Living in Southampton
What is life like in Southampton
Southampton is a thriving, multicultural city located on the south coast, with a population of more than 250,000.
The city is perhaps most famous for its port, from where the Titanic sailed on its maiden voyage, the Pilgrim Fathers set off for America and Henry V sailed for Agincourt. Such rich history runs through every part of the city and it is no surprise to find many museums and art galleries displaying links to the past.
In the centre of Southampton lie the ancient city walls, which are some of the best preserved medieval walls anywhere in the UK. They provide locals and visitors alike with an easily identifiable 1.25-mile route to follow if they wish to walk while learning more about the city and its history.
A number of developments have taken place in Southampton in recent years – many around the city's docks – and the quality of the city's housing stock and leisure facilities has increased as a result.
Unsurprisingly, many people choose to spend their free time taking part in watersports on the Solent or engaging in other outdoor pursuits in the nearby New Forest National Park.
The origins of Southampton date back to 70 AD when the Romans built a small settlement next to the River Itchen, where Bitterne now stands. Over time, the land was fortified and the Saxons began add to the town.
In the Middle Ages, the primary export from Southampton was wool, while the number one import was wine from France. During the latter part of the 18th century, Southampton began to recover as a port and the foundations were laid for a strong period of shipping in the region.
By the early 19th century the port was booming and many new shipyards were built. Permanent boat links to the Isle of Wight and France were set up. From the 1880s trade with North America picked up and the city shot to fame once more in 1912 when the Titanic set sail from its waters.
Many people from Southampton lost their lives in the two world wars and the city saw millions of soldiers pass through it on their way to the front line. As the 20th century continued, tourism became an important industry to the city and service jobs began to rival those in shipbuilding.
A number of famous people have been born and raised in Southampton, including several with musical links. Singer Craig David spent his childhood on the Holyrood estate, Coldplay drummer Will Champion spent his formative years there and Radio One DJ Scott Mills grew up in nearby Eastleigh.
Other celebrities to hail from Southampton include television presenter and naturalist Chris Packham and comedian Benny Hill.
Entertainment, sport and days out
Southampton hosts a number of special events that help to bring the community together. The Southampton Boat Show is arguably the most high profile of these and takes place every September, bringing in visitors from around the world.
The Guildhall is one of the city's largest entertainment venues and offers a variety of music, theatre and comedy productions. For live rock and blues music, people will find what they are looking for at The Brook, while the Mayflower Theatre is a historic venue with many great shows on the calendar.
Southampton is a sporty city and is home to a Premier League football club. It also boasts the Ageas Bowl, the home ground of Hampshire CCC. Sailing and other water-based activities are also a hit with many locals.
Anyone looking for a day out will find it hard to ignore the beautiful New Forest National Park, with its iconic green landscape and native ponies. The area is renowned as one of the country's best walking and cycling hotspots, with its flat terrain making it the ideal place for long-distance treks.
Elsewhere in Hampshire, the historic dockyard of Portsmouth, the beautiful city of Winchester and Marwell Zoo are great destinations for days out.
Eating, drinking & shopping
A wide range of tastes and cultures come to the fore in Southampton's restaurant scene. No matter what people are looking for, they will be able to find it in one of the city's main culinary areas. Heading to the docks is a good idea, with plenty of modern establishments located there, while the city centre also boasts a selection of venues for a delicious meal.
WestQuay, a purpose-built mall, is a premier shopping option in Southampton and the ideal setting for a spot of retail therapy with friends or family. Just up the road is the Marlands Shopping Centre, and the city is also home to an Ikea outlet.
Schools & healthcare
There are dozens of schools – both primary and secondary – in and around Southampton, so no family needs to worry about being able to find a high-performing institution for their youngsters. The city is a leading educational hub in the south, with not only a number of colleges too, but also two universities – the University of Southampton and Southampton Solent University.
Southampton General Hospital in the city centre provides excellent healthcare for local residents, while there are numerous clinics and surgeries spread throughout the region for everyday needs.
As with any large city, Southampton benefits from excellent transport links. A train service to London runs throughout the day with journeys taking around 80 minutes, while it is also possible to travel along the south coast to Bournemouth and Portsmouth quickly and easily by rail.
Southampton is located at the point where the M27 meets the M3, providing motorway connections to the north, east and west. It takes around 100 minutes to drive to central London, and less to reach all other parts of Hampshire.
A local bus service connects all corners of Southampton itself, while the city also boasts its own international airport, from where the likes of Flybe, Air France and a host of travel operators offer flights.