Say hello to the 10 happiest places to live and work in the UK

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Kayleigh Dray
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Brighton Pier

Brighton is the happiest place to live and work in the UK, according to a new study – but which other cities have made the list?

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 CV Library’s new survey, which has unveiled the 10 happiest places to live and work on our little island.

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The UK’s leading independent job board recently asked the population: “Do you feel happy on a daily basis?”

Somewhat surprisingly, particularly when you consider the fact that we’re being buffeted by anxiety-inducing headlines on a 24/7 basis, it turns out that 58.7% of Brits do indeed feel happy every day. And this figure rose significantly amongst professionals working in Brighton (86.4%).

That’s right: Brighton has been deemed the happiest place to live and work in England. It’s easy to see why, too: a fashionable seaside resort since Georgian times, Brighton enjoys a sunny position on the south coast of England.  Since then, it has grown into one of the UK’s biggest tourist destinations, and is renowned for its diverse communities, quirky shopping areas, large cultural, music and arts scene and large LGBT population. Indeed, it’s long been recognised as the “unofficial gay capital of the UK”.

Caitlin Moran recently told Stylist that she and her husband enjoyed their first romantic break, long before they were married, in Brighton.

“Back then, Brighton wasn’t the hipster paradise it is now,” she said. “It was, as the writer Keith Waterhouse put it, ‘a town that always looks like it’s helping the police with its enquiries’.

“Now, you can go down The Lanes to buy a Victorian locket or an antique Clarice Cliff tea set. In the 90s, you’d go there to buy a 1950s gown with a bloodstain on the front, or a gun. My father, who lived there in the 1970s, gave me the number of a man he claimed ‘can get you a monkey. If you want one. He knows a bloke in a zoo. Fifty quid.’”

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Joining Brighton at the top of the list came Swansea, Glasgow and York.

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 to live and work in the UK

  1. Brighton – 86.4%
  2. Swansea – 75%
  3. Glasgow – 70.6%
  4. York – 66.7%
  5. Lincoln – 63.2%
  6. Belfast – 62.5%
  7. Edinburgh – 62.5%
  8. Birmingham – 61.3%
  9. London – 61%
  10. Manchester – 60%

Commenting on the findings, Lee Biggins, founder and CEO of CV-Library, says: “At a time where there’s constant negativity in the press, it’s fantastic to see that the majority of Brits still feel happy on a daily basis. 

“The findings got me thinking about an article I read once which really resonated with me: it said that success isn’t the key to happiness, it’s happiness that’s the key to success. I agree that feeling good in ourselves makes it easier to achieve our goals, whether that’s in our personal or professional lives.”

On the other hand, the cities where the percentage of respondents who said they were happy was below the national average, included Sheffield (57.7%), Bournemouth (57.1%), Oxford (55.6%), Bristol (55.6%), Newcastle (53.5%), Southampton (51.4%), Cambridge (47.5%), Liverpool (47.1%), Cardiff (44.8%), Bristol (44.4%) and Nottingham (40%).

Biggins concludes: “No-one can be happy all the time, but being able to make the most of the good times and cope effectively when life does get tough is crucial. If you are struggling, it’s important to not only seek professional help or talk to your loved ones, but also to really consider what’s making you unhappy. Make a list and try to think of solutions: maybe it’s time to find a new job, start a new hobby, or even take some time out to think about your goals.”

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Image: Ben Guerin/Unsplash


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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