Winchester – best place to live in Britain?
Although Winchester was the surname of a curmudgeonly surgeon in the much loved American comedy, MASH, the city and county town of Winchester is not mostly populated by similarly miserable doctors. Although it is possible that some may live in the vicinity. Winchester is better known for being a delightful and much-loved city steeped in prehistoric and Roman history; with significant archaeological finds that date back to the Iron Age and stone walls that were constructed by the Romans to protect the citizens which dwelled with them at the time. Today, Winchester has acquired a well- deserved reputation as being one of the nicest places to live in Hampshire, whilst continuing to retain a wealth of distinctive architectural features.
Winchester boasts a variety of landmarks, places of interest and areas with a rich heritage. These include the globally renowned Winchester cathedral which dates back to 1079 and endures as the longest cathedral in Europe, Wolvesey Castle, which was built in 1110 on the site of a much older Saxon structure and Winchester Castle which is well-known for hosting King Arthur’s round table. The impressive City museum contains comprehensive information relating to the history of the area, whilst the Westgate Museum showcases a selection of weapons that date back to the medieval period. When visiting the city, it’s likely that attention and curiosity will be drawn towards the twenty-four differently designed bollards that appear on the corner of Great Minister Street and The Square. These are strikingly decorated in the style of a range of iconic artists, including: Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci and David Hockney.
Unsurprisingly for a city of its size, Winchester offers a wide range of shopping options. The Square and Market Lane nearby the Cathedral have an eclectic range of superb independent shops and boutiques accompanied by an equal fine selection of cafes, bars and restaurants. Many of the eateries have out outdoor areas which become a delightful place to relax during summer months. If you’re after something a little more conventional, The Brooks Shopping Centre and Farmer’s Market offers a wide range of high street brands and names as well as a variety of quirky pop –up shops and boutiques, with a Farmer’s Market held on the second and last Sundays of each month. Finally, if you’re a foodie, it’s absolutely essential to check out The Taste of the South Food Market, in which you can find and indeed taste a delicious selection of fine foods, including: curries, sauces, cured meats, sausages, wild mushrooms, cup-cakes, eggs, jams and chutneys- many locally sourced.
In March 2016, The Sunday Times described Winchester as the best place in the UK to live for its, “food festivals and feel-good factor”. This accolade is likely to be further bolstered by its very low unemployment, commutable train distance from London and for its relatively small population. However these positives are reflected on house and rent prices, with average homes costing around, £500,000 and rents exceeding £800 a month for a one bedroom flat. Although Winchester is well known for hosting the UK’s oldest public school, it also offers several highly regarded state schools, including: St Peter’s Catholic Primary School, the Henry Beaufort School, The Westgate School and Osbourne School.
Winchester also has a surprising amount to offer in the way of sport, including: Winchester City F.C and Winchester Castle F.C who presently compete in the Southern League and Hampshire League respectively, the rugby union team, Winchester RFC, three 18 hole golf courses, Winchester Hockey club and several lawn bowls clubs, including the celebrated Friary Bowling Club which was established in 1820.
House prices in 2016 averaged at over £520,000, and the average rent for a one-bedroom property is £821 per month. However there are opportunities to purchase cheaper houses – there are four rather large ex-council estates around Winchester which contain budget properties, including Stanmore, Weeke, Winnall and Highcliffe.
For example a 3 bedroomed semi-detached house in Stanmore is priced at £360,000.
Sleepers Hill is the most expensive street in Winchester, with the average house costs an eye-watering £1,530,938.
Local charities say that a good number of people are completely priced out of the market, but then this is the story for most of the South East of England I suspect!
A salary of £30,000 for a high street solicitor is not going to get you much accommodation for your money, although I guess a one bedroomed flat may be an option for you if you have to live in Winchester itself.
The Legal Job Market
Winchester is mainly a smaller sized law firm city, with very long established city centre law firms based there. For example Godwins Solicitors were established back in 1823 and Warner Richardson in 1799. The vast majority of the work undertaken is of the smaller sized law firm variety, so a blend of personal and business law. Heavyweight commercial law practices are mainly situated in Southampton and Guildford. Winchester is a centre for higher value wills & probate, residential conveyancing, commercial property and all aspects of litigation.
Recruitment has not always been easy here. I can think of a good number of times that law firms have got in touch with the same legal job, 12 months after registering it previously, as they have not managed to recruit anyone. Commuting into the city can be fun but a lot of residents commute into London (4.5 million journeys in 2016 apparently!). This is why there is a good mix of higher value work in Winchester – anyone commuting into London and living here is going to be fairly well off to say the least…
Thinking of relocating? Contact us for assistance in finding a legal job in Winchester.