The happiest place to live in the UK is...


Hexham regains crown of happiest place to live in Great Britain

The Northumberland market town of Hexham has topped Rightmove’s annual Happy at Home Index for 2021, regaining the top spot which it last held back in 2019

Richmond in London rises up the ranks to take second place nationally this year, as well as being the happiest place to live in London for the seventh year running, while Harrogate takes the third spot.  Stirling takes the crown of happiest place in Scotland and Llandrindod Wells is once again the happiest place to live in Wales.

The tenth year of the study found:

    • Those living in coastal villages were the happiest group of people in the study

    • More than two thirds of people who moved within the last 12 months moved to a different area, and this group were happier than those who did not move home

    • Feeling a sense of belonging and being able to be yourself in your area were the most important factors for people to be happy where they live

    • Community spirit was even more important to people’s happiness this year

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.

This year’s index found that residents of the market town were happier than any other area with the sense of community spirit and feeling of belonging in the area. A sense of belonging was the most important factor for overall happiness.

Hexham takes back the top spot having last been crowned the happiest place to live in 2019 – and is also popular with residents for its access to nature and green spaces, and how friendly and polite people are.

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 Happy at Home Index, in its tenth year, was conducted among over 21,000 people across Great Britain, and asks residents how they feel about where they live, as well as asking them to rank ten happiness factors.

Richmond upon Thames came second overall in this year’s study, marking a rise up the national rankings, as well as being the happiest place in London for the seventh year running.

Stirling is this year’s happiest place in Scotland, while Llandrindod Wells, fifth place overall, is the happiest place to live in Wales.




Community is key

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 (seven) of this year’s top 20 happiest towns were market towns, typically being smaller towns with weekly markets bringing the local community 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.

From city to coast

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.




Get moving, get happy

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 comments“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.”

Local Views

Mayor of Hexham Derek Kennedy said“Hexham is thrilled to be awarded the happiest place to live in Great Britain. 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. There are lots of community interest groups which gets people working for the greater good. Excellent schools ensure good educational standards. Lots of organised sports including a weekly Park run, cricket, tennis, squash, golf and rowing and other water sports on the mighty River Tyne. The open countryside is wonderful with Hadrian’s Wall on our doorstep. 

“The Town Council recently introduced a free live music twice a week into our glorious Bandstand drawling, around 200 people to every session. Our events such as Spook night, Remembrance Day, Farmers Market and Christmas Market draw lots of people from across the region to the town. 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, thank you.” 

Ailsa Mather, Director at Andrew Coulson in Hexham, said: “Hexham is a historic town in the heart of Northumberland, with easy access to Newcastle, Metro Centre and Carlisle, excellent transport links by rail and road, and lots of historic buildings including Hexham Abbey in the centre of the marketplace.

“We enjoy lots of green open spaces, including the Sele Park and Tyne Green on the banks of the River Tyne. We are lucky to have an abundance of lovely independent restaurants, bars and cafes, and a weekly market which is about to celebrate its 800th year anniversary.

“The last 12 months in the market have been phenomenal. 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% 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.”

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 infamous Stray owned by the Duchy of Lancaster, a never more 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.”

Great Britain’s Happiest Places 2021
RankPlaceRegionAverage Asking PriceAverage Asking Rent (PCM)
1HexhamNorth East£297,088£842
2Richmond upon ThamesGreater London£1,196,892£3,235
3HarrogateYorkshire and the Humber£353,624£1,163
4HoveSouth East£525,906£1,879
5Llandrindod WellsWales£193,601£445
6StirlingScotland£191,226£877
7MonmouthWales£312,649£929
8St IvesSouth West£494,393£1,150
9AngleseyWales£278,391£776
10Leamington SpaWest Midlands£350,981£1,203
11PerthScotland£167,160£679
12HitchinEast of England£491,223£1,392
13WoodbridgeEast of England£427,542£1,129
14KendalNorth West£258,961£837
15MacclesfieldNorth West£277,772£981
16ExeterSouth West£303,215£1,234
17SalisburySouth West£318,806£1,090
18HorshamSouth East£433,892£1,433
19St. AlbansEast of England£632,320£1,888
20GuildfordSouth East£542,947£1,913

 

The Index  

The ten measures which contribute to the overall level of happiness we feel in our home and community cover a broad range of factors, from how you feel about living in the area to how happy people are with local activities and amenities. Responses for each of the ten measures are averaged to provide both a category score and an overall score: the ‘Happy at Home Index’.

