Do you live in the UK's happiest place?

Sense of community spirit makes Leigh-on-Sea top spot

The Old Leigh waterfront at high tide

We do like to be beside the sea, it seems, with Leigh-on-Sea topping a new poll of the happiest places to live in the UK.

The Essex town, near Southend, has knocked Harrogate down to third place after three years in the top spot. Troon, another coastal town, takes second place, with locals saying they feel safe there and can be themselves.

Swansea is ranked as the happiest place to live in Wales, while Richmond came top in London for the second year in a row.

Rightmove asked nearly 24,000 people to rank their local area on the basis of 12 factors, from how friendly their neighbours are to the standard of local services.

And Leigh-on-Sea scored highly for community spirit and a strong sense of belonging, as well as good access to sports and arts activities and opportunities to develop skills.

However, this doesn't come cheap, with the ripple effect of rising house prices out from London to the commuter belt leading to a 15% increase in asking prices over the past year, to an average of £384,439.

"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," says Rightmove's research manager Abiola Oni.

"Space is also one of the most important things when people are looking for a new home, so it's not surprising that places with open spaces such as beautiful parks and beaches have featured in the top ten."

Earlier this year, users of the online forum Reddit praised the Isle of Skye, York, Sheffield and Bristol as the country's best places to live. Luton, though, was highlighted as the worst, with one user describing it as 'the town at the end of humanity'.

The top ten happiest places
1. Leigh-On-Sea, east of England
2. Troon, Scotland
3. Harrogate, Yorkshire and the Humber
4. Hertford, east of England
5. Lytham St Annes, north west
6. Shepperton, south east
7. Stanford-Le-Hope, east of England
8. Shrewsbury, west Midlands
9. Hitchin, east of England
10. Woodbridge, east of England

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