A young professional shares why Oxford will always be special.
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.
Here are just a few value propositions that Oxford has to offer for young professionals like Simpson:
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.
“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.
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.”
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.