With breathtaking sunsets, incredible local cuisine, and stunning scenery, the cultural melting pot of New Mexico is slowly casting of the shadow of its “poor relative” status to emerge as the new “it destination’ for new homeowners. Thanks to the state’s oil and gas boom, jobs are plentiful, schools are well funded, and the streets are growing ever safer. If you’re determined to grab yourself a piece of the action, check out our compilation of the 20 best places to live in New Mexico.
20. West Side
Just making it to our top twenty is the Albuquerque neighborhood of West Side. The reason for its entry? Great schools, an amazing location with plenty of shops, malls, dining options, and activities, a welcoming atmosphere, a rich, diverse community, lots of well-maintained parks, safe, clean streets and the kind of job market that easily supports a median income of $66,517. The best thing? Plenty of affordable housing options that come in at just a smidgen over the national average at $188,985.
19. Balloon Fiesta (Albuquerque)
We’ll be honest, part of the reason we included Balloon Fiesta on our list is its frankly delightful name. It doesn’t hurt matters that it’s got incredibly affordable housing (the average price is just $181,341, compared to a national average of $184,700), an excellent school system, low crime, a family-friendly feel (despite its sizable population of 77,581), a stunning situation offering superb views over the nearby mountains, a healthy job market, and a distinctly above-average range of shops, bars, and restaurants.
If you want to live in one of the very best neighborhoods in Albuquerque, you may want to cast your eye in the direction of Eastside. With affordable housing (expect to part with around $226,445 for a good-sized, single-family home), reasonable crime rates, amazing wining and dining options, an abundance of amenities and leisure activities, a diverse, welcoming community, and some of the best schools in the area, there’s more than one reason why more than 163 thousand people are happy to call it their home.
17. Sandia Heights
The small town of Sandia Heights in Bernalillo County has been ranked by Niche as the #1 best place to retire in New Mexico. A quick look at its highlights tells you why: the crime rates are some of the lowest in the region, most residents are highly educated (46% have a master’s degree and another 27% have a bachelor’s degree), there’s a peaceful, pleasant vibe to the place, the views are breathtaking, there’s enough public services and amenities to keep the 3,337 residents happily entertained, and there’s no shortage of wining and dining options for people to spend their $101,395 median income on. As you’d expect of such a desirable locale, property is at a premium: expect to spend around $437,500 on a home here.
16. Nob Hill
A lively neighborhood with plenty of local events, a family-friendly, thriving community, an excellent school system, low crime, plenty of unique boutiques and local businesses, walkable streets, and an incredible range of local amenities- that’s Nob Hill
15. La Huerta
If you’re happy to pay the very reasonable price of $265,400 to purchase a property in La Huerta (or the even more reasonable $546 it takes to rent one), you’re in for some good times ahead. Not only do the 1359 residents of this Edy County town benefit from a whopping $95,529 median household income, they also have a great range of jobs, amenities, parks and facilities on their doorstep. The only thing stopping La Huerta from climbing further up our list is the quality of the local school system, which, while by no means terrible, is easily beaten by some of our other top performers.
As well as being one of the more affluent towns in New Mexico, Edgewood is also one of the safest, with one of the lowest levels of reported property and violent crime rates in the state. Unemployment rates are low (just 7.1%), while poverty is a reasonable 15.0%. Housing is affordable (expect to pay around $168,400 for a good-sized family home, or $871 in rent) and the school system is far from shabby. At $41,778, the mean income is slightly below the national average of $55,322 but still decent for the state. With its safe, welcoming feel, it ranks as one of New Mexico’s prime destinations for retirees.
13. Santa Fe
Artistic, creative Santa Fe scores tops marks for its diverse, vibrant community, its wealth of amenities, and abundance of cultural events and activities. It’s not doing too badly when it comes to schools (with the Academy for Technology and Classics, New Mexico School for the Arts, and Turquoise Trail Charter School all scoring a very respectable “A” grade on Niche, either. As you’d expect, this kind of desirable city comes with a price tag: expect to pay around $265,000 for the privilege of owning a chunk of real estate here.
12. North Valley
The 61,992 strong population of North Valley have a lot to be proud of in their neighborhood. Crime is low, the median income is high ($57,838 is the average), the school system is one of the best in the state (Early College Academy, College and Career High School, and Montessori come particularly highly recommended), and it has an atmosphere that’s been described by some reviewers on Niche as “beautiful and homely’. Can’t ask for better than that…
11. Las Cruces
With some of the best schools in Doña Ana County, one of its lowest crime rates, and a boatload of fun indoor and outdoor activities for residents to enjoy, Las Cruces is the kind of vibrant, historic city that has its sights firmly set on the future without losing any of the historical reference points that make it so unique. ‘Las Cruces is full of activities in which to participate, hiking is especially a great option! It's a city full of rich history from the historic plaza of Mesilla (right near Las Cruces) to the vibrant culture that lives within downtown,’ describes one reviewer on Niche, while another enthuses, “There's so much diversity here in Las Cruces. There's a variety of doctors to go to, several different places to go shopping, and lots of fun activities to participate in”.
