Have your say

What makes a great place to live?

Dick Wengenroth. Artist.

Living in New York City one often hears “It’s a great place to visit but I’d hate to live there.” Sorry, but you’ve got it backwards. Visitors are more likely to be subjected to the high prices and a level of energy bordering on sensory overload. Most of us who live there by choice have constructed pretty “normal” lives but we understand what is being said: we all need at least occasional privacy, serenity and enough silence to hear the sound of your children breathing in their sleep. On the other hand the artist Claes Oldenburg once said something like: if I lived in the country I wouldn’t make art – I’d go to sleep. A good place to live seems to require a balance of stimulation and serenity. Or Nature and Excitement. Or shape and formlessness. Whatever way we chose to say it – a fusion or accessibility to opposites.
An unfinished place allows you – requires you – to make a mark on it – to join in the process of becoming. Some find a sense of deep satisfaction and balance in a finished and perfectly tailored environment.
So – balance. A place tailored and groomed to perfection is dead.

“WHAT MAKES A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE?” IS A WONDERFUL QUESTION to put to our presidential candidates. In many ways it is a rephrasing of the central question of our election: “What kind of country do you want to live in?” Which poses the determining question: “How much choice do you have?”

To answer the provocative question “What makes a great place to live?” It turns out is fundamentally an economic question.

Simon Jones. Architectural Illustrator

What makes a great place to live, sense of rootedness in the landscape, sense of history …a sense of organic design, not that the population is living rigidly within someone else’s idea, natural weathered materials, from the locality, a sense of craft and enjoyment in the building elements. Not overly historical, not overly modern, not a design statement, just a place to live.

And ideally a good pub, a couple of takeaways, the sea within 20 minutes, the hills within 10, welcome to Llandeilo!

Genevieve Lubas. Artist

A great place to live is a house with good insulation, a rear and front garden and a garage for the car. Ideally it would be located at the outskirt of a medium sized town which offers good services to its residents and that includes cycling and pedestrian tracks, and parks

Gareth Roberts. Architect

A flat above a cafe with a tin table on the sunny side of a cobbled square.

Saskia Tomlinson. Student

I think community is a big part of where you live. People working together and helping each other is very important. In order to create a strong sense of community there should be a place where you can socialise. Not a village hall that smells of feet and play dough or a dingy pub with a few odd men in it. It needs to be a nice looking cosy environment which can be a venue for local musicians, a place for talks and meetings where you can buy good local food and drink. This place should not be subject to any age limitations but obviously not sell alcohol to under eighteens. The architecture of the building should be well thought out. I imagine a circular building with fairy lights and tables that can be moved out of the way for gigs. This place could be rented out for private and public events. Music is a big part of bringing people together and when people share experiences, they connect, are more likely to help each other and create a healthy and stable community.

Bill Wood. Yoga Teacher

Home for me is somewhere warm and spacious that balances my needs for both privacy and community, and, wherever I’ve been, feels a relief to come back to.

John Tomlinson. Teacher

Somewhere with a bit of history and a strong sense of community, where people aren’t planning their escape and dreaming of another place. A large garden with a sunny corner, a view to a distant tree on hill, and the sound of church bells.

Carole Salmon. Trust Director

I’d say somewhere with a community where the arts thrives and the landscape is preserved and nurtured. A beautiful light airy house, with a view, and where my family wants to be together.

Bob Tomlinson. Trust Director

For me this depends on two things; there is the place itself and then there are the people around you. In truth, the people are the more important, because even the most perfect and picturesque of places could be ruined by having obnoxious neighbours. However, it could be argued that the place must come first, because there is a great deal of evidence that ‘place’ or living environment will influence the behaviour or possibly the character of the people who live there.

So, get the place right and with luck, the nature of the people will follow. And then, chances are that you have chosen to live with compatible people if you have all chosen the same sort of place! What makes a great place to live for me is having private space that is quite intricate and detailed with plenty of surprise and delight. The private space should then be connected to a convivial shared area where it is easy and pleasant to meet with neighbours. Ideally this then connects to a small ‘high street’ with more widely shared amenities like shops, cafes and a place to work with the open countryside (or preferably the sea) beyond.