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St Ives is named as the happiest place to live in Britain – but did YOUR town make the list?


Cornish town St Ives has been crowned the happiest place to live in Britain, with five of the 20 happiest locations all coastal locations in the South West. 

The idyllic surfing hotspot topped the list of places where Britons are at their most content in a new survey by property website Rightmove.  

Rightmove’s 2020 study, with over 21,000 respondents, found that coastal areas in general are where people feel happiest about 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. 

The survey also found Skipton in North Yorkshire was the second most happy place to live in the country and Leamington Spa in Warwickshire the third.

The top 20 include Skipton, Leamington Spa, Llandrindod Wells, Perth, Kendal, Stratford-upon-Avon, Dorchester, Harrogate, Richmond upon Thames, Falmouth, Hexham, Weymouth, Shrewsbury, Tonbridge, Plymouth, and Poole. 

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.

Rightmove’s 2020 study, with over 21,000 respondents, found that coastal areas in general are where people feel happiest about where they live. The top 10 locations are: 1. St Ives, Cornwall 2. Skipton, North Yorkshire 3. Leamington Spa, Warwickshire 4. Llandrindod Wells, Powys 5. Perth, Perthshire 6. Kendal, Cumbria 7. Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire 8. Dorchester, Dorset 9. Harrogate, North Yorkshire 10. Richmond upon Thames, London

, Daily Echoed

Cornish town St Ives has been crowned the happiest place to live in Britain, with five of the 20 happiest locations all coastal locations in the South West

, Daily Echoed

Skipton in North Yorkshire was ranked the second most happy place to live in the country

, Daily Echoed

Leamington Spa in Warwickshire was ranked the third most happy place to live in the UK 

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 Rightmove study. 

TOP 20 HAPPIEST PLACES TO LIVE IN UK 

1. St Ives, Cornwall

2. Skipton, North Yorkshire

3. Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

4. Llandrindod Wells, Powys

5. Perth, Perthshire

6. Kendal, Cumbria

7. Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

8. Dorchester, Dorset

9. Harrogate, North Yorkshire

10. Richmond upon Thames, London

11. Falmouth, Cornwall

12. Hexham, Northumberland

13. Weymouth, Dorset

14. Shrewsbury, Shropshire

15. Tonbridge, Kent

16. Plymouth, Devon

17. Poole, Dorset

18. Northwich, Cheshire

19. Barnstaple, Devon

20. Guildford, Surrey

Rightmove’s Director of Property Data Tim Bannister said: ‘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.’    

The results of this year’s Happy at Home Index show that residents of St Ives are happier than any other community with their local area’s nature and green spaces.

Residents also rated their neighbours as the friendliest in the UK, while demand for property in St Ives has more than doubled compared to this time last year.

The average asking price of a home in the picturesque town is nearly £415,000, which is five per cent up from last year, and 19 per cent higher than five years ago. 

Tony Harris, Mayor of St Ives, added: ‘This news comes as no surprise to me, nor the local residents, as we all know St Ives is a great place to live. 

‘It’s also no surprise that our town is such a popular visitor destination; everyone wants to sample for a short period of time what local residents enjoy every day.’ 

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 the study suggesting that access to green spaces made people more appreciative of where they live.

Jacob Taylor, sales negotiator at Dacre, Son & Hartley in Skipton, the second happiest place to live this year, said: ‘We’re the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales and some of the most spectacular places in the country.’ 

Jessie Wright, senior negotiator at Bradleys Estate Agents in St Ives, said: ‘I think there are a number of reasons why people are so happy living down here, but we’ve all definitely become more appreciative of our hometown over the lockdown period. 

‘Everyone has been looking after one another this year and obviously because tourism is the town’s biggest income, we’ve always been a very welcoming community and tourists have certainly flocked to St Ives over the summer. We’ve worked really hard to keep everyone safe and to make sure local businesses survive.’ 

Of the people who plan to buy or rent in the next 12 months, 56 per cent 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.

Around 36 per cent said they now like their area more, 46 per cent said there’s been no change in how they feel, and 18 per cent said they now like their area less.

The Rightmove study, now in its ninth year, asks residents to say how they feel about where they live, as well as asking them to rank 10 happiness factors.

The 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 in the area. 

1. St Ives, Cornwall 

St Ives lies north of Penzance and west of Camborne on the coast of the Celtic Sea. In former times it was commercially dependent on fishing. 

The decline in fishing, however, caused a shift in commercial emphasis, and the town is now primarily a popular seaside resort, notably achieving the title of Best UK Seaside Town from the British Travel Awards in both 2010 and 2011.  

The modern seaside resort developed as a result of the arrival of the St Ives Bay branch line from St Erth, part of the Great Western Railway in 1877. 

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Cornish town St Ives has been crowned the happiest place to live in Britain, with five of the 20 happiest locations all coastal locations in the South West

2. Skipton, North Yorkshire 

Skipton in the Craven district of North Yorkshire is on the River Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to the south of the Yorkshire Dales.

The name Skipton means ‘sheep-town’, a northern dialect form of Shipton. The name is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. 

