One of the nation’s ancient ‘capitals’ – from the mid-1500s when the royal court moved location frequently – Stirling, famous for its castle and the National Wallace Monument, beat Perth and Inverness respectively to the top spot. Edinburgh was fourth happiest in Scotland but a lowly 76th in the UK while nationally Stirling was in sixth place. Glasgow was seventh in Scotland and 98th in the UK.
Hexham in Northumberland was the winner in the annual “happy at home” index, now in its 10th year, which 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.”
Harrogate in North Yorkshire, with its Victorian spa heritage, boutique shops and afternoon tea establishments, took the third spot.
Stirling came top north of the border with an average asking price of £191,226, and average monthly rent costing £877, 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.”
Scotland’s top 10 happiest places to live with the overall UK rankings 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)