Cities are often described as ‘vibrant’ and ‘dynamic’, but in Portsmouth’s case, it’s no exaggeration. Our great island city has so much to offer and is adored by its 250,000+ loyal residents.
Portsmouth is a great place to live for its unique mix of historic and modern architecture, maritime heritage, vibrant culture, travel connections, strong community and seaside charm. It has all the amenities you’d expect for city living and is affordable, with homes for all lifestyles and budgets.
Whether you’re a first-time buyer looking for a lively social scene, a family considering good schools, or perhaps seeking retirement by the sea, you can find your ideal home in Portsmouth.
The Mortgage Pod is based in sunny Southsea in Portsmouth, and our team has excellent local property market knowledge. Read on for our (admittedly biased!) round-up of what Portsmouth offers its residents and visitors. If you are considering living in Portsmouth and looking for a mortgage, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.
Where is Portsmouth?
Geographically, Portsmouth is situated on Portsea Island on the south coast of Hampshire, UK. The city has a view of the Isle of Wight to the south from its coastal location along the English Channel.
Portsmouth’s nearest neighbouring city is Southampton, which is 20 miles west down the coast. Heading east, Chichester is 20 miles away.
Ten reasons why you should live in Portsmouth
Now we’ve got our bearings, let’s dive into what Portsmouth offers and what you can expect from a new life in the UK’s “most exciting waterfront city” (source: The Mortgage Pod 😉).
1. Outstanding facilities and services
Portsmouth has all the great amenities you would expect from a big city, meaning there’s no need to travel far for necessities like shopping, healthcare and leisure.
Portsmouth city centre
The City Centre is home to the Cascades shopping centre, which has all your high street faves, while on the surrounding streets, there’s a good mix of more big-name retailers, supermarkets and independent shops.
At the heart of Portsmouth is its civic centre, Guildhall Square. The city is a unitary authority, and the Guildhall is the headquarters of Portsmouth City Council. The Guildhall is also a gig venue and is used for civic events and weddings.
A five-minute stroll from the city centre lands you in Portsmouth Harbour, a breathtaking mix of old and new. Along the quayside from the Historic Dockyard (more on which below), you will find the shining exteriors of Gunwharf Quays, which has around 120 retailers and restaurants. The iconic Spinnaker Tower offers spectacular panoramic views from its 170-meter-high observation tower.
Portsmouth is home to two hospitals. Queen Alexandra Hospital is the largest of the two, with around 1,000 beds, covering a wide range of medical and surgical services. The smaller St. Mary’s Hospital has around 300 beds.
Portsmouth has excellent transport links, with easy access to other big cities via the M27 and A3. Public transport is a doddle, too, with connections all over the country from Portsmouth Harbour station. The city is also an important ferry port, offering services to the Isle of Wight, Channel Islands, France and Spain.
- London – 74 miles. The train journey takes around two hours.
- Southampton – 19 miles. 30 to 40 minutes driving and by train.
- Brighton – 49 miles. 1 to 1.5 hours by car or train.
- Ryde (Isle of Wight) – 45-50 minutes by ferry, 10-15 minutes by FastCat/hovercraft.
3. Food and social scene
If you’re still young and hip enough to enjoy nightlife, then Portsmouth will not disappoint. There are loads of clubs and bars in the Guildhall Walk and Albert Road areas that cater to a range of budgets and music tastes.
There are also some great restaurants in the city – far too many to list here! Locals love the atmosphere and service at Rocka Restaurant, and The Briny is well worth a visit if you’re looking to sample the local seafood.
Whether you’ve just had an offer accepted on a property and you’re ready to go, or you’re simply wondering how much you need to save for a deposit, it’s never too soon to reach out.
4. Cultural scene
If you are a culture lover, you will adore the streets of Southsea, which have an eclectic and boho vibe. Here, you will find independent shops, live music venues and galleries. The annual Victorious Festival is also a must if you’re into music.
Hotwalls Studios in Old Portsmouth provides space to local artists and is open to browse and buy unique artworks. Portsmouth also has two main theatres, The King’s Theatre and the New Theatre Royal.
5. History for miles
No list about Portsmouth is complete without a mention of its rich history. If you are visiting Portsmouth for the day, exploring its maritime heritage is a must. Head to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where you will find the well-preserved HMS Victory and the remains of the Mary Rose.
There are many interesting historic walks in and around Old Portsmouth, taking in sights like the 12th-century Portsmouth Cathedral and the Tudor Southsea Castle.
6. Natural beauty on your doorstep
Portsmouth fits the bill if green space is on your ‘must’ list. Locals flock to Southsea Common and Victoria Park all year round, and Portsdown Hill is a popular dog-walking spot and viewpoint, taking in the whole city skyline.
If you’re up for a day trip, you are spoilt for choice, with the New Forest National Park to the west and the South Downs to the east.
7. A sense of community
Portsmouth residents are rightly proud of their heritage, and as a diverse and densely populated city, there are strong local communities. Central Southsea is often described as a village within a city with its own artsy and welcoming community.
8. Educational excellence
If great secondary schools are a priority, you should consider St. Edmund’s Catholic School, which has an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating, and the highly regarded, independent Portsmouth High School for girls. When it becomes time to consider further education, there is the popular University of Portsmouth.
9. Employment opportunities
The excellent news for Portsmouth residents is that in the past year, employment rates have risen to 79.7% (above the average for the region and the country), and unemployment is down to 3.6% (source: ONS).
If you’re the entrepreneurial type, it’s also worth noting that Portsmouth is regularly named one of the best places in the UK for startups.
10. The great British seaside
One of the best-loved features of Portsmouth is its 3-mile promenade along the beach. At the harbour end, Clarence Pier has the thrills and spills of the fairground, while South Parade Pier is a lovely traditional pier with a more laid-back atmosphere. Elsewhere on Southsea Seafront, you can find fun for all the family at the Canoe Lake and Southsea Model Village.
Bonus reason, the football!
We couldn’t end our list without mentioning the ‘F’ word! Portsmouth Football Club – fondly known as Pompey – was established in 1898. Today, almost 20,000 passionate fans come together regularly to support the team in their home ground of Fratton Park.
What are house prices like in Portsmouth?
House prices in the Portsmouth area are relatively affordable, but, like the rest of the UK, they have risen in recent years. The average house price, according to Rightmove, in November 2023 is £294,296.
There is affordable housing in almost every part of Portsmouth, but the least expensive can be found in the PO1 postcode area. If you have a larger budget, then you may want to consider the PO3, PO4 and PO6 areas.
What types of property are there in Portsmouth?
The main thing to note about the Portsmouth property market is its sheer diversity. There is something for everyone, from £100k starter flats to £1m+ seafront apartments and luxury detached residences.
In the historic heart of Old Portsmouth, there is an abundance of Georgian and Victorian terraces and semis with lots of character (some needing more TLC than others!). In contrast, there are the sleek waterfront apartments and penthouses of Gunwharf Quays. Outside the city centre, plenty of traditional semis and detached homes can be found in the surrounding neighbourhoods of Cosham, Paulsgrove, Hilsea and Fratton.
Portsmouth is also a great place for landlords to invest in buy-to-let properties. There is healthy rental demand due in part to the large student population and the military community.
Looking for a mortgage in Portsmouth?
I hope this article has inspired you about life in our (genuinely) vibrant city. At The Mortgage Pod, we’re incredibly proud of our home town and are dedicated to providing home buyers with clear, transparent mortgage advice they can trust.
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