Winchester tops the list of happiest places in the UK, according to a new study.
Ah, the UK. As Hugh Grant’s Prime Minister put it in that stirring Love Actually speech, “we may be a small country but we’re a great one, too. The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter. David Beckham’s right foot, [and] David Beckham’s left foot, come to that.”
While our fictional PM did his best to cover all bases, he forgot several important things (the less said about his decision to ignore all of the iconic women from British history, the better). One of the most glaring ommisions, though, is his lack of attention to the UK landscape. Because, whether you’re a fan of bustling cities, historic towns, sleepy suburbs or quiet little villages, Great Britain has a lot to offer in terms of settling down and calling somewhere home.
In fact, with so very many places to choose from, it can be difficult to work out which is the best option. Thank goodness, then, for the Royal Mail’s latest survey, which has unveiled the 10 happiest places to live on our little island.
In a study that examined factors including life expectancy, crime rates, access to health services, carbon emissions and personal wellbeing, Winchester was deemed the happiest place in England.
According to the Royal Mail, the Hampshire city scored highly due to the “local authority’s high earnings, a high reported sense of well-being from residents and low levels of deprivation.” Which is… well, it sounds a little robotic, to be honest, and doesn’t do justice to the calm, collegiate vibes found across this ancient cathedral city.
Formerly the capital of Saxon kings, Winchester is a site of literary importance: Jane Austen’s house sits a stone’s throw away from the city’s famous cathedral, where the beloved author is buried alongside Alfred the Great, one of England’s mightiest myth makers.
As well as boasting plenty of chocolate box houses, squidgy pubs and restaurants, the city also feels incredibly rural, thanks to its river valley location: locals hoping to stretch their legs have all those waterside trails to explore.
Joining Winchester at the top of the list came East Renfrewshire, Monmouthshire and Lisburn and Castlereagh, which were deemed the smile capitals of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.
Check out the full lists below to find out which places made the cut – and get some inspiration for your next big move, too…
The happiest places in England
5. Ribble Valley
7. Forest Heath
8. Surrey Heath
10. Epsom and Ewell
The happiest places in Scotland
1. East Renfrewshire
2. East Dunbartonshire
5. Scottish Borders
7. East Lothian
9. South Ayrshire
10. Shetland Islands
The happiest places in Wales
2. Vale of Glamorgan
7. Neath Port Talbot
The happiest places in Northern Ireland
1. Lisburn and Castlereagh
2. Newry, Mourne and Down
3. Causeway Coast and Glens
4. Ards and North Down
5. Mid Ulster