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Lerwick, Shetland Islands
Photograph: Marcin Kadziolka /

Revealed: the happiest places to live in the UK

Brits are generally unhappier now than we were before the pandemic

Charmaine Wong
Written by
Charmaine Wong

The UK has gone through a lot this past year, from the cost-of-living crisis to ongoing workers’ strikes. And, not-that-surprisingly, this has made Brits unhappier. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), British citizens are less happy in general now than they were before the pandemic. 

That’s just one of the conclusions of this year’s Annual Population Survey, which is a yearly dataset published by the ONS. The Annual Population survey examines four major criteria: happiness, life satisfaction, anxiety and the feeling that things done in life are worthwhile. A ‘happiness score’ is then given to places up and down the country.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the happiest places to live in the UK are remote archipelagos miles away from the mainland. The Shetland Islands in the northern isles of Scotland topped the list as the happiest place in the country, with a high happiness score of 8.22 out of ten.

Second place went to another chain of Scottish islands, Na h-Eileanan Siar (also known as the Outer Hebrides, and also one of the best UK places to retire in) while third place went to the small town of North Kesteven in Lincolnshire.

Here are the top ten happiest places in the UK and their happiness score, according to the Office of National Statistics.

  1. Shetland Islands, Northern Isles - 8.22
  2. Na h-Eileanan Siar, Outer Hebrides - 8.12
  3. North Kesteven, Lincolnshire - 8.09
  4. Pendle, Lancashire - 8.06
  5. Malvern Hills, Herefordshire - 8.06
  6. Torridge, Devon - 8.05
  7. Cannock Chase, Staffordshire - 8.04
  8. Newham, London - 8.00
  9. Mid Sussex, West Sussex - 7.96
  10. Mid Ulster, Northern Ireland - 7.95

You can find out more on the ONS website here.

Happier times with Time Out

Need a little pick-me-up this winter? We at Time Out have plenty to help bring those happiness levels up. Here are the best things to do in the UK, the most brrrilliant winter getaways and the best places to visit at Christmas in the country.

Did you see that the host city for UK Pride 2025 has been revealed?

Plus: This long-neglected English seaside town is getting a £120 million glow-up

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