Happiness Measures
I feel a sense of belonging1
Generally, the people are friendly and polite2
I can be myself3
Nature and green spaces4
There’s a real sense of community spirit5
Artistic and cultural activities6
Opportunities to develop skills7
Non-essential amenities e.g. restaurants, shops8
Essential local services e.g. doctors, schools9
Sports and recreational activities10

 

Regional rankings

East Midlands:

PlaceRegional rankNational Rank
Chesterfield168
Loughborough273
Nottingham3116
Kettering4121
Derby5140
Lincoln6145
Leicester7146
Northampton8159
Mansfield9168

 

East of England:

PlaceRegional rankNational Rank
Hitchin112
Woodbridge213
St. Albans319
Leigh on Sea435
Bury St Edmunds539
Chelmsford653
Huntingdon756
Norwich857
Cambridge970
Watford1072
Colchester1177
Bishop’s Stortford12101
Ely13106
Hertford14110
Ipswich15139
Peterborough16154
Bedford17157
Stevenage18173
Southend on Sea19190
Luton20191
Clacton on Sea21192
Basildon22208

 

London:

PlaceRegional rankNational Rank
Richmond upon Thames12
Bromley221
Kingston upon Thames354
Wandsworth460
Kensington and Chelsea578
Camden693
Lewisham797
Haringey8102
Barnet9104
Westminster10112
Waltham Forest11114
Islington12115
Ealing13119
Hackney14120
Greenwich15126
Merton16131
Southwark17143
Lambeth18153
Hammersmith and Fulham19155
Tower Hamlets20164
Redbridge21166
Enfield22169
Havering23175
Harrow24177
Hounslow25180
Sutton26184
Croydon27185
Bexley28188
Hillingdon29198
Newham30207
Brent31209
Barking and Dagenham32210

 

North East:

PlaceRegional rankNational Rank
Hexham11
Newcastle upon Tyne285
Durham391
Cleveland4108
Sunderland5161
Darlington6163
Gateshead7199
Middlesbrough8205

 

 

 

 

North West:

PlaceRegional rankNational Rank
Kendal114
Macclesfield215
Southport337
Chester438
Carlisle545
Stockport659
Lancaster761
Chorley863
Northwich967
Bury1084
Altrincham1186
Warrington12113
Wirral13125
Preston14128
Blackpool15133
Crewe16144
Liverpool17147
Manchester18150
Blackburn19151
Burnley20152
Rochdale21174
Wigan22178
Oldham23182
Salford24189
Bolton25201

 

Scotland:

PlaceRegional rankNational Rank
Stirling16
Perth211
Inverness351
Edinburgh476
Dundee580
Ayr694
Glasgow798
Kirkcaldy8141
Paisley9149
Aberdeen10156
Falkirk11162
Kilmarnock12194
Motherwell13204

 

South East:

PlaceRegional rankNational Rank
Hove14
Horsham218
Guildford320
Chichester428
Fleet532
Winchester634
Isle of Wight744
Brighton847
Maidenhead949
Tunbridge Wells1050
Aylesbury1164
Bracknell1269
Windsor1371
Fareham1475
Canterbury1587
Wokingham1688
High Wycombe1789
Basingstoke1890
Oxford1995
Eastbourne20103
Redhill21105
Worthing22107
Folkestone23111
Milton Keynes24117
Newbury25118
Southampton26127
Hastings27129
Woking28130
Reading29135
Portsmouth30138
Farnham31142
Sevenoaks32160
Crawley33165
Ashford34176
Rochester35181
Slough36193
Dartford37196
Maidstone38197

 

South West:

PlaceRegional rankNational Rank
St Ives18
Exeter216
Salisbury317
Falmouth423
Plymouth525
Barnstaple626
Truro729
Cheltenham830
Dorchester933
Torquay1040
Cirencester1142
Bristol1243
Poole1348
Bath1452
Bournemouth1574
Weymouth1681
Yeovil1792
Taunton18109
Swindon19124
Gloucester20132
Weston Super Mare21148

 

Wales:

PlaceRegional rankNational Rank
Llandrindod Wells15
Monmouth27
Anglesey39
Llandudno458
Bridgend562
Cardiff682
Wrexham799
Swansea8122
Newport9203
Caerphilly10206

 

West Midlands:

PlaceRegional rankNational Rank
Leamington Spa110
Stratford on Avon222
Hereford324
Stafford431
Worcester541
Lichfield665
Solihull779
Stourbridge883
Shrewsbury996
Stoke on Trent10123
Sutton Coldfield11167
Telford12171
Walsall13172
Birmingham14179
Coventry15187
Dudley16200
Wolverhampton17202

 

Yorkshire and the Humber:

PlaceRegional rankNational Rank
Harrogate13
Skipton227
York336
Sheffield446
Huddersfield555
Whitby666
Halifax7100
Hull8134
Grimsby9136
Leeds10137
Barnsley11158
Bradford12170
Rotherham13183
Doncaster14186
Wakefield15195

 

21,731 people responded to Rightmove’s 2021 Happy at Home Index survey.

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