Almost everyone and their uncle has watched or even heard of the hit TV series Breaking Bad. Guess where that was set? You’re right, New Mexico was it!
Fondly known as the ‘Land of enchantment’, New Mexico is set at an elevation of 1741 meters above sea level. The State land is smeared thick with vast deserts, high plateaus and canyons for the most part. The northern reaches of the state enjoy dense mountain wilderness and rich pastures. New Mexico’s mountain ranges and highlands are oriented in a north-south direction, dividing the state into three major regions.
The state has more than just breathtaking landscapes to off with its rich history, culture and wildlife. Our guide on moving to New Mexico covers all the essential information such as the lifestyle, job opportunities, cost of living and more. So keep reading on to learn more.
What Should I Know Before Moving To New Mexico?
For starters, you better bring a tolerance for spicy food. The state has some amazing food and a lot of it is centered around hot and spicy chilies. For all you hop-a-holics, craft beer is a big thing here, and they produce a lot of wine. Really, we mean A LOT! Besides, the alcohol will help you keep an open mind as New Mexico is known for its UFO sightings.
If you like the outdoors, you will most likely enjoy life in New Mexico. With over 8 million acres of forest land, the state has many national monuments and state parks with Carlsbad Caverns being a National Park both locals and tourists love. This large land mass results in numerous recreational opportunities like camping, hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting, hunting, fishing and evern ballooning.
If you make your way up north, in direct contrast to the dry muddy landscape, the snowy mountainous regions open opportunities for skiing and sledging. New Mexico is truly a mecca for the outdoorsman. What’s worth noting is that the state’s history predates the United States and this also bleeds into its ethnically diverse population and culture. It is also considered the birthplace of the American cowboy. New Mexico has a love for art and many of the cities reciprocate this love with some unique architecture.
Crime Rate In New Mexico
The crime rate in New Mexico is one of the highest in the country. The state has the highest property crime rate in the country at 31.1 incidents per 1000 people. It also has the second highest violent crime rate, at 8.3 incidents per 1000 people, which is fortunately a drop from 8.6 in 2020, even though the drop is merely marginal.
New Mexico Weather
The state of New Mexico thrives in its arid, semi arid continental climate. With mountain ranges dotting the northern region and its higher elevation, the northern region of New Mexico gets a cooler atmosphere when compared to the southern regions of the state. Generally speaking, most of the state can be said to enjoy two climates, from mild winters to very warm summers, with all four seasons being either warm or cool.
The state of New Mexico is also no stranger to tornadoes, thunderstorms and floods during the spring and summer seasons and snowstorms in the peak winter season.
The months for spring begin in March and see their way to mid May. Temperatures during these months range between a pleasant 50°F to 79°F at its peak. The beginning of spring still continues to snow and cold night saga from winter, but the warm sun brings a rapid thaw which opens up opportunities for activities like mountain biking, hiking and boating. The warmth also urges flowers to bloom and make for beautiful hiking trails through the woods.
Although, towards the middle of May, with the arrival of Summer, the temperature only keeps rising, and until that point too, the warmth remains a constant company.
New Mexico summers are hot and the relatively low humidity makes for a very dry season. Depending on your level of toleration, you might find the summers in the state warm and pleasant. Although that’s quite unlikely, as temperatures range from 80°F to 100°F, with the summer months reigning from mid May to mid September.
The northern regions of the state experience cooler summers than the south while the entire state gets some precipitation focused during this season. Even in this, the northern regions experience more summer showers than the south. Due to the low humidity and the rapid cooling that takes place after sunset, the summer nights are pleasant and comfortable.
Mid September to the end of November sees the passing of summer and the arrival of the autumn season. The high temperatures progressively drop as the months pass, from 72°F to 88°F during the day that often adorns a stunning orange and magenta skyline.
The beginning of autumn also signals the beginning of hunting season and the start of sweater season. The Taos Mountain Balloon Rally gets into full swing during mid autumn, which is also the best time to visit the south of New Mexico.
The month of December sees the start of the winter in New Mexico, stretching all through the month of February. January is the coldest month of the season and in the northern reaches of the state, with temperatures around 2°F and sometimes even dropping to 0°F or lower in extreme situations.
The average temperature throughout the state varies from 2°F to 35°F at the coldest and 38°F to 55°F at the warmest. Being the coldest month of the season, January also sees the most snowfall with cities registering upto 8 inches of snow at times. Even though the winter cold comes with great sunshine, do watch out for snowstorms in the northern regions.
