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From gloomy Islington to glowing Bromley, map reveals London's happiest and most miserable places to live


It's the perennial question of long-time Londoners: where really is the best place to live?

We all fight the corner for our own particular neck of the woods, of course - maybe there's a good farmer's market near us, the community is active and engaged or the transport links are excellent.

But happiness is a trickier factor to qualify. The Office for National Statistics (OFN) has tried, however, by asking people across the UK to rate their feelings of life satisfaction, life purpose, happiness and anxiety. 

Now the folks over The Information Capital have collated that data to create a smiley face map of London which puts paid to the location debate once and for all. 

The graphic, created for their new book The Information Capital by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti, gives a particular face to each London borough based on ONS data from 2012-2013.

The happiness map - click to enlarge

Happy map

The glow around each face indicates life satisfaction (from black to a sunny yellow), while dots around each face show levels of anxiety. How far the eyes open show to what extent people in that borough consider their lives worthwhile and the mouths, aptly enough, denote feelings of happiness.

According to the map, it's really not good news for people living in Islington, who experience the lowest level of value and worth and rock bottom unhappiness. Anxiety and dissatisfaction are both high in the borough, according to its non-smiley face. 

However, those living in affluent Kensington and Chelsea fare pretty well, with high levels of satisfaction, low anxiety and general feels of happiness and purpose. Those in the southeast region of Bromley also appear to flourish, unlike neighbouring Croydon, where residents experience low levels of happiness and value but also relatively little anxiety.

The average Londoner overall is averagely happy and feels averagely worthwhile but they're not particularly happy with their lives, as the face in the centre of the graphic indicates. 


Is Islington really one of the unhappiest places to live in London?

Unsurprisingly, Richmond upon Thames, once of the richest boroughs in the UK, rates highly in terms of satisfaction and happiness. 

But we all know that while money may help with overall feelings of satisfaction and wellbeing, it can't necessarily buy happiness - time and again, researchers on the topic have found factors such as strong social ties to be more important than money. 

A recent study by RightMove found that with rising property prices and a perception of unfriendliness, London residents reported the lowest levels of satisfaction in the UK,  with Ilford, Croydon, East Central London and Twickenham all ranking among the unhappiest places to be in Britain.

The Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate was crowned the happiest place to live.

What do you think? Where's the happiest place to live in London or the UK, based on your experience? How can we rate happiness anyway? Let us know in the comments below or @StylistMagazine

The Information Capital by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti is published by Particular Books on 30 October, £25

Photos: Rex Features and Getty Images



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