Britain’s happiest places to live revealed in survey
The Northumberland market town of Hexham has been crowned the happiest place to live in Britain.
Northern England made up half of the top 10 list compiled by Rightmove, with Harrogate, Skipton, Altrincham and Southport also appearing.
Richmond-upon-Thames in London, Dorchester in south-west England and Sevenoaks in the South East were also in the top 10, as were Llandrindod Wells and Monmouth, both in Wales.
More than 22,000 people responded to Rightmove's happy at home index survey.
They were asked questions such as the extent to which they feel a sense of community spirit, feel safe, earn enough to live comfortably and whether locals are friendly and polite.
They were also asked about local amenities such as sports facilities, arts and culture, shops, restaurants, doctors' surgeries, schools and green spaces.
Historic Hexham is host to a farmers' market as well as Viking-themed events, an array of independent shops and Hexham Old Gaol – reputed to be England's earliest purpose-built prison.
The town is a tourist gateway to Hadrian's Wall and Hexham Abbey, with its 1,300-year-old history, stands at its heart.
Bob Hull, mayor of Hexham, said: "We have a really strong sense of community up here, which I think is a major reason why residents feel so happy living in Hexham.
"We have a community-owned cinema and a thriving theatre and arts centre.
"Our parks have won various Green Flag awards and we're just half an hour from Newcastle and a major airport.
"We also boast lots of cultural heritage; the town is a gateway to Hadrian's Wall, and we have more than 200 listed buildings, which is one of the highest ratios per building of towns this size."
House hunters in Hexham may also find they can get more of a bargain now than a year ago.
Rightmove said the average price tag on a home there is £254,237 – 5% down on 2018, but 9% higher than five years ago.
Homes in Hexham are typically priced at nearly £50,000 less than the national average of £302,808.
Richard Walker, operations co-ordinator at Finest Properties in Hexham, said: "The character of this historic market town is easy to see, from the glorious Hexham Abbey that dominates the skyline to the winding streets that are home to independent shops, fabulous restaurants and the weekly market."
Looking on a broader geographical level, Rightmove also said the South West of England was found to be the happiest region, followed by the South East and the East of England.
Galashiels returned the highest score for nature and green spaces in Britain and was named as Scotland's happiest place to live. It finished in 11th place overall.
Llandrindod Wells was identified as the happiest place to live in Wales, coming in fifth place overall across Britain.
Rightmove's insights expert Lydia Yao said: "This just goes to show that people place enormous value on living somewhere that they're proud to call home.
"Our results also show that having friendly neighbours and being able to be yourself remain hugely important factors when measuring the happiest places to live in Great Britain."
Leigh-on-Sea in Essex came top in last year's survey.
Here are the top 10 happiest places to live, according to Rightmove, with the average asking price on a home followed by the average monthly asking rent for a two-bedroom property:
1. Hexham, North East, £254,237, £605
2. Harrogate, Yorkshire and the Humber, £341,524, £776
3. Richmond-upon-Thames, London, £815,717, £1,723
4. Skipton, Yorkshire and the Humber, £233,274, £622
5. Llandrindod Wells, Wales, £145,016, £478
6. Altrincham, North West, £520,899, £915
7. Monmouth, Wales, £310,050, £665
8. Dorchester, South West, £295,124, £799
9. Sevenoaks, South East, £684,806, £1,241
10. Southport, North West, £209,360, £609
And here are the happiest regions and nations in Britain ranked from most to least happy, according to Rightmove:
1. South West
2. South East
3. East of England
6. East Midlands
7. Yorkshire and the Humber
8. North East
10. West Midlands