Britain's 'happiest and unhappiest towns' revealed: Interactive module shows ... trends now
Every corner of Britain was today ranked in a new happiness index showing the happiest places to live – with Richmond-upon-Thames in London coming out on top.
Winchester in Hampshire, Monmouth in South Wales, Wokingham in Berkshire and Cirencester in Gloucestershire are also in the top five of the study by Rightmove.
Others ranking highly were Skipton in North Yorkshire, Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, Kensington and Chelsea in London and St Ives in Cornwall.
But spare a thought for those living just ten miles away from Richmond in the West London borough of Hillingdon, which is the least happiest place out of all 218 areas.
The other areas in the bottom five of the list were Slough in Berkshire, Bradford in West Yorkshire, Croydon in South London and Rotherham in South Yorkshire.
Rightmove said Richmond coming in first place marked the only time a London location had topped its 'Happy at Home Index', which is now in its 12th year.
The experts added that Monmouth's position in third place was the first time an area from Wales had made the top three since 2018, while Galashiels was the happiest place in Scotland for the second year in a row.
Rural residents were said to be happier than city residents, especially those living near a national park or National Landscapes, previously known until last month as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Residents who live near woodland, mountains, the coast or a river were found to be more likely to be happy in their area than those living in a built-up area.
The Happy at Home Index quizzes residents over how they feel about their area, with 26,000 respondents this year.
The report also found that feeling a sense of pride, belonging and community is most likely to contribute to feeling happy to live in an area.
These were said to be more important than having access to public transport, schools and job opportunities.
Nearly one in three (30 per cent) of people think they would be happier living elsewhere – with this group most likely to want to move to the South West.
People aspiring to live in a new area said they want to be happier, move to a bigger home, or enjoy a change of lifestyle.
This group is also most likely to be younger (18-34), currently living in an urban or built-up area, or come from London, the East Midlands or the West Midlands.
Janet Lewis said Richmond is an expensive place to live but she loves the independent shops
The Cricketers pub in Richmond upon Thames in South West London is a popular spot
John Osborne, who has lived in Richmond for 43 years, said he was not surprised at the borough coming top of the Rightmove happiness index because it is a 'lovely town'
Richmond-upon-Thames is known for its green spaces. Pictured above are deer at Bushy Park
Downsizing, reducing energy costs and taking advantage of remote working to live somewhere new were also key factors for those considering moving.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove's property expert, said: 'Searching for new areas outside of the city that are still commutable on office days and looking for cheaper properties that are in need of renovation are just some of the actions we've seen determined movers take this year.
'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.
'With moving to an area that makes them happy a key motivator for people looking for their next home, highlighting these types of features nearby could really help sellers looking to appeal to potential buyers.'
Speaking about Richmond, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: 'I'm delighted for Richmond to win this award.
'It has so much of what makes London so special – its access to beautiful green spaces, its real sense of community, and an array of shops, cafes and local culture that makes it stand out.'
And Dawn Platt, associate director of Chestertons' Richmond branch, says: 'Richmond really has got it all. Access to nature, schools, entertainment, good eateries, bars and shops.
'On top of this, the borough benefits from a riverside location and great transport links. Thanks to its lifestyle offerings, it's not difficult to see why Richmond has established itself as one of London's most sought-after locations nor why residents are happy living here.
'We encounter a lot of house hunters who have always had the goal of living in Richmond one day and once they have moved here, couldn't imagine living anywhere else. Due to its community feel, many see Richmond as an area to settle down long-term.'
Elizabeth Ward, 67, has lived in Richmond for 15 years and said it is a 'fantastic place to live'
Richmond sits next to the Thames, with the path alongside the river a popular walking area
The borough of Richmond is home to Kew Gardens (above), the world-renowned green space
The borough - where the average house price is £483,556 - is the largest in West London and takes in Hayes and Harlington, Ruislip, Uxbridge, and Yiewsley and West Drayton.
A longtime Hillingdon resident is not surprised the suburb - where celebrities including James Cordon, Andy Serkis and Ronnie Wood come from - was named one of the worst places to live in the country, saying it's 'pretty rough' and filled with 'pickpockets, beggars and gangs'.
Meanwhile, only ten miles away in Richmond, locals welcomed the news it had been voted the happiest place to live in Britain, with one even claiming the area was 'better' than the south of France.
But it's not a cheap enclave of the capital, with house prices averaging £952,305.
However, others reacted with surprise to the news that Hillingdon had been voted 'Britain's unhappiest town'.
Uxbridge local Margaret Ward, 31, said: 'I think it's bonkers that Hillingdon came out last. I came here as a baby and it's a really homely place to live. Whenever I go on holiday I am always aching to get back home.'
Margaret Ward who lives in Uxbridge said she thought the survey result was 'bonkers'
Sleeping bags, cardboard, a mug and some rubbish is pictured under shelter in Uxbridge
'We have everything on our doorstep here, and I can walk to the shopping centre