Southampton is well-known as a university city with two well-respected universities in the area, the University of Southampton and Southampton Solent University. There are several schools offering sixth-form courses for 16 to 18 year olds, as well as two sixth-form colleges. The quality of schools in Southampton can vary and it can be difficult to get into the school of your choice, though.
Alternatively, there are several coeducational, independent schools available, if you do not mind the extra costs. Prices vary but expect to pay between 3,500 GBP and 5,000 GBP per term. Many expat children attend these schools, which will make moving to Southampton an easier transition for youngsters as they will not be the only foreigners. International qualifications are also on offer at some schools.
For more information on institutions of education in general, be sure to also check out our guide section on Family, Children and Education in the UK.
Southampton has been a transportation hub since the time of the Romans. It is only 80 miles (approx. 129 km) from the center of London and well served by two motorways, the M27 and the M3. The latter plunges straight into the heart of the capital city itself, crossing the M25, which encircles the capital and provides quick and easy access to the rest of the country.
For car drivers, there is a good road network in Southampton itself, too. However, with many sets of traffic lights and heavy traffic, travel during rush hour in particular can be frustrating. Therefore, you might want to consider using cheap public transport instead, especially if you are unused to driving on the left. If you do drive, automobile insurance is compulsory in the UK and can be expensive, depending on your age and circumstances.
Trains are regular and travel directly to Southampton Airport. Although the airport mostly moves domestic traffic, flights abroad are also regular with French destinations being particularly well served. Meanwhile, the days of European ferries may be over for Southampton, but there is still a regular ferry service to the Isle of Wight.
For expat history buffs, life in Southampton is a delight. From Stone Age archaeology and Roman ruins to World War II history, there are places throughout Southampton that hold great significance. The town walls were originally a mile and a quarter long and, although half of it has now gone, Southampton still boasts England’s longest stretch of medieval wall and it is possible to walk along parts of it.
Living in Southampton is also wonderful for nature lovers, who can delight in the New Forest National Park where the indigenous New Forest ponies still roam. There are many walks and cycle paths that take you right into the heart of the area.
Sports fans will find plenty to cheer about, too, particularly if soccer is your game, although tickets are expensive. The one event that must not be missed is the annual international Boat Show, held in September. This is one of the biggest shows of its kind in Europe, drawing crowds of people from home and abroad and lasting ten days.