Whether you’re looking for the perfect location to retire or planning to move your family closer to work, choosing where to put down roots can be tough.
Fortunately, Rightmove has published its annual Happy at Home Index to help you narrow down your search to the “happiest” cities, towns, and villages in your chosen region.
According to the survey, which was completed by over 26,000 residents in 2023, 1 in 3 residents feel that they would be happier living elsewhere. In fact, the pursuit of happiness was the primary motivator for moving to a new location.
Rightmove used 13 “happiness factors” to identify the happiest places in each region of the UK. Of course, what makes for a happy hotspot will be unique to you and your family, but this selection from the Happy at Home Index, all of which made the top five in their region, might start you thinking and exploring.
1. Monmouth, Wales
One of the key trends of the 2023 survey was that people living in rural areas were more likely to be happy with where they live than those living in cities. Anyone who is lucky enough to live near a national park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is even more likely to express high levels of contentment with their hometown or village.
So, it’s no surprise that the picturesque town of Monmouth, which lies just two miles from the Wales-England border and the Wye Valley AONB, topped the list of happiest places to live in Wales and ranked third nationally.
With its toytown streets and stunning countryside, Monmouth has a lot to offer if you’re looking to escape the rat race. It also offers great amenities; the town is renowned for its wealth of independent shops and fabulous country pubs.
And if you’re eco-minded, you’ll love the fact that Monmouth was the UK’s first “Bee Town”, an award given to communities that have demonstrated a commitment to protecting and promoting pollinators.
If you have young children, there’s a choice of “good” and “outstanding” schools and for commuters, Abergavenny train station is a 20-minute drive away. From there, it takes a little over two hours to get to London.
Property prices are relatively affordable too. According to Rightmove’s figures at the time of the survey, the average property cost £349,312, which is more than 63% less than the average price of a Greater London property (£952,305) at the same time.
2. Richmond upon Thames, Greater London
Taking the top spot overall was Richmond upon Thames in south-west London.
If you need to live within commutable distance to London for work or you simply love being near the hustle and bustle of England’s capital city, this affluent residential district could be just what you’re looking for.
Home to two royal parks, Kew’s tranquil botanical gardens, an eclectic range of shops and eateries, tree-lined streets, riverside pubs, and top-ranked schools, Richmond upon Thames might just tick every box on your dream home wish list, whatever your reason for moving.
And, of course, you’re a short tube ride away from all the city has to offer – theatre, shops, tourist attractions, art galleries and more.
Unsurprisingly, all this comes at a price. The average monthly rent in Richmond upon Thames at the time the Happy at Home survey was taken was £3,148 and the average asking price was £952,305.
3. Galashiels, Scotland
If you’re looking for a home surrounded by stunning natural scenery without compromising on access to city life, Galashiels could be a great choice.
Ranked 15th nationally and first in Scotland, Galashiels is a large town in the Scottish borders, just over an hour away from Edinburgh.
It offers excellent services, schools, shops, restaurants and pubs, as well as beautiful countryside and peaceful walks along the River Tweed.
What’s more, you could grab a bargain. The average asking price for Galashiels properties in 2023 was just £163,634 according to Rightmove’s data.
4. St Ives, south-west England
This bustling and charming seaside harbour town in Cornwall came out top in the 2022 Happy at Home Index. While it’s slipped to ninth position in 2023, it’s still ranked second in the south-west region.
St Ives has long been a firm favourite for holidaymakers, but it also has a huge amount to offer those looking to relocate.
If you love the outdoor life, there are gorgeous sandy beaches, stunning coastal walks, and a world-renowned surf school to enjoy. And there’s a dizzying array of outstanding restaurants for foodies to explore.
Being right on the tip of the south-west coast, St Ives might not be an ideal choice for anyone needing to commute to London or other cities. But for many, especially retirees and young families, being far away from hectic city life is one of the biggest appeals of life in this sunny Cornish town.
As you might imagine for such an in-demand home and holiday destination, there are few property bargains to be found. The average asking price at the time of the Happy at Home survey was £515,352. But for anyone looking to trade London life for a more relaxed, seaside vibe, your property pounds will stretch a lot further here.
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