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Oxfordshire vs Bath/Bristol

(39 Posts)
likeatonneofbricks Thu 24-May-12 19:28:45

Does anyone know both areas well and can give me pros and cons. By oxon I mean a town, but not Oxford itself as too full of tourists and too biased towards academia (well so is Bath with tourists but only in the summer). I don't know any other towns in Oxon but I've heard that it's the best place to live, also great countryside. To me, it beats the west by its proximity to London where I like to go couple of times a week. Is Abingdom nice enough and has a reliable bus/cheap taxis to the nearest station? Can anyone also tell me about the 'atmosphere' of Oxon, as I think Bristol and Bath are definetely nice places, well the beeter parts of them (friendly, lots of shops, beautiful houses) - is Oxon more snobby? sorry a bit of a rambly post with many questions. Oh, and is Oxon more expensive, bar Oxford itself?

likeatonneofbricks Thu 24-May-12 19:30:02


likeatonneofbricks Thu 24-May-12 19:30:26

oh fgs - Abingdon!

LittleMilla Thu 24-May-12 19:58:23

I don't know Oxon well, but I live in Bristol and love it. My husband commutes to London on a Monday morning without too much bother.

Plus points for Bristol: friendly, good (hippyish) vibe which just makes it quite cool, an abundance of gorgeous houses that seem far more affordable than SW London where I lived, lots of period houses that are yet to be 'done', did I say friendly ;-), plenty to do with kids, close to Devon/Cornwall/South Wales, you can visit Bath for the day but can leave it and its traffic behind (tourists are there year round BTW), lots of big businesses based here so you don't feel like a complete yokel.

Nagatives: has a bit of an unsavoury edge in certain parts, not that close to London (if that's what you want), the slower pace can sometimes be frustrating, state school places are a frigging nightmare in popular areas - in that you need to live within 400m max of some!


crunched Thu 24-May-12 20:02:22

My family live in Bath. It is a beautiful city natch,but the tourists are certainly not confined to the summer months.
I lived a couple of miles from Oxford until 2 years ago- abit further out now- and found tourists far less of an issue there. Students tend to keep to their own haunts, so rarely dominate anywhere unless you choose to go to their stomping ground - which is usually great fun. There are some very grim parts of the city but, unless your job demands it, you are unlikely to come across them.I would recommend Woodstock as a place to live- sorry don't know much about Abingdon. Parents in North Oxford can be ultra-snobby. I understand that Kidlington is a more down to earth place to be. Banbury is more reasonably priced and has good transport links.
I only know house prices in Bath itself, which are exorbitant. However, I think other expenses, taxis, eating out etc. are a tiny bit cheaper than Oxford. Bradford-on-Avon is a quirky, up and coming spot worth considering, with a great train service to Bath.
I have visited Bristol a few times and it seems a very nice city -people are super friendly and far less pretentious than some in Bath (hate to generaliseblush). And it must be cheaper?

What a nice position you are in to be choosing between two such great locations. Both have attractive villages, towns and countryside. I think, based on it's central location and house prices, Oxon may win by 1%.

likeatonneofbricks Fri 25-May-12 11:09:01

thank you Milla and crunch.
Milla I also lived in London central sw for 20 yrs! but I can't afford property there in locations I like (now that I'm divorced), plus I love the countryside and got tired of the crowds. I know Bristol a little, I'm trying it out actually as we speak, but I do find it a bit too far from London. Having said that, if I can't find a place as nice and affordable in Oxon, I'd rather have longer trips - I have to like the town ilive in! The problem is not even distance (though that as well when you need to go to London a few dsays in a row) but the horrendous train ticket prices (especially if you want popular hours, but even without that). which areas of Bristol aer noce apart from the obvious clifton/redland? I do know and like these, but I wouldn't say the prices ae that different from Bath (well a little bit).

likeatonneofbricks Fri 25-May-12 11:29:26

crunch, I was about to visit Bradford-on-Avon- but is it tiny? if not, which partts of it aer worth looking at. And what are prices like? I did hear that it's up and coming. Woodstock I think I've been to is that near Blenheim Palace? that's more of a village/little town though, isn't it?
Yes, I agree that Bath people aer a bit pretentious though I don't really know it, but I think Oxford (North) is worse and samey types if you know what i mean. I stayed in a hotel in Summertown and when you go to some restaurants there it is all a bit uptight. But it's not to say that i like completely casual vibe, Bath to me is quite good and so is redland/clifton which many see as a bit snobby but I can take that as they have also a chilled vibe unlike Oxford (?)
Banbury I don't know - what's it like re shops/nice properties? I do need a town with some character, nbit just a bunch of high st shops and half rundown cafes grin.

stickyvicky71 Sat 26-May-12 10:18:45

I live in Bath and love it here - countryside close by and getting up to London is easy. Bristol is also nice (in places) but the benefit of Bath is that nearly all the state schools are pretty good. Moved here 15 years ago temporarily - no intention of ever moving again!

