Living in Oxford
In this guide we go over everything you’ll ever need to know about living in Oxford; from the best stops to get in some much needed shopping to the best schools in the district to commuting to the nearest city, this blog holds all the answers to you questions and more!
What and Where is Oxford
House Prices in Oxford
Best Neighbourhoods in Oxford
Schools in Oxford
Travelling in and around Oxford
Hotels in Oxford
Shopping in Oxford
Eating in Oxford
Bars in Oxford
Student Nights in Oxford
Top 10 Things to Do in Oxford
Oxford is a University city in Oxfordshire, England and has a population of 155,000. It is 56 miles Northwest of London, 64 miles from Birmingham and 24 miles from Reading by road. It is often called The City of Dreaming Spires due to its famous University buildings and has a famous reputation for being home to the University of Oxford, the oldest University in the English-speaking world. For over 800 years, Oxford has been a home to royalty and scholars and since the 9th Century it has been an established town. The main industries include motor manufacturing, education, publishing, information technology and science, with many businesses located in the town. Most of these are located on its many Science and Business Parks or within its residential areas.
What is Oxford famous for?
The city has more than 10 million visitors a year and is often called the traveller’s favourite city in the UK, with its strong historical and cultural background. The University is the most famous feature as it is cited as one the best universities globally, in 2017 and 2018 the Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked is as first in the world. The University is around 922 years old and is the educator of 28 Nobel Prize winners. Oxford has also influenced the English language, with its famous Oxford English Dictionary that has been published by the Oxford University Press for over 100 years. This Dictionary was in every school in the UK and became one of the main reasons why Oxford is now globally recognised. Furthermore, Oxford is featured in many cultural and film industries. The Great Hall at Christ Church College inspired the Hogwarts dining hall in the Harry Potter films, and the staircase leading up to the hall was used in several scenes.
In 2021, Oxford’s population is estimated to be 177, 676. In fact, the city has the largest population of adults who are full time students.
The average price for a house in Oxford stands at £550,655 in 2021, which increased with 7.41% compared to the previous year.
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Most of Oxford is a great and safe place to live, with Headington, Marston and the older areas around the John Radcliffe Hospital being ideal spots. Areas such as Littleworth, Holton, New Headington, Headington Quarry and Temple Cowey are also considered good areas. The less desirable areas, such as Barton and Risinghurst are considered less attractive and nice to live in. In the South-East, Cowley and Blackbird Leys are improved areas, as well as Botley and Cumnor which are quieter more isolated spots. The northern area is the most affluent area, with expensive houses being located in the Woodstock Road/Banbury Road area. Wolvercote is also a nice village, as well as Jericho and Summertown in the posher North Oxford region.
Is Oxford a Safe City?
In 2020, Oxford became the most dangerous city in the county of Oxfordshire, in which the overall crime rate is estimated to be 79 crimes per 1,000 people. Compared to the 322 villages, cities, and towns in Oxfordshire, Oxford has a 25% higher crime rate. In fact, the worst and most common crime rates of the city are mostly found in violence, sexual offences, and robbery. However, Oxford is considered the 29th safest place in the UK (Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland).
For more information and constant updates on the crime rates in Oxford please visit the Thames Valley Police covering all areas in Oxford here.
Is Oxford a nice place to live?
Oxfordshire has been rated the 53rd best place to live in the UK in 2015, where you can live comfortably and enjoy a good quality of life. Oxfordshire does have some of the highest living expenses in the UK, as a location with disposable income. On average, a weekly grocery shop in this region costs £63, which is more than a shop in West London. However, the tourism, opportunities for work and scenery make it an ideal and scenic location to live in.
Is Oxford a good place to work?
Oxfordshire has an above average percentage of 76% of its residents in employment in 2015. However, it also has an above average percentage working over 45 hours per week at 28%, which is considered a poor work life balance and could be a negative indicator for its resident’s general quality of life. However, incomes are above average, in 2015, the gross weekly income of the average person there was £563.02. Disposable income is also above average, with an average household having £20,095 available to spend for the year.
