Southampton offers coastal living that’s rich in culture and activities, as well as great connections to the rest of the country.
With its excellent connections by land, sea and air, the city of Southampton has become internationally renowned for its universities, theatres and boat show. It also looks set to become an art lovers’ hub too thanks to its new Cultural Quarter.
Living in Southampton: what to expect
The fact that Southampton is one of the greenest cities in the UK makes it easy to see why it regularly makes the HSBC’s list of top 10 best places for property investors. It has 326 acres of fields, wetlands and wildlife in Southampton Common alone.
With a teaching hospital, two universities, theatres, music venues, a port, a revamped marina and a developing cultural hub, Southampton is a favourite for students, young professionals, families, retirees and the sailing and cruise-loving fraternity.
The rejuvenation of some of its antique spaces contrasts with the 1960s architecture adored by design geeks for its concrete, stark brutalist lines.
Where to start your property search
The average price of a house in Southampton is £276,300, which is roughly in line with the national average.
You’ll find brand-new properties in the up-and-coming Cultural Quarter close to arts venues and Southampton Solent University. The sought-after Ocean Village townhouses and luxury apartments with views across the River Itchen and the marina command higher prices.
The suburb of Hedge End is popular with families, thanks to its good schools, shops, parks and pool. Shirley offers easy access to Southampton Common and a brisk walk to the mainline station, Southampton Central, for commuters.
Portswood and Highfield, (the latter is one of the University of Southampton campus sites), are sought after as they offer a good mix of housing close to St Denys railway station.
Especially for golf-lovers, Bassett is a dream location – Southampton Golf Club is on the doorstep, while West End would suit cricket lovers – home to Hampshire County Cricket’s Ageas Bowl ground.
A little further out, over the M27, family friendly Chilworth offers substantial properties for house-hunters with deep pockets, while Hythe, across Southampton Water, has good schools and access to the New Forest.
Things to do in and around Southampton
Southampton’s theatre lovers are spoilt for choice. The Nuffield was voted Regional Theatre of the Year in 2015 by The Stage. The Mayflower Theatre draws big names to tread its boards.
If classical concerts and jazz are your thing, Turner Sims at the University of Southampton has been named one of the top concert halls in the country. The city’s students also ensure there’s plenty of action at Southampton’s other venues. Check out The Brook for bigger bands, The Joiners and the Talking Heads (relocated to the Polygon) for up-and-coming and indie names.
Southampton’s vibrant new Cultural Quarter is being developed around Guildhall Square, flanked by Southampton Solent University. The area is already a draw thanks to the Southampton City Art Gallery, which houses a permanent collection and displays covering eight centuries of art from painting and drawing to photography and film.
Next door, the SeaCity Museum provides an insight into Southampton’s history and place in the world, with interactive displays.
The Old Town still has remnants of the medieval defensive walls and gates. The John Hansard Gallery, with its contemporary exhibitions, is due to move into the Quarter from its long-term University of Southampton location, along with the Nuffield Theatre and City Eye, which started as a film and video-makers’ cooperative 30 years ago. The new Studio 144 arts complex will become Southampton’s hub for performances, film-making and creative events.
After some retail therapy? Head over to WestQuay, where you’ll find big-name stores such as John Lewis, M&S and Next. Or for clusters of independents, visit Bedford Place and Portswood, where you’ll find bustling boutiques and shops.
Bistros, restaurants and café-bars, including the Olive Tree and Grand Café are centred around Oxford Street, conveniently placed for shoppers. The new marina is fast becoming a go-to place for trendy eateries such as Banana Wharf.
There are regular specialist markets in the city centre, including vintage and retro, antiques and collectables, arts and crafts, as well as farmers’ and artisan food markets.
Southampton Football Club is a Premier League club, so even if you’re not a supporter of the Saints (the club’s nickname) you can see other top-flight teams marching into St Mary’s Stadium.
The annual Southampton Boat Show will already be in the diary of most sailing and watersports enthusiasts. It offers insights into everything from bilge pumps to wooden boat building and is held at Mayflower Park and Town Quay.
Getting around and about Hampshire
By rail: There are two main stations in Southampton – Airport Parkway and Central with smaller stations serving the port, football ground, universities and suburbs. Fast trains to London Waterloo take 80 minutes; to Bristol, 100 minutes at peak times this can rise to two hours.
Car: The M3 links Southampton and south-west London. The M27 runs between Southampton and Portsmouth. The A31 links to the south-west, the A36 to the north-west.
Air: Southampton Airport flies to major British and Irish cities, including Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Manchester, Leeds Bradford and Newcastle, Cork, Dublin and Belfast (all in under 90 minutes). Holiday and business flights to the Continent include Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and more.
Sea: A fast passenger service (25 minutes) sails between Southampton and West Cowes on the Isle of Wight. A slower car ferry sails between the docks and East Cowes.
Southampton ferries link to both France and Spain. Southampton is the cruise capital of the UK and ocean liners regularly sail worldwide. Or keep your own boat at one of the city’s marinas. The Mayflower sailed from Southampton to take settlers to the New World – America.
The Phoenix Cinema Club, one of the oldest film societies in the country, holds regular screenings at Union Films Cinema in Southampton University Students Union.
5 reasons to live in Southampton
Great links to the Continent by air and sea
Fabulous arts culture with more to come in the future
Domestic and international cricket held at the Ageas Bowl and premiership football at St Mary’s Stadium
House prices in line with national average
Coastal living and all its benefits from nature, travel and watersports.