Why should you retire to Oxfordshire?

More leisure time, fresh challenges and choices make retirement an exciting time, full of new opportunities. If your family has ‘flown the nest’ and you’ve retired from work, you may be able to choose where to live – and retirement in Oxfordshire offers so many possibilities. There’s so much to do and see that you’ll wonder how you ever managed to find time to work!

Written by

Sheila Frampton

The benefits of retiring in Oxfordshire 

1. The chance to explore miles of open countryside on foot, by bike or by car.

2. A wealth of history on the doorstep with National Trust properties, historic estates, and gorgeous gardens to visit.

3. Being able to visit or live in some of the country’s most picturesque towns and villages – each with interesting, independent shops, a great sense of community with lots of local clubs and societies catering for everything from art, dance and music to specialist interests along with branches of the U3A Oxfordshire and the Women’s Institute, Oxfordshire.

4. Being in close proximity to Oxford and everything that the city has to offer.

5. The opportunity to enjoy a rich cultural life with theatres, museums, galleries and festivals and events from music and literature to film, food, and drink.

6. Fantastic sporting and leisure opportunities – horse-riding, golf, shooting, water sports, all set against a backdrop of beautiful countryside.

7. Excellent road and rail links making it easy to travel around the country.

8. The opportunity to buy a beautiful retirement home, including newly built homes constructed of mellow Cotswold stone and appearing to have been in place for centuries.

A photo of the river in Bourton on the Water
A photo of a road sign in Burford

1. Enjoying the Oxfordshire countryside 

Living in one of the retirement villages in Oxfordshire, you’ll have some wonderful countryside on your doorstep, including several Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to explore on foot, by bike or by car. And, if you choose a new retirement home in Oxfordshire, you’ll have time to make the most of the county.  

The North Wessex Downs on the southern and south-western edges of Oxfordshire are bursting with wildlife. The grasslands and woodlands, chalk streams and chalk downland make this area a haven for birds, butterflies, and wildflowers. Quiet roads pass through pretty villages and there’s an abundance of bridleways which make this a delightful area for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

In West Oxfordshire, the Oxfordshire Cotswolds are exceptionally beautiful, steeped in history with countless heritage sites. Follow the lanes and footpaths through beech woodlands and discover centuries old villages built of honey-coloured stone. Set within this lovely landscape are the picturesque towns of Burford, Chipping Norton and Charlbury.

The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty stretches from the River Thames in southern Oxfordshire to Hitchin in Hertfordshire. There is a fantastic waymarked cycle route running through the Chilterns that passes historic villages, country pubs and National Trust properties along the way.  You can hire electric bikes in Ivinghoe, near Ashridge Estate if you want to enjoy the scenery without too much hard work. There are plenty of walks, ranging from easy access trails to all day hikes, along Oxfordshire’s two national trails:  The Ridgeway and The Thames Path.

One of our favourite walks is to be found at Watlington Hill with its fine views north and west over the Oxfordshire Plain and to the south over the beech and ash woodland. Watlington Hill is a nationally important wildlife site with wild flowers, butterflies and birds – including the Red Kite. And what's more, it is only a stone's throw from our Castle Gardens Development.

The Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens near Burford is worth a visit – and something visiting family and friends will enjoy. Over 260 different species of animals live in the 160-acre park including from penguins to giraffes and lions as well as birds of prey.  There’s a walled garden, a woodland walk, a restaurant, and an adventure playground.

2. Oxfordshire's National Trust properties, historic houses & gorgeous gardens 

Highclere Castle

There’s nothing nicer than spending a day exploring an historic house or wandering around a beautiful garden – and there’s plenty of opportunity in Oxfordshire. The following list includes a few of our favourites:

  • Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, home to the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, is a World Heritage site set within 2,000 acres of parkland landscaped by Capability Brown. The palace hosts a variety of events which are listed on its website.
  • Anyone who has watched the popular TV series ‘Downton Abbey’ will appreciate the beauty of Highclere Castle near Newbury, just over the border in Hampshire. There are lots of Downton locations in the area waiting to be explored. Bampton is the fictional village of Downton. St Mary The Virgin Church is the church where Lady Mary married Matthew Crawley and where baby Sibyl was christened. Churchgate House may be recognised as the external of Isobel Crawley’s house. Cogges Manor Farm, close to Witney, was the location for Yew Tree Farm.
  • From Grey’s Court, near Henley on Thames to the Jacobean Chastleton House near Stow-on-the-Wold and the impressive Waddesdon Manor built in 1877 for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, there’s a host of National Trust properties in and around Oxfordshire.
  • Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum is a must for anyone shopping in Oxford or enjoying a day out. This is the oldest botanic garden in the country, home to over 5,000 species of plants and 130 acres of rare and endangered trees.  Here, you’ll be able to enjoy talks and exhibitions, music, poetry and literary events.
  • Other lovely places to visit include the 8-acre Waterperry Gardens, near Oxford and Stonor Park House & Gardens, near Henley-on-Thames.

3. Traditional Oxfordshire towns and villages – each offering something special

There are so many beautiful locations to visit in Oxfordshire – we have selected the following because they offer great shopping and plenty of activities for residents and visitors alike.


Located in North Oxfordshire, just 20 miles west of Oxford, Burford is considered the southern gateway to the Cotswolds – and tops our list because of the amenities and the wonderful sense of community. This is a beautiful market town, typical of the area with a sloping High Street and wonderful views over the River Windrush with its medieval bridge, 15th century parish church and the hills beyond.  Old pubs are tucked away in enticing side streets, there are plenty of tea rooms and shops and Reavley’s chemist is England’s oldest pharmacy dating back to 1734. Burford is a lovely place to spend time and an enviable place in which to live.  The Burford & District Society organises talks, visits and lunches for members, the Fulbrook and Burford WI meets once a month.  For music lovers, there’s the Burford Jazz or Burford Singers along with ballroom dance, stretch and aerobics classes and monthly groups for local residents including the over 60s as well as golf, bowls and cricket. Burford is home to the fabulous Burford Garden Company with its popular restaurant and goods for the home and garden.

