Britain’s happiest place revealed

Teams from the Universities of Manchester and Sheffield have conducted a study based on data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), and drawn up a map of Britain’s happiest places.

All those looking to find for the merriest place on our own fair isles, head to Wales! Blessed with some of the UK’s most striking scenery, Powys has been named Britain’s jolliest place.

The BHPS questioned a representative sample from 5,000 households about their sense of general wellbeing. Despite the small number of people questioned from each district, the university teams believe that the research does retain some academic weight.

The study revealed that there were only significant differences between areas when issues such as health, educational qualifications and employment were taken into consideration. This implied that it is these personal circumstances that determine levels of cheeriness, as opposed to anything to do with geographical location. Although researcher Dr Dimitris Ballas from the University of Sheffield did say that ‘your immediate surroundings are very important, in terms of happiness.’

Amongst those with their chins-up were Powys, Manchester, Macclesfield and West Lothian, whilst those more down in the mouth included Swansea, Clydesdale, Doncaster and Edinburgh. Surprisingly the Scottish city, renowned for its culture and politics came bottom of the list.  

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With no motorways or cities and indeed comparatively few people, Powys triumphed in areas such as green spaces, low crime rates and low air and noise pollution. Eight of the top ten districts with the highest levels of contentment were in Scotland or the north of England. One of the few places to be deemed chipper in the south was the London Borough of Sutton.

The research was presented at the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society and the Institute of British Geographers. To find out more about the BHPS go to or to keep up to date with the Royal Geographical Society see

The results of this survey provide a different insight into quality of life in the UK – its results were very different to that of Country Life’s own research into England’s best county, which the magazine revealed to be Devon earlier this year.

Top Five Jolly Places
1.    Powys
2.    Manchester
3.    West Lothian
4.    Cumbersault, Kilsyth, Monklands
5.    Macclesfield

Bottom Five Jolly Places
1.    Edinburgh City
2.    Cynon Valley & Rhondda
3.    Amber Valley & North East Derbyshire
4.    Clydesdale, Cumnock & Doon Valley, Carrick
5.    Swansea

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