Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: Northern Ireland's happiest towns

By Noel McAdam

Comic Tim McGarry might have to stop cracking jokes at the expense of certain towns in Northern Ireland.

That's because a new survey shows adults in the Mid and East Antrim area are the happiest in the UK.

And not just at Christmas - but the whole year round.

Even though the two towns are often the butt of jokes, it turns out that the people there have a high degree of life satisfaction.

The Hole In The Wall Gang star says he is not surprised by the revelation.

"No, not at all - people in Larne have the greatest sense of humour," said McGarry yesterday.

"In fact my comedy wife, Olivia Nash, is from Larne.

"They have a good sense of humour in that area, because they can put up with all the cracks I make about them.

"Maybe now I am going to have to stop making jokes about them."

The survey, by Halifax Bank, shows it wasn't just a merry Christmas in the Mid and East Antrim Council Borough. People there are the happiest in the UK all-year round.

Residents in the area, which also covers Carrickfergus, Carnlough and Portglenone, also believe that what they do in life is 'worthwhile'.

And they boast the highest average rating for overall 'life satisfaction' in the UK.

The Quality of Life survey was based on a score out of 10. Adults in the area had an average rating of 8.4.

The UK average is 7.7, and takes into account a number of indicators covering the labour market, the housing market, the environment, education, health, personal wellbeing and leisure.

And that comes despite Ballymena suffering devastating job losses at its two main factories.

But the latest survey is only backing up the findings of a previous study.

The mayor of the borough isn't surprised either, despite the long list of jibes at the expense of Ballymena.

Audrey Wales said: "Halifax's Quality of Life index quantifies where living standards are highest.

"I am pleased but not surprised by the findings.

"Back in September a survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed the happiest place to live in Northern Ireland was Mid and East Antrim Borough.

"It was also shown to be the second happiest in the UK."

The ONS survey asked respondents to rate their happiness between 0 and 10 with the question: "How happy were you yesterday?".

People in the borough scored 8.21 - substantially higher than the mean Northern Ireland happiness score of 7.7.

It also represents an increase in the happiness rating for Mid and East Antrim, which registered 8.05 in 2014/15.

Mid and East Antrim also polled top for life satisfaction in the UK with a score of 8.39, compared with the Northern Ireland average of 7.85 and UK average of 7.65.

September's wellbeing survey has been carried out by the ONS annually for the past five years after former Prime Minister David Cameron made monitoring wellbeing one of his flagship policies.

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