Rhubarbgarden Sat 26-May-12 12:08:51

I love Bath. I'd say it certainly beats Oxfordshire, though admittedly I've never lived in either, just visited. I don't know Bristol. Bath has some gorgeous houses; I wish it was commutable to London - we'd be there like a shot.

onesandwichshort Sat 26-May-12 14:09:21

Also look at Pewsey/Marlborough area - Pewsey in particular is v commutable for London and has good schools, or did when we were looking about.

likeatonneofbricks Sat 26-May-12 14:44:24

I do like Bath but it's just too expensive! sticky, possibly you were more lucky 15urs ago when prices were more reasonable (property I mean). If I lived in Bath I'd like to be quite central as it's extremely hilly and I don't drive much, and like walking around. Also would need to be walking distance to station or a good frequent bus and buses are very infrequent from what i've seen. Also I think Bath is too small, but still it the prices were not as high I could ve lived there, as you say, quite quick into London, the countryside etc.
Rhubarb i'd say it's commutable if yo don't work full week, and your work is easy access to Paddington. It's 1.5hrs on a nice train (so much better than trains going North, most of them).
one, I will have a look at Pewsey. Marlborough too small for me, and no station. even though it's sweet.

likeatonneofbricks Sat 26-May-12 14:46:07

sorry for many errors!

Rhubarbgarden Sun 27-May-12 18:49:45

Sadly Paddington doesn't work for DH's commute and he needs to be there 5 days a week sad. Maybe one day...

DukeHumfrey Sun 27-May-12 19:18:13

Have a look at Banbury - good train to London (faster than from Oxford even though it's further out) and reasonable shops. Not the world's most amazing place but quite nice and worth going to see.

Also, you might like Thame. Not as big as Banbury but a reasonable size and the station (at Haddenham) has a good service.

Abingdon's nicer than either, if you never go anywhere, but has awful transport links: no station, poor roads and dire traffic.

Witney is nice, and is not far from Charlbury station - train isn't so fast as the Chiltern line or so frequent but is not so pricey either and you can pretend you are Rebekah Brooks chatting to politicians.

Oxfordshire (the county rather than the city) is surprisingly rural. There is quite a lot going on - but obviously nothing like the culture you get in Bath or Bristol - or indeed Oxford itself.

Oxford itself, by the way, has more too it than academia and if you don't work in university-related spheres, your world probably won't coincide with it.

NotDavidTennant Sun 27-May-12 20:06:43

I think you're comparing apples and oranges. Bristol is a city and Bath is a large(ish) town, whereas Oxfordshire is predominantely small towns and villages (apart from Oxford itself obviously). You need to really think about what size of place you want to live in.

theplumfairy Sun 27-May-12 20:23:31

I love oxfordshire but then I have always lived here, bar when I was at uni and a couple of years drifting round the country with my job. Having tried a few other places I honestly can't think of anywhere I'd rather live.

Thame probably meets your criteria in terms of transport- really good links to marylebone in under an hour. Its quite pricey but a nice market town with a small high street and some restaurants and bars. It is quite posh but that's not always a bad thing.

I couldn't really comment in an unbiased way on the atmosphere- I am a native so I think its lovely! But I have never had an issue with the academics overrunning the place. I quite like having such a historic place on my doorstep anyway. Tourists are a bit of a pain in the height of suMmer but only in the city centre.

If you want a small town have you thought of bicester? There is a lot of new development in and around the town and it has very good train links to London.

theplumfairy Sun 27-May-12 20:24:59

Actually tourists are in oxford centre most of the year but I think I have become immune to them.

LittleMilla Sun 27-May-12 21:59:59

We are currently living in a rented flat in Redand (right up next to downs) but have ended up buying somewhere in Bishopston. Most brilliant park called St Andrews park and Gloucester Rd is pretty colourful. Reminds me of a more lefty/hippyish Northcote Rd (if that means anything to you), but has the good independent vibe. Not too wankerish in terms of indie shops, just decent stuff run by nice people. Not overpriced or prententious.

Lots of families and I feel that he has more about it compared to Clifton village, say. Fine for an afternoon coffee with mates, but I wouldn't really want to live there TBH. There's a central hub and lots of very good schools. Although you do need to be on their doorstep to (almost) guarantee a place.

Oh, and there's an abundance of good quality character houses that haven't been done by the developers. So we've bagged a decent deal and are just excited about creating our perfect family home.

