If you're looking for houses for sale in Oxford, what do you need to know about the city?
Oxford is a city that is world famous for its acclaimed university and nicknamed ‘the city of dreaming spires’. It offers substance and beauty thanks to its stunning architecture, diverse population, vibrant cultural scene and thriving economy.
The university city sits in the south east of England, 51 miles to the north west of London. At under an hour by train to the capital, Oxford attracts a large number of commuters. The city is built around the tranquil banks of the river Cherwell and the River Thames. The waterways not only make Oxford picturesque, but also offer the perfect spot for rowing and boating.
Oxford’s history dates back to the Saxon era. The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world, where teaching dates back to 1096. In the 12th and 13th centuries the infrastructure of the city became shaped by the university’s impressive new buildings. The superb architecture can still be enjoyed today, as Oxford escaped much of the bombing in the Second World War due to the lack of industry there at the time. It is also speculated that Oxford was spared because Hitler planned to use it as his capital city if he successfully invaded the UK.
Oxford has a plethora of famous connections, largely due to the alumni of the university. A total of 26 British Prime Ministers have been Oxford graduates, while 58 Nobel prize-winners have been educated or taught there.
Buying a house in Oxford
If you are looking to buy a house in Oxford, you’ll need to be prepared to save. Oxford is the least affordable place to live in Britain, with the average cost of a house standing at more than 11 times the average salary of those that work in the city. Oxford’s two universities are also to blame for high house prices as buy-to-let landlords and wealthy parents buying for their children pushed up prices. House hunters in Oxford also need to be aware of the risk of flooding in the area. You can see which parts of Oxford are at risk on the Environment Agency website.
Oxford is suffering from a housing shortage. The Strategic Housing Market Assessment found that between 24,000 and 32,000 homes need to be built between 2011 and 2031 to meet Oxford's housing need. Oxford’s difficulty in agreeing on housing plans means that most of the new-build homes that are being approved are outside of the city centre in areas such as Botley and Headington. The demand for affordable housing has also had an impact on rents, which have continued to rise faster than wages from 2011 to 2015.
The more expensive properties in Oxford tend to be period homes from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, although there are some unique new-build homes that also command higher price tags. Properties built in the 1930s are popular too, with families keen to snap them up as they often offer scope for extension and improvements. There is also a wide range of properties built from the 1950s up to the present day, which are generally more affordable than the sought after period properties.
Where to buy in Oxford
There is very little property available in the heart of the city centre, as so much space is taken up by the university and leisure facilities. The few homes that do make it onto the market are generally flats, rather than houses and the convenient location will reflect in the prices. There is slightly more availability for renters in the city centre, where flats and house shares are the most prevalent types of home.
The priciest areas in Oxford lie to the north of the city and consist of many beautiful detached period properties. These areas are particularly popular with families planning to send their children to the well regarded schools nearby. These include the Dragon School and The Cherwell School, which were both rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. Park Town is one of Oxford’s earliest suburban developments and, as a result, many of the homes in the area are listed. The most expensive roads are Crick Road, Canterbury Road and Charlbury Road, where prices can soar into the millions. Neighbouring Summer Town is home to diverse array of restaurants, shops and food stores, as well as banks and healthcare facilities - so there is no need to constantly head into the city centre. The homes with the heftiest price tags in Summer Town can typically be found in Lathbury Road and Chalfont Road.
The west of the city is less residential due to the danger of flooding; however Grandpont and New Hinksey offer some beautiful Victorian and Edwardian terraced homes for those that are willing to take on the risk. Both areas benefit from being on bus routes into the city and having essential amenities on hand.
Cowley is the residential and industrial area to the south of Oxford. It grew substantially when car manufacturer William Morris bought a site in the area. Extensive housing was built to accommodate the workers between the 1920s and the 1960s. One of the areas that developed was Florence Park, now a popular neighbourhood as the property there tends to be more affordable. The village of Iffley to the west of Cowley has also increased in popularity thanks to its pleasant pubs and easy access into east Oxford.
