Oh water life: Living near sea or river could be the key to a happier existence

Leigh-on-Sea in Essex has been named the happiest place to live in the UK in an annual survey.

Almost 24,000 people from 206 UK areas were asked to rank 12 happiness factors as part of Rightmove’s Happy at Home Index, with the Essex civil parish ranking top on four points: sports and recreational activities, arts and culture, skill development opportunities and for non-essential amenities like pubs and restaurants.

The list suggests that living by water could be the key to a happy life, with the top six places either situated by the sea or on a river.

The seaside South Ayrshire town of Troon placed second after topping three factors: sense of belonging, and the feeling that ‘I can be myself’ and ‘feel safe’.

The Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate, which is a stone’s throw from the River Nidd, had topped the list for the last three years running but placed third this time.

Continuing the water theme, fourth place Hertford is at the confluence of four river valleys, the seaside resort of Lytham St Annes ranks fifth, while Shepperton and Stanford-le-Hope – in sixth and seventh place respectively – sit close to the Thames.

We do like to be beside the seaside

Abiola Oni, research manager at Rightmove, reckoned there was some truth in the water/happiness theory.

“It seems the saying that we do like to ‘be beside the seaside’ is true,” she commented.

“Obviously what ‘happy’ means to different people can vary greatly, but when you compare which factors score highest in the happiest areas, it shows just how important having friendly people in the local community area is alongside the services and amenities, which is something buyers often tell us when they are looking in new areas to live.”

As space was a major factor when looking for a new home, Mrs Oni added that it was unsurprising that places with open spaces and beautiful parks and beaches featured in the top ten.

The bottom ten haven’t been identified but Walsall and Spalding did rank bottom for two factors each.

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