A signpost in Burford, Oxfordshire


Henley On Thames High Street

Henley-on-Thames is one of the most beautiful towns in England, voted by The Times as one of the best places to live in the English countryside. There’s a rich sense of history in Henley. The Georgian facades along the main street conceal buildings of an older origin. There’s an excellent range of shops and services in Henley and lots of places to eat and drink from tea shops and cafes to well-known restaurants and wonderful pubs.  Henley is also known for its events and festivals. For over 175 years, Henley Royal Regatta has attracted the ‘glitterati’ and the summer 80s festival ‘Rewind’ is a popular event.  Henley life is about the river – whether you live in the town or are visiting, you can rent a deckchair and relax in the sun at Mill Meadows or take a boat trip and soak up the scenery.


Wallingford is a delightful market town on the River Thames with all the shops you need including a branch of Waitrose along with four markets.  The town’s Corn Exchange Theatre and Cinema, overlooking the market square, offers a full programme of drama, music and musicals, art and the latest cinema releases as well as a seasonal pantomime.  There’s a branch of the U3A – Thameside (Wallingford) - and a thriving Women’s Institute.  For railway enthusiasts or those with fond memories of steam trains, there’s the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway and a living museum with steam engines, coaches and wagons at Didcot Railway Centre. The site of Wallingford Castle, once one of the country’s most important strongholds is now a peaceful garden to be enjoyed by local people and visitors. Sporting opportunities including watersports at Dorchester Sailing Club or Wallingford Rowing Club.  The sports park on the edge of town is home to rugby, hockey, football, skittles, archery and petanque clubs (www.petwal.co.uk) and there are also tennis and squash clubs.  The Springs Golf Club, less than three miles away, is reputedly one of the most scenic in Oxfordshire.  

Watlington square during a festival


A classic car in the street in Watlington, Oxfordshire

Watlington is a sociable town with a village atmosphere and a great sense of community.  Many of the shops in the town centre are family-run businesses such as The Orange Bakery, Calnan Brothers butcher’s shop and Tutu Delicious Chocolate Shop.  The Granary Delicatessen & Café sells delicious cheeses, artisan breads, cured meats and more. There are plenty of places to eat out including the Fat Fox, the 16th century Chequers pub and The Social, once a centre for Cromwell’s operations, now a bar, bistro and restaurant.  At the heart of the community is The Watlington Club which offers bowls, tennis, squash and table tennis and hosts yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Taekwondo, dance, drama, circuits and Zumba classes. There’s a local tennis club, run by friendly members, all passionate about tennis and offering a great experience to players, regardless of age or ability. From the local Women’s Institute and The Ridgeway U3A to Watlington Concert Band and St Leonards Bell Ringers, Watlington has clubs and societies to suit all interests. 

4. Oxford: The city of ‘dreaming spires’

Retire near Oxford and you’ll have all the theatres, museums and galleries you could wish for.  Oxford has an atmosphere quite unlike that of any other city.   You can tour the university halls, Oxford’s famous Bodleian Library and the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology or visit the collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum or the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.  If you prefer to be outdoors, you can go punting on the river, picnic in Christ Church Meadow or just meander along the river bank.  Oxford’s retail offering includes Westgate Oxford, a shopping and leisure experience with prestigious brands, a whole range of restaurants, cafes and rooftop bars and a five-screen cinema.  Oxford’s covered market is busy – as it has been since 1774 but if you’re looking for a designer bargain, head to the nearby Bicester Village shopping outlet.

5. A rich cultural life 

Oxfordshire is one of the UK’s most exciting cultural destinations with an abundance of world-renowned museums, libraries, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, internationally celebrated art galleries, theatres and music venues together with festivals and events.  From a distillery experience and gin tasting to history festivals and from family archaeology days to live music at Oxford Botanic Garden, Oxfordshire has it all.

6. Fantastic sporting and leisure facilities in Oxfordshire

Whether strolling around Oxford’s parks and colleges or visiting country villages and market towns, you’ll discover cricket matches everywhere. With picturesque countryside, it isn’t surprising that golf is another popular sport in Oxfordshire with countless courses around the county. The Thames runs through the county and, whilst Henley is known across the world for its famous Royal Regatta, the waterways and reservoirs are used by rowing, sailing, kayaking and canoeing enthusiasts. The Cotswold Water Park at South Cerney on the borders of Oxfordshire, Gloucester and Wiltshire is home to more than 150 lakes, covering 40 square miles. In addition to watersports, there are boat trips, angling opportunities, aerial adventures and cycling on offer.

7. Oxfordshire is well connected 

Oxfordshire is well connected by road and rail to regional hubs and further afield. The nearby M40 makes it easy to travel to London and Birmingham whilst the M4 provides access to London, Swindon, Bristol, and South Wales. The average journey time from Oxford to London by rail is 75 minutes and from Oxford to Reading is 38 minutes. When you’re travelling abroad, Heathrow airport is just off the M4 – and, from Oxford, the journey by car takes just over 50 minutes.

8. Retirement homes: Oxfordshire 

Discover our current and forthcoming developments in Oxfordshire


Latest articles

Get regular updates from us

We’ll email you details of the latest properties, exclusive events and real life stories straight into your inbox.