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The local area guide to living in Swansea
Swansea sits on the south coast of Wales, directly on the Bristol channel, and is the second largest city in the country after the capital Cardiff, which is located 44 miles away, and twenty-fifth largest city in the United Kingdom. The people of Swansea are colloquially referred to as ‘Swansea Jacks’. Notable inhabitants of the city include Hollywood star Catherine Zeta Jones and poet and writer Dylan Thomas, famous for his well-known radio drama ‘Under Milk Wood’. Thomas called the city an ‘ugly, lovely town’, but this comment was made a long time before the major redevelopment of Swansea happened.
Swansea is twinned with a range of towns, including Cork in Ireland, Mannheim in Germany and Pau in France. The area typically is more temperate than inland Wales, due to the coastal nature of the city.
Information about the local residents
In the 2001 census the population of Swansea was nearly 170,000, with the Unitary Authority area being home to almost 240,000 in the 2011 census. Swansea isn’t as ethnically diverse as its neighbour Cardiff – in the last census 97.8% of people described themselves as white, compared to 91% in Cardiff. Welsh speakers are rare in the city, with only 13.4% of residents saying they spoke the language.
On average, people living in Swansea earn about £21,500 a year, £5,000 less than the national average. However, property prices are also less than the national average, as is the cost of living, meaning that it does not have comparably lower living standards.
The Swansea area has plenty of schools to choose from. There are 77 primary schools (eight of which are Welsh-speaking) and 15 secondary schools (two of which are Welsh-speaking). Rather than the usual Ofsted inspections, Welsh schools are placed into bands from one to five, with band one being the best. Swansea has an impressive five secondary schools in band one, with a further four falling into bands four and five combined.
The city is well catered for in terms of further education by the University of Swansea, a research-led institution with a very good reputation for the quality of its student experience.
Being a major city, Swansea has great transport connections to the rest of Wales and is also in easy reach of plenty of England. The M4 motorway and the A48 are easily accessible, connecting the city to Cardiff, Bridgend and Port Talbot in Wales, and Bristol, Reading and London in England. Swansea has a park and ride system in operation throughout, making it easy for commuters and visitors to get around.
Swansea has an excellent bus network within the city and out to surrounding areas, and a shuttle bus runs regularly between Swansea and Cardiff. There is also a major train station located in the city that offers direct services to Cardiff, London and Manchester.
There are passenger flights from Pembrey airport, which is located just 17 miles away, but destinations are limited to Europe. Cardiff airport is about an hour’s drive away and offers flights to destinations all over the world. There is a ferry service to Cork in Ireland about 3 times a week.
Swansea city centre has been hugely revitalised in recent years, thanks to major investment. The Quadrant Shopping Centre, which houses plenty of the popular high street names, is open 7 days a week and has late night shopping every Thursday. The city centre also boasts the biggest indoor market in Wales.
Aside from shopping, the city has plenty of other ways to keep residents and visitors entertained. Theatre fans will love the Grand Theatre, a traditional venue that is over a century old and regularly attracts big names. The city has a lively nightlife, with plenty of restaurants, bars and clubs to choose from.
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