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spires from Carfax


Oxford — April 2010

Wandering around central and inner East Oxford, there are few signs of economic malaise - not that much commercial property for let, no obvious poverty, and so forth. And Oxford house prices don't seem to have fallen much since 2008, nor are rents particularly affordable.

This may not be representative of the country as a whole, however. Oxford is one of the richest towns in Britain - I've seen a newspaper article claiming it has the most expensive bacon sandwiches in the country (Newcastle had the cheapest) - and has a number of features that make it distinctive.

Universities aren't immune from recessions - there are cuts to higher education funding, and college endowments have taken a hit - but to some extent they are counter-cyclical. Oxford University is never going to fail to get its full quota of students, who will continue to come largely from private schools and wealthy backgrounds, and it isn't about to shed staff in significant numbers.

Also, another big income generator for Oxford is tourism - it is one of the most visited destinations in the UK. Here the dramatic fall in the pound will help, both by bringing more foreign tourists and by keeping British tourists inside the country.

(The fall in sterling has also been good for me, as I've moved my savings to the UK.)


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