Moving to Southampton
With its scenic location on England’s sunny south coast, it’s no surprise that the sea plays a big part in Southampton life.
A bustling port city with a long seafaring history, Southampton has grown from an industrial hub to a vibrant city, welcoming over 4 million visitors a year.
Shopping, sports, culture, and history – Southampton boasts an impressively diverse list of attractions.
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Perhaps you want to study at a world-class University or take advantage of the thriving port’s employment opportunities? Or maybe you’ve always dreamed of teaching the family to sail or enjoying a relaxed retirement by the sea? There are many reasons to move to Southampton. And while you can’t deny the city’s industrial heritage, Southampton is also one of Britain’s greenest cities with over fifty leafy parks to enjoy. You’ll also find southern England’s loveliest beauty spots, from the New Forest to the South Downs, right on your doorstep.
As Hampshire’s economic centre, Southampton has a healthy job market. In fact, in 2016 it scored fourth in the country for economic well being – ahead of Bristol, Manchester and even London. The Good Growth for Citiesindex ranks Southampton highly on indicators such as jobs, health, income, skills and new businesses.
As a port city, much of Southampton’s employment is centred around the docks, which provide over 12,000 jobs. The shipbuilding industry may have faded, but cargo handling is still an important industry. The luxury cruise sector with its large global employers, such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean and P&O is also booming.
Southampton’s other main employers include the University of Southampton, the city’s hospitals, the council, the service industries, the construction industry and large companies including Ericsson, Ford and Ordnance Survey. And it’s even possible to commute from London in just 80 minutes by train, from your new coastal base.
Cost of living
According to the Expatistan cost of living index, it is 34% cheaper to live in Southampton than in London. While food costs work out roughly similar in both cities, housing, transportation and entertainment are all significantly cheaper than in the capital.
Average Southampton prices for a flat are around £155,000 and for a semi-detached house around £245,000 (compared with a whopping £630,000 in London). Average rental costs for a 2-bedroom property in Southampton come in at around £840.
Southampton has a great offering of activities, attractions and nightlife, with something to appeal to all ages.
Eating out in Southampton is an eclectic affair, with restaurants serving cuisine from around the world. Vietnamese, Italian, Indian or fine dining – there’s plenty to choose from. If you love a good night out, Southampton has plenty to offer from live music venues to historic pubs serving real ale. With a large student population, you’ll find plenty of gigs and clubs. Catch top music acts at the Southampton Guildhall venue, head to trendy club Junk for big-name DJs or relax in retro surroundings at the Orange Rooms.
Families will love Southampton’s museums. The SeaCity Museum has a fantastic interactive model of the Titanic, while the Solent Sky Museum is an inspirational trip for young aviation fans – its collection of vintage aircraft includes the iconic Spitfire. Teens can head to West Quay, one of the largest shopping centres in England, for their retail therapy fix and don’t miss a family trip to Sprinkles for the best gelato in the city!
Southampton boasts some well-performing schools, with 84% of primary school pupils and 75% of secondary school pupils attending good or outstanding schools according to the Ofsted league tables. Top schools include Springhill Catholic Primary School, BItterne Manor Primary School, Applemore College (secondary), Bitterne Park School (secondary) and King Edward VI School (private independent).
Southampton is a popular place to study, with students from all around the world choosing the University of Southampton. Part of the elite Russell Group, the university is consistently ranked within the world’s top 100 institutions and is especially renowned in the fields of electrical and electronic engineering.
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History and culture
Southampton has a fascinating history, much of it centred around the seas and the skies. The city’s Old Town dates back to medieval times and is an attractive area to explore. Visit the 800-year-old Bargate, the original entrance to the town, or step back in time at the Tudor House and Garden. Head down to the quays to where the pilgrims set sail for the New World of America in 1620, and where the Titanic set sail in 1912 on its infamous (but ultimately doomed) maiden voyage. Follow one of the city’s self-guided tours, such as QE2 Mile or Titanic Walk to discover more.
Famous Sotonians include Jane Austen, whose family home once stood in the site of what is now the Juniper Berry pub, Spitfire inventor RJ Mitchell, wildlife presenter Chris Packham and footballer Matt Le Tissier.
Southampton has some excellent cultural offerings in the way of theatres, galleries and concert halls. The Mayflower Theatre is the largest in Southern England and hosts many spectacular West End shows. The Southampton City Art Gallery has a fantastic collection of artworks, while the Solent Showcase features creative contemporary exhibitions. Take in some jazz or classical music at the Turner Sims Concert Hall or cosy up for a film at the intimate Harbour Lights Picturehouse, overlooking the marina.
Did you know
Two of history’s most famous ships, the Mayflower and the ill-fated Titanic, set sail from Southampton docks. And the city’s nautical traditions are still going strong – Southampton is known as ‘the cruise capital of Europe’.
Sports and outdoor activities
One of Southampton’s main attractions is its proximity to New Forest, a 138,000 acres 560km2 national park, rich with all kinds of wildlife. The forest even has its own indigenous breed of pony, the New Forest pony, which are known for their intelligence and gentle nature.
Speak to any Sotonian about sports and you can expect “The Saints” to come up within seconds! Southampton’s Premier League football team have a legion of devoted fans and their home games are great fun to attend.
If you love to keep active, Southampton is a fantastic place to do it. Learn to sail, enjoy a round of golf, jog through Riverside Park, or get involved in team sports at the vast Outdoor Sports Centre, which houses everything from football pitches to a BMX track. Head down to The Quays Swimming and Diving Centre and you'll find world-class facilities. You might even spot Olympic diver, Pete Waterfield, training there! There's even a year-round skiing and snowboarding at the Alpine Snowsports Centre.