By Marta Antonetti
Many of us, when we finally learn that we’ve been accepted for a graduate program at the University of Oxford, have to decide whether we want to live with serious financial limitation or give up on our dream. If you are not sure whether you can afford to spend a few years living in Oxford because of limited funding, don’t give up your dreams before reading this post. Here are a few tips on how to save on daily expenses from someone who came to Oxford on a budget.
SAVING ON ACCOMMODATION: College accommodation might not be your cheapest option. Sharing a house or an apartment with other postgrads can be cheaper (especially because Oxford students are waived from hexose council taxes!). In particular, renting prices can be very competitive in non-historical areas. Here, the Cowley and Headington areas are well connected and quite hip neighbours with a large student population. Recommended!
SAVING ON TRANSPORTATIONS: If you can’t walk, Oxford is bicycle-friendly by definition! Search for the best second-hand bike on Gumtree and Facebook or purchase cheap new and second-hand vehicles at The Cycle King –the cheapest bike store in town. Even though getting a bike can be quite an investment at first, you’ll be surprised by how quickly avoiding public transportation will pay you back.
SAVING ON FURNITURE AND HOME SUPPLIES: Many home decors and accessories can be easily found at Primark in the Westgate Shopping Centre. However, depending on your needs you might find that the variety of home supplies options and furniture is scarce. If you can’t go to IKEA and shopping on Amazon is against your principles, you should know that at the beginning of each term (and especially at the start of Michaelmas Term), many big grocery stores (e.g. Tesco) will sell a good variety of home basics. If you want even more options you can visit TK-Max in the Clarendon Shopping centre which has great prices on most kitchen supplies (prices are even better than Marks and Spencer!). If you need to add furniture to your room and you’re ok with pre-loved goods, the internet is always a good place to start; but in Oxford, we also have great charity shops such as Emmaus which brings to your home cheap furniture after you’ve personally picked what you like at their shop.
SAVING ON GROCERY: Preparing at home your food will allow you to save on months of rent! I’ve compared the quality and prices of several grocery shops in town and I’ve found that Sainsbury's has the nicest baked goods (especially the smaller Sainsbury's Local shops), while Tesco is offering the cheapest variety of fruits and veggies. Moreover, don’t forget the many eastern shops where you can buy bulk foods such as cereals, pulses and legume, making substantive savings while staying healthy.
All in all, if you find the cost of living in Oxford discouraging, remember that there are many different ways of living the Oxford experience. Keep my tips in mind when you’re making budget consideration and (fingers crossed) we’ll see you in October!