Southampton is currently the largest city in Hampshire, boasting a population in excess of 250,000. Of these, approximately 40,000 are students. Its geographical position on the coast and only 117 miles (188 km) across the sea from to the French port of Le Havre has meant that Southampton has been important as a major harbor for hundreds of years. As such, the locals, called Sotonians, are used to international company.
As well as having a significant maritime history, Southampton enriched its heritage through its role during World War II, both through its involvement in the D-Day landings (many boats set off from Southampton) and as home of the Spitfire aircraft. Much of the city was bombed but history enthusiasts will still be able to find architectural remnants of Southampton’s former Georgian and medieval glory. Overall, there is plenty that the city has to offer expats and their families.
The city enjoys a maritime climate and is protected from the worst of the winter storms by the Isle of Wight, which lies across the Solent to the south. Temperatures across the region are mild throughout the year, ranging from just above freezing in the winter to around 20°C at the height of summer.
However, the UK’s highest recorded temperature of over 35°C was recorded at Southampton during the glorious summer of 1976. This was a year so warm and dry, the English still talk about it today with a mixture of awe and nostalgia. Generally, however, the climate is damper with around 33 inches of rain per year.
Rented accommodation is under strong demand in Southampton, which can make it expensive and the search for accommodation difficult. Generally, expect to pay at least a quarter of your monthly salary on a rental. However, many of the rental opportunities are still at the lower end of the market, due in part to the high student population.
Properties can be found from websites like Zoopla or Right Move that deal with places to rent and to buy. Options in the city vary from Tudor-built listed family homes to modern high-rise apartments, so there is something for everyone’s taste.
Areas vary greatly, with the nicest areas such as Bassett and Highfield commanding correspondingly higher prices. Moving to one of Southampton’s surrounding villages can give a taste of the country while retaining easy access to Southampton. Expats relocating to Southampton for shorter terms will also discover a wide choice of hotels.
We have also summed up more general information on the rental and purchase process for properties, among other things, in our dedicated articles on Housing and Accommodation in the UK.