To get you started with primary schools, Wolvercote Primary School, Botley School, Windmill Primary school are all very popular in the city with a “good” Ofsted rating. When it comes to secondary schools in Oxford, The Cherwell School is popular and has an Ofsted “outstanding” rating. Kings Education and Cheney School are also popular with an Ofsted “Good” rating.
Oxfordshire is well connected by road, rail, river and cycle routes, these link the county with major cities including London, Birmingham and Cambridge. There are three separate bus companies in Oxford, and good public transport. The main sites within Oxford are all within walking distance, however, public transport is a good option as it can be a long walk if you are going from the University Parks to Christchurch Meadows.
Oxford railway station is one of two serving the city of Oxford, England. It is about 0.5 miles (800 m) west of the city centre, north-west of Frideswide Square and the eastern end of Botley Road. It has fast and local trains that can take you to London Paddington and London Marylebone, but it also has local trains going to Reading, Worcester (Shrub Hill and Foregate stations), and Banbury. The station is managed by Great Western Railway, and is also served by CrossCountry and Chiltern Railways trains. However, to the north of the city there is also Sheepwash Channel Railway Bridge, located over the Sheepwash Channel.
The local bus network allows easy access to all parts of the city, with the majority of buses being run by the Oxford Bus Company, this also provides a PickMeUp service and Airline service. There is also a Stagecoach service that runs a 24-hour bus service to London called the Oxford Tube, and also a network of bus services, including the S5 route linking Oxford and Bicester Village. The City Sightseeing Bus allows visitors to explore the city and learn more about its history at the same time, the tickets are valid for 24 or 48 hours and allow you to hop on and off whenever you like.
The M40, M4 and A34 provide allow easy access by car from London, leaving the M40 at Junction 8. The M40 links Birmingham to Oxford from the north, leaving at Junction 9. Parking in Oxford is limited so it is best to take advantage of the Park and Ride service. There are five Park and Ride sites, and these are clearly signposted from the Oxford Ring Road.
Bainton Bikes are the main operators in Oxford with an independently owned cycle hire and a shop. They offer varied range of bicycles and their 24/7 app providing information on which bike suits you best.
Oxford is landlocked; however, some trains and bus links can get you to various areas of the coast.
London Heathrow and Gatwick Airports are linked by Oxford Bus Company’s Airline service, with London Stansted and Luton airports linked by the National Express 737 bus service. Birmingham airport is accessible by train to Oxford and has regular fast services. London Oxford Airport (OXF) is 8 km north of the city centre and is located near Kidlington and Woodstock.
Where is the closest Airport in Oxford?
The nearest airport to Oxford is London Luton (LTN) Airport which is 38.9 miles away. The other nearby airports include, London Heathrow (LHR) (39.8 miles), Birmingham (BHX) (52.8 miles), London Gatwick (LGW) (62.9 miles) and London Stansted (STN) (65.9 miles).
Where is the closest Hospital in Oxford?
There are several hospitals within Oxford and in the surrounding areas. The Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust HQ is made up of four hospitals, including the John Radcliffe Hospital, this includes the Children’s Hospital, West Wing, Eye Hospital, Heart Centre and Women’s Centre), the Churchill Hospital and the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, and the Horton General Hospital in Banbury, north Oxfordshire. There is also the Priory Wellbeing Centre Oxford, Warneford Hospital, Fulbrook Centre and Littlemore Mental Health Centre.
How to commute to Oxford
The transportation sector is quite well developed in Oxford, with many buses, trains and public transport links for people to use daily.
How to commute to the nearest city
Oxford is close to London, allowing you to catch a train or take a one-day tour to Oxford and the Cotswolds. There are two bus services, the X90 or the Oxford Tube, however, a door-to-door commute time from Oxford to central London takes around 3 hours.
The famous University of Oxford is situation within the city and has 39 colleges and 6 permanent private halls of religious foundation. There is also Oxford Brookes university and the City of Oxford College.
Is Oxford a student city?
Oxford is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the UK, with a large student population. With its two major universities, it has around 40,000 students that takes up almost a quarter of the city’s population, these students come from all over the world.
Are the Universities safe in Oxford?
The Universities are highly regarded as safe and professional environments and have many systems in place to protect their students. There are safe taxi companies, the Student’s Union/Brookes Safety Buses and 24hr security systems in place. In the Times’ Higher Education Guide for the Safest Universities 2018, the University of Oxford was ranked 24th out of 116 universities, with a rating of 80.9% for security.
