Southampton – a paradise for students

One of many new blocks of student apartments in Southampton's Centre, with gym, Co-op supermarket. Near all amenities. 4 mins walk to Central train station.
One of many new blocks of student apartments in Southampton’s Centre, with gym, Co-op supermarket. Near all amenities. 4 mins walk to Central train station.

P1150976 P1150545_2 student sign 3student sign1

 

Shopping Centre will pulled down to make a large student accommodation complex of flats and maisonettes.
Shopping Centre will pulled down to make a large student accommodation complex of flats and maisonettes.

For any student thinking of taking a course at any of the universities or colleges here in Southampton, let me assure you, that this city is your oyster. It’s not just the friendliness or great night-life either.

At one time ‘digs’ were a choice of a few halls of residence or slum landlords. In an effort to improve the situation for students, council policy was implemented to register all student accommodation. Once a building block or house in multiple occupation (HMO) has been designated for students use, no-one else can live there unless declared otherwise. Tax-free building incentives were implemented and student houses are free of having to pay council tax. So now there is such a glut of apartments and shared housing for students that those from neighbouring colleges in towns such as Winchester, Bournemouth and Portsmouth, have come to live here and commute.

And yet more and more blocks of students apartments, even maisonettes, are being built on every available empty space in the centre and in desirable areas of my city.

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Listed building in town with plaque to birthplace of  John Everett Millais, is to become student flats
Listed building in town with plaque to birthplace of John Everett Millais, is to become student flats

The initial thinking was that the slum landlords, some of whom own over 100 houses with rooms for rent, will be forced to sell their empty properties and families will be able to buy them. Though, sadly, this is not proving to be the case. The high taxes second home owners would have to pay if they sold-up, has meant that they are now filling them up with young immigrant workers, who are earning as much as they can to send back home, whilst living in cheap, substandard conditions.

In Southampton this has increased, rather than eased off a shortage of rented accommodation for couples or families, and a shortage of housing generally for any working people who want to get on the housing ladder. Homelessness has increased steadily over the last 10 years and by 30 percent over the previous year, according to local reports. This is not party political – it is a sweet dose of reality.student sign 2

P1150544_2We ourselves live in a part-rented house which the owner wants to sell and we need to move, again. It is a problem. HMOs are not an option for us oldies, that value our privacy, and no-one wants to lend us a mortgage at our ages.

It is assumed that most retired people have settled into their comfortably off houses and expect to downsize eventually to a retirement home. Unfortunately we fall outside this net, due in part to having lived abroad (at one time in a 6-bed villa with a pool and yacht in the harbour, before we moved back to England). We have gone through a series of unfortunate events. Briefly: Cancer, stolen identity theft and an announcement from the DWP that £12,000 in overpaid pensions to my husband (needs to be repaid as they had made a mistake in 2007). It looked as though we might have to leave our beloved Southampton and head elsewhere.P1150981

Then, we realised that there were lots of cheap old boats, rotting in marinas along the Solent coastline. The Southampton Boat Show last year proved that people are after large new luxury yachts and the bottom has fallen out of the second-hand boat market. Marina fees are a hell of a lot cheaper than rent. We could live on a boat and even go on holiday by taking our ‘home’ with us.

Make yourselves at home
Make yourselves at home

So that optimistic thought is now our aim. We are dejunking, giving away or selling all our accumulated belongings (proving slow) and going to live on a boat!

We will be very busy for a while – my husband will be 80 years of age this year and we are both slower than we used to be, so please excuse me if I don’t read and comment on as many of my regular bloggers’ posts, as I normally do for a few months. I will let every one how I get on and keep up some photo challenges. I will be back

Sol

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33 thoughts on “Southampton – a paradise for students

  1. “Maisonettes” was a new word for me.
    Gosh! You’ve thrilled me with hope. To think you’re preparing for such an adventure. My bastardry landlords mean we have to find an alternative for living at the end of the year and I was giving up hope! But your sense of adventure has made me more excited than depressed about the future, thank you!

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    • Maisonettes (French word obviously) look like houses, but they are divided into two or four with an up and downstairs rooms. We have had to move so many times, but it makes you hold on to the most important things each time. The world is your playground Bruce – as one door closes another opens. My husband is so exited about the venture – I am not looking forward to the Winter months but will love all the salty sea dog stories. At least it is voluntary – so many people here have had their expensive homes washed away by floods. Shall follow you when I can.

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  2. I lived aboard a small, 31′ boat for a while, and though I would have chosen a different boat for something permanent (e.g., a little larger, a different, non-alcohol stove, and so on) it was eminently doable. I was especially interested in your comment that the bottom has fallen out of the second-hand boat market. It’s just the opposite here. On the high end, the luxury boats are selling for plenty, and rotting hulls at the bottom come cheap, but older boats are much in demand — because they’re better constructed than the new ones. Of course, cruisers want the sturdy boats. If you’re “only” going to live aboard and do some light, inland cruising, it’s different.

    I know several people in their 70s and 80s who still are living aboard. Good luck in your search, and your new venture.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for your reassurance. I have lived on boats for short periods, and know many older people that have, but to give up everything at our age is a bit nerve-racking. Interesting about second hand boats doing well where you are! There is hope.

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  3. Good luck and all the best for the future. I remember in my teenage years going to a brilliant party on a house boat moored at Cobden Bridge. It was large and roomy. We get a lot of people living on house boats not far us at Hampton Court on the Thames. It looks like a dream existence.

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    • Yes there are still quite a jolly crowd by Cobden Bridge. I think trying to find a home in London on a low budget is far more difficult than in Southampton, it was people living on the Thames as an alternative to flats, that made me research it here. It may be the answer to living with floods!

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  4. I still can’t see a To Let sign without being reminded of having to draw a house when I started school and copying everybody else’s picture (I missed the first term of school) and the sign stuck in the garden. I thought the i had been missed out. I’d never seen a To Let sign.

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  5. I love your posts, and this one is no exception. Wow, some changes ahead filled, I expect, with both anxiety and excitement. Lots of people living on boats on the floating harbour in Bristol, including one of my colleagues. It is certainly a bit different. I look forward to updates, as an when you have time.

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    • Love your posts too Scooj. With so many homeless in Bristol and lack of new builds for the population I am not surprised! It looks like we are being really trendy then. I wonder if the government will catch on and throw huge taxes on the marinas – ahh but wait – that will affect their own yachts won’t it – unless they find a loop-hole!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I hope it works out – I lived on a ship for several months (different circumstances) and actually, perhaps perversely, love boats and ships – there is something about the design and space. And water. I expect this government will stop at nothing to damage the prospects of the less well-off in our society. They certainly show no signs of relenting at the moment.

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  6. I LOVE his art and the preraphaelites. Like Derick said too, I wish you well my lovely lady and admire your pluck and passion pls dont lose touch my friend?♡

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love the idea of living on a boat although I’m not sure if the reality would live up to my expectation. I hope you’re doing well selling you clutter (doing a bit of that myself via eBay for different reasons). There are quite a few house boats on the river near me.

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