Cornish town St Ives has been branded 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
Cornish town St Ives has been branded the happiest place to live in Britain, with five of the 20 happiest locations all coastal locations in the South West
Skipton in North Yorkshire was ranked the second most happy place to live in the country
Leamington Spa in Warwickshire was ranked the third most happy place to live in the UK
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
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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
Kendal in Cumbria was ranked sixth on Rightmove’s list of the top 20 happiest places to live
Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare’s birthplace, was ranked seventh by Rightmove
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
‘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.’
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.’
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.
Dorchester was ranked eighth happiest place to live in the UK by property website Rightmove
Perth was ranked fifth, tops the Scottish list and boasts one of the strongest community spirits
Harrogate in North Yorkshire was ranked the ninth happiest place to live in the UK
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.’
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.