Oxford’s cosmopolitan mix of shops and restaurants means it has plenty to offer residents besides education.

Situated in the south-east of England, is Oxford, known as the ‘city of dreaming spires’. Home to one of the world’s most prestigious universities, its medieval architecture is also world-renowned.

Oxford’s thriving network of independent shops and ethnic eateries, has made it a vibrant cultural centre as well as a historical one.

Houses command high prices here though, with even the average standing at £482,000. You can check up-to-date house prices on Zoopla here.

Living in Oxford: what to expect

The city centre itself is compact and largely pedestrianised, making it ideal for walking or – famously – cycling. Residents can wander the medieval streets free from the nuisance of traffic.

Homebuyers will be met with a wide choice of both period and modern homes. The city has 1,500 listed structures dating from every major period of British architectural history.

From the centre, the streets give way to Victorian and Edwardian residential buildings. Shops, restaurants and bars are also easily found. More modern houses feature in the self-contained towns absorbed by the city’s growth.

Oxford’s history may be rich and colourful, but residents can equally enjoy plenty of development and regeneration. The Local Plan for 2016-2036 offers schemes to deliver new homes, shops and infrastructures.

Plans are in place to regenerate the Blackbird Leys area, and Oxpens is set to be developed in 2016/2017 with houses, restaurants and a public square. Oxford Council is also planning to upgrade the train station and its surrounding area to improve travel times.

Oxford city centre on a sunny morning

Buildings right in the city centre itself are mostly owned by the university, but you can find many residential properties within walking distance.

Summertown in central north Oxford is just two miles from the centre. Streets such as Banbury Road boast large Victorian and Edwardian homes and apartment complexes. Residents can enjoy nearby independent galleries and shops.

Also in central north Oxford you’ll find the Norham Manor Estate. It was developed in the 1860s and its houses are made from red and yellow brick. The tall gabled houses command very high prices.

If you want a thriving cosmopolitan neighbourhood, look to Cowley. It sits to the east and is home to Cowley Road, which has a mix of ethnic shops, pubs and clubs. Search here for terraced houses and some modest apartments.

Also to the east of the city is Headington, which has its own shopping centre. Spacious modern apartments, 1930s semis and character terraced homes can all be found within this self-contained town. Modestly priced flats on roads such as Peat Moors can also be found on the market.

Along the canal is the area of Jericho. If you’re after a house with character, you’ll find it among this neighbourhood’s narrow streets.

To the south is the village of Iffley. This Conservation Area offers period homes in a quiet neighbourhood. Look out for the Norman church at its centre.

The villages of Botley and Cummor lie to the west. Here you will find both old and new homes and apartments. The new Lingfield Estate has a range of modern properties.

Old Oxford houses on a cobblestone street

Getting around Oxford

By train: Oxford train station is just outside the city centre. It can get you to London Paddington and Birmingham New Street in one hour. Services to also run to Manchester and Edinburgh.

By bike: Cycling in Oxford is super-easy. Cycling routes that can be downloaded from Oxford County Council’s website.

Bu car: The city is served by the M40 motorway, which connects London to Birmingham. The A34 connects the North to Southampton via Oxford, while the M40 heads east. The A44 travels from Oxford to Worcester, Hereford and Aberystwyth, and the A420 leads to Bristol.

Parking and driving in the city is difficult and expensive. Alternatively, use one of the park-and-ride services to access the inner city.

By air: London Heathrow and Gatwick Airports are a 90-minute bus ride from the city centre. Combined, both airports offer flights to around 400 destinations worldwide. London Oxford Airport, which is a 15-minute drive away, offers business and private chartered flights.

Canal in Oxford with quaint barges moored

Things to do in Oxford

You can appreciate the city’s history by visiting the Saxon Tower of St Michael. This stone structure on Cornmarket Street is Oxford’s oldest building. Follow it up with a trip to the remains of the Norman Oxford Castle.

Feed your curiosity further by visiting the Museum of Oxford and learning the full history of the city, its university and residents. For ancient and modern artwork, wander among the exhibits at the Ashmolean Museum.

Visit the historic pilgrimage place of Christ Church Cathedral to learn about the city’s religious history. It’s one of the smallest cathedrals in England and has stunning Romanesque and Gothic architecture.

The Bodleian Library is the place to go if – like many Oxford residents – you love books. This library was opened in 1602 and houses nine million items. A tour can take you to see the interior, including the teaching and examining room.

If you’re inspired by the Cambridge vs Oxford Boat Race, sign up to a beginner’s rowing course at the City of Oxford Rowing Club. Alternatively, view the city from the river by hiring a boat or having a go at punting yourself.

For a taste of the exotic, visit the Botanic Gardens on the banks of the Cherwell River. They are the oldest botanical gardens in Britain and feature greenhouses with tropical plants.

While you’re by the river, get away from the tourists by stopping at the Cherwell Boathouse. You can hire a boat here or enjoy a meal on the terrace overlooking the water.

Typical high-street shops can be found on Cornmarket Street and Queen Street. Or visit independent retailers like Boswell & Co department store, which has been serving customers since 1738. You can browse the stalls at the Oxford Covered Market for hot food and other treats.

For a taste of real ale and some history, have a drink at the King’s Arms. It’s the oldest pub in Oxford and even has its own resident ghost.

Head to Angels for a cocktail or two. This bar serves up vintage flavours as well as modern classics and their own inventions. Try the World War I French 75 or the Black Star Liner cocktail.

Music-lovers can hear international bands at the 02 Academy, or head to independent venues such as The Cellar. This club hosts bands playing music from electronica to drum and bass.

The city is also home to several theatres, including the New Theatre, which plays host to West End productions, ballet, opera, comedians and music concerts. If you're looking for up-and-coming stars, try one of the university productions.

Rooftops of the city of Oxford on a rainy day

Hidden Oxford

Check out The Unicorn on Ship Street. It’s a vintage shop filled with clothes, shoes and accessories – perfect for those who like to rummage.

6 reasons to live in Oxford

  • A range of architecture and period housing
  • Historic city centre
  • Independent shops and restaurants
  • Cosmopolitan culture
  • Central location
  • Access to green parks and the river

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