The idyllic coastal town of St Ives, a world-renowned surfing hotspot, has been crowned the happiest place to live in Great Britain.
The results of this year’s Happy at Home Index show that residents of the Cornish town are happier than any other community with their local area’s nature and green spaces. Residents in St Ives also rated their neighbours as the friendliest in Great Britain.
The average asking price of a home in the picturesque seaside town is £413,414, which is 5% up on this time in 2019, and 19% higher than five years ago. Demand for property in St Ives has also more than doubled (+120%) compared to this time last year.
The 2020 study, with over 21,000 respondents, found that coastal areas in general are where people feel happiest 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. Furthermore, 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 our study suggesting that access to green spaces made people more appreciative of where they live.
Of the people who plan to buy or rent in the next 12 months, over half (56%) 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. Over one third (36%) said they now like their area more, 46% said there’s been no change in how they feel, and only 18% said they now like their area less.
The Rightmove study, now in its ninth year, asks residents to tell us how they feel about where they live, as well as asking them to rank ten happiness factors. The ten 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 and green spaces in the area.
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. 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 our study.
Overall, the 20 happiest places to live in Great Britain in 2020 are: St Ives, Skipton, Leamington Spa, Llandrindod Wells, Perth, Kendal, Stratford-upon-Avon, Dorchester, Harrogate, Richmond upon Thames, Falmouth, Hexham, Weymouth, Shrewsbury, Tonbridge, Plymouth, Poole, Northwich, Barnstaple, and Guildford.
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.”
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. The freedom to go for a swim in the sea or a run along the beach when we were only allowed one hour of outdoor exercise made lots of people realise that we have so much space to enjoy, coupled with wonderful countryside scenery and stunning beaches.
“For example we’ve got Gwithian beach, which is three miles long, and is absolutely glorious. Over the summer people have really taken stock of how lucky they are to live in St Ives, and we’ve all thoroughly enjoyed what the town has to offer.
“The lifestyle is really out of this world; it’s like we have our own little hub and micro-climate and the way of life here is a lot of people’s dream. It’s all very relaxed, and the Cornish word is ‘dreckly’, which means ‘at some point’, so it’s fair to say that we’ve honed a very chilled out and stress-free vibe in St Ives, which I think is all part of the charm.
“The community spirit here is really strong, too. 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.
“All in all I think people are really happy living in St Ives because it’s somewhere that you can sit with a drink on the beach, go surfing until your heart’s content, enjoy an abundance of coastal walks and the environment, explore other beautiful towns down the road, and spend time making memories with friends amidst a backdrop of breath-taking countryside views.”
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. Our natural and built environments have always been held to be amongst the very best in the UK and it is of course a pleasure to live in such magnificent surroundings every day.
“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. St Ives doubtless has its fair share of problems, as does every place in the country, but the setting and the way of life helps compensate for these challenges and makes St Ives a fantastic place to live.”
Jacob Taylor, sales negotiator at Dacre, Son & Hartley in Skipton, the second happiest place to live this year, said: “This year has given people lots of time to reflect and sometimes it’s easy to forget why you first fell in love with an area, but I think residents in Skipton have started rediscovering the town and all the reasons why they chose to live here.
“It’s a fantastic place to live; you’ve got beautiful countryside on your doorstep and so many residents can look out of their window and just see fields for as far as the eye can see. We’re the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales and some of the most spectacular places in the country.
“There’s always something going on in Skipton, but never too much. Usually, we have market days on Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays, which always bring visitors and new faces, but the community here is very welcoming and is made up of people from all classes and backgrounds – we’re all there for one another in tough times.
“There’s usually lots of community projects on the go and when we do the annual Santa Fun Run, literally hundreds of people turn up to raise money for charity, and people are always grateful for those sorts of things.
“Neighbours are always happy to stop and chat and nothing is ever too much trouble. People travel far and wide to visit Skipton and this year residents have reminded themselves why.”
|THE TOP 20 HAPPIEST PLACES|
|RANK||PLACE||REGION||AVERAGE ASKING PRICE||AVERAGE ASKING RENT PCM (2 BEDS)|
|1||St Ives||South West||£413,414||£719|
|2||Skipton||Yorkshire & The Humber||£226,130||£549|
|3||Leamington Spa||West Midlands||£335,008||£878|
|9||Harrogate||Yorkshire & The Humber||£336,968||£821|
|10||Richmond upon Thames||London||£869,864||£1,879|