy being here.’
The book editor added: ‘Yes the South of France has good weather, but there are things better here, if you don’t mind the cold and rain. For example, I am vegetarian and the restaurants are amazing here.’
Malcolm John Innes has lived in Uxbridge for over 30 years and said it has gone downhill
South Ruislip (station picured) is one of the areas that comes under the Borough of Hillingdon
West Drayton is also within the London Borough of Hillingdon which came bottom of the list
And Janet Lewis, from nearby Kingston – covered under the borough of Kingston upon Thames – said: ‘It’s a very expensive place to live.
‘When my children were young we took them to the local pantomime, and all the independent shops and boutiques here are amazing.’
Last year’s winner, St Ives in Cornwall, fell further down the list in ninth place this year.
The average price of a house in St Ives is £515,352 – significantly lower than Richmond upon Thames’ average.
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