There are many things to do in Oxford and many art and entertainment venues, with art galleries, exhibitions and museums, often run by the University to enjoy. The New Theatre Oxford hosts comedy shows and operas, allowing anyone to enjoy its entertainment. The Old Fire Station also showcases art aimed at adults and the North Wall Arts Centre has live music, theatre and film screenings. The Oxford Playhouse and its Burton Taylor Studio have regular live performances of drama, contemporary dance, music, comedy, lectures and poetry. The Players Theatre is also a popular theatre, being the only dedicated theatre in Thame, it hosts in-house productions, plays and pantomimes. There is also the Corn Exchange in Wallingford that has many programmes including theatre, cinema and live screening experiences, as well as being the home to Causton Theatre in Midsomer Murders.
Suitable for friends and family, Escape Hunt is the most exciting and interesting escape rooms in Oxford. If you are in the mood for a thrilling experience where your adrenaline flow as you challenge the time left, Escape Hunt is the perfect place for it.
Oxfordshire also hosts many of the country’s most popular festivals, such as the Wilderness Festival, a multi-award winning 4-day festival of live music and events. There is also the Cornbury Music Festival, the Common People Festival and The Big Feastival that celebrates good food and music, featuring Jamie Oliver and Alex James.
What events are on in Oxford?
On 1st May, the choristers sing from Magdalen Tower at 6am, and Morris Dancers celebrate May Morning. On the first Saturday of July, Alice’s Day turns Oxford into Wonderland, as people celebrate the memory of Lewis Carroll’s famous story. The next day, Cowley Road holds its Cowley Road Carnival to celebrate its cultural diversity. Oxford Proms is also held in August with performances across Oxford. St Giles Fair is held on the Monday and Tuesday following from the first Sunday after St Giles’ Day on 1st September, this dates back to 1625 to celebrate the feast of the patron saint St Giles. The Oxford Roundtable Fireworks display also takes place during November to celebrate Guy Fawkes night and at the end of November, the Christmas Lights Festival has music, illumination and many different events to celebrate Christmas.
Must Sees in Oxford
The Harry Potter walking tour
If you are a fan of Harry Potter, the walking tour including Bodleian Library is a must. Connect with other movie enthusiasts, take a movie quiz, and hear behind-the-scenes stories. On this small group trip, you can choose from a variety of departure times to match your schedule, and there will be plenty of time for questions.
The Sheldonian Theatre, a beautiful Grade I listed structure in Oxford’s city centre, serves as Oxford University’s official ceremonial hall. The Cupola of the Theatre is a popular tourist attraction because it provides one of the best indoor panoramic views of Oxford’s iconic skyline. Sir Christopher Wren designed it, with self and guided tours available.
There are many top hotels in Oxford to stay in whilst you visit or if you need a break away, with many great places to stop by and relax.
De Vere Oxford Thames 4 stars
The 4-star voco Oxford Thames overlooks the River Thames and is located in 30 acres of parkland. It has luxurious rooms and a swimming pool, spa and gym, located only 4 miles from Oxford.
Malmaison Oxford Castle, 4 stars
A boutique hotel in Oxford city centre, the location used to be a former prison, but there are now 95 beautifully styled rooms the rooms with luxurious beds, Wi-Fi and power drench showers.
Old Bank Hotel, 4.5 stars
The independently owned Old Bank is centrally located on Oxford’s famous High Street and has 43 luxury bedrooms with views of the city’s most famous landmarks.
Oxford has many high-street chain stores; these are located mostly around Cornmarket and Queen Street. However, there are also more traditional shops where you look at quirky boutiques, delicatessens, craft shops and antiques stalls. These can be found in the historic Covered Market, Walton and Little Clarendon Streets in Jericho. However, there are also many on Cowley Road, this is Oxford’s most ethnically diverse street and has its own annual carnival.
The town centre has a large number of takeaways, restaurants and pubs, below are some top choices.
Za’atar Bake, 5 stars
A Middle Eastern bakery, where traditional methods create authentic, healthy and flavoursome dishes.
