Britain’s ‘happiest and unhappiest towns’ revealed: Interactive module shows where locals do (and DON’T) feel most pride in their community… so is YOURS on the list?

Every corner of Britain was today ranked in a new happiness index showing the happiest places to live – with Richmond-upon-Thames in London coming out on top.

Winchester in Hampshire, Monmouth in South Wales, Wokingham in Berkshire and Cirencester in Gloucestershire are also in the top five of the study by Rightmove.

Others ranking highly were Skipton in North Yorkshire, Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, Kensington and Chelsea in London and St Ives in Cornwall.

But spare a thought for those living just ten miles away from Richmond in the West London borough of Hillingdon, which is the least happiest place out of all 218 areas.

The other areas in the bottom five of the list were Slough in Berkshire, Bradford in West Yorkshire, Croydon in South London and Rotherham in South Yorkshire.

Rightmove said Richmond coming in first place marked the only time a London location had topped its ‘Happy at Home Index’, which is now in its 12th year. 

Top 20 happiest places to live in Britain 

  1. Richmond upon Thames
  2. Winchester
  3. Monmouth
  4. Wokingham
  5. Cirencester
  6. Skipton
  7. Hemel Hempstead
  8. Kensington and Chelsea
  9. St Ives
  10. Hexham
  11. Leigh on Sea
  12. Harrogate
  13. Clacton on Sea
  14. Kendal
  15. Galashiels
  16. Weymouth
  17. Woodbridge
  18. Anglesey
  19. St. Albans
  20. Stourbridge

The experts added that Monmouth’s position in third place was the first time an area from Wales had made the top three since 2018, while Galashiels was the happiest place in Scotland for the second year in a row.

Rural residents were said to be happier than city residents, especially those living near a national park or National Landscapes, previously known until last month as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Residents who live near woodland, mountains, the coast or a river were found to be more likely to be happy in their area than those living in a built-up area.

The Happy at Home Index quizzes residents over how they feel about their area, with 26,000 respondents this year.

The report also found that feeling a sense of pride, belonging and community is most likely to contribute to feeling happy to live in an area. 

These were said to be more important than having access to public transport, schools and job opportunities.

Nearly one in three (30 per cent) of people think they would be happier living elsewhere – with this group most likely to want to move to the South West.

People aspiring to live in a new area said they want to be happier, move to a bigger home, or enjoy a change of lifestyle.

This group is also most likely to be younger (18-34), currently living in an urban or built-up area, or come from London, the East Midlands or the West Midlands.

Janet Lewis said Richmond is an expensive place to live but she loves the independent shops

Janet Lewis said Richmond is an expensive place to live but she loves the independent shops 

The Cricketers pub in Richmond upon Thames in South West London is a popular spot

The Cricketers pub in Richmond upon Thames in South West London is a popular spot

John Osborne, who has lived in Richmond for 43 years, said he was not surprised at the borough coming top of the Rightmove happiness index because it is a 'lovely town'

John Osborne, who has lived in Richmond for 43 years, said he was not surprised at the borough coming top of the Rightmove happiness index because it is a ‘lovely town’

Richmond-upon-Thames is known for its green spaces. Pictured above are deer at Bushy Park

Richmond-upon-Thames is known for its green spaces. Pictured above are deer at Bushy Park

Downsizing, reducing energy costs and taking advantage of remote working to live somewhere new were also key factors for those considering moving.

Top 20 saddest places to live in Britain

  1. Hillingdon
  2. Slough
  3. Bradford
  4. Rotherham
  5. Croydon
  6. Newham
  7. Barking and Dagenham
  8. Luton
  9. Dudley
  10. Banbury
  11. Brent
  12. Newport
  13. Oldham
  14. Basildon
  15. Rochester
  16. Rochdale
  17. Peterborough
  18. Dartford
  19. Middlesbrough
  20. Ashford

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s property expert, said: ‘Searching for new areas outside of the city that are still commutable on office days and looking for cheaper properties that are in need of renovation are just some of the actions we’ve seen determined movers take this year.

‘The results of this year’s study highlights that residents continue to value living near green spaces and natural beauty, features that became all the more important during the pandemic.

