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Britain’s ‘Happiest And Unhappiest Towns’

Every corner of Britain was today ranked in a new happiness index showing the happiest places to live – with Richmond-upon-Thames in London coming out on top.

Winchester in Hampshire, Monmouth in South Wales, Wokingham in Berkshire and Cirencester in Gloucestershire are also in the top five of the study by Rightmove.

Others ranking highly were Skipton in North Yorkshire, Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, Kensington and Chelsea in London and St Ives in Cornwall.

But spare a thought for those living just ten miles away from Richmond in the West London borough of Hillingdon, which is the least happiest place out of all 218 areas.

The other areas in the bottom five of the list were Slough in Berkshire, Bradford in West Yorkshire, Croydon in South London and Rotherham in South Yorkshire.

Rightmove said Richmond coming in first place marked the only time a London location had topped its ‘Happy at Home Index’, which is now in its 12th year.

Top 20 happiest places to live in Britain

  1. Richmond upon Thames
  2. Winchester
  3. Monmouth
  4. Wokingham
  5. Cirencester
  6. Skipton
  7. Hemel Hempstead
  8. Kensington and Chelsea
  9. St Ives
  10. Hexham
  11. Leigh on Sea
  12. Harrogate
  13. Clacton on Sea
  14. Kendal
  15. Galashiels
  16. Weymouth
  17. Woodbridge
  18. Anglesey
  19. St. Albans
  20. Stourbridge

The experts added that Monmouth’s position in third place was the first time an area from Wales had made the top three since 2018, while Galashiels was the happiest place in Scotland for the second year in a row.

Rural residents were said to be happier than city residents, especially those living near a national park or National Landscapes, previously known until last month as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Residents who live near woodland, mountains, the coast or a river were found to be more likely to be happy in their area than those living in a built-up area.

The Happy at Home Index quizzes residents over how they feel about their area, with 26,000 respondents this year.

The report also found that feeling a sense of pride, belonging and community is most likely to contribute to feeling happy to live in an area.

These were said to be more important than having access to public transport, schools and job opportunities.

Nearly one in three (30 per cent) of people think they would be happier living elsewhere – with this group most likely to want to move to the South West.

People aspiring to live in a new area said they want to be happier, move to a bigger home, or enjoy a change of lifestyle.

This group is also most likely to be younger (18-34), currently living in an urban or built-up area, or come from London, the East Midlands or the West Midlands.

Janet Lewis said Richmond is an expensive place to live but she loves the independent shops
Janet Lewis said Richmond is an expensive place to live but she loves the independent shops
The Cricketers pub in Richmond upon Thames in South West London is a popular spot
The Cricketers pub in Richmond upon Thames in South West London is a popular spot
John Osborne (pictured), who has lived in Richmond for 43 years said he was not surprised as it is a 'lovely town'
John Osborne, who has lived in Richmond for 43 years, said he was not surprised at the borough coming top of the Rightmove happiness index because it is a ‘lovely town’
Richmond-upon-Thames is known for its green spaces. Pictured above are deer at Bushy Park
Richmond-upon-Thames is known for its green spaces. Pictured above are deer at Bushy Park

Downsizing, reducing energy costs and taking advantage of remote working to live somewhere new were also key factors for those considering moving.

Top 20 saddest places to live in Britain

  1. Hillingdon
  2. Slough
  3. Bradford
  4. Rotherham
  5. Croydon
  6. Newham
  7. Barking and Dagenham
  8. Luton
  9. Dudley
  10. Banbury
  11. Brent
  12. Newport
  13. Oldham
  14. Basildon
  15. Rochester
  16. Rochdale
  17. Peterborough
  18. Dartford
  19. Middlesbrough
  20. Ashford

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s property expert, said: ‘Searching for new areas outside of the city that are still commutable on office days and looking for cheaper properties that are in need of renovation are just some of the actions we’ve seen determined movers take this year.