But the cold winter also brings with it, its share of fun and magic, with skiing and sledging on the hills and slopes to winter horseback riding through the woods.
Is It Expensive To Live In New Mexico?
According to Data USA, the median household income in the state is around $47,169 which is lower than the national median household income of $68,703.
As per taxfoundation.org, the state sales tax rate in New Mexico is 5.12% while the average local sales tax rate is 2.70%. This brings the combined state and local sales tax rate to 7.83%, which is higher than the national average of 7.12%.
Cost Of Living In New Mexico
New Mexico is considered to be a state that is fairly affordable for most families. With a cost of living roughly 3% lower than the national average.
Below we have mentioned the cost of living index of New Mexico. When comparing the cost of living index, the national average is always set at 100. Overall, New Mexico has a cost of living index of 87.5, making the cost of living in New Mexico less than the national average.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Grocery: 99.7
- Housing: 80.4
- Utility: 89.9
- Transportation: 93
According to Value Penguin, the healthcare in New Mexico for a 40 year old individual is 4% cheaper than the previous year, with an average cost of $350 a month.
If you are a family of three looking to move to the state, assuming that you are a couple 40 years of age with a child, healthcare will cost you approximately $1,062 a month. If you are a family of four, two adults aged 40 and two children, then healthcare will make your bank account $1,307 lighter.
Buying A House
The typical value of a home in New Mexico is $239,558 according to Zillow. This is a 13.4% rise in the median home value compared to the previous year. This value is just an average and the prices for homes definitely vary from region to region in the state.
See Also: Top 10 States for Mortgage-free Homes
Renting A House
HomeSnack puts the average rent of a 1,470 sq ft apartment at $1,250. This is 24.4% less than the national average of $1,650.
A regular studio apartment will cost you $850 in rent per month while a two bedroom apartment will cost $950 a month. If you are moving into a larger apartment with four bedrooms, the rent will make your wallet $1,450 cheaper every month.
New Mexico is a state with one of the lowest electricity bills in the country, according to saveonenergy. The average monthly bill is around $78.50 to $81 for electricity and around $28 for water, but this definitely goes up during the summer. Combine that with a monthly bill of $60 for gas, along with other bills like internet, sewage and so on, and your total estimated monthly bill for utilities is around $235 per month.
New Mexico Employment Opportunities
When moving to a new city, one of the key factors that you have to consider is employment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in New Mexico, sits at 8.3% in the first quarter of 2021. This is higher than the national average of 6.1%.At the start of this year, the state of New Mexico increased their minimum wage to $10.50 an hour.
Historically, the job market in the state has not been very appealing, being ranked near the bottom among the other states for job opportunities. There’s no debating that the recent pandemic has not helped the situation. So we advise that you get a job lined up for yourself before you move to the state.
However, in recent years, despite the pandemic, New Mexico has shown growth in its economic landscape. The better half of the job market is based around the service sector. Another great area for employment opportunities is in the healthcare sector and the construction sector.
New Mexico is not really known for its education. According to WalletHub, the state is said to have the worst school system in the United States. But things are starting to look up for the education system in New Mexico as the state leaders are reimagining their approach to the school system.
Education in New Mexico is affordable. Private schools in the state cost an average $8,935 a year, with private elementary schools costing approximately $6,987 and private highschools costing $10,504 a year. The average fees for tuition and undergraduate programs in the state’s colleges are $3,344 for residents of the state, and $7,074 for students from other States. The graduate programs in state colleges cost on average $6,377 a year for students residing in the state and $13,351 for students from outside the state.
Getting Around New Mexico
The public transit in the state is not exactly the best nor is it available all over the state. The northern regions suffer in lack of public transport compared to the southern regions of the state. Even though the larger cities have a public transit system, having a vehicle to drive is a blessing.
The most convenient bus service is provided by the Greyhound bus service in the state, making it easy to reach the smaller cities and towns. On the major bus routes, an average ticket can cost around $116. The most expensive ticket on the bus services is approximately $296 and the cheapest ticket can cost around $18.
Amtrak runs two trains in New Mexico that run on three main routes through the states. These routes are the Southwest Chief line, the Texas Eagle line and the Sunset Limited line. Depending on where you are looking to travel within the state or interstate, the ticket prices can vary from $15 to $329. The stations that the trains service within the state are listed below.
