Called the ‘Land of Enchantment’, New Mexico gives off the feel of a fairyland with its culture, climate and food. It is a fact that Northern New Mexico is one of the richest places in the world and the state also ranks rather high on diversity, with the greatest number of Hispanics and Native Americans out of any other state.
New Mexico is the fifth largest by area and the sixth-largest in terms of population and the state’s climate has quite the wide range. The northern and eastern parts are colder than the southern and western parts which are warmer and more arid.
If you plan on moving to New Mexico, you would need substantial information about the state, specifically in regards to the city you wish to stay in. So, let’s take a look at 10 of the largest cities in the state, for you to decide which one suits you best.
Top 10 Largest Cities In New Mexico
It had to be Albuquerque, the city named after a Duke and quite literally nicknamed ‘The Duke City’, that started off this list for the cities of ‘The Enchanted Land’. People tend to fondly call the city the Burque or just ABQ. The place is spread over an area of 188.87 square miles (489.17 km2) and has a population of 545,852 as estimated in 2019.
Albuquerque is quite the ‘it’ place to be with an economy strongly rooted in science, commerce, technology and culture centres. There are also some major film studios here like Netflix and others and of course, the city does not lack shopping centres and malls.
It does come as a surprise that despite the rich quality of life offered by the city, the cost of living here is quite at par.
The cost-of-living index is 91.1, and the money required for say, a family of four would be $2857 per month, excluding the rent. For a single person, the monthly living expenses would be $813. These numbers are noticeably lower than the national average. It goes without saying that the prices would differ by neighbourhood and it would be easy to find one that suits your needs.
The city is famous for the International Balloon Fiesta held annually along with the number of museums, galleries as well as some performance venues. The food here is in a league of its own, with a lot of the food chains in the United States having their origin in Albuquerque, so yes, you will have the utmost culinary satisfaction when in this city.
- Median Home Value: $243,300
- Median Rent: $990
- Median Household Income: $52,911
Also Read: Moving to Albuquerque – Relocation Guide
2. Las Cruces
This is the city that has been called one of the best places to live and if you are travelling from outside of the country, then not visiting Las Cruces would mean missing out on a crucial experience of the United States. The city covers an area of 77.03 square miles (199.51km2) and is home to 103,432 people, as estimated in 2019.
As far as the city’s economy is concerned, the place is the centre of the Mesilla valley, economically and geographically, which is where the agriculture happens on the floodplain of Rio Grande. The prominent employers of this city are the City of Las Cruces, the public schools, the New Mexico State University, Walmart and a few others. The cost-of-living index here is 84.8, which means that the prices are lower than the average of the country.
When it comes to the general life in the city, one can say that the later half of the year is a lot more packed than the first few months. The wine festivals, especially the Harvest Wine Festival is something to especially look forward to and is literally the whole package featuring wines from the state, grape stomping, the local food, shopping and concerts. There are multiple other events throughout the year that would keep you looking forward to things.
- Median Home Value: $199,378
- Median Rent: $900
- Median Household Income: $43,022
3. Rio Rancho
Rio Rancho is the third largest city of New Mexico as well as the largest city and the economic centre of Sandoval County. The city covers an area of 103.69 square miles (268.56 km2) with an estimated population of 99,138 as of 2019. The economy of Rio Rancho thrives on services, retail and government sectors, with the major employer being the Intel Corporation. The cost-of-living index of Rio Rancho is 92.5, which means that the bills one would pay here are significantly lesser than the national average.
The people of Rio Rancho enjoy quite an entertainment based in the lap of nature. There are a number of parks and trails for bicycle riding and long walks along with a few open spaces that make for idyllic picnic spots. You can go fishing at the lakes or take an opportunity to see the local wildlife. There is also the Sandia Peak Tramway, which is the longest aerial tramway in the world. Imagine the view from the top of it. Adventure enthusiasts can take a ride of the hot air balloons or go for mountain biking at one of the many spots. The star of the city has to be the Jemez Mountains and their stunning sceneries and the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument which offer their own visuals.
