Mid and East Antrim ‘happiest place in Northern Ireland'
Sea air and picturesque landscapes mean people in Mid and East Antrim are the happiest in Northern Ireland
Mid and East Antrim is the happiest place in Northern Ireland, according to the latest official statistics.
The Office for National Statistics survey also revealed it is the second happiest place to live in the UK.
People in Mid and East Antrim rated their happiness levels at an average of 8.2 out of 10 in 2015/16.
They also reported high levels of satisfaction and a sense of living worthwhile lives.
The area boasts many scenic spots and a picturesque landscape and plenty of sea air could be partly responsible for the high sense of wellbeing, according to commentator Malachi O'Doherty.
“Mid and East Antrim includes Cushendall, Cushendun, Carnlough, Glenarm, it also includes the most beautiful sea view on these islands, across to the Mull of Kintyre, so there are few places I’ve felt happier than tootling along on my bike up the Antrim coast road,” he said on the Nolan show.
“It would be interesting to know what it is about these places, what do they contribute to the quality of life. Living at the sea, not being cluttered by a busy, urban environment, and having a good view in front of you must lift your spirits, that must be part of it.”
The area has a coastline that extends from Greenisland to Garron Point, and includes all of Islandmagee where the refurbished Gobbins cliff path is located. It also has a number of beaches including Ballygally, Carnlough and Brown’s Bay.
Malachi continued: “The other context, is the political context, you see in a lot of these places, for instance that there was a sharp change in attitude around ‘14-15 and you wonder were people affected by the General Election, or are they happier when they are living in an area that is culturally homogeneous.
“That might be a touchy thing to say, but when all your neighbours are of a like mind to yourself, that might be what makes people in Ballymena happy.”
People in Belfast were the least happy in Northern Ireland and rated their happiness at 7.2 out of 10 in the survey.
Happiness levels improved the most in Derry City and Strabane, while Lisburn and Castlereagh saw the biggest decrease.
Commenting on the findings, Matthew Steele from the Office of National Statistics said: "People in Northern Ireland continue to score highly for personal well-being, compared with people in other parts of the UK.
“If you consider economic indicators alone you might make a very different assumption. This highlights why it's important to measure how people feel about their lives, as ONS does, to provide a fuller picture of how we are doing."