Population 152,500*
Commuting 55 miles south-west of central London; 50 minutes by train from Waterloo.
What’s there? Part of the UK’s silicone valley (aka the Thames Valley), Basingstoke has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the UK (around 1%), with many companies finding it hard to attract the right staff. Major businesses in the area include IBM, the AA (publishing department), Sun Life Canada, Sony (Broadcast & Professional Research Labs) and NTL Digital.
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Population 139,000*
Commuting 35 miles south-east of central London; 55 minutes by train from Cannon Street, Charing Cross or Victoria.
What’s there? Located near the lovely Leeds Castle, Maidstone is a base for the paper (companies such as Whatman’s) and packaging industries and a location for IT employment. There are also opportunities in media at Meridian TV and Maidstone Studios and in fashion at Karen Millen. The town has a smaller manufacturing sector and distribution and transport companies are other major employers.
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Population 80,000*
Commuting 20 miles north-west of central London; 15-20 minutes from Euston.
What’s there? Watford has moved on from its old school industries, expanding over recent years into a range of sectors, with IT, banking and financial services seeing the biggest boom. Companies with headquarters in Watford include Mothercare, Iveco Ford, Hilton International Group and Wetherspoons. Film and media are other growth industries in the town.
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The south coast
Where Brighton, Portsmouth, Southampton.
Getting there Brighton is 55 miles south of central London; one hour by train from Victoria or London Bridge. Portsmouth is 80 miles south-west of central London; 90 minutes by train from Waterloo. Southampton is 85 miles south-west of central London; one hour and 20 minutes by train from Watterloo.
What’s there? Do you like to be beside the seaside? Brighton has a strong service sector, with public services, education, health, financial and business services all strong sources of employment. The creative, new media and tourism industries are also thriving.
Home to the Royal Navy, Portsmouth also boasts the headquarters for IBM UK, Zurich Insurance UK and Pall Composites Europe. Games software designer Climax and car specialists McLaren Composites also recently relocated to Portsmouth.
While the media and creative industry, led by the presence of BBC South, is the growth industry in Southampton, tourism, business and financial services, marine engineering and defence are also important. The town is home to international companies including Ford, British American Tobacco and Skandia.
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