A basic guide to living in Oxford

If you are considering living in Oxford and you think you need information, you’ll find basic information about the city in this article.

1. General information

Oxford is a British city in the county of Oxfordshire and is home to the University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world. According to the 2007 census, its population is about 153,000 inhabitants.

It is known as the city of dreaming spires, a term coined by Matthew Arnold to describe the harmonious architecture of the university buildings. Oxford is an industrial city, primarily associated with the automotive industry in the suburb of Cowley.

Population: urban 171,380 and metropolis 244,000. Density: 3270 km2
Postal Code: OX1 to OX4
City Council website: oxford.gov.uk

2. Transportation

Buses:

Due to the few existing parking spaces in Oxford and their high price, Oxford has an important network of public buses that connect the city. For travel within the city of Oxford, the two main bus companies are Oxford Bus Company and Stagecoach. The weekly card costs £12.50 while the monthly costs £40. In case you come by car to the city, it is best to leave the car in Park & Rides and get a bus to the centre. The most important Park and Rides are those of: Thornhill, Redbridge, Pear Tree, Water Eaton, Seacourt. The bus fare ranges between £2.40 and £2.70, depending on the time you get out. Parking costs £2.00 and you can leave the car all day.

Airport:

Oxford has an airport in Kidlington that offers business and general air services. However, the airport used by everyone is Gatwick Airport (Oxford is located about 80 kilometers northwest of London). Once you arrive at the airport, you can either catch a train to take you to Oxford (you will have to change trains at Reading: the price is £26.80), or you can take a bus. You can check timetables here (it takes approximately 2- 2.5 hours and the price is £28). If you choose to drive, the cities are linked by the M40 motorway.

Airports close to Oxford: Birmingham (75km), Coventry (60km), East Midlands (111km), Gloucestershire (59km), London Gatwick (109km), London Heathrow (71km), London Luton (66km), Southampton (99km) and Bristol (148km).

Train:

Oxford is well connected by railway. By train you can go to London (Paddington), Bournemouth, Worcester (via the Cotswold Line), and Bicester. The city also has regular train services northwards to Birmingham, Coventry, Manchester, Scotland etc. The railway service connecting Oxford and Cambridge, known as the Varsity Line, stopped working in 1968.

For timetables and prices for trains you can do on the web NationalRail.

Other transportation:

There are also taxi services in Oxford for everyone who wants to use them. However, one of the most used means of transport by Oxford residents is the bicycle.

UPDATE 15 NOV 2015:

Thanks to the 2015 survey of Spaniards in UK we published, we have the data of the average Spanish residents in Oxford spend on public transport: £42/month.

3. Tourism and Leisure

Oxford Tourism Map
Oxford Tourism Map, by The Guardian 

Oxford is home to the oldest university in the English-speaking world. It has 38 colleges, where prime ministers like David Cameron, scientists like Albert Einstein, writers like J.R.R Tolkien and actors like Hugh Grant have all studied.

The buildings of Oxford University boast the most impressive architecture in Britain. In fact, the poet Matthew Arnold named Oxford “the city of dreaming spires” due to the large number of needles that crown the buildings of the university. Also noteworthy are the Bodleian Library, Radcliffe Camera and the Sheldonian Theatre of Sir Christopher Wren. If you want to get to fully know Oxford you can do this tour. You can also do thematic tours, like Tolkien in Oxford or a tour of Historic Pubs.

With regard to Oxford’s cultural offerings, we should highlight its program of performances, which is full of interesting events. If you live in Oxford, don’t miss the Oxford Literary Festival, the Oxford Jazz Festival and the Oxford Chamber Music Festival.

If, however, you are more of a shopper, Oxford is also a great destination. Besides the typical British chain stores, the centre of the city also has a covered market, a lively mix of small stalls selling everything from handmade gifts and Oxford sausage to old books.

When it comes to food, you can’t miss the opportunity to eat at the Old Parsonage Hotel, where it is said that Oscar Wilde stayed, and to have a pint at the Eagle & Child, the pub where JRR Tolkien and his literary group used to gather. As for the nightlife in Oxford, you will find several of the most popular bars on George Street and Magdalene Street, or if you fancy something different, you can explore the bohemian neighborhood of Jericho.

4. Accommodation

Accommodation in Oxford isn’t very different from what we can find in other British cities. In the event that you are looking for a house/apartment to live in, obviously, the further you move from the center, the cheaper the rent will be.

To find a room we recommend the websites spareroom.co.uk and gumtree.com.

If, on the other hand, you are only visiting the city for a couple of days, you have to consider that fact that the hotel prices shoot up at certain times of the year, such as in the summer months. A good temporary option is to rent an apartment, which are often well-priced.

In this case, we recommend visiting the following website: airbnb.co.uk.

The City Council website can answer your questions about the taxes you pay for living in Oxford: oxford.gov.uk

UPDATE 15 NOV 2015:

We continue with the 2015 survey data, Spanish residents in Oxford have a monthly cost of £646/month for housing (with bills included).

5. Work

The unemployment level in Oxford is the lowest in Britain. According to recent figures, the unemployment rate in Oxford is around 1%. If you want to find a job, everything will depend on the level of English you have. If your English is low-medium, you may find employment in the services sector and the best way to find it is by walking around the city and distributing CVs. If, on the other hand, your English is medium-high, then you are more likely to find employment in the sector you have studied for or work in professionally.

In addition, you can always find employment on the internet:

UPDATE 15 NOV 2015:

Survey 2015 data: Spanish residents in Oxford have an average monthly income of £1,345/month net.

6. Studying in Oxford

It has 22,000 students every year; almost 20% of the population of the city is linked directly to the university. If you want to be a part of the university with the oldest tradition in the world, here is the information:

Visit the website of Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) to apply for undergraduate courses at universities in the UK and to get more information about attending them.

Other centers where you can study vocational courses or different public courses:

Article by Ángela Fernández

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