Oxford is a city of history, dreaming spires and soaring rents. Now officially the most expensive city to buy property in the country, Oxford is choked by a green belt of “unbuildable land” that has driven up prices and made it a nightmare to get a decent flat for decent money.
Whether you’re a member of the landed gentry, a Nobel Prize winning microscale chemist or one of the ‘great unwashed’ at Oxford Brookes, we should be able to help.
This is our guide to the best, and cheapest, student neighbourhoods in Oxford.
As Oxford isn’t the biggest of cities, at only around 150,000 people, it’s best to look at Oxford in terms of a few key areas. Headington, for instance, is part of the slightly more bohemian east of the city. It’s a perfect location for any students at Oxford Brookes, as Headington Road runs past the main campus. Aside form the massive artistic shark, the area used to be home to J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Expect accommodation to be in large terraced Victorian town houses at around £90-£150 a week. The area isn’t particularly known for its nightlife, but is within easy access of the city centre via bus. It’s also a reasonable walk from Oxford Uni itself.
Marston is a little further out east of Oxford. An old village and on part of the Oxford Canal, it is a good location for anybody working at the University’s science parks. As the area is even quieter than nearby Headington, it is a bit better for academics and post-grad students. Prices will be upwards of £100 per week, with some reaching the £200 mark.
East Oxford – Cowley Road, St. Clement’s and Iffley Road
The streets just south of Oxford University’s Merton and Magdalen colleges are probably the best location for any Oxford student. Iffley Road, as one of the city’s major arteries, runs, predictably, to Iffley and has reasonable accommodation along its length. But the nearby area of Cowley is a bit rougher, for Oxford (which isn’t really rough at all), on the whole it’s the best equipped student area in the city. With vintage shops, an indie cinema and a great mixture of restaurants and a great local music scene, it’s an ‘edgier’ area, definitely worth living in. Also, check late-night ice cream parlour G&D’s. You can expect the rent to be ever-so-slightly cheaper here, around £120-£130 per week, maybe a bit less, if you’re lucky.
Cutteslowe, in the north of the city, is in a traditionally more affluent area of Oxford, so you can expect the rents to be even higher than the norm, £200 a week being entirely normal but – like in most areas – you can find rent for less. Cutteslowe Park, home to that remarkably silly train pictured above, is probably one of the main local focal points, but expect the area to be a bit too residential for student life.
Likewise, Summertown is just to the north of the city centre. It’s not quite got the character of some of the central districts, but the cost of rent can be a tad lower. Summertown is well served by local shops, especially along Banbury Road and is within a reasonable walk of most of the Oxford University’s buildings and colleges. Although it not as bohemian or swanky as some places, it’s still a good student choice, and has more going on than Cutteslowe.
The biblical area of Jericho, situated next to the Oxford Uni Press, is essentially integrated into the city centre and the uni buildings. It’s an old industrial area that rapidly became very artsy. Based along the canals, it is the fictional home to the water gypsy’s in Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy and still has an old boatyard. Houses in the area are usually old Victorian ‘two up two down’ terraces. Meaning that you can only really expect four proper rooms in the whole place. Jericho is great for bars and restaurants and rolling out of bed into lectures. Expect to pay for the privilege though.
Oxford’s city centre is a little different to many typical city centres in the UK. Mostly, they aren’t the best places for students to live, being a bit more pricey, less residential, and far away from the universities. As Oxford’s city centre and its famous university are almost totally entwined, having evolved symbiotically over a good thousand years, you’d essentially be living inside the university itself. Of course you can expect to pay for the privilege. The city centre is an incredible location, but not one that is very practical. The best places for any Erasmus students to live in are probably still Jericho and East Oxford.
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