A recent survey has revealed the best and the worst aspects of living and working in Oxfordshire. Conducted by Advanced Oxford – a business membership organisation striving for the long-term development of the region – the purpose of the research was to understand what improvements are needed to make Oxford a dynamic and prosperous place to live and work.
While other issues that impact growth such as housing, transport and skills are also important, these results expose the living experience of those who live in or commute to the area and will be used to engage with local and regional government.
What did the survey tell us?
Of the hundreds of survey participants:
- 52% female, 46% male
- 51% aged between 35-54; 43% aged between 16-34
- 54% have annual incomes between £25,001-£50,000 and 28% earn more than £50,001
- 66% work in professional occupations; 15% are managers, directors or senior officials
- 84% have worked for their organisations for more than 6 months; 37% more than 2 years
Oxfordshire is a good place to live and work – Respondents appreciate access to jobs and the region as a good location to work (59%), easy access to green spaces and the countryside matters (47%), as well as the cultural life of Oxford/Oxfordshire. People cited transport links and access to major cities as a positive and low crime also features as something that is valued.
The job matters – The majority (95%) are working in Oxford/Oxfordshire-based R&D companies because of the specific job or role that they hold; working near other high skilled industries is important and was mentioned by around a third of respondents.
Getting to work – Many participants value the ease of getting to work (42%); but just over a half spend more than 30 minutes commuting, increasing to over an hour for 15%. Almost a quarter cycle to work, and while a further 25% of respondents also use some form of public transport at times, people still rely heavily on their cars. Around a half of the people we surveyed have the opportunity to work from home and are generally supported by good broadband connectivity.
Improvements are needed
The worse aspects of life are dominated by issues around the cost of housing, poor transport links, congestion and the cost of living in the region when compared to other areas within the south east of England. Almost nine in 10 agreed that Oxfordshire is an expensive place to live, 75% think there is a poor range of quality housing to buy and 48% say the same of rental properties. Of the 23% of respondents who live outside Oxfordshire, over half of them said that the cost of housing is one of the factors stopping them from living within the county.
While access to cities and transport links are considered positives, 66% thought this was also one of the worst parts of working in Oxfordshire with 69% also agreeing that congestion was worse than other areas.
In conclusion, it is clear that the quality of life in Oxford is good, but that it comes at a cost – specifically the high cost of housing and living, as well as poor access to transport links. These three were cited as the main deal breakers that would ‘definitely stop them working in the area’ and when asked what one aspect they would improve in the region, 41% stated the road network and traffic congestion.
Advanced Oxford has used the results to validate areas of focus, future work and priorities. In addition, they have been sharing the results with local government and Oxfordshire LEP, using the data to support influencing work on policy areas including housing, transport and infrastructure development. In particular, the results around housing costs and availability has been invaluable in engagement with a number of local authorities around planning and development issues.
Looking forward, the members of Advanced Oxford are planning an examination of skills and talent requirements in Oxfordshire. This will identify the skills and talent pipeline for innovation-based companies in the region, what skills gaps currently exist, which types of roles are a struggle to fill and where companies find their talent.
About Advanced Oxford
Advanced Oxford was set up in response to the Oxford Innovation Engine Update report, which identified the need for stronger engagement from innovative businesses in Oxfordshire to develop the region as a centre of excellence and innovation. The organisation, made up of senior leaders from the area’s major knowledge-intensive businesses, is self-funded and research-led, providing analysis and a united voice for members. Their work aims to address key issues affecting the development of the innovation ecosystem in the Oxford region and to support and inform key stakeholders involved in the development of the business environment, infrastructure and policy.
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