01.07.2020 | 5 minutes estimated reading time | Print this article

Does money buy happiness? Find out how much money you need to be happy around the world

Being filthy rich doesn’t always mean that you’ll be a happy person, or does it? More money affords you more opportunities and having a decent savings pot can alleviate some of the stress of day-to-day life, but to what extent does money affect our happiness?

We carried out research into whether money really can buy you happiness, analysing data from Office for National Statistics (ONS) personal well-being reports and the Happy Planet Index to reveal the cities in the UK where money can buy you happiness.

We then used GDP data to calculate the number of millionaires and billionaires in some of the largest countries around the world and compared this to data from the World Happiness Index to reveal which country is the happiest vs the amount of wealth that country has.

These are the top 20 cities in the UK where money can buy happiness

Winchester is the happiest city in the UK!

Coming in at number one on our list was the city of Winchester in the South East. Winchester had one of the highest happiness ratings of our entire ranking which, combined with a life expectancy of 83.6 years, gave the city a happiness index rating of 104. The average salary for people living and working in Winchester, or in this case the cost of happiness, is £35,346.

In second place is Lichfield located in the West Midlands. The Staffordshire city received an overall happiness index rating of 100 thanks to its life expectancy of 81.9 years and a happiness rating of 23.8. The average salary in Lichfield is £33,360, meaning happiness costs £1986 less in Lichfield than Winchester.

Following closely behind is Chichester, another city in the South East. While the happiness rating for Chichester is the highest within the top three, and life expectancy is 83 years, the average salary is lower than both Lichfield and Winchester, resulting in a happiness index score of 99.

Where does money buy happiness in the UK?

City

Region

Happiness score

Average life expectancy (2018)

Average salary

Does money buy happiness index

Winchester

South East, England

24.2

83.6

£35,34

104

Lichfield

West Midlands, England

23.8

81.9

£33,360

100

Chichester

South East, England

24.6

83.0

£31,894

99

Cambridge

East, England

23.6

82.3

£33,225

95

St Albans

East, England

23.2

83.7

£47,507

94

Chelmsford

East, England

23.3

82.8

£32,849

91

Perth

Scotland

23.7

81.0

£29,768

87

Edinburgh

Scotland

23.1

80.2

£33,968

87

Derby

East Midlands, England

23.3

80.4

£29,895

84

Bath and North East Somerset

South West, England

23.2

82.8

£30,828

82

Chester

North West, England

23.2

81.5

£30,557

79

London

London

22.9

82.6

£41,220

77

Durham

North East, England

23.4

79.9

£27,594

75

Stirling

Scotland

22.8

80.8

£36,184

71

Leeds

Yorkshire and the Humber, England

23.1

80.2

£27,712

69

Aberdeen

Scotland

22.8

79.0

£32,547

67

Oxford

South East, England

23.0

82.3

£28,983

66

Hereford

West Midlands, England

23.6

81.7

£25,778

64

Gloucester

South West, England

23.3

80.3

£26,300

64

Lancaster

North West, England

23.1

80.4

£27,639

63

The average cost of happiness in the UK is £33,864

Cambridge, St Albans, Chelmsford, Perth, Edinburgh, Derby and Bath all made the top 10 list based on cities where money does buy happiness in the UK. Based on these results, the average happiness score of the top 10 happiest places was 23.6, with an average life expectancy of 82.2 years! The average salary of the top 10 cities, which are the happiest according to our data, is £33,864, suggesting that people in the UK are happiest if they are earning over £30k.

Where does money buy happiness around the world?

Using Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data, we were able to gain an economic snapshot of (almost) every country across the world. We analysed this data to estimate the size of the economy and income per capita by dividing the country’s current economic wealth by its population, and then we compared it to The World Happiness Index.

These are the top 20 countries in the world where money can buy happiness

Luxembourg is revealed as the country in the world where money can buy the most happiness!

Coming up top is Luxembourg with an overall happiness score of a whopping 292 thanks to its life expectancy of 82.1 years and a Happiness Index rating of 1.5.

With an overall rating of 287, 1.4 for happiness and an average lifespan of 81.8 years, Ireland is in second place, and across the world, and coming in third place, is Singapore which follows closely behind Ireland with an overall score of 286, but a higher rating of 1.5 for happiness and a longer life expectancy of 83.4 years.

Where does money buy happiness around the world?

Country

Happiness index 2020

Average life expectancy (2018)

GDP per capita (current value in £)

Does money buy happiness index

Luxembourg

1.5

82.1

£94,589.56

146

Ireland

1.4

81.8

£63,750.42

144

Singapore

1.5

83.4

£52,392.10

145

Norway

1.4

82.5

£66,307.09

141

Switzerland

1.4

83.6

£67,194.86

140

United States

1.4

79.7

£51,016.95

139

Iceland

1.3

83.1

£59,519.89

135

Denmark

1.3

81.0

£49,803.20

136

Netherlands

1.3

82.2

£43,014.25

138

Sweden

1.3

82.8

£44,335.69

134

Australia

1.3

83.2

£46,562.44

131

Austria

1.3

81.9

£41,779.28

133

Germany

1.3

81.3

£38,628.27

132

Canada

1.3

82.7

£37,507.62

130

Finland

1.3

81.7

£40,704.71

127

Belgium

1.3

81.5

£38,511.77

128

United Kingdom

1.3

81.9

£34,853.26

126

France

1.3

82.9

£33,642.47

125

New Zealand

1.2

82.2

£34,340.95

121

Italy

1.2

83.3

£27,978.91

120

The average salary of the top 10 happiest countries in the world is over £64,000

Also making the top 10 list based on countries where money could buy you happiness, were Norway, Switzerland, United States, Iceland, Denmark, Netherlands and Italy. According to our data, the average happiness score of the top 10 happiest countries was 1.4, with an average life expectancy of 81.7 years! The average salary of the top 10 happiest countries is £64,057.28 – suggesting that happiness across the world is achieved more easily if people are earning close to that £65k mark.

Kevin Mountford, Co-Founder of Raisin UK, said: “While our research suggests money can help ease the stresses of daily life, leading to a longer life expectancy and subsequently allowing you to buy happiness, it’s not always the case in real life. Our research can help you decide which city across the UK and country in the world to live in to maximise your chances of being the happiest you possibly can, but it’s up to you to make your own happiness.”

Methodology

Our “Does money buy you happiness” rankings are created by ranking each city/country by their happiness index score and salary/GDP per capita. The cities/countries that have the highest happiness score are given the highest ranking overall (54 for cities, 146 for countries). The same is then done for salary/GDP per capita. The final rank is then based on the sum of the happiness and salary/GDP per capita ranking score given, e.g. Ireland has a happiness rank score of 144 and a GDP per capita score of 143; therefore the end score is 287. The highest score shows countries that are equally happy and wealthy when both are of equal consideration.