To the east of Oxford is the suburb of Headington, where you’ll find the Headington Shark - a 25ft shark sculpture protruding head first from one of the houses in New High Street. There are lots of opportunities for employment in Headington, with the three hospitals and Oxford Brookes University offering a variety of jobs. It also has a good selection of shops, restaurants, supermarkets and pubs, which attract people to the area. There are a wide range of properties available, including Victorian and Edwardian houses, cottage, flats and family homes. Famous past residents include J.R.R. Tolkien, who lived in Sandfield road from 1953 up to 1968, and his friend C.S. Lewis, who lived in the Kilns from 1930 until his death in 1963.
Transport in Oxford
Cycling in the city is extremely popular as a result of it not being too hilly and driving being a tricky option. Bike storage is available around the city and there are also several cycle shops for repairs. There are cycle lanes along most of the commuter routes in the centre of Oxford, as well as a selection of routes for leisure cyclists too.
With limited parking and congested roads, buses are also a key mode of transport in Oxford. There are local services to Abingdon, Banbury, Carterton, Charlbury, Chipping Norton, Didcot, Eynsham, Kidlington, Wantage, Woodstock and Wheatley. The Oxford Tube and the X90 are the two regular services into London, but there are also are wide range of National Express services that provide access to the rest of England.
For those that drive, the Oxford ring road links the city to the A34, A44, A420 and the A40 on to the M40. The city centre is not particularly car friendly as it is mainly controlled by a one-way system, but if driving is a must, then there is the option of using the park and ride scheme.
Oxford rail way station provides the city with excellent connections to the rest of the country. Passengers can get to London Paddington in less than an hour and direct trains run to Manchester, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Southampton and Reading. Oxford Parkway is a new station built by Chiltern Railways, which opened in October 2015 and provides services every 30 minutes into London Marylebone.
The nearest international airports to Oxford are Heathrow and Luton, which are around a 50 minute drive away and an hour and 10 minute drive respectively. Oxford does have its own airport, known as London Oxford Airport, but it is predominantly used as an aviation academy and by private fliers. There are currently plans for expansion at the airport with new routes intended to include Amsterdam, Barcelona, Belfast, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Jersey, Munich and Paris.
Things to do in Oxford
There is no shortage of things to see and do in Oxford, with a wide range of historical landmarks, shops, restaurants and leisure activities. Take a step back in time by visiting Oxford castle, the Ashmolean Museum and the Univerity’s historical colleges where parts of Harry Potter were filmed.
Art lovers can enjoy trips to see exhibitions at the Christ Church Picture gallery or Modern Art Oxford. Those that prefer theatre can see West End productions and acclaimed comedians at the New Theatre, or enjoy indie productions at Oxford Playhouse.
Oxford also has several cinemas to catch the latest blockbusters in, as well as the Phoenix Picturehouse, which offers independent and foreign films. The main shopping hubs include The Clarendon Shopping Centre, Westgate Shopping centre and the Covered Market but there are many areas outside of the city that are also popular.
Sport is an important aspect of Oxford’s culture. Oxford FC is the city’s biggest football club, while the Oxford Harlequins RFC is the main rugby union team. Other notable sports in the city include hockey, ice hockey, cricket and rowing. Those looking to get active can head to one of Oxford’s leisure centres, which include Ferry Leisure Centre, Oxford Ice Rink, Barton Leisure Centre, Leys Pool and Leisure Centre, and Hinksey Pool.
Weather in Oxford
Oxford’s weather doesn’t throw up any major surprises and it's largely determined by the weather systems that move in from the Atlantic. The city is situated in one of the drier parts of the country, with the total average rainfall standing at 642mm per year. The highest temperature ever seen in the city was in August 2003, when the mercury hit 35.6 °C. Oxford’s lowest temperature of -16.6 °C was recorded in January 1982.