We often have friends with interests that differ from our own. Perhaps you’d enjoy a relaxing afternoon watching TV while your pal yearns for a long, weekend cycle in the outdoors. However, research suggests there are some general guidelines on how boost happiness that can apply to many different people. The field is known as “happiness economics” a popular and expanding area of study into factors that make us happy, or sad.
Close to home
It’s not surprising that an overwhelming majority of respondents to this poll chose to be close to their loved ones. Academic Nattavudh Powdthavee calculated that the average English person who saw their friends or family on most days rather than once or twice a week, would experience the same amount of happiness as a pay rise of £15,000 (€17,500) a year.
Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke urged the audience at his address to the University of South Carolina Commencement Ceremony in 2010 to take research about the importance of family in happiness “to heart by making time for friends and family and by being part of and contributing to a larger community”.
Be close not far
But the choice between living close to loved ones or having a short commute is difficult. Particularly as research also suggests that our commute to work has an influence on happiness.
While reading a book on the train to work may seem relaxing, researchers at the University of Zurich found that the average person who spends 46 minutes a day travelling to and from work would need a pay rise of 19% to be as happy as the average person who doesn't commute.
There are other factors to consider as well, with economist and writer Chris Dillow blogging for eZonomics about TV time, marriage and working also being a part of the happiness puzzle.
It’s not always simple
The decision between living close to loved ones or having a short commute becomes even more complex if family and friends are international. ING senior economist Ian Bright blogs how he relocated from Australia to London 20 years ago – a long way from family but close to his (now) wife.
The Be Good at Money video on Home buying tips offers other suggestions on how to weigh up where to live.