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Online House Hunter: It’s grin up north

Alan Cleaver
curse1 300x200 Online House Hunter: Its grin up north

Carlisle's cursing stone

THE happiest place to live, apparently, is Carlisle. England’s most northerly city was identified by a Rightmove survey as the place where people are most content.

And just how do you measure happiness? Rightmove did it by questioning people about how happy they are with the decor in their homes, if they have enough living space, their general sense of well being, pride in their home, safety, neighbourliness and other factors. Interestingly, when asked about value of their home, the question was not whether it was good value, had gained in value or even if it had lost but whether they even worried about the value of their home. It seems the people of Carlisle aren’t too worried – probably because they are happy to stay living for many years in the same home.

It’s also worth noting that most ‘happy cities’ in the survey’s top ten came from the north. York, Huddersfield, Harrogate and Chester were among those in the top ten.

Carlisle has much to be happy about these days. Carlisle United is doing well in League One (we’ll gloss over last night’s defeat to Brentford), a new ring road has just opened relieving the nightmare commute through the city centre and residents are just a short distance away from such delights as the Lake District and bonnie Scotland. Indeed, Carlisle was part of Scotland until 1092 and there’s regular discussions in the local press about whether they should switch back at some time in the near future.

But it wasn’t always sweetness and roses. In the millennium someone had the bright idea of marking the event by carving a curse on a giant stone in the city. It was ‘art’ of course but then foot and mouth disease struck. And then there were floods in the city centre – oh, and Carlisle Utd had a run of bad form. The cursing stone was blamed and it’s now been buried – well, technically it’s on public display in a subway but that’s as close as they city fathers could get to burying it without too much outcry.

With the curse gone, the Carlisle folk are sitting pretty on top of the Happiness survey. The average price of a house is £140,413 and the quarterly change is up 1.3 per cent.

And who are the unhappiest city folk in the UK? It’s East London. But having seen EastEnders, I am not too surprised. The chirpy cockney appears to have been lost to the dark and depressing plot lines of Britain’s favourite soap. Perhaps Albert Square needs some public art to cheer it up – I wonder if they want to borrow Carlisle’s cursing stone?

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