Happyness is a place called Edinburgh
PEOPLE living in the city centre are the happiest in Edinburgh
and some of the most contented in Britain, according to the
leading polling agency Mori.
A massive 96 per cent of people who live in the centre of
the Capital said they were satisfied that they had everything
around them they needed to enjoy life.
Contentment levels were high in all parts of the city, the
Mori poll found, but those living in the centre lead the way
closely followed by those in the south.
Even in the area where people were least happy with their
lot - the Pentland area on the southern fringes of the Capital,
which includes Balerno, Fairmilehead, Baberton and Colinton
- around nine out of ten people were satisfied with life in
Overall, Edinburgh was rated more highly by its residents
than virtually any other city studied by Mori in recent years.
Happiness levels in the Capital were significantly higher
than those recorded in Glasgow and London and a host of other
Only three places - Northumberland, the Isle of Man and St
Albans in Hertfordshire - were rated more highly by their
residents than Edinburgh.
The findings follow a series of accolades for Edinburgh in
the past 12 months, including being named one of the most
talked about cities in the world and home to Britain's best
A higher concentration of big earners may be one of the reasons
for the city centre and the south of the Capital leading the
way in the happiness stakes.
Not surprisingly, the Edinburgh study found people were generally
more satisfied with life in the city if they had more money.
Happiness ratings rose steadily across the different income
brackets with those earning £40,000 a year or more rating
themselves the most content.
The close proximity of a range of top restaurants, bars,
shops and galleries, along with magnificent views, walks and
parks, clearly outweighed the potential downsides of city
centre life, such as possible noise, crowds and a lack of
When it came to rating their own neighbourhood, rather than
the city as a whole, people in the city centre also came out
on top. Again people across the Capital rated their neighbourhoods
highly, with even the "worst" being given the approval
of eight out of ten residents.
However, in the north and Leith, in particular, and the Pentland
area, taking in Balerno, Fairmilehead, Baberton and Colinton,
residents are less likely to be as satisfied.
Their view of the extent of minor crime, such as vandalism
and graffiti, was the main reason for the lower rating, followed
by complaints about youths hanging around the streets and
While most people across Edinburgh felt there had been no
significant change in the quality of life in recent times,
one in ten said it had improved, citing a better range of
shops, redevelopment and the social scene as reasons.
Those most happy with their lives in the Capital said its
relatively small size made it feel much more like a community
and did not make people feel "drowned" as they do
in other major cities such as London.
The city's cosmopolitan feel, its willingness to embrace
different cultures and a lively music scene and low crime
rates also featured on a list of highlights for younger city
City council leader Donald Anderson said he was not surprised
Edinburgh had scored so highly in the happiness ratings.
He said: "Edinburgh is the best place to live in Britain.
I think survey after survey is showing that.
"We live somewhere that has all the facilities of a
major city, but you can get anywhere in a few minutes."
He added: "Personally, I love the Botanic Garden. I
think it's the best free visitor attraction in Britain. It
is beautiful and is amazingly tranquil to walk through.
"Another of my favourite things to do is just to walk
through the city."
It is not only city dwellers who have a love affair with
Edinburgh as countless tourism awards have named it a top
place to visit.
In September, the Capital scooped two top accolades from
travel magazine Conde Nast, naming it the fifth most talked
about place in the world, beaten only by New York, Paris,
Barcelona, and Sydney - and the top tourism destination in
Britain. This was echoed by readers of the Guardian, who named
it the best tourist destination in Britain, scoring 90.1 per
cent in terms of visitor satisfaction. A survey of tourists
carried out in August by Scottish tourism chiefs found the
city was scoring higher than ever in the eyes of visitors.
The friendliness of local people, the atmosphere, its natural
beauty and attractions like Edinburgh Castle and the Royal
Mile were all regularly cited as the best thing about Edinburgh.
Even the city's cyclists are happy, with a report from the
independent agency Cycling Scotland placing the city council
second in a list of Scottish local authorities, behind only
The Military Tattoo, which draws thousands of people to Edinburgh
every year, was named the number one event for tour groups
in Britain by the readers of Group Leisure magazine.
And life-long city dwellers say they cannot imagine living
Francesca Contini, of the Valvona and Crolla family, runs
the Vin Caffe restaurant on Multrees Walk and lives in the
city centre. She said: "Edinburgh is a perfect sized
city to live in. It's big enough that it's cosmopolitan and
there is lots going on, but we don't get drowned like you
do in London, where I lived for a year. I think there's a
really community feel about it, which makes it different to
a lot of major cities, and the different communities bring
different things to the city.
"From my point of view, I think the Italian community
has brought food and wine, as have some of the other communities
such as Indian, Chinese and so on."
She added: "In the city centre, there's a lot of open
space which is something you don't find in many cities. In
the summer, everyone meets in Princes Street Gardens and relaxes
in the sunshine and it's a great atmosphere."
Ms Contini, 25, who lives in Broughton, added: "I have
a lot of friends who have no connection with Edinburgh, but
they have been here, loved it and now want to move here. I
think we have pride in what we do in Edinburgh and are happy
doing it - and that shows."
The growing number of outsiders who move to Edinburgh looking
for a better quality of life soon fall under the city's spell.
MSP Margo MacDonald moved to the city from the west coast
30 years ago and has no plans to leave.
"I don't trust this latest survey," she said. "Any
survey which claims that Edinburgh is not THE best place to
live in Britain must be wrong. Being in Edinburgh is still
like being on holiday every day for me. I love the fact it
is built on seven hills and you can get a fantastic view wherever
"I still love walking down the High Street and thinking
about all the people in history who have walked down there
Letting agents in the Capital have seen a rise in the number
of Scots returning home after a stint in London or people
from other parts of the UK and the world looking to settle
Emma Fursman, managing director of Dunpark Property, said:
"We have a lot of people who take out a six-month let
and three years later are still here," she said. "I
think the attraction of Edinburgh is that everybody can enjoy
the city to the full.
"There is excellent accommodation in the centre and
people can walk to work, which isn't something you can do
in many places."
Natasha Lobely, a PR manager from Dalmeny Street, Leith,
is one of the expanding band of young professionals who decided
to make the move to Edinburgh. She sold up her house in Bridgend,
Wales, 18 months ago to take up a job in the Capital.
She had lived in Edinburgh for a year while on a placement
from her university course and immediately liked the city.
Miss Lobely, 27, said: "I lived in Wales before, and
although I enjoyed it there, Edinburgh just feels comfortable.
You definitely get that it's a city and all the things that
go with it, but it's got a smaller vibe as well."
'It has a very positive feel about it'
Nazar Farid, 33, retailer, George IV Bridge: "I think
the city is a nice place to live because it is generally quite
a clean city and the people are so friendly, it makes anyone
feel at home.
"Events like the street party and the International
Festival also add to the feeling of a really world-class international
Christopher Day, 50, choreographer, Duncan Street: "I
like the fact that Edinburgh is not an anonymous city, it
has a lot of character and its architecture generally is very
nice to look at, with some notable exceptions.
"It is a very cosmopolitan city, and while it is all
relative, compared to other places it has a very positive
feel about it. I also think the climate here is very good,
and is certainly much better than people seem to think."
Brian Adam, 59, administrator, Hadfast Road: "I think
Edinburgh is a really nice place to live.
"It is very close to the countryside and it is a city
that is easy to walk around in.
"It is not as busy as some of the bigger cities and
generally it has a nice friendly atmosphere."