It was important during the English Civil War and was the site of a prisoner of war camp during the First World War. 

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Skipton in North Yorkshire was ranked the second most happy place to live in the country

3. Leamington Spa, Warwickshire 

Leamington Spa grew from a village into a spa town and civil parish in the 18th century following the popularisation of its water.  

In the 19th century, the town experienced one of the most rapid expansions in England. It is named after the River Leam, which flows through the town.

The town contains especially fine ensembles of Regency architecture, particularly in parts of the Parade, Clarendon Square and Lansdowne Circus. 

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Leamington Spa in Warwickshire was ranked the third most happy place to live in the UK 

4. Llandrindod Wells, Powys 

Llandrindod is a town and community in Powys, within the historic boundaries of Radnorshire, Wales. It serves as the seat of Powys County Council and thus the administrative centre of Powys.

It was developed as a spa town in the 19th century, with a boom in the late 20th century as a centre of local government. 

Before the 1860s the site of the town was common land in Llanfihangel Cefn-llys parish. Llandrindod Wells is the fifth largest town in Powys.

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Llandrindod Wells was named the happiest place to live in Wales, fourth overall, and also returned the highest score across Britain for residents feeling able to be themselves

5. Perth, Perthshire

Perth is a city in central Scotland, on the banks of the River Tay. It is the administrative centre of Perth and Kinross council area and the historic county town of Perthshire. It had a population of about 47,180 in 2012.

Perth has been known as The Fair City since the publication of the story Fair Maid of Perth by Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott in 1828.

During the later medieval period the city was also called St John’s Toun or Saint Johnstoun by its inhabitants in reference to the main church dedicated to St John the Baptist. This name is preserved by the city’s football club, St Johnstone F.C.

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Perth was ranked fifth, tops the Scottish list and boasts one of the strongest community spirits

6. Kendal, Cumbria

Kendal is a market town and civil parish, eight miles south-east of Windermere and 19 miles north of Lancaster.

Historically in Westmorland, it lies in the South Lakeland District of Cumbria, within the dale of the River Kent, from which comes its name.

The 2011 census found a population of 28,586, making it the third largest town in Cumbria after Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness.

It is known today mainly as a centre for tourism, the home of Kendal mint cake, and a producer of pipe tobacco and snuff. Its grey limestone buildings have earned it the nickname ‘Auld Grey Town’, in common with Dunfermline, Scotland.

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Kendal in Cumbria was ranked sixth on Rightmove’s list of the top 20 happiest places to live

7. Straford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire 

Stratford-upon-Avon is a market town and civil parish in the Stratford-on-Avon district, in the county of Warwickshire. 

Stratford was originally inhabited by Anglo-Saxons and remained a village before the lord of the manor, John of Coutances, set out plans to develop it into a town in 1196. 

In that same year, Stratford was granted a charter from King Richard I to hold a weekly market in the town, giving it its status as a market town. As a result, Stratford experienced an increase in trade and commerce as well as urban expansion.

The town is a popular tourist destination owing to its status as the birthplace and gravesite of playwright and poet William Shakespeare, and receives approximately 2.5 million visitors a year. The Royal Shakespeare Company resides in Stratford. 

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Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare’s birthplace, was ranked seventh by Rightmove

8. Dorchester, Dorset 

Dorchester is the county town of Dorset, England. It is situated between Poole and Bridport on the A35 trunk route.  

The area around the town was first settled in prehistoric times. The Romans established a garrison there after defeating the Durotriges tribe, calling the settlement that grew up nearby Durnovaria; they built an aqueduct to supply water and an amphitheatre on an ancient British earthwork. 

After the departure of the Romans, the town diminished in significance, but during the medieval period became an important commercial and political centre. It was the site of the ‘Bloody Assizes’ presided over by Judge Jeffreys after the Monmouth Rebellion, and later the trial of the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

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Dorchester was ranked eighth happiest place to live in the UK by property website Rightmove

9. Harrogate, North Yorkshire 

Harrogate is a spa town in North Yorkshire. Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the town is a tourist destination and its visitor attractions include its spa waters and RHS Harlow Carr gardens. 

Harrogate grew out of two smaller settlements, High Harrogate and Low Harrogate, in the 17th century. Harrogate spa water contains iron, sulphur and common salt. 

The town became known as ‘The English Spa’ in the Georgian era, after its waters were discovered in the 16th century. In the 17th and 18th centuries its ‘chalybeate’ waters (containing iron) were a popular health treatment, and the influx of wealthy but sickly visitors contributed significantly to the wealth of the town.

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Harrogate in North Yorkshire was ranked the ninth happiest place to live in the UK 

10. Richmond-upon-Thames, London 

The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in south-west London forms part of Outer London and is the only London borough on both sides of the River Thames.

 It was created in 1965 when three smaller council areas amalgamated under the London Government Act 1963. It is governed by Richmond upon Thames London Borough Council and is divided into nineteen wards.

The borough is home to the National Physical Laboratory and The National Archives. The attractions of Kew Gardens, Hampton Court Palace, Twickenham Stadium and the WWT London Wetlands Centre are within its boundaries.

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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



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