There must be something in the seaside air, or perhaps it’s our gold-tipped pier, or maybe it’s being nestled in the striking scenery of the South Downs?
Whatever it is, people who live in Eastbourne are some of the happiest in the country, according to a newly-released study.
In figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), life satisfaction here is way above the national average and climbing, and anxiety levels are very low compared to the rest of the UK.
For the last year, the town scored 7.8/10 for life satisfaction, while happiness levels rated 7.45/10. Anxiety levels are plummeting below the national average of 3/10 at 2.42/10. And, when asked whether things in their life were worthwhile, the people of Eastbourne gave a big thumbs up, with a score of 7.69/10.
The ONS recorded every year since 2011 for these four questions: Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays? Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile? Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday? Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?
People were required to respond on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is ‘not at all’ and 10 is ‘completely’.
Responding to the survey, Eastbourne Borough Council Lead Cabinet Member for Tourism and Enterprise, Margaret Bannister said, “I am delighted to see that not only are we well above the UK average, but also continuing year on year to increase our life satisfaction levels here in Eastbourne.
“Being the sunniest place and a tourism town with vibrant events, culture and a stunning natural environment to explore, it is no surprise that we are one of the most satisfying places to live. Nearly five million visitors every year understand the benefits of staying here too!”
Writer Bill Bryson put his finger on just what it is about Eastbourne that makes it special. He said, “The views over Eastbourne’s sweeping seafront with its golden beach and scallops of advancing waves are very fine, though marred by a single high rise apartment house called South Cliff Tower, which stands distractingly in the foreground.
“In nearly all respects however, Eastbourne is a good place. The promenade is well kept with big houses and smart hotels on one side and broad beaches on the other all leading to a good old fashioned pier, one of the few truly classic piers still standing.
“The charm of Eastbourne is that it is so comfortably old-fashioned and nowhere is that better encapsulated than in a cafe where I always stop called Favo’loso. Inside it is forever 1957.
“It is my favourite place in East Sussex, if not on the entire south coast.”
Culturally Eastbourne has a lot to offer, with a number of theatres, galleries, museums like the Redoubt, and a generous sprinkling of independent restaurants, cafes and pubs to keep everyone satisfied.
For residents, there’s a lot to be proud of, from being the town where the chart -topping, moonlight-dancing band Top Loader came from, to hosting the esteemed Eastbourne International tennis tournament.
The pier and Beachy Head have featured in films and television, from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to Made in Dagenham, Miss Marple and hit teen film Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging.
Although 14-year-old Georgia Nicholson, the main character of the latter, describes the town as “God’s Waiting Room ‘cause it’s where people come to die,” this rather harsh stereotype is actually inaccurate.
Nowadays Eastbourne is widely considered up-and-coming, with a growing population of young people, partly due to the fact they are moving away from high prices in Brighton.
In fact, the average age in Eastbourne is just 43, and half the population are under the age of 45. The number of under-45s has increased by 10.2 per cent in the last 10 years – more than twice the average increase for England and Wales.
Another reason for people to be more satisfied is job figures. Unemployment has halved since 2010. with figures from May showing that the number of people who are jobless is down 1071 from six years ago.
But how did nearby areas fare in the ONS survey? Hastings has a lower life satisfaction at 7.43/10 and higher anxiety levels at 2.66/10; while Lewes and Wealden scored higher in the worthwhile section at 7.78/10 and 7.79/10 respectively.
Meanwhile, Rother has a stonking 8.11/10 for life satisfaction, lots of happiness at 7.67/10 and low levels of anxiety at 2.28/10.
On a national scale, according to the ONS, the top spot for happiness in the UK is the Outer Hebrides and the least cheerful and worthwhile places are East Northamptonshire and London.
However, the survey also shows that average wellbeing levels have been stagnating over the past year despite the country as a whole getting wealthier.
The average UK happiness is 7.7/10 , worthwhile ratings are 7.8/10 and anxiety levels are at 2.9/10.
To access the survey, visit www.ons.gov.uk
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