Cowley Road Carnival
Cowley Road Carnival will receive funding from Oxford University
Credit: Cowley Road Works

Living in Oxford

Oxford is a young city with over 40,000 students from two universities, and with a third of the population aged under 30.

In addition to its educational institutions, Oxford is also home to motor manufacturing, publishing and a large number of science and technology-based companies. As you might expect, there are hundreds of cafes, bars, restaurants, music venues, theatres, shops, pubs and clubs catering to this vibrant and cosmopolitan community.

Safe, green and fun

The nightlife is a lot better than I expected. I mean the pubs, clubs and even venues where bands perform like Freud's and the O2/Arts Bar. I really enjoy the funk & soul and 80s nights.


Oxford is a small city, easily explored on foot or by bike or bus.

Importantly, it is also well known as a safe city. The Complete University Guide ranks Oxford in its top twenty safest student cities.

Green spaces abound, ranging from the huge expanses of Port Meadow and Shotover Hill, the University Parks, Christ Church Meadow, South Park (location for many a festival), to miles of tranquil waterside walks and many other peaceful corners.

If it's entertainment you're looking for, then Oxford offers everything from student club nights to stand up comedy. The city has classical concerts, plays and musicals, several cinemas and an abundance of live-music venues.

The independent Daily Info newsletter lists everything going on in the city and is a great way to find things to do.

Where are the colleges?

Take a look at the map to see that the University’s colleges make up much of Oxford’s city centre. There is no central University campus.

A few colleges are slightly further from the centre. Typically, they feel spacious and have large gardens, sometimes running alongside the river. All are within easy distance of the main University buildings, such as the Bodleian Libraries. They may also be conveniently near privately rented student accommodation.

Read more on college life and on colleges.

Your home in Oxford

All first year undergraduate students are guaranteed accommodation in their college, and many continue to live in college accommodation for the whole of their degree.

Living in college

As a first year undergraduate student, you will be offered college accommodation either on the main site of your college or in a nearby college annexe. This means that your neighbours will also be ‘freshers’ and new to life at Oxford. This accommodation is guaranteed, so you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to live after accepting a place here. All this is organised for you before you arrive.

All colleges offer at least one further year of accommodation for undergraduates and some offer this for the entire duration of your degree.

You may choose to take up any option to live in your college for the whole of your time at Oxford, or you might decide to arrange your own accommodation after your first year - perhaps because you want to live with a spouse, or with friends from other colleges.

Living out

If you choose to ‘live out’, Oxford has a large selection of privately-rented houses and flats available. Living out does tend to be more expensive as houses are normally rented for the whole year rather than just for term time. However, this does mean that you would have somewhere to stay if you wanted to study out of term or take a holiday job in Oxford.

Students who live out still have use of all their college’s facilities including meals and washing machines. The Oxford University Students Union (Oxford SU) provides guidance on living out and can help you if you have questions or concerns about accommodation.

My best Oxford memory so far is receiving a G&D’s ice cream cake for my birthday.


Can I commute?

All undergraduates are required to live within six miles of central Oxford, or 25 miles if living with your parents or guardians.

There are some exceptions to this but overall Oxford believes that this adds to the strong community feel within every college.

Please visit the University's residency requirements for more information.  

Links beyond Oxford

Oxford has excellent transport links. The city is just over 50 miles (92 km) from London and has great train and coach networks which connect you to international airports at Birmingham, Heathrow and Gatwick.

The best thing about Oxford as a city is the coffee shops.


Situated in central England, Oxford's position makes it perfect for visiting other parts of the UK. You can be in central London or Birmingham within an hour, get to the south coast in two, or travel cross-country to other destinations such as Manchester, Edinburgh or Bristol.