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Hexham in Northumberland has been crowned Britain’s happiest place to live in an annual poll.
The “happy at home” index, now in its 10th year, asked more than 21,000 people across Britain how they feel about various aspects of where they live.
Happiness measures in the index compiled by Rightmove include friendliness and community spirit, whether people feel they can be themselves, nature and green spaces, opportunities locally to develop skills and amenities including schools, restaurants, shops and sports facilities.
The market town of Hexham previously topped the index in 2019.
St Ives in Cornwall, which came top last year, was eighth in this year’s rankings.
The average price tag on a house in Hexham is £297,088 – just a quarter of that in the leafy London suburb of Richmond, which was ranked second and has an average house asking price which is just shy of £1.2 million.
Hexham also has lower asking prices for homes than the average across Britain of £342,401.
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.”
He said there are many sporting events organised locally, including a park run, cricket, tennis, squash, golf and rowing.
“The open countryside is wonderful with Hadrian’s Wall on our doorstep,” the mayor added.
He said the local council recently introduced free live music events, adding: “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.”
Ailsa Mather, director at Andrew Coulson in Hexham, said: “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.”
Harrogate in North Yorkshire, with its Victorian spa heritage, boutique shops and afternoon tea establishments, took the third spot.
Daryll Digpal, managing director at Beadnall Copley in Harrogate, said the area “boasts a thriving high street with many international retail brands, a booming hospitality industry and excellent state and private schools”.
Stirling was identified as the happiest place to live in Scotland, while Llandrindod Wells was named the happiest place to live in Wales.
Rightmove’s study also found that people living in coastal villages tended to be the happiest group in the study.
Around a third of this year’s top 20 happiest towns are market towns, it added.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted many people to move home in order to make lifestyle changes.
The study found that more than two-thirds (69%) of people who had moved in the last year relocated to a different area. Nearly two-thirds of these people (64%) reported feeling happier where they now live.
Eight in 10 (81%) of those who had moved from a town to a village said they now feel happier with where they live.
Rightmove predicts 1.5 million house sales will have taken place this year.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, said: “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.”
Here are the happiest places in Britain, according to Rightmove, with the average asking price for a home and the average monthly asking rental price:
1. Hexham, North East, £297,088, £842
2. Richmond-upon-Thames, London, £1,196,892, £3,235
3. Harrogate, Yorkshire and the Humber, £353,624, £1,163
4. Hove, South East, £525,906, £1,879
5. Llandrindod Wells, Wales, £193,601, £445
6. Stirling, Scotland, £191,226, £877
7. Monmouth, Wales, £312,649, £929
8. St Ives, South West, £494,393, £1,150
9. Anglesey, Wales, £278,391, £776
10. Leamington Spa, West Midlands, £350,981, £1,203
11. Perth, Scotland, £167,160, £679
12. Hitchin, East of England, £491,223, £1,392
13. Woodbridge, East of England, £427,542, £1,129
14. Kendal, North West, £258,961, £837
15. Macclesfield, North West, £277,772, £981
16. Exeter, South West, £303,215, £1,234
17. Salisbury, South West, £318,806, £1,090
18. Horsham, South East, £433,892, £1,433
19. St Albans, East of England, £632,320, £1,888
20. Guildford, South East, £542,947, £1,913
Here are the happiest places to live in England’s regions, according to Rightmove, with the national ranking in brackets:
– East Midlands, Chesterfield (68)
– West Midlands, Leamington Spa (10)
– East of England, Hitchin (12)
– London, Richmond-upon-Thames (2)
– North East, Hexham (1)
– North West, Kendal (14)
– Yorkshire and the Humber, Harrogate (3)
– South East, Hove (4)
– South West, St Ives (8)
And here are Scotland’s top 10 happiest places to live with the overall rankings across Britain in brackets:
1. Stirling (6)
2. Perth (11)
3. Inverness (51)
4. Edinburgh (76)
5. Dundee (80)
6. Ayr (94)
7. Glasgow (98)
8. Kirkcaldy (141)
9. Paisley (149)
10. Aberdeen (156)
And here are Wales’s top 10 happiest places to live with the overall rankings across Britain in brackets:
1. Llandrindod Wells (5)
2. Monmouth (7)
3. Anglesey (9)
4. Llandudno (58)
5. Bridgend (62)
6. Cardiff (82)
7. Wrexham (99)
8. Swansea (122)
9. City of Newport (203)
10. Caerphilly (206)
Published: by Radio NewsHub