Country houses for sale

The happiest place to live in Britain has been named — but it’s going to cost you to live there…

A London neighbourhood has been crowned the happiest place to live by Rightmove's Happy at Home Index for the very first time. It boasts two royal parks, a renowned botanic garden, high-end boutiques, cafes and eateries, and transport links straight into central London — can you guess which one it is?

Thinking about what 2024 could have in store for you? If a house move is on the cards, then you might want to take a moment to digest Rightmove’s latest study.

The property portal has named Richmond upon Thames in London the happiest place to live in Great Britain. It’s the first time an area of London has ever taken the top spot in Rightmove’s annual Happy at Home Index, now in its 12th year.

2023’s top 10 happiest areas to live in Britain

Rank Place Region
1 Richmond upon Thames Greater London
2 Winchester South East
3 Monmouth Wales
4 Wokingham South East
5 Cirencester South West
6 Skipton Yorkshire and The Humber
7 Hemel Hempstead East of England
8 Kensington and Chelsea Greater London
9 St Ives South West
10 Hexham North East

Source: Righmove

Rightmove asked more than 26,000 people how they felt about their area, based on 13 ‘happiness’ factors. These include how friendly and polite people are, the activities available, and community spirit. It’s more of a sentiment survey than a philosopher’s analysis.

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So why are the locals in this leafy pocket of south west London so happy? They scored the borough highly for ‘feeling a sense of belonging to the area and being comfortable to be themselves, as well as its access to nature and green spaces’, according to Rightmove.

Richmond is a sought-after pocket to live in. It’s home to big-name attractions, such as Richmond and Bushy royal parks, Kew Gardens and the Thames. It’s got a town centre bursting with boutiques, cafes and restaurants.

And it’s a hop, skip and a jump into central London. Plus, there are historical buildings aplenty. The Ted Lasso TV series, based in Richmond, must surely help its profile too.

Sadly, there is a ‘but’ coming. Quite a big one.

Dusk settling over London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Credit: Artem Vorobiev / Getty

There’s a price to pay for living in the happiest place in Great Britain: average asking prices in this neck of the woods stand at £952,305, more than three times the average UK house price. You’ll need deep pockets to get on the housing ladder.

That said, the houses themselves are often lovely. Just check out this spacious six-bedroom Victorian family home in Twickenham, across the river from Richmond itself but still in the borough, on sale for £2,795,000.

Six-bedroom detached house for sale in Twickenham for £2,795,000 via Featherstone Leigh

Or this three-bedroom apartment in the magnificent Star & Garter building, right next to Richmond Park. It’s on the market for £1,500,000.

Three-bedroom apartment for sale in Richmond for £1,500,000 via Antony Roberts

Richmond was followed by Winchester in Hampshire (£571,613 average asking price) and Monmouth in Wales (£349,312 average asking price). It’s the first time an area of Wales has made it into the top three since 2018.

Do spare a thought for St Ives in Cornwall and Galashiels in Scotland, which came in second and third place last year: they’ve now slid to ninth and 15th in the index. (Richmond rose from 11th place last year).

A quick glance at this year’s top 20 shows a fairly even geographical spread. Though the east of England comes out particularly well, home to five of the top 20 happiest places to live.

Four-bedroom semi-detached house for sale in Winchester for £1,850,000 via Savills

A sense of pride, belonging and community were considered the most important contributors to happiness, more so than having access to things like public transport, schools and job opportunities, says Rightmove.

And in a vote of confidence for Country Life, people living in rural areas are more likely to be happy about their neighbourhood than those in the cities, the portal adds.

Seven-bedroom detached house for sale in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, for £1,750,000 via Fine & Country

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s property expert explains: ‘The results of this year’s study highlights that residents continue to value living near green spaces and natural beauty, features that became all the more important during the pandemic.’

Still, Richmond is not the only built-up area to make the cut. London’s Kensington & Chelsea and the commuter belt towns of Wokingham, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead are among the more urban places that also made the top 20.