‘With moving to an area that makes them happy a key motivator for people looking for their next home, highlighting these types of features nearby could really help sellers looking to appeal to potential buyers.’

Speaking about Richmond, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: ‘I’m delighted for Richmond to win this award.

‘It has so much of what makes London so special – its access to beautiful green spaces, its real sense of community, and an array of shops, cafes and local culture that makes it stand out.’

And Dawn Platt, associate director of Chestertons’ Richmond branch, says: ‘Richmond really has got it all. Access to nature, schools, entertainment, good eateries, bars and shops.

‘On top of this, the borough benefits from a riverside location and great transport links. Thanks to its lifestyle offerings, it’s not difficult to see why Richmond has established itself as one of London’s most sought-after locations nor why residents are happy living here.

‘We encounter a lot of house hunters who have always had the goal of living in Richmond one day and once they have moved here, couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Due to its community feel, many see Richmond as an area to settle down long-term.’

Elizabeth Ward, 67,  has lived in Richmond for 15 years and said it is a 'fantastic place to live'

Elizabeth Ward, 67,  has lived in Richmond for 15 years and said it is a ‘fantastic place to live’

Richmond sits next to the Thames, with the path alongside the river a popular walking area

Richmond sits next to the Thames, with the path alongside the river a popular walking area

The borough of Richmond is home to Kew Gardens (above), the world-renowned green space

The borough of Richmond is home to Kew Gardens (above), the world-renowned green space 

It comes as MailOnline spoke to residents in Hillingdon – Britain’s unhappiest place to live – who said crime and gang activity has blighted their streets and keeps them from going out at night.

What makes people happy about living in an area, according to Rightmove
HAPPINESS MEASURESRANK
I feel proud about the area I live in1
I feel a sense of belonging2
There’s a real sense of community spirit3
Generally, the people are friendly and polite4
I can be myself5
Nature and green spaces6
I earn enough to live comfortably in my area7
Artistic and cultural activities8
Employment opportunities and desirable jobs9
Sports and recreational activities10
Essential local services e.g. doctors, schools11
Non-essential amenities e.g. restaurants, shops12
Public transport connections i.e. bus, train, tram13

The borough – where the average house price is £483,556 – is the largest in West London and takes in Hayes and Harlington, Ruislip, Uxbridge, and Yiewsley and West Drayton.

A longtime Hillingdon resident is not surprised the suburb – where celebrities including James Cordon, Andy Serkis and Ronnie Wood come from –  was named one of the worst places to live in the country, saying it’s ‘pretty rough’ and filled with ‘pickpockets, beggars and gangs’.

Meanwhile, only ten miles away in Richmond, locals welcomed the news it had been voted the happiest place to live in Britain, with one even claiming the area was ‘better’ than the south of France.

The South West London borough, home to both Sir David Attenborough and Britain’s Got Talent’s Amanda Holden, scored points for its picturesque green spaces and strong sense of belonging.

But it’s not a cheap enclave of the capital, with house prices averaging £952,305.

However, others reacted with surprise to the news that Hillingdon had been voted ‘Britain’s unhappiest town’. 

Uxbridge local Margaret Ward, 31, said: ‘I think it’s bonkers that Hillingdon came out last. I came here as a baby and it’s a really homely place to live. Whenever I go on holiday I am always aching to get back home.’

Margaret Ward who lives in Uxbridge said she thought the survey result was 'bonkers'

Margaret Ward who lives in Uxbridge said she thought the survey result was ‘bonkers’

Sleeping bags, cardboard, a mug and some rubbish is pictured under shelter in Uxbridge

Sleeping bags, cardboard, a mug and some rubbish is pictured under shelter in Uxbridge 

‘We have everything on our doorstep here, and I can walk to the shopping centre that has every kind of shop you might need.

‘The only thing that is not great is the introduction of the new ULEZ tax locally.’

Friends Carol Toombes, 75, and Donna Norman, 63, were also shocked to hear their borough sank to last in the ratings. 

Sipping mulled wine from a stand in the nearby Christmas market, Ms Toombes, from Uxbridge, said: ‘Look around you, it’s a fantastic place to live. I can’t believe that so many people here claim to be unhappy. 

