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Living in Southampton: The Local Area Guide

The coastal city of Southampton is the largest and most densely populated city in Hampshire. The fine city is awash with activities and things to do, and whilst not as rural as the rest of the Hampshire county, it displays its own sort of timeless beauty through the way in which it overlooks the glittering waters of the Solent, and brims with life.

The city is well known for its important maritime history. Known as the cruise capital of Europe, it contains the UK's number one vehicle handling port, transporting passengers and cargo all over the world.

Southampton has been voted one of the top ten happiest cities, and was listed as one of the top 100 cities in the UK in which to live in a 2015 survey.


The population of Southampton is just under quarter of a million. It sat at approximately 236,900 in the 2011 census, though this number is expected to have increased in the years since.

The largest age group is those aged between 20-24, with an estimated 32,000 residents in this category. The city is very student-heavy, with two universities in Southampton itself, and a few more in surrounding cities such as Bournemouth and Portsmouth. The second largest age group are those aged between 25-29, showing that a large portion of the city is very young. Saying this, the elderly population is expected to rise in the coming years, according to officials.

The unemployment rate is lower than the UK average, with only 2.4% of the population claiming Jobseeker's Allowance. Many jobs exist in retail, leisure and management.


Portswood Primary, Bitterne Manor Primary and Newlands Primary Schools are three of many primary schools which can be found in Southampton. Most of the schools in the area have Ofsted reports of 'Satisfactory' or above, with many achieving an 'Outstanding' status.

The Wildern secondary school performed excellently in its most recent Ofsted report. In this, teachers were praised for their connection with their students, and the school received a top rating of 'Outstanding' overall. This is one of many prestigious secondary schools in the area.

The University of Southampton is ranked among the top 1% of all universities worldwide. The beautiful Highfield Campus is conveniently located in the centre of the city, though the university itself consists of 7 campuses scattered around the country. Southampton Solent is the other university found in the city, which has had recent renovations amounting to over £40 million. The student population of Southampton is estimated to be approximately 30,000.


Southampton's extensive transport options consist of bus, coach, rail, ferry and airplane. Furthermore, if you have your own method of transport, there are excellent road links around the UK such as the M27 to the south coast, and the M3 to London.

There are two train stations; Southampton Central is however the main station and is located on the Wessex Main Line, the West Coastway Line and the South Western Main Line. There are several services providing regular links to major cities and towns such as London Waterloo, Oxford, and Brighton. Southampton Airport Parkway station runs to the airport, travelling as far as Weymouth and London.

There are several regular bus services travelling around the city. A regular Unibus provides transport to the university and around the student-populated regions.

Amenities and shopping

Despite what non-locals might think, there is more to Southampton than beaches and seaside shops. The port is bustling and full of life, and around the coast can be found several testimonials to Southampton's maritime history. For those more interested in the shopping side of things, there are several great places to shop and get a bite to eat. The nightlife in Southampton is excellent, and there is certainly no shortage of pubs and clubs.

Southampton was the original port from which the Mayflower sailed, transporting the Pilgrims to the New World in 1620. As a result, the largest theatre on the South Coast was erected and named after the ship - and today the Mayflower Theatre provides Southampton with a huge range of shows and plays. The SeaCity Museum and Titanic Public House are both dedicated to the tragedy that was the sinking of the Titanic; another important historical event in Southampton's past.

Southampton's main shopping complex is West Quay Shopping Centre, which is home to over 150 shops and stores, including John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and more. As far as nightlife is concerned, Southampton has it all - from standard pubs to rock clubs. What's more, it's not all student-focused, and those who aren't studying can still enjoy a good night out without straying into the student-populated bars.

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