The Cornish town in the middle of a second row of homes has been voted the happiest place to live in the UK.
The town of St Ives took the top spot from Hexham in Northumberland in a survey of 21,000 people per year by real estate website Rightmove.
However, residents of the coastal refuge have warned that the area is being overrun by second homeowners seeking the same quality of life, ruining the factors that make this place attractive.
The survey asked residents to rank how happy they were with where they lived, as well as other factors such as open space and earning enough to live comfortably. St Ives scored highly for developing a sense of belonging and community spirit, which are the biggest contributors to happiness.
Oliver Monk, a councilor in Cornwall, said: “We’ve heard a lot about St Ives in Cornwall from the locals.”
Morag Robertson, head of the St Ives Community Land Trust, said second homes “damage the fabric of the local community”.
According to Rightmove, property demand has driven up prices, with average asking prices approaching £524,000. Average rent is £1,152 per month. Ms. Robertson said, “People can’t get mortgages. Our pay levels are around £7,500 below average wages, which is a huge barrier to people being able to stay and live and work in the community.”
Homeowners in St Ives voted to ban new homes from being sold as second homes in 2016, following concerns by wealthy summer residents from London and the South East that they were being priced out of the market. However, the policy was limited to a specific area and did not prevent existing properties from being converted into vacation rentals.
During the pandemic, demand for properties in St Ives increased, and Ms Robertson said people who had been tenants for years were evicted so that landlords could turn their homes into more profitable Airbnbs and vacation rentals.
Falmouth, another Cornish seaside town, topped Rightmove’s top 20 list this year. Galashiels on the Scottish border finished second and Woodbridge in the East was third. Scotland dethroned Wales as the region with the most area in the top 10, which also includes Perth and Stirling.
New additions to the list this year include Bury St Edmunds and Newbury in the East, Cirencester in the South West, Norwich and Altrincham in the North West, Newbury in the Southeast and Llandudno in Wales.
The regions dropped from the list were: Hove, Horsham and Guildford in the Southeast; Exeter and Salisbury in the South West; St Albans, Hitchin and Woodbridge to the east; Kendal in the North West and Llandrindod Wells in Wales.