‘It’s got everything you need, and has brilliant amenities for OAPs. I love using my Hillingdon resident card to get discounts.’

Ms Toombes said the only thing she was sad about was the fact that Boris Johnson was no longer the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

Ms Norman, who brought up her family in nearby Ickenham, added: ‘The open spaces here are great, and were especially so during lockdown. 

‘We have an excellent leisure centre and a local lido, and some great parks. The centre of London is on our doorstep, so is Windsor Castle, and if we ever need to go anywhere, we can jump on the M25.’

Ilva Henderson, 74, has lived in Uxbridge since 2010, and used to work as admin clerk before retiring. 

Donna Norman, 63, said she was shocked to hear Hillingdon was last in the happiness ratings

Donna Norman, 63, said she was shocked to hear Hillingdon was last in the happiness ratings

Ilva Henderson, 74, has lived in Uxbridge since 2010 and said she loved the 'community spirit'

Ilva Henderson, 74, has lived in Uxbridge since 2010 and said she loved the ‘community spirit’

‘When I first came here from Fulham, I found it very quiet. But I love the community spirit here and the facilities like the local libraries are great,’ she said. 

She said that she found the results of the survey ‘really odd’ adding that  Hillingdon won a Green Flag award earlier this year for being the greenest borough in London for the eleventh year running. 

One resident, 74-year-old Malcolm John Innes – who used to work as a groundsman at Brunel University – has lived in Uxbridge for over 30 years and said the area has gone downhill.

He said: ‘The crime rate here is pretty bad. It’s pretty rough in many of the town centres, and there are pickpockets, beggars and gangs around. I certainly would not go out here at night.’ 

On the other side of the capital, it was the first time Richmond upon Thames has topped the ‘happy at home’ poll conducted by Rightmove – which asked more than 26,000 people how they feel about where they live.

John Osborne, who has lived in the town of Richmond for 43 years, said: ‘I am not at all surprised. It’s a lovely town. 

‘Apart from the high street you only have to look around to see all the green spaces we can enjoy. I regularly enjoy a visit to the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park.’

Mr Osborne, 76, who brought up his family in the town and whose children attended local schools, added: ‘The community spirit is great here, you don’t actually need to leave as it’s all on your doorstep, including two excellent theatres.’

The Chimes shopping centre in Uxbridge, which is within the London Borough of Hillingdon

The Chimes shopping centre in Uxbridge, which is within the London Borough of Hillingdon

A bus passes through Uxbridge in West London, which is part of the Borough of Hillingdon

A bus passes through Uxbridge in West London, which is part of the Borough of Hillingdon 

Richmond upon Thames features more than 500 hectares of green areas such as Kew Gardens and Bushy Park, and is also home to attractions such as Hampton Court Palace. 

Elizabeth Ward, 67, originally from Belgium, has shared a flat in Richmond for 15 years with her British lecturer husband. 

She said: ‘I love it here. We also have a house in the South of France, but every time I come back here, I literally punch the air. It is a fantastic place to live, and it makes me happy being here.’

The book editor added: ‘Yes the South of France has good weather, but there are things better here, if you don’t mind the cold and rain. For example, I am vegetarian and the restaurants are amazing here.’

Malcolm John Innes has lived in Uxbridge for over 30 years and said it has gone downhill

Malcolm John Innes has lived in Uxbridge for over 30 years and said it has gone downhill

South Ruislip (station picured) is one of the areas that comes under the Borough of Hillingdon

South Ruislip (station picured) is one of the areas that comes under the Borough of Hillingdon

West Drayton is also within the London Borough of Hillingdon which came bottom of the list

West Drayton is also within the London Borough of Hillingdon which came bottom of the list

And Janet Lewis, from nearby Kingston – covered under the borough of Kingston upon Thames – said: ‘It’s a very expensive place to live. 

‘When my children were young we took them to the local pantomime, and all the independent shops and boutiques here are amazing.’

Last year’s winner, St Ives in Cornwall, fell further down the list in ninth place this year. 

The average price of a house in St Ives is £515,352 – significantly lower than Richmond upon Thames’ average. 

