“What places bring Brits together?” Answers revealed by UK-wide poll

June 28, 2023
  • New research reveals that a sense of belonging to local communities, homes and the workplace is correlated with better physical and mental health
  • Londoners feel the greatest sense of community in the country
  • Being able to shop and eat locally is key to driving a sense of belonging say half surveyed
  • One in five factor in the sense of community when they are choosing where to live
  • People living in build-to-rent and are most likely to feel that they belong to their local community (61%)

A study of over 10,000 people nationwide has revealed the importance that a sense of belonging to the buildings and places in which they live has on their overall wellbeing.

“Where We Belong: The trends shaping communities across the UK” revealed that nearly two-thirds (63%) of British people feel that they belong in their local community, at home and in the workplace, despite living in an increasingly digital world.

This sense of belonging has been shown to have an impact on people’s physical and mental health, with 65% of those who rated their physical and mental health as good having a high sense of belonging.

The research from Get Living, the UK’s leading build-to-rent operator, developer and investor found that after safety, price and location, it was a sense of community that influenced where people choose to live.

Rick de Blaby, Chief Executive Officer at Get Living, commented, “In the modern world, it’s easy to forget just how important it is to have in-person connections and to feel a sense of belonging to a physical place.

“This research shines a light on the crucial role that different amenities, social events and interactions play in cultivating and nurturing connections, in creating a real sense of community.

“It is positive that nearly two-thirds of British people feel a connection and sense of belonging in their homes, neighbourhoods and workplaces, particularly as we know the impact this can have on people’s wellbeing. These findings make it clear that it is incumbent on those that create and manage places, such as Get Living, to do so with a real focus on people and togetherness.”

A place to call home

The research showed that people living in places designed to cultivate connections generally have a higher feeling of togetherness, with those living in build-to-rent housing or student accommodation most likely to report a sense of belonging in their local community (61% and 60% respectively), compared to traditional private rental accommodation (52%).

For those that own a home, 58% said that they felt a sense of belonging, indicating that belonging is not necessarily driven by a sense of permanence.

Location also plays a role. 38% of Londoners feel they belong in their local community, higher than any other UK region. London is followed by Northern Ireland (33%), the North East (30%) and the North West (29%).

The next evolution of retail is local

The retail narrative has been dominated by the online vs offline debate, but one of the impacts of the Covid pandemic has been a greater appreciation of local retail.

Local shops, restaurants and cafes are all revealed to be central to people’s sense of belonging, underlining the importance of our local high streets and town centres.

Shopping and eating locally is important for 59% of people, while 50% of people find local shops create a sense of belonging in their immediate neighbourhood.

In their wider communities, people are most likely to say their high street or town centre (45%) and social spaces like restaurants, cafes, bars, and cultural spaces (42%) create a sense of togetherness in their wider community.

When choosing a place to live, just under a half (45%) of Brits said location and proximity to amenities such as shops, restaurants, cultural places, and leisure facilities are a top priority.

Human interaction matters

Despite the rise and rise of social media and online messaging apps, the research found that even small human interactions have a significant impact on people’s feeling of belonging.

Whether it’s chatting over a garden fence, in communal lobbies or lifts and on the street, these small gestures drive a feeling of togetherness and connection to a local area, with 48% reporting that engaging in conversation with neighbours helps create a sense of belonging. The power of a chance encounter and friendly conversation cannot be underestimated for a mood boost.

Dr Nick Prior, co-founder of Minderful, commented in the report: “Belonging dissolves the barriers of isolation and empowers individuals to share their problems, alleviating stress and promoting overall well-being.”

De Blaby continued: “It’s hugely encouraging to see that people living in built-to-rent reported the highest sense of belonging in their communities. As neighbourhood creators, our aim is to create the stage, but its people that make a place. Everyone’s experience of what belonging means to them different, but it all speaks to the visceral human need for connections and security.”

Download the full report which includes expert commentary from place-makers and designers, alongside personal stories from those who live in Get Living’s East Village neighbourhood.



For further information and media enquiries contact FTI Consulting: [email protected]

 About Get Living

Get Living is the UK’s leading build to rent investor, developer and operator. We provide quality rental homes in neighbourhoods that nurture togetherness, belonging and opportunity in a way that generates financial, environmental and social value for residents and shareholders alike.

Since the business was founded in 2013, Get Living’s portfolio has grown to 4,000 homes for rent across three neighbourhoods: East Village and Elephant Central in London and New Maker Yards at Middlewood Locks, Manchester. Further neighbourhoods are planned or under construction in Lewisham, Maidenhead, Birmingham, Leatherhead, Leeds and Glasgow delivering 6,500 homes; with ambitions to grow the portfolio to 12,500 homes within the next five years.


About the research

The research was conducted by global market research consultancy Censuswide. The survey polled a sample of 10,000 UK nationally representative respondents, and the data was collected between 04.05.2023 – 15.05.2023. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct which is based on the ESOMAR principles.


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