Countryside vs Seaside vs City: Where would you rather live?
Are you more drawn to a calm ocean breeze, luscious green landscapes or the hustle and bustle of city life? Where you choose to live and settle down can depend on a number of things such as family and work commitments. However, if your biggest commitment is to your happiness then where you live could impact on your overall wellbeing.
Ultimately, there are lots of factors which could affect your happiness and life expectancy. However, our research suggests that people who live in certain areas of the UK tend to be happier and live longer than others.
We analysed data from over 400 cities, counties, regions and districts across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The study evaluated three factors of overall wellbeing including life satisfaction, happiness and how worthwhile people felt about the things they do in their life. Our findings have revealed that people who live in the countryside not only have higher levels of overall wellbeing but also have a higher life expectancy.
So, where is the best place to live in the UK?
If it’s overall wellbeing you are looking for, then the best place to live in the UK is Rushmoor. This is somewhat surprising considering it’s an urban area, mostly made up of the towns of Farnborough and Aldershot, and not a typical countryside location. However, the district in Hampshire came out on top for each of our ranking factors, suggesting that people who live here are more satisfied with their lives than anywhere else in the UK.
Rushmoor is in the South East of England and has easy access to major cities, including London, areas of outstanding natural beauty and the coast in under 1 hour 30 minutes. With everything you need right on your doorstep, does this make Rushmoor the most perfectly placed district to live in the UK? Whatever it is, the people of Rushmoor seem pretty happy to be there.
Although Rushmoor came out on top as the best place to live for overall satisfaction, there were some close contenders. With countryside and coastal living dominating the top 10, Lichfield was the only city considered to be one of the best places to live in the UK.
The top 10 places to live in the UK for overall satisfaction
Where is the worst place to live in the UK?
At the other end of the spectrum, South Holland came out as the worst place to live in the UK for overall life satisfaction. Not only that, but it also came out as the worst coastal area in the UK for life satisfaction, worthwhile and happiness.
Does this mean I should stay away from the coast?
Not at all! According to the overall wellbeing score, life on the coast came second to country living, ahead of urban areas or city living which is the worst type of place to live for overall satisfaction.
Copeland, in Cumbria, proved to be the happiest coastal area to live in the UK and with the lure of the Lake District right on the doorstep, it’s not hard to see why.
If country living is the best, where should I live in the country?
Bolsover came out as the best place to live in the countryside, with Newry, Mourne and Down, Ribble Valley and Taunton Dean featuring in the top 10 places to live for overall satisfaction. However, if it’s life satisfaction you’re after, you may want to stay away from Pendle… Perhaps the haunting history of the Pendle witches has made residents somewhat less satisfied with their lives.
Additionally, countryside living came out on top for life expectancy, with the average person expected to live until almost 82. Of course, this does not take into account personal health problems or other causes of death. But it could suggest that the peace and open air of the countryside influences your happiness which may help you live longer.
What about life in the city?
City living was found to be the worst for overall satisfaction and life expectancy. Although London boroughs feature prominently in the top 10 worst places to live in the UK, Wolverhampton came out as the worst city for overall satisfaction.
Litchfield, on the other hand, was the only city to make the top 10 places to live in the UK for overall satisfaction. So, if you want the perfect balance between happiness and city living, Litchfield could be your best choice.
Can the same be said for urban areas?
Although urban areas featured heavily in the top 10 worst places to live, it’s not quite as bad as city living. The area of Rushmoor was the best place in the UK for overall satisfaction with a life expectancy of 81, and people who live in urban areas had the second highest life expectancy levels.
Living in an urban area might be a better choice if you are looking for a happy medium between busy living and peace and quiet. Urban areas are often on the outskirts of the city, making the morning commute much easier than travelling from a quiet country village - especially in the colder months. More often than not, the countryside is not far away either. Maybe urban living really is the best of both worlds.
Overall, people who live in the countryside are more satisfied with their lives and have a higher life expectancy than those who live in the city. Although country living may not be for everyone, moving to a small village with lots of green space nearby could be beneficial for your overall satisfaction and life expectancy.
For the purpose of this study, cities, coastal areas, countryside and urban areas have been classified and segmented in the following way.
Cities: have been granted city status
Coastal areas: towns, counties or regions on the coast
Countryside: mostly greenspace
Urban areas: densely populated
How have life satisfaction, worthwhile and happiness been measured?
Participants were asked to rate their happiness, worthwhile and life satisfaction on a scale of 0 - 10, with 0 being the least and 10 being the most.
An overall wellbeing score was calculated by working out the average of the Life Satisfaction, Worthwhile and Happiness score. The score is out of 10 with higher scores indicating higher levels of life satisfaction, worthwhile and happiness.
Worthwhile - Participants were asked ‘to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?’
Life satisfaction - Participants were asked ‘overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?’
Happy - Participants were asked ‘overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?’
Our data was sourced from the Office of National Statistics and includes both wellbeing and life expectancy data. You can access our data here:
Wellbeing data originally sourced from:
Data was released in September 2018
Life expectancy data originally sourced from:
Data was released in December 2018