You can prob tell I am v.happy about the move to Bristol grin.

Sinkingfeeling Sun 27-May-12 22:02:03

Abingdon is nice enough, but doesn't have good transport links to London - of the two, I'd say Thame is much nicer and has better transport links. Thame has a lovely range of independent shops (both have a Waitrose though smile) and a more generally genteel atmosphere. Don't dismiss Oxford as being full of academics and tourists though. You could happily live in Oxford without encountering a single academic (and if you do, they're generally harmless) and tourists mostly confine themselves to the city centre in the summer months. There are some very vibrant, interesting parts of Oxford and, of course, excellent transport to London (50 min by train, or you can get the coach there in around 1 hour 20 min, if the traffic's in your favour).

likeatonneofbricks Wed 30-May-12 23:21:18

thank you so much for all the info! Will go and visit Thame as it sounds good, I quite like genteel if it's not all too prim. The size is more of a question as I never lived in small towns. Vllages not for me at all at the moment, NotDavid. But I wouldn't want a big city really, as the whole pointof moving out of London is to find a place that has advantages of being small (as to me other big cities will be just poor comparison to London). Bicester is out as I get depressed ny modern developments - to me, the place has to look nice, with old architecture, that's why I like Bristol. It's jst the distance from London that's an issue with Bristol. LittleMilla, which parts of Gloucester rd aer good? I ve seen a little patch of it bext to Redland station but it didnt seem great tbh. Yes I know Northcote rd, I know London well especially central and SW, isn't Gloucester rd much more down to earth (from what i've heard)?
Sinking, could you name those interesting parts of Oxford you mention, aer they far from the station? I don't know the place so I only went to the obvious around the centre (i.e summertown)? Haha I really don't mind academics, my father is one, but as far as Oxford ones I think they form an exclusive group and if you want to develop social life there it doesn't leave a lot of other groups to choose from? just limits the options, and possibly the atmosphere.

likeatonneofbricks Wed 30-May-12 23:24:19

Milla, yes, I suppose you did say that it's more lefty equiv of Northcote, more gritty you mean? how far is Temple Meads from Bishopston though? I do travel by train quite a bit.

Sinkingfeeling Wed 30-May-12 23:43:13

Places in Oxford you might be interested in are Jericho (15 min walk from station) and Osney Island (5 min walk from station); further from station - Iffley Fields, Old Headington/Headington Quarry, Old Marston, Iffley village. I really like the Florence Park area, not 'genteel' at all, but a very friendly community with lots going on for children especially. Houses are mostly 1930s. Summertown is very nice indeed (lots of lovely Victorian villas) but very expensive, and IMVHO a bit soul-less. I would have thought you could develop a great social life in Oxford around your own interests (heaps of evening classes, book groups, choirs, sports clubs etc etc) - I only know one academic in my social group and I think he permeated our circle by stealth. wink

girlgonemild Thu 31-May-12 13:33:48

I know both areas fairly well. Personally North Oxfordshire towns and the villages are a little dull for me.
Witney is very close to Oxford and has some nice shops (Joules, Waitrose!) and good schools I hear and would enable you to make the most of Oxford without having to pay to live in the better areas of the city I think. It's close to Woodstock and Blenheim obviously which are lovely and Blenheim is great for kids.
I wouldn't go for Banbury or Bicester. They are convenient for London trains but don't sound like they'd give the lifestyle you want.
Otherwise I love Bath and Bristol. Bristol is more affordable, longish travel time to London but frequent trains etc. Redlands and Clifton are lovely, Kingsdown is at the bottom of Redlands and has the good architecture but cheaper I think.
Areas just south of the river and cheaper and are nice I think. Like Southville has a lovely community centre

likeatonneofbricks Thu 31-May-12 19:51:36

girlgone, what do you think of Thame?
do you actually prefer Oxford/Witney to Bath/bristol? and is there a rail station on Witney that connects to london well?
Sinking, your posts are very pursuasive re Oxford, I must say!maynbe I dismissed it a bit foolishly as looking at property sires, it's either summertown nice houses but v,high prices (and i agree soulless) or it's 30s housing stock elsewhere, and still not much cheaper. but it sounds good re social life.
I find that Bristol has a surprising lack of classes and social things in the evenings (if it does, it's mainly hands-on pottery/embroidery)or it's a bit cliquey in the areas of clifton/rdland, and going somewhere far in the eve not an option as trains are bad when late. Don't drive at the moment. Haha, academic who escaped his predicatble circle! I wouldn't go to Southville as transport and amemities is much better in redland/clifton.

likeatonneofbricks Thu 31-May-12 19:52:15


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