Simon Kelner: House prices may be root of southern unhappiness

Kelner's view

Share

I know only one person from Carlisle, and I have to say he's a pretty cheerful, laid-back kind of guy. So, allowing for the very limited nature of this anecdotal evidence, it didn't come as a huge surprise to me that Carlisle has just been named as having the happiest inhabitants in Engetland.

Here, on the north-west frontier with Scotland, the levels of contentment – measured in terms of how people feel about their home, their personal prosperity, and their community – are way above the national average, and contrast starkly with the poor denizens of east London, who are officially the most miserable people in England.

These are the headline results of a survey of 25,000 households undertaken by a property company, which is more interesting for its general, rather than its particular, findings. They reveal, for example, that there is another, possibly more profound, north-south divide: seven of the places in the top 10 for happiness are in the north.

There may be specific reasons for the citizens of Carlisle to feel pleased with their lot – pride in their attractive city, with its Norman castle, impressive cathedral and splendid Victorian train station; the surrounding countryside and easy access to the Lake District; and, of course, as the home of Carr's water biscuits and the Eddie Stobart fleet.

But maybe a wider truth is being exposed here. The survey's respondents graded their satisfaction with various aspects of their life, which included how safe they felt in their immediate environment, how friendly their neighbours were, and how well they regarded the local amenities. But they were also asked about more pressing individual concerns: for instance, whether they were anxious about the value of their property and whether they were happy with its decorative condition and, crucially, it size.

There were, of course, some interesting individual results: people in Harrogate had the highest levels of contentment with their home, those in Oldham were the least happy with local amenities and, in north-west London, they felt most satisfied with the price of their house.

It is the trend that emerges once the findings are assimilated that is most revealing, and, using the specific criteria relating to, and around, home ownership, northerners have emerged, quite markedly, as happier souls. Now I know this is a dangerous extrapolation, but is it just possible that people in the north are less concerned about house prices? And could that be one of the key ingredients in a recipe for personal happiness?

I'm not saying that everyone north of Watford Gap has no interest in the property market, but my feeling is that it's much less likely to be a subject of dinner party conversation in Warrington than it is in Wandsworth. Similarly, the extreme disparities between rich and poor – more pronounced in the south – are calculated to have a negative effect on personal contentment.

But perhaps that's a generalisation too far. It may just be coincidence that my friend from Carlisle embodies the qualities highlighted by this survey: contentment, pride and security. It could also be, as he himself pointed out, that he hasn't lived in Carlisle for 40 years.

 

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

John Noakes was everyone’s favourite presenter in the 1970s. It’s a shock to realise the eternal boy scout is now an octogenarian suffering from dementia  

How remarkable that John Noakes still has the power to affect me so

Matthew Norman
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy