Highfield vs. Portswood: Soton's POSTCODE WAR

Why choosing to live in Highfield instead of Portswood is a schoolboy error.

As professional vomit-assisters Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer constantly remind us, when it comes to housing location is everything. For the average Southampton student though, a good spot doesn’t equal being in the catchment area for a decent middle class school and having easy access to gourmet gastropubs. No, our needs are far simpler. Basically, for most people the decision about where to live all boils down to the following question: whether they would rather have a short walk A) when drunk, or B) when going to uni on a morning?

I am an ‘A’ man through and through so naturally I live within five minutes of the ‘paradise strip’ at the bottom of Portswood, and even though as a third year life has tragically become more library packed lunch than double-double-inna-pint-glass, I stand by my decision. People are so keen to live near the library for the final push that I’m surprised there isn’t some sort of tent city-esque shanty town on the grass outside, but I maintain that being a bit further away from uni is actually far better.

Don’t let Highfield seduce you with its tree lined streets and plush looking pads: you might be closer to campus but there simply isn’t anything else there. Food? Well, you’ve got an overpriced Co-op and a bunch of dubious takeaways on Burgess Road. Pubs? Again, thin on the ground and dominated by locals in polo necks. Clubs? Erm…there’s the Cube I suppose… In short, it’s a bitch to get anywhere quickly other than your special seat in the library basement. With this in mind, I’ve applied all of the skills learned so far from my Geography degree and coloured in a map to show where you should really be looking:

The circle of grotty success?

I’ve written about the ‘joys’ of Portswood before, but if you can handle the various disgusting incidents that happen with alarming regularity it really is a very convenient place to be. For plummy rahs there’s a Waitrose which will provide you with enough organic chocolate cake to nicely fill out your gilet, or if you’re a frugal miser like me then Aldi caters to all your budget needs with all the eastern European charm of a Polish football terrace. Also, on those rare occasions that you fancy visiting one of Britain’s ugliest high streets it only takes 20 minutes or so to head down to West Quay, and unless you’re a girl on stilts walking back from Bedford is no trouble at all.

The search for houses shouldn’t be dictated by proximity to uni. I actually quite enjoy the stroll or cycle up to campus as it gives me time to think of more half baked article ideas and gets the endorphins going before a hard days procrastinating. You’re lying to yourself if you think Hartley gives off a magic aura of productivity, so stay south of Gordons and keep it real.

Still confused? Find more from our Housing Special here.