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 Oxford’s 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 (reasonable) budget. However, because Oxford is not a large city, this means you can live in the “outskirts” and still be able to walk or bike to the centre easily. Plus, there are tons of buses and trains you can use to commute.
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 Oxford’s city centre. In fact, you can commute to Oxford even if you live in London! (just see how many ways there are to get here from there).
Oxford has 155 bus companies and several regular train connections and coaches connect Oxford to the airport 24 hours a day. Bikes are also easy to get, and the city is very rider-friendly. So in short: It’s very easy to commute to Oxford, whether you live within 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?
It helps to ask yourself a few planning questions first. For example: 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. As I mentioned, there are many areas within the city with plenty of places to rent, share, or (if you’re lucky!) buy. You just need to set a budget and start exploring.
So let’s check some of the best Oxford neighbourhoods and the pretties, most-connected villages and tows in the area where you caould set camp. We’ve got a few ones to cover, so buckle up.
Jericho is a historic suburb of Oxford, and one of my personal favourites. Jericho is extremely lively, it’s within walking distance from the city centre, and has access to the Oxford Canal. It’s also really pretty and has a cinema, many pubs, supermarkets, and events all throughout the week. If you’re looking for a neighbourhood that is close to Oxford’s universities, libraries, and museums, you just can’t get better than Jericho. Of course, all of these advantages come at a price (literally).
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 markets and plenty of green spaces to rest your thoughts. The downside? As we said, it can be rather costly because it’s extremely well-connected and hip 😉
How far is Jericho from Oxford’s city centre?: 1 mile, or a 10-15-minute walk.
In what direction from Oxford is Jericho?: It’s within the city, to the North-West.
Jericho is just a 10-15 minute walk from most universities, libraries, and Oxford attractions. It’s also a vibrant, lively neighbourhood with a cinema, supermarkets, and lots of pubs.
Why NOT Jericho?
Because it’s so well located, Jericho is a very sought-after Oxford neighbourhood. This means it can be difficult to find a place and not exactly the most affordable option.
Cowley Road is an arterial road that runs southeast (mostly east) towards Oxford. It’s also the main shopping street of East Oxford and filled with restaurants, pubs, bars, and the renowned O2 Academy Oxford.
Cowley Road is a popular leisure district and is 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, so it’s quite lively as well.
The busiest parts of Cowley Road were remodelled in 2005, with pavement repaved and cycle lanes enhanced. This brought in a lot of new restaurants and bars, making the area a vibrant district ideal for gastronomy lovers and foodies. Cowley Road is also home to the Cowley Road Carnival, an annual event with live music, a parade, and food from around the world.
How far is Cowley Road from Oxford’s city centre?: 0.7 miles, or a 13-minute walk.
In what direction from Oxford is Cowley Road?: It’s to the East of the city.
Why Cowley Road?
Cowley Road is close to the city centre, has many more spaces to rest or share, and you’ll always find a new restaurant or bar to try. Plus, it’s diverse, fun, and welcoming.
Why NOT Cowley Road?
I honestly can’t think of many reasons you wouldn’t want to live here. But it’s not a great place if you have a car (as it can get quite busy) and the area closest to the main street can get loud.
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. This area is relatively close to the city (feels much closer when you’re going downhill in the direction of Oxford!) and has it’s its own little commercial centre.
Headington is large and has a growing population. It also has a large number of pubs, restaurants, and all the services you might need. Headington is also where the Oxford Brookes University campus is, so there are a lot of students from that uni that live around this area.
The city’s main hospitals, including John Radcliffe, Nuffield and Churchill are also in Headington. Plus, the neighbourhood also has a number of green areas and grasslands that make perfect locations for a picnic or jog. A number of Oxford academics live in Headington, too, in case that matters!
How far is Headington from Oxford’s city centre?: 2.8 miles, or a 50-minute walk.
In what direction from Oxford is Headington?: It’s to the East of the city.
Headington is its own little commercial area at what is (for many) still walking distance from Oxford’s city centre. Plus, it’s quite big so it has lots of accommodation options to explore.
Why NOT Headington?
Headington is up a hill, so if you plan on walking or biking to work/uni, you should keep this in mind! Other than that, it’s a pretty good neighbourhood, in my opinion.
Marston is a village about miles northeast of the centre of Oxford. A cycle route links Marston with the city, making it an excellent 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 within walking distance from the Oxford centre, so it’s a great option for those who want to be close to the city.
Both Marston and Headington are considered more family-friendly, but it’s the second that tends to attract more students because of its proximity to the Oxford Brookes Campus. Marson, on the other hand, is much quieter. If you’re looking for an area filled with pubs and restaurants… well, let’s say Marston should not be your first choice. There’s not too much to do here, which makes it a great choice if you appreciate silence 😉
How far is Marston from Oxford’s city centre?: 2.5 miles, or a 45-minute walk.
In what direction from Oxford is Marston?: It’s to the North (and a little East) of the city.
Marston is petty, quiet, and affordable. It’s also just 2.5 miles fro the city centre, so you can easily commute by bike or walk. This neighbourhood is very family-friendly.
Why NOT Marston?
Marston doesn’t have much in terms of shops, restaurants, or things to do or see. I’d call it a utilitarian choice. Close to everything, yet not exactly a vibrant option.
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). Because Iffley is just two miles from Oxford city centre, it’s a favourite choice among students.
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.
There are plenty of other pubs, too (since it’s so popular with students and we all need to relax once in a while). Unfortunately, this also means that the rental quality can be a little lacking, as Iffley it’s not as hip as Jericho or as diverse as Cowley Road. Still, a pretty good choice that combines proximity to Oxford and its universities with a relatively relaxed area with plenty of accommodation options.
How far is Iffley from Oxford’s city centre?: 2 miles, or a 40-minute walk.
In what direction from Oxford is Iffley?: It’s to the South (and a little East) of the city.
Iffley is beautiful, and it’s just two miles from Oxford city centre. It has plenty of pubs and restaurants and a lovely park (the Iffley Meadows) should you want to stretch your legs.
Why NOT Iffley?
Iffley is very popular with students, which unfortunately can mean some of the properties are not as well-maintained as you’d want. It’s also not as “fancy” as other neighbourhood choices.
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. This is probably why many people working or studying in Oxford prefer to inhabit them instead. Most of these are properly beautiful, too!
Villages Close to Oxford: Wheatley
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.
How far is Wheatley from Oxford?: 6 miles.
In what direction from Oxford is Wheatley?: It’s to the East of the city.
Villages Close to Oxford: Bicester
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.
How far is Bicester from Oxford?: 14 miles.
In what direction from Oxford is Bicester?: It’s to the North-East of the city.
Villages Close to Oxford: Witney
Witney is a beautiful market town just 40 minutes by bus (25 by car) from Oxford. Many people who work or study in oxford choose to live in Witney because this place offers several advantages. For one, it’s filled with shops, it has a cinema, a 17th-century church, and several parks. It’s also within the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, renowned for their beauty.
Witney holds several annual events, including the autumn Witney Carnival and Witney Feast. There’s also Cogges Farm, 17 acres of naturally gorgeous grounds and a 13th-century manor house, as well as moated islands, picnic orchards, and walled gardens. Witney is also another bus from Blenheim Palace, a UNESCO world heritage site.
How far is Witney from Oxford?: 12 miles.
In what direction from Oxford is Witney?: It’s to the West of the city.
Villages Close to Oxford: Abingdon
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.
How far is Abingdon from Oxford?: 8.5 miles.
In what direction from Oxford is Abingdon?: It’s to the South of the city.