- Median Home Value: $238,770
- Median Rent: $1200
- Median Household Income: $66,856
4. Santa Fe
Lo and behold the oldest capital city in the United States and the fourth-largest city of New Mexico. Santa Fe, one of the greatest art cities in the world, is spread over an area of 52.34 square miles (135.57 km2) and has a population of 84,683 as seen in 2019.
The city is quite the melting pot of cultures bringing together the history of Hispanic, Anglo and Native American people. The ones whose influence and presence is felt in every aspect of the city from the architecture to the food. You will find some of the best food in this place, right from the sopaipillas to the green chile burger along with the breakfast burrito. Something you are going to particularly enjoy is the Posole, which is a stew that is served as a side dish.
The economy of the city is run by the hospitality, design, conservation technologies, software development, media and apparel. The city is focusing on the development of healthcare, retiree services and the food industry. As said before, being one of the best art cities to exist, there is no dearth of museums, galleries, authors and performance arts centres for the individual to explore. These not just constitute an essential part of the economy but they are what make Santa Fe the city that it is.
- Median Home Value: $437,696
- Median Rent: $1,800
- Median Household Income: $57,972
Most people would know this city from the ‘Roswell UFO incident’ or from the TV show that stems from this very famous incident. Roswell is the fifth largest city in the state, covering an area of 29.78 square miles (77.12 km2) with a population of 48,411, as of 2019.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that a significant part of Roswell’s economy is based on the tourism industry which centres around aerospace engineering and ufology. The latter is centred around museums, businesses and alien/spacecraft-themed iconography. There are also some manufacturing, distribution and petroleum related sectors that employ a sizable portion of the population. When it comes to food, New Mexican cuisine is quite popular here with some of the most-loved places being Big D’s Downtown Drive and Cattle Baron Steak and Seafood.
The cost-of-living index in Roswell is 78.6, meaning that your life and lifestyle are considerably more affordable than the national average index of 100. The city has a strong sense of civic pride and has received the All-America City Award multiple times. This is the place to go to if you are looking to lead a calm life or a peaceful retirement or even a few years of saving up money made possible by the incredibly cheap cost-of-living.
- Median Home Value: $116,722
- Median Rent: $900
- Median Household Income: $42,417
Farmington is the place you would want to be at when you think about raising a family. It is an interesting feature of any place if their parks system is recognised and applauded on a national level. Families and even a lot of singles would find no dearth of recreational activities here. Farmington has an area of 34.95 square miles (90.51 km2), a population of 45,877 as estimated in 2019 and a cost-of-living index of 86.1. The economy of Farmington is run by the coal, petroleum and natural gas industries.
One of the favourite hobbies of the people of Farmington is fishing, which usually happens at the San Juan River, Navajo Lake and a few other popular spots. Rivers are quite important to the city and they are duly celebrated once a year by way of a riverfest, which combines music, arts, food and raft rides – truly something to look forward to.
Baseball enthusiasts might know that the Connie Mack World Series tournament is held in Farmington and sees the best of the country come together for a spectacular play-off, every year. While enjoying the relaxed suburban feel of Farmington, you can visit some of the local restaurants like Grill on the Hill and Boon’s Family Thai BBQ for the city’s take on the local food variety. Also, it increases the culture points of a person if they come from a city with a beautiful outdoor sandstone stage that hosts Grade A Broadway shows throughout the year.
Farmington, in essence, is something out of a dreamy, introspective Hollywood movie with the scenic rivers, the Aztec attractions, Puebloan ruins and the very famous Four Corners region. The charm of the city is in its masterful control of the pace at which it moves, something one grows to immensely love in no time at all.
- Median Home Value: $161,339
- Median Rent: $1,000
- Median Household Income: $83,268
Here’s a city that is a suburban, sparse, offers good education and excellent recreation, along with a strong likelihood that you will own a house here soon like a lot of the residents. Keep in mind that the residents of Clovis are mostly conservative and hold tight to their beliefs. The city is located in the eastern part of the state and is spread over 23.79 square miles (61.62 km2), with a population of 37,775 as of 2019. The cost-of-living index stands at 77.6, a figure substantially lower than the national average index of 100.
Much like a lot of the state, the city primarily runs on agriculture and ranching as well as peanut and cotton farming. This goes hand in hand with several processing plants to support said industries. The most notable aspect of Clovis would be the Cannon Air Force Base which employs a huge section of the local population. Other employers include the Southwest Cheese Company and the operational railway systems.
