Oxford

Oxford

Home of dreaming spires, world-class educational establishments and prime Victorian properties, this affluent city in Oxfordshire seems to have it all. So what’s it really like to live in Oxford?

 

“…there’s more beautiful architecture, cultural attractions and leafy, affluent streets than you could ever want, while the young student population keep the city vibrant and busy during term time…”

Moving to Oxford

Close to the Cotswolds and surrounded by charming villages, the ancient city of Oxford is undoubtedly one of the prettiest in the UK. Home to around 170,000 people, the city is famed for its dreaming spires, intellectual population and charming, medieval cobbled streets. It’s where world-famous authors such as CS Lewis and JR Tolkien would debate over pints at the Eagle and Child (known to locals as the Bird and Baby), and the magical interiors of Hogwarts were filmed. Truthfully, there’s more beautiful architecture, cultural attractions and leafy, affluent streets than you could ever want, while the young student population keep the city vibrant and busy during term time.

But living in such a beautiful, world-famous city can have its drawbacks. The huge influx of tourists, particularly in the summer, can be difficult for residents looking to get around the city without getting trapped behind a giant group or tour bus, and traffic is notoriously terrible, particularly in North Oxford. What’s more, although the independent schools are some of the best in the UK, Oxford’s state schools often lag behind, and rapidly rising house prices can make some areas as pricey as the capital.

House prices in Oxford

As of 2017, the average house price in Oxford is around £400,000, nearly double the national average and making the city unaffordable for many. For families, Headington, Jericho and Summertown are particularly popular for their traditional terrace houses and detached villas, although prices can reach the multi-millions. More affordable areas include Kidlington and Botley, as well as the nearby town of Banbury. For those seeking modern housing, the Waterways development in North Oxford is a particularly sought-after spot, and is close to some of the city’s best schools.

“Oxford is well-connected by rail and by road, with two train stations offering direct trains to locations across the UK, including London in around an hour”

Travel

Oxford is well-connected by rail and by road, with two train stations (Oxford Central and Oxford Parkway) offering direct trains to locations across the UK, including London in around an hour. The city is surrounded by the A34, with the M40 nearby offering direct access to the capital. Many residents make the daily commute to London, either by train or by the regular coaches which travel from the city centre through the Park & Rides and into various key London areas.

The Park & Ride schemes are also popular with commuters into the city centre, due to Oxford’s notoriously bad traffic. As a result, travelling by bike or on foot is a popular method of getting to A to B in the city.

For international travel, there are regular coaches to Heathrow Airport, which offers flights to destinations across the world.

Lifestyle

Oxford has plenty of restaurants to choose from, with a mix of small, student-friendly cafes, good independent restaurants and well-loved high street chains found across the city. Local favourites include the chic Cherwell Boathouse, charming Vaults and Garden cafe and the stunning glass conservatory dining room of Gees. For chain restaurants the Castle complex is home to the likes of Prezzo and Pizza Express, whilst in Oxford’s small Chinatown you’ll find some truly authentic dim sum. The city is also famous for its vast array of pubs, of which the centrally-located The Turf and The Turl come particularly highly recommended, and The Trout in Wolvercote is the ideal place to spend a relaxed, Wind in the Willows-esque afternoon.

While not the most vibrant retail centre in the south, Oxford does offer a good selection of shops, particularly popular high-street stores. Most are centred around Clarendon Street, the Clarendon Shopping Centre and the Westgate Centre, while independent boutiques and more high-end brands can be found in the Covered Market and along the High Street. If it’s designer purchases you’re after, the internationally-famous Bicester Village is a short drive away, and home to hundreds of luxury boutiques including Burberry, Prada, and Ralph Lauren.

Groceries

While the city is well-stocked with major supermarkets, including large branches of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, it really excels in independent grocers. The Covered Market is a hotspot for traditional butchers, while the parade of shops in Summertown and Jericho offer numerous delis and boutique food stores.

Health & Sport

As well as the popular pastimes of rowing and punting, residents looking for gym-based exercise in Oxford will be pleased to know that the city offers a number of fitness facilities, including two branches of PureGym and the well-regarded, council-run Ferry Leisure Centre.

Culture

A major cultural hub in the UK, Oxford’s offerings are vast and varied, with options ranging from highly respected museums such as the Ashmolean and the Pitt Rivers, to the thriving music venue of the O2 Academy and the cult Phoenix Picturehouse in Jericho. Meanwhile for a taste of the city’s history, try one of the many walking tours, which range from haunted spots to Harry Potter filming locations.

“A major cultural hub in the UK, Oxford’s offerings are vast and varied, with options ranging from highly respected museums such as the Ashmolean and the Pitt Rivers, to the thriving music venue of the O2 Academy and the cult Phoenix Picturehouse”

Schools and Education

Oxford has a great reputation for schools in the private sector, with a myriad of independent options to choose from including day, boarding, single-sex and co-educational. The Dragon School is one of the leading prep schools, while for older pupils Oxford High School GDST, Magdalen College School and Abingdon School rank highly on national league tables. Good state schools are more limited, although the Cherwell School is considered to be one of the best in the UK, and St Philip and St James (affectionately known as ‘Phil and Jim’) is highly recommended for primary-aged children.

As for further education, Oxford is home to both Oxford Brookes University, and the world-renowned University of Oxford.

Safety

With an average crime rate of 91 crimes per 1000 people, Oxford is a relatively safe city. The majority of crimes are committed in busy, student-heavy areas such as the City Centre and Cowley Road, and bike theft is a common problem.

Green Space

Oxford is well-supplied with parks and green spaces, largely as a result of the university grounds which can be found throughout the city centre, such as University Parks, Christchurch Meadow, and the beautiful Botanic Gardens by Magdalen Bridge. For unrestricted open space, the vast Port Meadow stretching from Wolvercote to Jericho is a popular choice, while North Oxford residents can often be found enjoying the tennis courts, miniature train and play areas of Cutteslowe Park.

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