‘The results of this year’s study highlights that residents continue to value living near green spaces and natural beauty, features that became all the more important during the pandemic.

‘With moving to an area that makes them happy a key motivator for people looking for their next home, highlighting these types of features nearby could really help sellers looking to appeal to potential buyers.’

Speaking about Richmond, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: ‘I’m delighted for Richmond to win this award.

‘It has so much of what makes London so special – its access to beautiful green spaces, its real sense of community, and an array of shops, cafes and local culture that makes it stand out.’

And Dawn Platt, associate director of Chestertons’ Richmond branch, says: ‘Richmond really has got it all. Access to nature, schools, entertainment, good eateries, bars and shops.

‘On top of this, the borough benefits from a riverside location and great transport links. Thanks to its lifestyle offerings, it’s not difficult to see why Richmond has established itself as one of London’s most sought-after locations nor why residents are happy living here.

‘We encounter a lot of house hunters who have always had the goal of living in Richmond one day and once they have moved here, couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Due to its community feel, many see Richmond as an area to settle down long-term.’

Elizabeth Ward, 67,  has lived in Richmond for 15 years and said it is a 'fantastic place to live'
Elizabeth Ward, 67, has lived in Richmond for 15 years and said it is a ‘fantastic place to live’
Richmond sits next to the Thames, with the path alongside the river a popular walking area
Richmond sits next to the Thames, with the path alongside the river a popular walking area
The borough of Richmond is home to Kew Gardens (above), the world-renowned green space
The borough of Richmond is home to Kew Gardens (above), the world-renowned green space

It comes as MailOnline spoke to residents in Hillingdon – Britain’s unhappiest place to live – who said crime and gang activity has blighted their streets and keeps them from going out at night.

The borough – where the average house price is £483,556 – is the largest in West London and takes in Hayes and Harlington, Ruislip, Uxbridge, and Yiewsley and West Drayton.

A longtime Hillingdon resident is not surprised the suburb – where celebrities including James Cordon, Andy Serkis and Ronnie Wood come from – was named one of the worst places to live in the country, saying it’s ‘pretty rough’ and filled with ‘pickpockets, beggars and gangs’.

Meanwhile, only ten miles away in Richmond, locals welcomed the news it had been voted the happiest place to live in Britain, with one even claiming the area was ‘better’ than the south of France.

The South West London borough, home to both Sir David Attenborough and Britain’s Got Talent’s Amanda Holden, scored points for its picturesque green spaces and strong sense of belonging.

But it’s not a cheap enclave of the capital, with house prices averaging £952,305.

However, others reacted with surprise to the news that Hillingdon had been voted ‘Britain’s unhappiest town’.

Uxbridge local Margaret Ward, 31, said: ‘I think it’s bonkers that Hillingdon came out last. I came here as a baby and it’s a really homely place to live. Whenever I go on holiday I am always aching to get back home.’

Margaret Ward who lives in Uxbridge said she thought the survey result was 'bonkers'
Margaret Ward who lives in Uxbridge said she thought the survey result was ‘bonkers’
Sleeping bags, cardboard, a mug and some rubbish is pictured under shelter in Uxbridge
Sleeping bags, cardboard, a mug and some rubbish is pictured under shelter in Uxbridge

‘We have everything on our doorstep here, and I can walk to the shopping centre that has every kind of shop you might need.

‘The only thing that is not great is the introduction of the new ULEZ tax locally.’

Friends Carol Toombes, 75, and Donna Norman, 63, were also shocked to hear their borough sank to last in the ratings.

Sipping mulled wine from a stand in the nearby Christmas market, Ms Toombes, from Uxbridge, said: ‘Look around you, it’s a fantastic place to live. I can’t believe that so many people here claim to be unhappy.

‘It’s got everything you need, and has brilliant amenities for OAPs. I love using my Hillingdon resident card to get discounts.’

