Best Places To Live In New Mexico: Top 5 Communities, According To Experts

Thinking of making a move? New Mexico is a great destination to put down roots. Full of sunshine for most of the year, The Land of Enchantment is home to Albuquerque’s International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, many historic monuments and parks like the Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands. You’ll also find modern-day cowboys at the state’s many ranches, rodeos and livestock competitions. Some of the best places to live in New Mexico offer a little bit of everything: stunning views, western culture and a taste of history.

Another draw to the state is its love for spice. A recent study revealed that New Mexico residents believe they are the champions when it comes to their tolerance for eating spicy foods. The poll of 5,000 Americans — surveying 100 people from each of the 50 states — asked respondents about their ability to handle spicy foods. Researchers discovered New Mexicans are the most likely to boast that their state has a higher-than-average tolerance for spice. When respondents were asked which states they believe have the spiciest cuisine, the same three led the nation again.

There are also benefits to the sunny climate. Grabbing just 30 seconds of sunlight every morning could slash the chances of developing most types of cancer significantly, early research by one of the United Kingdom’s leading specialists suggests.

Ready to spice up your life? Head to the Wild West! StudyFinds turned to the experts and compiled a list of the top five best places to live in New Mexico based on the most suggested towns and cities. If we missed a spot, let us know in the comments below!

The List: Best Places to Live in New Mexico, Per Experts 

1. Los Alamos

The Crazy Tourist writes: “Skiers, snowboarders, and mountain bikers, gather round. You will be delighted to hear that the best place to live in New Mexico is Los Alamos, nestled beneath the foothills of the Pajarito Mountain’ the Jemez Mountain Range. This 11,000-strong community of New Mexicans just adore living here in Los Alamos and who can blame them. Idealistic cost of living, countless opportunities to get outdoors and get fit with the added benefit of all the facilities and amenities you would expect from living in a city. What’s not to love? According to local people, very, very little. With median household income being $98,000 a year, the residents of Los Alamos work hard for the life they have here and appreciate every single second of it.”

Pajarito Mountain overlooking Los Alamos
Pajarito Mountain overlooking Los Alamos (Photo by Yu Wang on Unsplash)

“There are a variety of amazing outdoor areas that people can explore and indulge in, including Bandelier National Monument, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, and the Valles Caldera National Preserve,” says House Digest. “If you love nature, this city gives residents the chance to see as much of it as possible, and you’ll never get bored with all of the options. Travel Lens notes that the smaller community nestled in the mountains is a gateway to three different national parks, allowing visitors and locals to bask in the awesomeness of the surrounding scenery.”

“If you’re raising a family, safety and good schools are probably high on your priority list. When considering both those factors, Los Alamos comes out ahead. Its school district is well regarded and the city has high graduation rates. The ratio of teachers to students is 15:1 and test scores are significantly higher than the national average. The only potential downside? Your kids will have to move away in order to attend a four-year college. Bonus: Los Alamos County happens to be the healthiest county in New Mexico,” adds Only In Your State

2. Sandia Heights

Placeaholic says this area is one of the top suburbs in Albuquerque. “Sandia Heights is a very good choice for those that don’t mind wasting a lot of money for the sake of living in a good place that their children could grow up in. The median household income in Sandia Heights is of around $102,000 per year, and despite the fact that almost 3,300 people live here in total, you can choose out of 35 different public schools in the area to make sure that your children have a proper future set out for them.”

Sandia Heights beneath the Sandia Mountains
Sandia Heights beneath the Sandia Mountains (Photo by Stephanie Klepacki on Unsplash)

“Sandia Heights is nestled in the foothills of the Sandia mountains and offers picturesque natural surroundings. From soaking up history at Tinkertown Museum, enjoying a long drive at Sandia Crest Byway, learning about farm life at Hollywick Farms to having a friendly match at Paako Ridge Golf Club, there are endless activities to enjoy here,” points out Nomad Lawyer. “Its close proximity to Albuquerque offers easy access to plenty of job opportunities and the city’s vibrant nightlife. The suburb is also home to numerous highly-rated schools.  Housing is expensive here but the high median household income makes up for it.”

