Which UK city is the happiest?

Have you ever wondered which city in the UK is the happiest place to live? We love London, even if it can be busy and expensive at times - which got us thinking, where are people happiest?

Which UK city is happiest?

A happiness study carried out in 2013 revealed that Sheffield has been crowned the UK's happiest place to live, with 30% of residents saying they were happy every day. Second in line was Edinburgh, Scotland's capital city, with Brighton a close third. Here are the other cities:

4th - Cardiff

5th - Liverpool

6th - Leeds

7th - London

8th - Belfast

9th - Southampton

10th - Plymouth

But what is it that makes us happy? Well, 60% of study respondents said that 'doing good deeds' gave them a happiness boost, whilst sex also ranked highly on the list, with 37% of people saying it was key to their happiness. Spending time with family and friends or receiving a compliment also boosted happiness levels.

Where would you be happy?

It's all very well finding out which city in the UK is the happiest, but where would you be happy living? Well, that depends on your age, income, personality and a range of other factors. You can take an interactive test on the BBC website here to find out where you'd be happiest living, based on your personality traits. Or have a read through our guide to the top UK cities for happiness levels, to find out more.


Ranked as the happiest city in the UK, what makes Sheffield such a great place to live? Well, for a start it has a great musical heritage - it's the birthplace of Def Leppard, Pulp and the Arctic Monkeys! Olympic heroine Jessica Ennis and actor Sean Bean also hail from Sheffield, as does Robin of Loxley, better known to us as Robin Hood. Did you know that Eddie Izzard studied accountancy at Sheffield University, before deciding to pack it in for a career in stand-up? Good move, Eddie.

Sheffield is a great city to live in if you're over 55 - apparently people in this age group feel better about themselves than people of the same age anywhere else in the UK (1)! The city is one of the best value places to live in the UK, so that's good news if you're looking to save cash and enjoy a better work/life balance. Living costs are 25% lower than London and 10% lower than the country's national average, according to a study by Sheffield University (2).

This South Yorkshire city has seen a rise in house prices over the past 5 years as more job opportunities become available, yet it's still affordable to buy and rent property here, with the average property price £148,372. There's plenty of art, culture and nightlife to enjoy, and as the city borders the Peak District, there are opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, walking, running and other outdoor pursuits, if that's your thing. Choose Sheffield if you're looking for a vibrant city that offers great value for money.


Scotland's capital city attracts throngs of tourists every year who come not just for the annual fringe festival, but also for the quaint, charming cobbled streets and closes as well as the city's welcoming atmosphere. If you're a fan of hot weather, this may not be the place for you. The city has a typically Scottish climate with summer temperatures averaging 19 degrees centigrade in July and around 5 hours of sunshine a day.

Despite being Scotland's capital, it's a lot more afforable to live here than in London - unemployment rates are amongst the lowest in the country (6.7% in 2013) whilst the average salary, £24,628 is amongst the highest of the 11 cities surveyed by Money Supermarket's Quality of Living Index, which also looked at cities such as Birmingham and Sheffield. Cost of living here is low - the average rent price is the lowest in the UK at just £43 a week. Which means more money left for gym membership, socialising and trying new things!

Speaking of which, Edinburgh has plenty to offer in terms of art, culture, shops - you name it. Every July and August, the city hosts the Film Festival, Fringe Festival and Book Festival, attracting visitors, artists, performers and authors from across the globe, so summers in Edinburgh are always action-packed. Some leading names in comedy, such as Dylan Moran, got their start on stage in Edinburgh (he now owns a house in Stockbridge, a peaceful part of the city). The city is packed with trendy wine bars, cocktail bars and cosy pubs, as well as plenty of traditional cafes and restaurants (and the odd Tartan shop) lining the Royal Mile. For quality of living, Edinburgh is one of the best cities in the UK.

What makes a place 'happy'?

Being surrounded by family and friends, an affordable cost of living, access to employment opportunities and plenty of opportunities for socialising - arts, culture, nightlife, shopping, restaurants etc. all factor into making a city a happy place to live. Think about where you live and how it measures up - is your life lacking in any one area? This doesn't necessarily mean you should move; you may be able to get a better balance in your life by addressing the areas that are lacking. If you're not enjoying enough social time, you might want to look into events happening near you, whilst if you feel that you're struggling to budget, moving slightly further out of town or downsizing could help you to enjoy a better quality of life. Every city in the UK has its positives and negatives, so what works for one person may not be right for another.

READ THIS NEXT: Are you living in the right city?

Works cited:

  1. http://metro.co.uk/2013/05/30/top-10-reasons-why-sheffield-is-the-happiest-city-in-the-uk-3820295/

  2. https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/international/enquiry/money/costs

Author By Paula Beaton
Date On 21st May 2015 at 12:27

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