Finding “the one” – which is not just a house but a warm, inviting home in a welcoming community – can feel a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack at times. We may have a long list of ‘must-have’ criteria when it comes to a house search, but as handy as things like local amenities, off-road parking and a big garden can be, that feeling you get when you move into your dream home in the perfect location can be hard to quantify.
Enter property portal Rightmove, with their Happy at Home Index. For the 12th year running, they have quizzed the nation using the following criteria to find the happiest places to live in Great Britain and give homebuyers a helping hand when it comes to finding that perfect home.
|I feel proud about the area I live in
|I feel a sense of belonging
|There’s a real sense of community spirit
|Generally, the people are friendly and polite
|I can be myself
|Nature and green spaces
|I earn enough to live comfortably in my area
|Artistic and cultural activities
|Employment opportunities and desirable jobs
|Sports and recreational activities
|Essential local services e.g. doctors, schools
|Non-essential amenities e.g. restaurants, shops
|Public transport connections i.e. bus, train, tram
Based on feedback from 26,000 respondents across Great Britain, 10 towns and cities emerged as the happiest places to live in 2023. Whether nestled in the bustling London suburbs, perched on the hills of Wales or in the heart of the North East, each of these locales offers a unique blend of factors contributing to the happiness of its residents and we explore them in more detail below.
1. Richmond upon Thames, Greater London
Nestled on the banks of the iconic River Thames, Richmond upon Thames claims the top spot of happiest places to live in 2023. Richmond is home to a picturesque landscape (including the largest of London’s Royal Parks, the beautiful 2500 acre Richmond Park), historic architecture, and excellent transport links via, road, rail and tube. It is little surprise then that this southwest London gem is a perennial favourite, having taken the top spot for the London region in previous years and becoming the first place in the capital to take the national crown in the Happy at Home Index. The average house price reflects the desirability of the area, hovering around £859,836.
2. Winchester, South East
Winchester, a cathedral city steeped in history and a former capital no less, secures second position on the list. Winchester railway station and the city’s proximity to the M3 make it an easily accessible haven. Winchester’s charm lies in its medieval streets, stunning cathedral, the tranquil River Itchen and the beautiful South Downs National Park which lies on its doorstep. The city’s average house price stands at £644,793, reflecting the demand for its idyllic lifestyle. Winchester has also maintained a steady presence in the top happiness rankings over the years, highlighting its enduring appeal.
3. Monmouth, Wales
Venturing into Wales, we encounter the delightful town of Monmouth. Located on the River Wye in the picturesque Wye Valley, Historic Monmouth offers serenity in spades alongside plenty of independent shops and eateries, good schools and a great community spirit. Whilst lacking direct train links, nearby stations like Hereford serve Monmouth residents well. The M50 motorway also provides convenient road access. Monmouth’s average house price of £340,472 reflects the desirability of this Welsh gem. Indeed this is the second time that Monmouth has been voted the happiest place to live in Wales.
4. Wokingham, South East
In the heart of Berkshire, the market town of Wokingham secures its place as one of the happiest places to live in 2023 thanks to its blend of historic charm, modern amenities and some of the lowest crime rates in the county. The Wokingham railway station and proximity to the M4 motorway ensure seamless connectivity with nearby Reading and London and Wokingham’s average house price is a not unreasonable £520,781. Much more affordable than some of its pricey home counties neighbours like Ascot, Henley on Thames and Virginia Water. This town has steadily climbed the ranks over the years, showcasing its growing appeal.
5. Cirencester, South West
Cirencester, often hailed as the ‘Capital of the Cotswolds,’ captures the essence of quintessential English living. With its charming butterscotch architecture and cobbled streets, a strong community spirit and a thriving café culture, not to mention great schools and a real family-friendly vibe, it isn’t surprising that Cirencester appears on the list of happiest places to live in 2023 and has maintained a steady presence in the top ranks over the years. The town’s railway station and proximity to the M4 provide excellent transport links too. The average house price in Cirencester is currently £401,164. Slightly more than the average price for Gloucestershire as a whole, but less than half the price of costly neighbours Chipping Campden and Chipping Norton.
6. Skipton, Yorkshire and The Humber
In the heart of North Yorkshire, Skipton reigns supreme as a beacon of happiness, rising steadily through the ranks over the years. Thanks no doubt to its rich heritage – must visits include medieval Skipton Castle and Thornton Hall Country Park – some of the lowest crime rates in the country and great local amenities for residents. Skipton’s proximity to Harrogate, Leeds and York are also a bonus, as is the average house price of £251,892 which is less than the national average and the lowest in the top 10 list.
7. Hemel Hempstead, East of England
Hemel Hempstead, a thriving town in Hertfordshire, takes its place among Great Britain’s happiest places to call home. The town’s railway station and the M1 motorway offer excellent connectivity for London commuters and Hemel Hempstead’s diverse amenities and green spaces also contribute to its appeal. Indeed, Hemel Hempstead has consistently won accolades as a great place to live in 2023 thanks to its abundance of green space per capita, the health of residents and its eco credentials when it comes to recycling rates. The average house price stands at £434,915, reflecting the town’s growing popularity.
8. Kensington and Chelsea, Greater London
The iconic borough of Kensington and Chelsea graces the top ranks of happiest places to live over the last 12 months and showcases the epitome of urban luxury. With multiple tube stations and easy access to major roads, this central London gem offers unparalleled convenience alongside extremely upmarket living. High end amenities, plenty of green, outdoor space at the likes of Hyde Park and Holland Park and a rich cultural heritage displayed at numerous museums and palaces means this borough is a tough one to beat. The average house price, a testament to the area’s exclusivity, is the highest in the top 10 and hovers around £1,781,218.
9. St Ives, South West
St Ives, a jewel in Cornwall’s crown, represents the coastal idyll in the Happy at Home Index. The absence of a railway station is compensated by the town’s scenic beauty and proximity to the A30 for anyone in need of commuting. St Ives’ charming streets, sandy beaches and thriving art scene contribute to its allure and even put it at number 1 on the list in the Happy at Home Index 2022. The town remains a firm favourite with locals and holiday makers alike. The average house price stands at £497,749. Pricey for Cornwall, but St Ives has continued to consistently capture the hearts of its residents, maintaining a strong presence in the top rankings.
10. Hexham, North East
Hexham, a small historic market town in scenic Northumberland, rounds off the top 10 with its hard to beat blend of heritage, natural beauty and strong community spirit. Hexham railway station and the town’s proximity to the A69 also ensure convenient travel for residents. The town is no stranger to Rightmove’s top 10, even topping the list in 2019 and 2021. The average house price in Hexham is £266,795, making it the more affordable option in comparison to near neighbours Corbridge and Wylam and the second most affordable option in this ranking. Prices may not stay this way for long though, as more homebuyers discover the tranquil delights of this charming North East town.