Moving to Winchester? Plenty of people are, and with good reason. Moving house isn’t always the easiest time, with everything from apprehension to excitement thrown into the mix. The sheer variety available around this city only underlines that.
Winchester and its surrounding area are full of great places to be, whether to live, work at or visit. Maybe you’re thinking about moving to Winchester because you want a good place to raise your kids, or perhaps you want to take advantage of its excellent employment opportunities – thousands of jobs have been created here in the last decade. Whatever the case, this could be the place for you.
Winchester makes a useful base as far as transport links go. It’s only a little over an hour on the train to London Waterloo, and you can be in Basingstoke in much less time. The city is slap bang on the M3, so driving to London, down to the New Forest or beyond to the wide sandy beaches of Bournemouth is simplicity itself. You’re also right next door to the western end of the South Downs National Park, while the A34 will take you north to Newbury without fuss. Nearby Southampton Airport offers a range of flights, so going further afield isn’t going to make you tear your hair out either.
The Housing Market in Winchester
You won’t be short of choice when you decide to buy property in Winchester. It’s certainly a sought-after place: Zoopla’s figures state that the average Winchester property price in July 2019 was a little over £569,500. This is well above the national average, underlining just what a desirable place to live the city is.
The same statistics show that prices have risen by more than 3% in just the past three months. Although prices have fallen by about 1% compared with a year ago, underlying demand is clearly still very strong. That means it could be worth investing in Winchester property now, before prices rise much further.
If you’re looking for a home with plenty of space for a growing family, you’ll be pleased to hear that detached homes were the most popular type of sale over the past year. Don’t worry if you’re after something a bit more compact, though, since terraced houses are second in line. There have also been quite a few semi-detached homes and flats sold, meaning Winchester has something for every requirement.
Schools in the Winchester Area
Although the city itself has a population of only around 45,000, the City of Winchester district covers a wider area and is home to more than 116,000 people. That means there’s a good choice of schools here to serve your kids’ educational needs.
If you have primary-age kids, Micheldever CE Primary recently topped Ofsted’s lists of the best performing local schools for reading and writing. In a recent survey conducted by the inspectorate, the vast majority of parents said they felt their kids were safe, happy and well cared for. Alternatively, you may want to consider Scantabount Primary, which inspectors felt had an extremely positive relationship between adults and children, contributing to the school having the highest percentage of all Winchester primaries of children meeting the expected academic standards.
For older children, the Henry Beaufort School offers secondary education that’s been rated either “good” or “outstanding” by Ofsted at all its recent inspections. The body’s most recent report praised the school for the enthusiasm and ambition of its teachers, as well as a strong sense of mutual respect between pupils and staff.
Another option might be The Westgate School on the Cheriton Road. This was also rated “good” last time around, with Ofsted noting the head teacher’s outstanding leadership and the school’s good integration with the primary on the same site.
Winchester state schools generally don’t have sixth forms, but there are several colleges in the area offering further education to A Level standard, or vocational qualifications. These include Peter Symonds College, which achieved the highest “outstanding” rating from Ofsted in every category assessed, a rare achievement.
Another eye-catching performer is the renowned Winchester College public school, with over 90% of pupils receiving the highest GCSE grades.
The University of Winchester offers a range of higher education courses, with a focus on arts subjects. Although only a university in its own right since the early 21st century, it can trace its roots as a college back over 150 years. The university’s sports facilities have recently been upgraded and now include a world-class running track.
Leisure and Retail Options in Winchester
There’s no need to worry about being bored after moving to Winchester. It may not be the largest city in southern England, but this is a place that knows how to keep its inhabitants occupied with plenty to see and do.
A thousand years ago, Winchester was the capital of King Alfred’s England, and the city remains proud of its history. A dramatic statue of the king stands at one end of The Broadway, and this is a great place to get started. It’s within easy walking distance of many of the city’s most popular retail and leisure destinations – as well as being a handy landmark when you’re still getting used to living here!
There’s a fine choice of big-name brands on offer at the Brooks Shopping Centre, as well as a range of places to relax with a coffee. If you’d rather browse independent shops, that’s no problem either, since they dot the area, sometimes housed in historic buildings.
For a different take on shopping therapy, hit up the traditional markets held in the city every month. They’re a great place to find bargains, as well as an opportunity to get to know local people.
Winchester’s historic streets can be tricky to find your way around at first, so joining a city tour is a fun way to get your bearings. Even long-term residents sometimes discover things about the city they never knew!
Winchester Castle is an absolute must, with its Great Hall housing what is reputed to be King Arthur’s Round Table! Nearby you’ll find the equally impressive cathedral, while the city’s excellent museum plays host to a number of displays exploring Winchester’s past and present.
This city really loves its festivals – so if you don’t like one, don’t worry as another will be along pretty soon! Winchester Festival itself takes place over a week in July and is a celebration of all things arty, from music to drama.
A quirkier event in August is the Cheese and Chilli Festival, which pairs up two of Britain’s favourite foods to create a culinary experience for all the family. Add in jazz and comedy festivals and you’ll always have something new to try.
Top 3 Restaurants in Winchester
As the last section demonstrates, people in Winchester love their food, and happily their high standards are well catered for here. With a truly wonderful selection of restaurants, cafés and coffee shops to choose from, you won’t go hungry here. Whether you’re a sucker for French cooking, love to indulge in a spot of Chinese cuisine or just want a hearty, tasty English breakfast, Winchester covers all the bases.
The Dining Room at the Marwell Hotel in Colden Common, a little way south of the city itself, is renowned for its tasting menus. The lure of up to seven courses of beautifully cooked local produce is irresistible to many. Despite its upmarket ambience and classy surroundings, the Dining Room welcomes families, so your kids will be able to join in the treat!
For food with a more Eastern flavour, head for Gurkha’s Inn on the City Road, close to the train station. Here you’ll find a sumptuous array of Nepalese and Indian dishes, with just the right amount of spicy seasoning. It’s not the largest place and demand is high, so it’s worth booking ahead if you can. For a different taste of Asia, Kyoto Kitchen in Parchment Street serves up mouthwatering Japanese dishes that go way beyond sushi.
Top 3 Bars in Winchester
It’s easy to find a welcoming pub or bar in Winchester to meet up with friends or simply while away an hour or so. Perhaps you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy a quiz or a quick game of darts, or maybe you’re taking the family out for lunch. It’s not all about beer, either, with wine and gin lovers well catered for, too. With a glorious array of options from the truly ancient to the ultra-modern, Winchester has it all.
Incognito in The Broadway is an award-winning cocktail bar that’s won a stellar reputation for its 50 types of gin, fun atmosphere and outstanding service. Meanwhile, the Black Bottle in Bridge Street is described as “a wine bar with a twist”, and that’s certainly true. Where else can you find self-service wine machines where you can try out new tipples, and accompany them with delicious platters of meat or cheese? You can here!
More traditional but equally enjoyable is The Queen Inn in Kingsgate Road on the outskirts of town, which boasts its own microbrewery. It’s dog-friendly, too, so your four-legged family members can join in the fun!
We’ve reached the end of our guide to moving to Winchester, and though we’ve covered a lot here there’s still so much more to discover in this hugely attractive and sought-after location. You’ll need to experience it for yourself to find out everything, and you can do that most easily by making the city your home. Winchester truly is a small city that punches well above its weight.
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