A guide to the happiest places to live in the UK according to a recent nationwide survey.
Harrogate Named the Happiest Place to Live in the UK
Dickens may have described Harrogate as ‘the queerest place with the strangest people in it’ after a visit in 1858, but that was over 150 years ago and clearly a lot has changed. A recent poll of 24,000 Britons (the Rightmove Happy at Home Index) has named Harrogate as the happiest place to live in the UK for the third year in a row. The report by Rightmove placed the picturesque Yorkshire town firmly in the number one spot closely followed by Shrewsbury, Ipswich, York and Chester. So what makes this historical spa town such a happy place to live?
History and Heritage
Harrogate first came to prominence as a prestigious spa town during the Georgian era and retains much of the period’s charm and elegance. You can still visit the historic Royal Pump House or visit the Turkish Baths and Spa for some holistic relaxation. There are also the nearby towns of Ripon and Knaresborough with stunning houses and gardens to explore.
Beyond the history, Harrogate is also rich in culture with festivals and events throughout the year. This busy town boasts an exciting range of shops, bars and restaurants along its pretty streets, earning it third place overall for amenities and making it a great place to keep busy and have fun. There is even the world famous Betty’s Tea Rooms where they’ve been serving delicious teas and cakes for nearly 100 years.
Nestled amongst the beautiful hills of North Yorkshire, Harrogate’s enviable location is clearly one of its key selling points. With the Yorkshire Dales to the west and the North York Moors to the northeast, the town is surrounded by outstanding beauty. It is no surprise that Harrogate residents are the happiest in the country with spectacular views such as Fountains Abbey, Malham Cove and Robin Hood’s Bay just a short drive away. Closer to home, the lush greens of the Stray and the Valley Gardens offer pleasant views from the very centre of Harrogate.
While Harrogate is rated well across several areas, it is community pride that really puts the town head and shoulders above its near rivals. Harrogate’s warm, neighbourly atmosphere bag it first place for pride, safety and area upkeep as well as third place for décor. The town’s pretty, leafy streets and tasteful architecture inspire civic pride and community spirit, making it an inviting and welcoming place to live.
Harrogate compares less favourably for costs and value, but such a perfect location will naturally come at a cost.
Vibrant Social Scene
Harrogate’s unique character shines through in its cafes, shops and bars. By day, independent cafes such as Bean and Bud give Betty’s a run for their money with lovingly brewed coffee and deliciously fresh cakes. By night, Harrogate has an eclectic and international range of restaurants and drinking dens for every taste, from traditional pubs such as the Old Bell Tavern to buzzing boho bars like the rather psychedelic Major Tom’s Social. There are also fantastic festivals throughout the year celebrating everything from Jazz and Literature to Food and Theatre.
How to Get There
If you fancy getting happy in Harrogate, it may be easier than you think. There are properties catering for most tastes and budgets, from chic town centre flats for just over £150,000 and terraced houses for around £200,000 to large, detached family homes overlooking the Stray for around £1m. There are also plenty of excellent schools including the highly regarded Harrogate Grammar School.
Beneath Harrogate’s quiet, pretty exterior lies a flourishing community of large and small businesses with exciting career opportunities. From corporate headquarters of big names such as Natwest to small, but growing, businesses offering everything from cakes and pastries to media and tech solutions, there are plenty of companies hiring in Harrogate.
Other Happy Places….
Harrogate’s attractive houses, great amenities and breath-taking scenery make it an obvious choice for the happiest place in Britain. If, however, it is not a practical choice for you, there are plenty of other towns and cities all over the UK that rate well across the board for happiness as well.
Nestled in leafy loop of the River Severn, Shrewsbury is a pretty town with plenty to offer all ages, from teashops and parks to bars and festivals. The Shropshire Hills and Welsh Borders are just 45 minutes away making it the ideal spot for those trying to achieve the perfect balance of town and country.
There are excellent links to Birmingham and London and a wide variety of housing options from Georgian townhouses and Victorian terraces to modern, central flats. Property prices remain very competitive making this idyllic location very affordable. There are also several excellent schools including the renowned independent Shrewsbury School.
With a fast developing, cosmopolitan waterfront and the beautiful Suffolk countryside right on your doorstep, Ipswich is a town with much to make you happy. Ranked well in all areas from décor and amenities to community and safety, Ipswich is the perfect all-rounder.
Just over an hour by train from London, it is even a great choice for commuters or those wanting to live close to the capital without forking out for a property within the M25. Ipswich also has some of the highest employment rates and some of the fastest and most consistent broadband speeds in the country.
From the grand Minster to the winding Shambles, York is Britain at its most postcard-worthy and picturesque. The city is bursting with history, teashops and unique, independent shops and bars, making it a fascinating and exciting place to explore. If that’s all sounding a little twee, the city is also blessed with a healthy dose of Yorkshire quirk and humour apparent everywhere from the House of Trembling Madness, a bustling drinking den in the heart of the city, to the deliciously different menu of the Blue Bicycle.
York station keeps the city well connected and the Yorkshire Moors, Dales and coast are all around 30 minutes away. There are plenty of housing options from flats to huge Georgian town houses, although prices are a little above the national average.
Roman walls, beautiful monochrome rows and a pretty river winding through the city centre, Chester is undoubtedly a place with style. From high end shops and fine dining restaurants to the bustling market and glitzy race course, Chester also has plenty to keep you busy and rightly nabs second place for amenities. This bite-sized city has so much to offer and, despite it’s WAG-ish image, is a genuinely warm, community led city. Pretty, quirky areas such as Handbridge and Hoole give the city a village-like feel with plenty to discover and do.
There are plenty of well-respected schools such as Upton High School and the independent King’s School Chester. Houses are generally below the national average price, although certain areas, particularly close to river, can be pricey.
So, if you’re after a little more joy in your life, moving house may be just the ticket, which of course is no surprise to us! Whether you fancy finding happiness in Harrogate or getting cheery in Chester, these UK locations offer desirable amenities and accommodation as well as picturesque views and friendly neighbours. If it’s time for a move, you can’t go far wrong with the happiest places in Britain.