RIGHTMOVE HAPPY AT HOME INDEX 2023: THE FULL LIST OF 218 AREAS 
PLACENATIONAL RANKREGIONAL RANK
Richmond upon Thames11
Winchester21
Monmouth31
Wokingham42
Cirencester51
Skipton61
Hemel Hempstead71
Kensington and Chelsea82
St Ives92
Hexham101
Leigh-on-Sea112
Harrogate122
Clacton on Sea133
Kendal141
Galashiels151
Weymouth163
Woodbridge174
Anglesey182
St. Albans195
Stourbridge201
City of London213
Bishop’s Stortford226
Camden234
Leamington Spa242
Wandsworth255
Tunbridge Wells263
Guildford274
Kingston upon Thames286
Altrincham292
Worcester303
Farnham315
Dorchester324
Tonbridge336
Chorley343
Llandrindod Wells353
Plymouth365
Worthing377
New Quay384
Windsor398
Islington407
Hereford414
Horsham429
Chester434
Southwark448
Newcastle upon Tyne452
Bromley469
York473
Stratford on Avon485
Hitchin497
Hammersmith and Fulham5010
Bracknell5110
Falmouth526
Inverness532
Salisbury547
Dumfries553
Exeter568
Wirral575
Dundee584
Bury596
Poole609
Halifax614
Macclesfield627
Chichester6311
Sevenoaks6412
Cheltenham6510
Bath6611
Shrewsbury676
Solihull687
Isle of Wight6913
Whitby705
Hove7114
Aylesbury7215
Chesterfield731
Southport748
Maidenhead7516
Gloucester7612
Wrexham775
Perth785
Hastings7917
Falkirk806
Fareham8118
Norwich828
Ayr837
High Wycombe8419
Stirling858
Bridgend866
Newbury8720
Torquay8813
Barnstaple8914
Edinburgh909
Bury St Edmunds919
Bournemouth9215
Brighton9321
Swansea947
Sheffield956
Greenwich9611
Kilmarnock9710
Stockport989
Cambridge9910
Llandudno1008
Lichfield1018
Stafford1029
Waltham Forest10312
Telford10410
Oxford10522
Hertford10611
Sutton Coldfield10711
Huntingdon10812
Bristol10916
Hackney11013
Westminster11114
Truro11217
Leeds1137
Southampton11423
Weston Super Mare11518
Glasgow11611
Milton Keynes11724
Nottingham1182
Lewisham11915
Northwich12010
Aberdeen12112
Sutton12216
Ipswich12313
Ely12414
Canterbury12525
Folkestone12626
Lincoln1273
Merton12817
Burnley12911
Lambeth13018
Watford13115
Epsom13227
Carlisle13312
Ealing13419
Kirkcaldy13513
Cardiff1369
Colchester13716
Stevenage13817
Durham1393
Warrington14013
Cleveland1414
Crewe14214
Enfield14320
Lancaster14415
Grimsby1458
Salford14616
Paisley14714
Preston14817
Chelmsford14918
Fleet15028
Hull1519
Huddersfield15210
Woking15329
Tower Hamlets15421
Stoke on Trent15512
Taunton15619
Bedford15719
Redhill15830
Leicester1594
Mansfield1605
Darlington1615
Eastbourne16231
Derby1636
Loughborough1647
Blackburn16518
Barnet16622
Northampton1678
Hounslow16823
Caerphilly16910
Harrow17024
Coventry17113
Reading17232
Barnsley17311
Wolverhampton17414
Crawley17533
Basingstoke17634
Liverpool17719
Manchester17820
Haringey17925
Blackpool18021
Bexley18126
Swindon18220
Bolton18322
Yeovil18421
Portsmouth18535
Wakefield18612
Wigan18723
Gateshead1886
Redbridge18927
Walsall19015
Doncaster19113
Motherwell19215
Havering19328
Maidstone19436
Sunderland1957
Birmingham19616
Kettering1979
Southend on Sea19820
Ashford19937
Middlesbrough2008
Dartford201 38
Peterborough20221
Rochdale20324
Rochester20439
Basildon20522
Oldham20625
Newport20711
Brent20829
Banbury20940
Dudley21017
Luton21123
Barking and Dagenham21230
Newham21331
Croydon21432
Rotherham21514
Bradford21615
Slough21741
Hillingdon21833

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