Also, music plays a prominent part in bringing money into the city, partly due to the city’s history with music. The other contributing factor is the presence of prominent recording studios which bring in several artists from time to time. All in all, Clovis is a quiet and conservative city and would be best suited to someone looking for a calmer way of life.
- Median Home Price: $167,608
- Median Rent: $1,100
- Median Household Income: $40,576
Hobbs is a city that is four miles from the Texas border and is like a tiny piece of history that is very visually modernizing itself, owing to the families who have been around since the 1800s. The city covers an area of 26.44 square miles (68.47 km2) and has a population of 34,122.
The economy is predominantly about the mining/quarrying and the retail and trade services. They have been supplemented by the wind, solar and nuclear powers in the recent years. Hobbs has also strengthened its base in sectors of healthcare, education and tourism and is working towards further strengthening itself to become a well-rounded city for its residents. The cost-of-living index is 78.5, a number that’s really low compared to the national average of 100.
Tex-Mex restaurants like the Saxony Steak Room, the Pacific Rim or the Rosa’s Café and Tortilla Factory are some of the local favourites in Hobbs. The city’s entertainment is centred around one place, which is the Soaring Society of America and the Zia Park Casino, Hotel and Racetrack. This is where people go for playing games, for the casino, eating out or simply a getaway at the 154-room hotel. One of the major attractions of Hobbs is the extremely high quality of life that it offers to its residents. If you are looking for a place to retire in or a place to raise a family, this is the city for you.
- Median Home Value: $196,612
- Median Rent: $850
- Median Household Income: $59,020
Alamogordo is a city that is a surprise because it exceeds your expectations in terms of what it can offer to its residents. While it is mostly known for the White Sands National Park, the surrounding pine forests and the nearby 12,000 feet Sierra Blanca are also some of the most picturesque places to visit. The city covers an area of 21.40 square miles (55.43 km2) with a population of 30,403 as of 2019.
The city’s economy is largely driven by the service, retail sector and the tourism industry. There is a military installation nearby that brings in significant employment as well as a small-scale manufacturing industry that contributes to the economy to an extent. The cost-of-living index is 75.5 so you need not worry about savings.
Theatre is quite popular in the city with regular shows being held across the year and the annual Earth Day fair is something to look forward to as it brings together the whole city in a celebration of activities like a science fair, a butterfly release and other activities for children. Alamogordo is also quite the hot tourist destination with attractions such as the New Mexico Museum of Space History, the Alamogordo Museum of History, the Shroud Exhibit and Museum and others.
- Median Home Value: $142,771
- Median Rent: $1,000
- Median Household Income: $42,204
Carlsbad is a small town that nature lovers will definitely enjoy. This is one of the ten largest cities in the state of New Mexico and has an area of 31.49 square miles (81.55 km2) with a population of 26,138 as estimated in 2019.
The Carlsbad economy is run primarily by the mineral extraction sector. The city also has rich reserves of oil and gas reserves in the Permian Basin and produces the most potash in the United States. The cost-of-living index of Carlsbad is 76.1, so the residents can rejoice at the amount of money they save, compared to the national average.
There are several points of interest in the city including the Carlsbad Caverns National Park, the Lincoln national Forest, the Pecos River Flume, the Living Desert Zoo and plenty others. Some restaurants that are strong local favourites are the Yellow Brix Restaurant, the Trinity Hotel and the No Whiner Diner, where one can go occasionally to spend a fraction of all the money they save, living in Carlsbad.
- Median Home Value: $232,164
- Median Rent: $1,100
- Median Household Income: $48,058
What Are The Four Largest Cities In New Mexico?
The list of the largest cities would begin with Albuquerque, which is the biggest in terms and area as well as the number of residents. Las Cruces, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe follow behind, in that order.
One of the best things about the cities of New Mexico is that they all have a much lower cost of living than the national average. This makes them ideal for people who are looking to retire or start a family which brings us to how family-friendly the cities are as well. Most activities are family oriented and you are guaranteed a lot of space for that peaceful life that people in more active cities often crave.