Ms Toombes said the only thing she was sad about was the fact that Boris Johnson was no longer the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

Ms Norman, who brought up her family in nearby Ickenham, added: ‘The open spaces here are great, and were especially so during lockdown.

‘We have an excellent leisure centre and a local lido, and some great parks. The centre of London is on our doorstep, so is Windsor Castle, and if we ever need to go anywhere, we can jump on the M25.’

Ilva Henderson, 74, has lived in Uxbridge since 2010, and used to work as admin clerk before retiring.

Donna Norman, 63, said she was shocked to hear Hillingdon was last in the happiness ratings

Donna Norman, 63, said she was shocked to hear Hillingdon was last in the happiness ratings

Ilva Henderson, 74, has lived in Uxbridge since 2010 and said she loved the 'community spirit'
Ilva Henderson, 74, has lived in Uxbridge since 2010 and said she loved the ‘community spirit’

‘When I first came here from Fulham, I found it very quiet. But I love the community spirit here and the facilities like the local libraries are great,’ she said.

She said that she found the results of the survey ‘really odd’ adding that Hillingdon won a Green Flag award earlier this year for being the greenest borough in London for the eleventh year running.

One resident, 74-year-old Malcolm John Innes – who used to work as a groundsman at Brunel University – has lived in Uxbridge for over 30 years and said the area has gone downhill.

He said: ‘The crime rate here is pretty bad. It’s pretty rough in many of the town centres, and there are pickpockets, beggars and gangs around. I certainly would not go out here at night.’

On the other side of the capital, it was the first time Richmond upon Thames has topped the ‘happy at home’ poll conducted by Rightmove – which asked more than 26,000 people how they feel about where they live.

John Osborne, who has lived in the town of Richmond for 43 years, said: ‘I am not at all surprised. It’s a lovely town.

‘Apart from the high street you only have to look around to see all the green spaces we can enjoy. I regularly enjoy a visit to the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park.’

Mr Osborne, 76, who brought up his family in the town and whose children attended local schools, added: ‘The community spirit is great here, you don’t actually need to leave as it’s all on your doorstep, including two excellent theatres.’

The Chimes shopping centre in Uxbridge, which is within the London Borough of Hillingdon
The Chimes shopping centre in Uxbridge, which is within the London Borough of Hillingdon
Uxbridge, an area in Hillingdon

A bus passes through Uxbridge in West London, which is part of the Borough of Hillingdon

Richmond upon Thames features more than 500 hectares of green areas such as Kew Gardens and Bushy Park, and is also home to attractions such as Hampton Court Palace.

Elizabeth Ward, 67, originally from Belgium, has shared a flat in Richmond for 15 years with her British lecturer husband.

She said: ‘I love it here. We also have a house in the South of France, but every time I come back here, I literally punch the air. It is a fantastic place to live, and it makes me happy being here.’

The book editor added: ‘Yes the South of France has good weather, but there are things better here, if you don’t mind the cold and rain. For example, I am vegetarian and the restaurants are amazing here.’

Malcolm John Innes has lived in Uxbridge for over 30 years and said it has gone downhill

Malcolm John Innes has lived in Uxbridge for over 30 years and said it has gone downhill

South Ruislip (pictured) is one of the areas that comes under the borough of Hillingdon and is in Boris Johnson's former constituency
South Ruislip (station picured) is one of the areas that comes under the Borough of Hillingdon
West Drayton (pictured) is also within Hillingdon, which was ranked the unhappiest place to live in Britain

West Drayton is also within the London Borough of Hillingdon which came bottom of the list

And Janet Lewis, from nearby Kingston – covered under the borough of Kingston upon Thames – said: ‘It’s a very expensive place to live.

‘When my children were young we took them to the local pantomime, and all the independent shops and boutiques here are amazing.’

Last year’s winner, St Ives in Cornwall, fell further down the list in ninth place this year.

The average price of a house in St Ives is £515,352 – significantly lower than Richmond upon Thames’ average.


Culture

Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by ‘Savills’ reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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Culture

Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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