10. Los Ranchos de Albuquerque
The affluent, well educated, and welcoming Los Ranchos de Albuquerque stands apart from many of its counterparts for its well-maintained parks, excellent schools, abundant amenities, and a household income which, at $61,217, is one of the best in the state. Given its highly desirable status, it’ll come as little surprise to learn the property here doesn’t come cheap: for a good-sized family home, you can expect to spend a hefty $350,900. Rent, on the other hand, comes in slightly below the national average at just $728.
In at number 9 is Albuquerque, the largest city in New Mexico. Over 556,718 residents can be found within its extensive boundaries, all of whom add their own little portion of magic to the city’s unique blend of cultures, languages, ethnicities and races. The vast array of shopping opportunities, recreational pursuits and wining and dining opportunities guarantee something for everyone, while the excellent school system, affordable housing (just a tad over the national average at $188,500) and plentiful job opportunities are a welcome boon for families. If you choose to join the ranks of Albuquerque’s ever-growing ranks, you can expect to enjoy a median income of around $49,878.
8. Paradise Hills
With housing that’s just a smidgen over the national average at $185,200, a close knit, family friendly community of 5,576, a low crime rate, a well above average median household income of $64,512, access to a first-class school system, a booming job market, a tiny unemployment rate of 4.5%, and a similarly small poverty rate of 8.2%, the list of reasons Paradise Hills make our list is extensive.
7. Rio Rancho
Affordable housing? Check. A low incidence of violent crime? Check. A diverse, friendly community? Check. Good schools, plenty of community activities, great dining options, and some excellent cultural and social facilities? Check, Check, Check, Check. For a very affordable property price of $178,000, you could join the 93,317 residents of Rio Rancho enjoying an excellent quality of life and an above average median income of $63,180.
With cultural events like the annual Cinco de Mayo, the Diez y Seis de Septiembre Fiestas, and the very popular lighting of luminarias on Christmas Eve, Mesilla is the kind of vibrant, diverse city that so many of us would love to live. Granted, it only has a population of 2400 people, but what it lacks in numbers it more than makes up for in perks. Although home prices lean toward the higher end of the spectrum for New Mexico (don’t expect much change from $248,600 for a decent sized property), the benefits of living in a city with one of the lowest crime rates in the state (there were no violent crimes reported at all last year, and only a small handful of property crimes), good schools, and an average income of $49,119 mean few would complain about the high price of moving in.
A consistently low crime rate, a strong sense of community, a great range of cultural events for the whole family to enjoy, a host of options for wining, dining, and shopping, and an A rated education program are just some of the reason 8,463 people are happy to call the small village of Corrales their home. Add to that a stunningly high median household income of $84,583, and it’s easy to see why residents can affix a $442,500 price tag to their properties.
4. Eldorado At Santa Fe
With its relaxed, peaceful vibe and slow pace of life, it’s plain to see why the small community of Eldorado At Santa Fe is such a huge draw to retirees. While you may see more old faces than young dotted around the town, there’s still more than enough on offer to keep everyone happy, with a full range of amenities, shopping centers, recreational facilities and outdoor pursuits. A home in the town doesn’t come cheap (expect to part with around $375,600 for a single-family house) but with most residents having a median household income of $76,583 to support them, you’re unlikely to hear too many complaints.
3. Sandia Heights
Sandia Heights is one of the most popular suburbs in Albuquerque for commuters for very good reason: with great public transport routes into the city and a safe, family friendly community, it offers the best of the big city without any of its downfalls. Home prices are pretty steep (a whopping $437,500 for a property to buy and an equally high $1139 for a property to rent) but considering the average home owner is enjoying a very unaverage median household income of $101,395, it’s unlikely to leave them with too big a hole in their wallets.
2. White Rock
Regularly voted as one of the best places in New Mexico to raise a family, White Rock has all the attractions you’d expect of one of the state’s most desirable towns: a great school system, a diverse and friendly community of 5878, a virtually non-existent crime rate, and one of the most robust median household incomes in the state (a very respectable $121,518). The price of living in such a desirable locale? A (semi) affordable $283,100 if you want to buy, or $1264 if you want to rent.
1. Los Alamos
Finally, we reach the number one spot, a position taking by the very delightful Los Alamos. With its prime position beneath the foothills of the Jemez Mountain Range, Los Alamos is a paradise for hikers, skiers, snowboarders, and mountain bikers alike. It’s equally popular with fans of the great indoors, with enough cinemas, shops, restaurants and bars to provide plenty by way of non-outdoorsy entertainment. With property prices at around the $291,800 mark, and median income at around the $101,399 mark, this is one seriously prime piece of New Mexican real estate.
Written by Garrett Parker
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