Now, the borough of Richmond upon Thames in south-west London has been named “the happiest place to live” in Great Britain.
It received the accolade from property website Rightmove, which runs a “happy at home” index– now in its 12th year – where it asks residents how they feel about their area based on 13 “happiness factors”.
This is the first time a London location has taken the top spot.
Last year, St Ives in Cornwall topped the table and in 2021 it was the market town of Hexham in Northumberland. This time round, those two locations were ranked ninth and 10th place, respectively.
In second and third place this year were Winchester in Hampshire and the town of Monmouth in Wales.
Residents of the borough of Richmond scored it highly for “feeling a sense of belonging to the area and being comfortable to be themselves”, as well as its access to nature and green spaces.
About half of the borough is parkland: as well as the vast Richmond Park, with its ancient woods and historic herds of deer, there is Bushy Park, Hampton Court Park, Old Deer Park, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and London Wetland Centre in Barnes. The River Thames runs for more than 10 miles through the borough.
Richmond upon Thames has long been a favourite retreat for royalty, as well as the rich and famous, and you arguably need to be pretty wealthy to be able to afford to live there now.
The current average asking price for a home in the borough is just shy of £1m (£952,305) – almost three times the £362,000 average for Great Britain – while the average asking rent is £3,148 a month, said Rightmove
Daniel Lloyd, Managing Director of the Richmond Borough-based estate agent Lloyds Residential, said: “ The Richmond Borough has got it all. The amazing Royal Parks, the River Thames, Suburban life in a countryside, cultural destinations and most importantly the local people who live and love the borough and its individual towns. I haven’t even mentioned the amazing transport links and the ease of access to London and the home counties.
The hit Apple TV show Ted Lasso – about an American coach taking on an English football team: (the fictional) AFC Richmond – may have helped propel the area to success in the happiness index.
It has boosted the borough’s fortunes and spawned a mini tourist industry, with guided tours and AFC Richmond merchandise on sale.
Rightmove’s happy at home index was completed this year by more than 26,000 people.
One of the important trends that emerged this time was that feeling a sense of pride, belonging and community was most likely to contribute to feeling happy about living in an area – more so than having access to things such as public transport, schools and job opportunities, said the property site.
Tim Bannister, a property expert at Rightmove, said: “The results of this year’s study highlight that residents continue to value living near green spaces and natural beauty – features that became all the more important during the pandemic.”