- Las Vegas
Running a line between the metropolitan area of Albuquerque and Santa Fe, the state also has a commuter train service called the New Mexico Rail Runner Express. Depending on the distance travelled on this service, a ticket can cost anywhere from $2 to $11 for a one-day trip. It is also worth mentioning that in the northern regions of the state, the rail services are fewer in number.
New Mexico has a total of 62 airports in the state for commercial use. Out of these, the two international airports are Albuquerque International Sunport in Albuquerque and Roswell International Air Centre in Roswell. The major regional airports are the Santa Fe Airport, Four Corners Regional Airport in Farmington, the Taos Regional Airport and the Los Alamos Airport in Los Alamos.
Taxi And Cab Travel
There are plenty of taxi cab services and companies in the state. However, the more prominent ones like ABQ taxi company and zTRIP only have presence in the major cities in the state. Other cities do have Taxi services from less prominent companies. A taxi ride will charge $1.38 per kilometer with the basic fee being $2.50. If you want the taxi to wait, then they also charge you $24 per hour for standing and waiting time. In the major cities like Albuquerque, Uber and Lyft are also available around the clock.
If you are moving to New Mexico, then it’s best that you bring a set of wheels. The state has a public transit system and cabs, but like we said this is mostly in the major cities. Even so, having your own vehicle is much more convenient even though the roads in the state are not considered to be the best.
Among the 33 counties in the state, 26 of them are served by U.S routes. Giving the state 1,118 miles of interstate highways and 8,111 of two to six lane roads that connect the towns and cities with the state. The three main highways in New Mexico are the east-west running I-10 and I-40 and the north-south running I-25. These are also the major cross country routes in the state.
Best Cities To Live In New Mexico
In no particular order, we have listed the three best cities to live in New Mexico
Remember how we said that New Mexico doesn’t have the best education in the country? Well, Corrales has the best education in the state. 30% of its residents have a masters degree and around 60% have a college degree. The poverty rate in Corrales is also the lowest in the state, sitting at 4.9%.
Despite sharing borders with big cities like Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, Corrales has kept its rural lifestyle with agriculture being its main part of its economy. The countryside is dotted with its many wineries, making you wonder how agriculture thrives in the dry state. In relatively close proximity to Corrales is the Rio Grande River, which is why the lands here are fertile and wet and suitable for agriculture.
This small beautiful country city or town does come with a catch – the housing prices. It has one of the highest prices for a home in the state, almost twice the state average. But if you can afford it, Corrales may just be the best place to settle down with your family.
- Population: 8,778
- Median home value: $520,305
- Average market rent: $1,094
Home to spectacular festivals and events, the capital of New Mexico is an amazing city. Santa Fe brings the southwestern art scene to life with its architecture and rich culture. The food in the city is to die for and really it’s no surprise that people keep flocking here every year.
Good schools, safe streets and a great community are what Santa Fe serves up, albeit with an expensive price tag. The cost of living in Santa Fe is almost 10% higher than the national average and the cost of housing is also very high. But this has not stopped people who can afford it from settling down in the city.
- Population: 151,552
- Median home value: $453,611
- Average market rent: $1,200
Albuquerque is the largest city and the most densely populated city in the state of New Mexico. It is the hot air ballooning capital of the world and also home to culturally diverse communities and mouth watering food.
Albuquerque offers many job opportunities and has great schools with one of the lower school drop out rates in the state. This along with the reasonable cost of living, housing and decent tax rates is one of the many reasons the people flock to this city. Although, a major downside is that Albuquerque does have a crime rate that is higher than the other two cities in this list.
- Population: 929,000
- Median home value: $252,410
- Average market rent: $760
Also See: 10 Largest Cities In New Mexico
Is New Mexico A Good Place To Live?
The state of New Mexico is a visually stunning place to live. The landscape varies as you move from the northern regions to the southern parts. If you happen to settle in the larger cities, then life would be far from boring. With its cultural heritage, ethnic diversity and food, the city will always have a lot to offer. New Mexico adds an artistic and scenic approach to your life no matter where you are, be it in the capital or the countryside.
Keeping in mind the notorious crime rate and the less than adequate education system, if you are looking to move with your family, you may want to move to the more expensive cities in the state, as they offer better education in the state along with safer streets. So it’s our advice that you make sure that you have a generous household income, which will sustain the higher cost of living, before you make the move
But if you do make the move, be ready to embrace very warm days and cold nights with a clear sky almost all year round. All of this with a landscape that will make you feel you are in a wild west movie.
Also Read: List of Local Moving Companies in America