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

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
Low Autumn light and long shadows across the old graveyard of the ancient Winchester Cathedral. The trees are displaying Autumnal colours.

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.

You may also like

This is the best UK city to be a freelancer – and it's not London

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

1. Winchester 

2. Babergh 

3. Rushcliffe 

4. Chiltern 

5. Ribble Valley

 6. Waverley 

7. Forest Heath 

8. Surrey Heath 

9. Elmbridge 

10. Epsom and Ewell

You may also like

The UK city where house prices keep on rising has been revealed

The happiest places in Scotland

1. East Renfrewshire

2. East Dunbartonshire

3. Aberdeenshire

4. Stirling

5. Scottish Borders

6. Midlothian

7. East Lothian

8. Highland

9. South Ayrshire

10. Shetland Islands

The happiest places in Wales

1. Monmouthshire

2. Vale of Glamorgan

3. Ceredigion

4. Carmarthenshire

5. Pembrokeshire

6. Bridgend

7. Neath Port Talbot

8. Cardiff

9. Torfaen

10. Powys

You may also like

“I tried slow living in a remote Welsh cottage, and this is what I learned”

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

Image: Getty


Share this article


Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

Recommended by Kayleigh Dray

  • Careers

    This is the UK's best city to be a freelancer, and it's not London

    Would you ditch the nine to five?

    Posted by
    Megan Murray
  • Life

    The UK city where house prices keep on rising has been revealed

    And it's not London.

    Posted by
    Carly-Ann Clements
  • Travel

    Lonely Planet reveals 2016's must-visit cities, regions and countries

    Which UK city made the cut?

    Posted by
    Amy Swales
  • Travel

    Go on holiday in your own city with these amazing Airbnb homes

    Best of all, these are all under £200

    Posted by
    Deborah Cicurel
  • Careers

    The worst city in the UK for gender pay equality revealed

    This UK city has the biggest pay gap in the country - and we're shocked

    Posted by
    Moya Lothian-McLean

Other people read

More from Travel

More from Kayleigh Dray