“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 residents happily entertained. As you’d expect of such a desirable locale, property is at a premium: expect to spend around $437,500 on a home here,” mentions Money Inc

3. Corrales

Why does Money Inc like Corrales? “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.”

“Corrales NM is a beautiful rural village located on the west bank of the Rio Grande River and located just north of Albuquerque.  Corrales is one of the best small towns to live in New Mexico. Many of the homes sit on 1-acre lots or more.  Many residents love to live organically and have horses, chickens, and other farm animals,” writes Myers & Myers Real Estate. “In addition, it is very common to see people riding horses on the ditch banks.  Corrales also hosts a farmer’s market full of fresh local food and homemade goods. If you visit, be sure to check out Wagners Farms when they are roasting green Chile (Roasting green chile is one of the best smells around!) You will also want to dine at Hannah & Nates for some excellent breakfast fare!”

“Due to its proximity to the two large cities, residents of the rural village can enjoy a calmer pace of life without sacrificing much in the way of dining, shopping and entertainment. As agriculture still plays a huge role in Corrales’ culture, economy and identity, many fertile farms and wineries surround the town while plenty of community events and festivals take place over the course of the year. Add in the stupendous nature nearby, its high quality of life and friendly and welcoming residents, and it is no wonder that Corrales appeals to so many people looking to settle down in the state,” adds Touropia

4. Rio Rancho

Credit Donkey explains, “Rio Rancho is another rapidly growing city largely thanks to its close proximity to the Albuquerque metropolitan area. While the commute time is slightly longer at just under 30 minutes, residents of Rio Rancho earn the highest average incomes of any city on our list.”

The Sandia Mountains in Rio Rancho
The Sandia Mountains in Rio Rancho (Photo by Derek Olson on Unsplash)

“Rio Rancho is home to 91,800 people, nearly 5% of New Mexico’s entire population! With so many people residing in the area, suitable investment has been made in infrastructure and amenities. Restaurants like Indigo Crow Cafe and Heaven Dragon are popular with local people and there is a strong social scene developing in Rio Rancho,” says The Crazy Tourist. “Average property prices in Rio Rancho may seem dear at first glance but the value for money is outstanding. An investment of $189,000 would see you acquire a two-storey 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom family home.”

“Bordered by Albuquerque, Rio Rancho is a mile above sea level and features a comfortable high desert climate. Major employers include Intel and Hewlett-Packard, and students have several higher education options. Santa Ana Star Center hosts large entertainment events, and Rio Rancho is a popular locale for film and TV productions,” states Livability

5. Albuquerque

According to Livability, “Known largely for its yearly International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque houses the University of New Mexico and Kirtland Air Force Base, and natural amenities include the Sandia Mountains and Rio Grande River. Nine downtown buildings are at least 12 stories tall, and numerous high-tech and healthcare companies enjoy success.”

Old Town in Albuquerque
Old Town in Albuquerque (Photo by Esther Ann on Unsplash)

“The largest city in New Mexico, Albuquerque has almost everything you could ever want in terms of attractions, activities and entertainment options. Although oft-overlooked, the vibrant metropolis has a rich and diverse history and heritage with Spanish and Native American cultural influences on show in its attractive adobe Old Town,” adds Touropia. “Sprawled about the enormous Rio Grande Valley are lots of delightfully different neighborhoods to live in with ABQ being very affordable for a big city. As well as its relatively low cost of living, residents benefit from excellent amenities and high employment rates, with warm weather and world-class cuisine being a welcome boon.”

“Albuquerque may not be the state capital, but despite that it is still the largest city in New Mexico, housing more than half a million people in total. Because of how many residents you’ll find here, it’s no wonder that Albuquerque has no shortage of job offerings for you, and since everyone’s pulling their weight the cost of living here is also more than acceptable. The crime statistics may be a bit on the upper side though which is not exactly ideal, but it’s nothing that we haven’t come to expect from most other places in the US either,” Placeaholic. 

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.

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Saloni Ordia

Saloni is a freelance B2B SaaS writer who excels at creating in-depth product-focused content. When she is not writing, you can find her in the kitchen whipping up new recipes or curled up with a rom-com novel.

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  1. Apparently someone missed the bottom of the state. Either we don’t count, or everyplace down here is too terrible to make the list!

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