Are you moving to Oxford to study or for work? One of the advantages of the city is that it’s fairly large. Although independent accommodation in the centre itself is rare (unless you’re a student in one of the many colleges, that is!), there are several well-connected neighbourhoods around. Each of them offers something different and unique. In this article, you will find the Oxford neighbourhoods we recommend and the reasons why we feel they are special.
Can you Live in Oxford's City Centre?
Oxford is a bustling city, but a relatively small one. Or, rather, the 39 Oxford University colleges, standing around their beautiful and ample quadrangles since medieval times, occupy a lot of it. Not to mention Oxford also has world-renowned museums, theatres and endless gastronomy options all packed in one walking-friendly zone.
So, the answer to the question “Can you live in the city centre?” is a relatively straightforward one: You can, but there are so few places to rent or share that this option will be unavailable for anyone on a budget.
Can you Easily Commute to Oxford? How Well-Connected is it?
Luckily, most people who live and work in Oxford live somewhere close. And those that don’t, know that there are many buses and trains that connect to the city. In fact, you can commute to Oxford even if you live in London!
Oxford has 155 bus companies and several train connections. Bikes are also easy to get and the city is very rider-friendly. So it’s very easy to commute to commute to Oxford, whether you live walking-distance from the centre or a little further away.
What Are Oxford's Best Neighbourhoods?
Each neighbourhood and village around Oxford has its unique benefits – so the question is, actually: What’s the best Oxford neighbourhood for you? Are you looking for someplace quiet from which to ride your bike? Do you need space to park one or more cars and fit a family? Or are you more of a pub enthusiast, and would prefer to walk home? Whatever your personality, Oxford has the perfect place to offer. So let’s check some of them out.
Jericho is a historic suburb of Oxford, and one of our favourites. Jericho is lively, within walking distance from the city centre, and has access to the Oxford Canal.
Jericho was originally a place for travellers to rest when they had reached Oxford after its gates had closed. That’s where the name might have come from, as it refers to a “remote place“. Jericho offers, however, a perfect balance between quietness and being central. This neighbourhood also has several pubs, supermarkets, a cinema, markets, and plenty of green spaces to rest your thoughts. The downside? It’s a little costly because it’s extremely well-connected.
Cowley Road is an arterial road that runs southeast towards Oxford and the main shopping street of East Oxford.
Cowley Road is a popular leisure district and famous for its ethnically and economically diverse population – including long-standing South Asian and Afro-Caribbean communities. Lots of undergraduate and academic staff of Oxford University live around this road too. Its busiest parts were remodelled in 2005, with pavement repaved and cycle lanes enhanced. Cowley Road is also home to the Cowley Road Carnival, an annual event with live music, a parade, and food from around the world.
Headington is an eastern suburb, at the top of Headington Hill which overlooks the city of Oxford and the valley below. The main road is London Road, which connects Oxford with London.
Headington is large and has a growing population. It also has a number of shops, pubs, restaurants, and services. Headington is where the Oxford Brookes University campus is. The city’s main hospitals, including John Radcliffe, Nuffield and Churchill are also in this area. Headington also has a number of green areas and grasslands. A number of Oxford academics live in Headington.
Marston is a village about 2 miles northeast of the centre of Oxford. A cycle route links Marston with the city, making it a great choice for many people moving to the area. There are also numerous footpaths across the meadows to the Parks, such as Mesopotamia Walk and Rainbow Bridge.
Marston is quite an affordable neighbourhood and is also walking distance from the Oxford centre. So it’s a great option for those who want to be close to the city.
Iffley is a peaceful village within the boundaries of Oxford. It’s famous for its largely unchanged Norman church, St Mary the Virgin, and its proximity to the River Thames (Isis).
Iffley is a beautiful area. Much of it is occupied by Iffley Meadows, notable for its snake’s head fritillaries. A path leads up from it along the river. The village is full of architecturally interesting houses and The Prince of Wales pub – which serves a wide range of excellent food.
What Are The Best Villages to Live Around Oxford?
If you prefer to live in a village close to Oxford (as opposed to in the city centre or its immediate surroundings), there are several great options. Many villages are connected by train and bus, making them ideal for those seeking calm.
Whatley is a village about 5 miles north of Oxford. The village had its beginnings in the Anglo-Saxon era. One of Wheatley’s main industries was quarrying limestone which was used for building Windsor Castle.
Wheatly is an excellent choice for those wanting to be close to Oxford but live in a quieter area. Whatley has a post office, schools, and regular bus services to the city. There are also supermarkets, clubs, and an annual Village Produce Association show.
Bicester is a fast-growing town northeast of Oxfordshire. Because it’s close to the M40 motorway, it’s become a popular choice for people working in London, Birmingham, and Banbury. Bicester is also just a 10-minute train drive from Oxford.
The buildings of the town have features of the Cotswold dip slope. There are some medieval buildings too, made mainly out of grey oolitic limestone. Bicester is a great option for families too, as it has many schools, green areas, and leisure clubs. The historic shopping streets, in particular Sheep Street and Market Square, have a range of shops, as well as cafés, pubs and restaurants.
Abingdon (or Abingdon-on-Thames) is a historic market town in Oxfordshire. The area was occupied from the early to middle Iron Age and the Abbey in the year 676. Abingdon also has the remains of a motte-and-bailey castle north of the town centre.
Many people choose to live in Abingdon and commute to Oxford, as it’s just a half-hour bus drive (20 minutes by car). You can also ride to the city. Abingdon is a bustling town with lots of things to do and see, and good rent prices. If that wasn’t enough, Abingdon’s brewery, Morland, is the one that produces the famous Old Speckled Hen ale.