Antep Kitchen, 5 stars
A family run Turkish cuisine restaurant, that takes inspiration from traditional flavours, cooked in house by hand selected, well trained and experienced chefs.
Polish Kitchen Oxford, 5 stars
A traditional Polish restaurant that serves extraordinary traditional food at a good price.
The Coconut Tree Oxford, 5 stars
A traditional Sri Lankan Street Food Bar that serves food, drinks and cocktails.
Oxford has many bars and nightclubs thanks to the vibrant student life, with a wide selection for different people. Cowley Road is diverse and lively where many students like to meet up, it has many pubs and live music venues. North-west of the centre in Jericho there are many cocktail bars and high-end restaurants, George Street also has many pubs and restaurants, located in the centre of the town. Below are a few top bars.
This is Oxford’s oldest cocktail bar, established in 1979, it serves the finest drinks and cocktails, but also has great service.
Cirkus is a very stylish evening bar and nightclub, mixing circus chic and contemporary kitsch. It has a uniquely decorated dancefloor, club room and VIP space, great Cirkus setting for birthdays, hen parties, stag dos or a night out.
The Bear Tavern
A lovely and cosy warm pub that serves delicious food, cider and beers, it remains the oldest pub in Oxford.
TVC The Varsity Club
This bar is located in the centre of Oxford and has a mix of contemporary decor with a twist of traditional period features. There are 3 floors and a roof terrace overlooking Oxford, it is the ideal venue for private events. The Moroccan inspired lounge can be reserved for dining and groups and is great for Birthdays or a team drink.
Thousands of students and young people attend the Oxford university nights out and nightclubs. Below is a list of the favourites.
This is Oxford’s longest running nightclub, which first opened back in 1990, the club has five rooms and can hold 1,200 people.
The Bridge Club
This is another super club in Oxford, with many drinks deals and promotions every week. There is a main dance floor, a VIP lounge, an outdoor garden and an R & B room for all of the best bump ‘n’ grind classics.
The Bullingdon is located on Cowley Road in Oxford, and is celebrating over 20 years of gigs, clubbing, and live performances. It was awarded the title of Oxford’s best independent live music venue. There is a variety of local, national, and international acts but also club nights with drum & bass, house, and techno DJ sets every Friday and Saturday night, which are very popular with students.
What are the best Student Nights in Oxford?
Student nights, live music and events are on weekly in Oxford, with many fun nights out for students, young people and older clubbers.
The Bridge Club’s MNB (Monday Night Bridge) is a cool and classy night out, with bookable table booths, VIPs-only party area, two dance floors, one upstairs and one on arrival.
Weeknights are great at Purple Turtle Bar (AKA PT’s), located directly beneath the Oxford Union. It allows students and friends from out of town into its underground den, free of charge Monday – Thursday. It has great drinks deals, such as £1 a pint 5 – 9pm on weeknights and also allows you to dance to different tunes all week long in a low-ceilinged, maze-like party dungeon.
Wednesday night is another student night with many socials, including the popular Fuzzy Ducks at ATIK night. The Fuzz is Oxford’s longest running and most popular student night.
Thursdays are also another popular night at Emporium Nightclub & Bar’s Liberal Thursdays, it has been claimed to be the best student night in Oxford, but it is always very busy.
An Alternative House Night at Cowley Road’s Bully (The Bullingdon) is rated as Oxford’s top independent live venue. It has Friday and Saturday night DJ sets that are very popular with students, make sure you look out for when your favourite artists are there and buy a ticket in advance.
Plush is located near the train station like Bridge and Park End. The Plush Lounge is Oxford’s biggest LGBTQ+ club and has dedicated nights every Tuesday and Saturday evening. It has cheap drinks, camp club classics and a podium and pole. It has a great reputation in the Oxford community and is considered one of the best clubs in the city.
The city is normally quite quiet on Sundays, but there are some bars open for drinks.
- University of Oxford Tour
- Oxford Botanic Gardens & Arboretum
- Pitt Rivers Museum
- Ashmolean Museum
- Blackwells Bookshop
- The Bridge of Sighs
- Harry Potter locations tour
- The Oxford Artisan Distillery
- Salter’s Streamers Boat Trips
- Michael at the Northgate Church
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