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Counties > Oxfordshire > Oxford


OXFORD can seem insufferably cliquey to some, but if you belong in some way to the publishing, university, hospital or industrial scenes then it is not too much of a problem. It is, however, very unfriendly towards the car and as it is virtually impossible to drive into the centre, drivers slip round the ring road to find the right point of entry. Plans to further pedestrianise the city centre and re-route the traffic are at the consultation stage. Travelling on the Oxford train can be a bit like attending a literary tea party. As well as the city’s obvious beauty, its schools are a great attraction to outsiders. Public schools abound: Magdalen College School, St Edward’s, Radley College just outside, and Oxford High and Headington School for girls. Prices in Oxford have simply blossomed in recent years.

The nicer bread-and-butter houses for those making a start in Oxford lie in Osney or Jericho, both within walking distance of the station. Osney is almost moated by a combination of the Thames and the canal. Two-bedroom Victorian houses here sell for up to £280,000; three-bedrooms houses for £320,000. Prices in Jericho are slightly higher, though the houses are small. Another area to consider is Grandpont, where a Victorian house with three bedrooms would fetch from £350,000.

For many, the only area to live is North Oxford, which is peppered with academics and successful professionals. It mushroomed in the 19th century after it was suddenly decided that dons should be allowed to marry. Huge Victorian houses on wide, tree-lined roads provided them with new homes, which now sell at around £900,000 to £2.7m. There are just not enough of them to meet demand. Houses get smaller and slightly cheaper towards Summertown, where Cherwell comprehensive is a much-respected school, as is the St Philip and St James’ first school. You could buy a family house here for around £550,000. Wolvercote village, a little further out, is particularly lovely, with The Trout Inn backing on to Port Meadow. Cheaper little brick-and-tile houses sell at around £250,000.

Headington is popular with staff working at the hospital, but it is the wrong side of Oxford for the station. Coaches heading for London (Victoria) stop here and many commuters use these instead. Old Headington and Old Marston are both charming old villages with crooked lanes and stone cottages that have been absorbed by the suburbs. Inhabitants tend to be rather rarefied. Pretty cottages in either might sell for £375,000 to £500,000. Oxford’s equivalent of a stockbroker belt – large detached houses with the occasional tennis court or pony paddock – lies outside at Hinksey, Cumnor and Boars Hill. A Thirties’ house with six bedrooms, four bathrooms, lofts, outbuildings, double garage and large gardens could be bought for around £2.1m on Boars Hill.

Good for: schools, manageable commute (though better for west London than east), beautiful city.
London terminal: Paddington
Journey time: 57 mins
Season ticket: £3996
Peak trains: 3 per hour
Off-peak trains: 2 per hour