Living in Oxford


What is life like in Oxford?

Oxford is one of the most historic, cultural and desirable cities in the UK, and with a population of around 150,000 it is also one of the country's largest settlements.

Most famous for its university, which is recognised as one of the very best in the world, Oxford is also home to a growing economic base and a thriving tourist industry. Oxford University is the oldest institution of its type in the English-speaking world.

Among the key industries based in the city are motor manufacturing, education and publishing, while there are also many science-based firms located there.

The city centre is made up of hundreds of beautiful buildings that provide a perfect example of each period in English architecture's history. This began with the arrival of the Saxons, and one particularly splendid case is the building of the fabulous Radcliffe Camera.

Everybody from families to young professionals and couples will find somewhere that is just right for them in the City of Dreaming Spires.

What's more, Oxford has excellent links to London, making it an ideal base for commuters or simply those who love to spend some leisure time in the capital.

Check out available properties to rent or buy in Headington.


The first settlers arrived in Oxford in the Saxon period, and the city was initially known as Oxenaforda, which translated as Ford of the Oxen. It truly began when a permanent river crossing was created in approximately 900 AD, and in the 10th century Oxford became a crucial military town.

King Henry II granted a charter to Oxford, which served to enhance the prestige surrounding it. This meant people living there enjoyed the same privileges as those in London.

By the start of the 20th century, Oxford was enjoying the benefits of significant and rapid industrial and population growth. It was at this time that the printing and publishing industries became particularly well established.

In the 1920s, Oxford was revolutionised by the decision of William Morris to launch the Morris Motors Ltd company in the city. The firm's cars were mass produced in Cowley, a suburb of Oxford, and by the 1970s more than 20,000 people worked there.

Although job losses and decline followed, this area is now successful once again thanks to the arrival of the Mini production plant for BMW.

Author Stephen Hawking is one of the most famous people to have been born in Oxford, while the city has given the world of film and television the likes of Hugh Laurie and Miriam Margolyes.

A number of widely recognised names have taught or studied at the University of Oxford throughout its history, including former US President Bill Clinton, actor Hugh Grant and broadcaster Fiona Bruce.

Entertainment, sport and days out

The major venue in central Oxford is the New Theatre, which hosts a full programme of music, theatre, comedy and other performances from some of the UK's biggest names. It is a great place to catch a show of any type.

Alternatively, the Oxford Playhouse offers a similar range of events and is one of the most cultural venues in the city. Other places renowned for hosting shows include the North Wall, Arts at the Old Fire Station and the Pegasus Theatre.

As with any historic city, Oxford has more than its fair share of fascinating museums. The Ashmolean Museum is one of the greatest in the world and was actually the first museum in the world to open its doors to the general public.

The Museum of Oxford explains the story of the city in tremendous detail, while Oxford Castle Unlocked is a unique chance to discover the secrets of the magnificent Oxford Castle.

One other great way to spend some time in Oxford is to hire a punt and head down the river towards the Thames, as this is one of the most traditional activities in the city.

For sports enthusiasts, Ferry Leisure Centre in Headington is an ideal starting point, while those in other parts of the city can join up at Temple Cowley Pools and Barton Leisure Centre among others.

While Oxford is undoubtedly a charming and intriguing city with plenty to see and do, the surrounding area holds almost as much appeal. It is located on the doorstep of the Chilterns, one of the UK's most popular areas of outstanding natural beauty and home to jaw-dropping scenery.

Eating, drinking & shopping

Oxford is home to a plethora of high-quality dining establishments, so nobody should ever go hungry. Some of the most highly rated and popular venues in the city include Yeti Nepalese Restaurant, the Oxford Kitchen and the Standard.

There is also a good choice of local takeaways, offering cuisine from every corner of the world.

When it comes to pubs, Oxford has a wide range of both traditional and modern hostelries that can be ideal for anything from a spot of lunch on a summer's day to an evening with friends. The Plough, the Seven Stars and the White Rabbit are just some of those to fare well with locals.

Shoppers in Oxford are particularly well catered for, with the high street the obvious focal point. This boasts many of the biggest names in the UK's retail scene, with consumers guaranteed to find the very best in fashion, home ware, electricals and more.

Elsewhere in the city, the Covered Market is understandably a highlight and offers people the chance to grab a bargain.

One of the major charms of Oxford's shopping offering is the selection of independent stores and boutiques that can be found. Many of these are based in the city centre, while others are located in suburban shopping districts such as Headington and Jericho.

Schools & healthcare

As one might expect in the city with one of the world's most famous universities, education is of an incredibly high standard. There are wonderful schools on offer around the city, particularly in the north and centre.

Cherwell School is one of the most prestigious state schools in Oxford, while some of the best fee-paying day schools include St Edward's and the Dragon School. Headington School is another of the most highly rated schools in the area, with 100 per cent of students achieving five or more good GCSEs in 2013.

St Helen and St Katherine, Magdalen College School, Radley College and Oxford High School are other institutions to look out for.

Oxford University Hospitals Trust oversees several healthcare facilities in the city, including John Radcliffe Hospital, Churchill Hospital, Horton General and the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, all of which offer a high standard of treatment. There are also plenty of surgeries and clinics dotted about the area.

Getting around

Oxford has a mainline rail station with connections to London, with journeys between the two cities taking around an hour to complete. Of course, Oxford is also connected to the rest of Oxfordshire and beyond to the Midlands.

By road, the M40 is the major link and can be used by residents to head to London or to the Midlands. It is just over an hour's drive to either the capital or to Birmingham.

There is also an extensive local bus service, helping people to get around the city and to neighbouring towns and villages.