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Why Oxford, MS is a Great Place to Live

A young professional shares why Oxford will always be special.

By Rebecca Treon on November 15, 2022

Oxford and Lafayette County, Mississippi, are unique among the cities of the South for many reasons — an award-winning combination of forward-thinking creativity, Southern culture and business innovation that put this micropolitan on the map as an ideal place to call home.

From outdoor recreation to award-winning dining, inclusion to team spirit, all of Oxford’s attributes added up for Shá Simpson, director of public information at North Mississippi Regional Center

Here are just a few value propositions that Oxford has to offer for young professionals like Simpson:

Aerial shot of The Lafayette County Courthouse in downtown Oxford, MS.
Nathan Lambrecht

Welcoming to All

Oxford-Lafayette County values diversity, equity and inclusion. As a result, the community is working together to highlight entrepreneurs and residents from all walks of life who contribute to the area’s deep-rooted culture and character.

“With me being a queer woman of color living here in Oxford … being openly accepted for who I am and who I love is very important,” says Simpson. “Although we have some work to do, I have not had any incidents where I felt discriminated against.”

Oxford is home to the University of Mississippi, and one of Ole Miss’ core values is inclusiveness. Its Center for Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Engagement works to create diversity-focused programming.

Rooted in Culture

Southern culture is in full bloom in Oxford.

On a Saturday night on the fabled Oxford Square, you can eat at one of the town’s renowned restaurants, accompanied by the background noise of Ole Miss’ Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and corner musicians. 

“Oxford gives you all the features of the big city, but everybody knows everybody, and we’re still small enough to have that charming vibe. Plus, we have John Currence, a James Beard Award-winning chef behind City Grocery and Big Bad Breakfast — dining options where you can’t go wrong. Also, there’s Ajax Diner … I could go on and on, but that’s what keeps me here,” says Simpson.

Oxford is full of literary history, too. Beyond their iconic bookstore, Square Books, author John Grisham has a home here, and author William Faulkner is among its more famous former residents.

Scenes from Oxford, Mississippi - people sitting around a picnic table at a park.
Karen Pulfer Focht

Relative Affordability

Compared to bigger cities, Oxford is much more affordable.

“I’m currently renting, but I look at some of my other friends who have moved to Atlanta or Nashville or L.A., and we do a price comparison of our rent. I know what I pay is something that I can handle, but if I was to try to stay in a loft in downtown Atlanta like one of my friends is doing, I definitely could not afford it. We are reasonable and affordable, housing-wise, as a college town,” says Simpson.

The median home value is around $295,950 (North Central MS REALTORS MLS, August 2022), far below the national average; you can compare it to $767,693 in New York City or $398,528 in Atlanta. Free entertainment options, affordable child care and relatively short commute times — meaning less gas — also contribute to the area’s low cost of living.

Good Place to Grow

From major corporations to small businesses, Oxford-Lafayette County is overflowing with opportunities to get your foot in the door of a growing community.

Suppose you’re an entrepreneur at heart, looking to turn an idea into a reality. In that case, there are plenty of local resources for startups like the Oxford-Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and Ole Miss’ Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“The university does a very good job,” says Simpson. “Depending on your major, there will definitely be a segue between you and an employer; the staff will do their best and go above and beyond to make sure that you are networking.”

Ole Miss baseball players celebrate their 2022 College World Series championship. Ole Miss is the flagship university for Oxford, MS.
Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics

Sports & Recreation

Explore the area’s natural beauty at one of many local state parks or public lakes, like Lamar Park. In addition, there are ample opportunities for fishing, boating and hiking. Another must-mention is football games at Ole Miss.

“One thing that I love is that aesthetically, Oxford is just a beautiful place,” says Simpson. “On a serious note, if you come here and you want to experience The Grove during a football game, there’s nothing like it.” 

If you’d like to learn more about the Oxford, MS, area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Oxford-Lafayette County, Mississippi

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