15 Best Places to Live in New Mexico

Written by Darren Griffiths
Updated on
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New Mexico is one of the most geographically diverse of the fifty American states. It seems this southerly state does have it all; buzzing metropolitan cities, quaint rural villages, the Chihuahuan Desert, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains…the list goes on and on.

Did you know that New Mexico has an official state tree? The Pinyon Pine crops up wherever you go, a valid symbol of the state. The pinyon nut is a tasty and nutritious snack; sprinkle on your salad for more texture.

Why are we talking about salads?! Back to business, New Mexico is a highly desirable state to reside in. With a diverse and hard-working population of 2 million, a robust Latino community is here.

Whenever it comes to choosing a place to live, there are a few factors that we should all take into account; whether you’ve realized it or not, you’re concerned with crime statistics, the standard of public schools, and median house prices. Right?

Finding all this information in one bite-sized chunk is hard; fear not, we’ve done the hard graft for you!

Here are our 15 best places to live in New Mexico;

1. Los Alamos

Los AlamosSource: Ron Cogswell / Flickr
Los Alamos

Skiers, snowboarders, and mountain bikers gather around. You will be delighted to hear that Los Alamos is the best place to live in New Mexico, nestled beneath the Pajarito Mountain Jemez Mountain Range.

This eleven-thousand-strong community of New Mexicans adores living here in Los Alamos, and who can blame them? Idealistic cost of living, countless opportunities to get outdoors, and 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 a median household income of around six figures, the residents of Los Alamos work hard for the life they have here and appreciate every second of it.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Los Alamos are:

  • Bradbury Science Museum
  • Bandelier National Monument
  • Fuller Lodge Art Center
  • Manhattan Project National Historical Park
  • Los Alamos History Museum
  • Ashley Pond
  • Pajarito Brewpub and Grill
  • Los Alamos Little Theater

2. White Rock

White Rock, New MexicoSource: Chyeburashka at English Wikipedia / Wikimedia
White Rock

The beauty of New Mexico can be truly appreciated in small towns like White Rock. White Rock is a safe and happy place with over six thousand residents who call this humble suburb home. In this day and age, it is a privilege to be able to describe a place as delighted!

With happiness in mind, White Rock is considered the best place to raise a family in New Mexico. Living here does come at a cost; however, being such a wonderful place to live comes with a less-than-wonderful price tag.

The median home value is around the national average. Investors seldom get change from $350,000, but there is room for negotiation if you haggle hard enough.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in White Rock are:

  • White Rock Visitor Center
  • Overlook Park
  • White Rock Overlook
  • Diablo Canyon Recreation Area
  • Otowi Bridge

3. Sandia Heights

Sandia HeightsSource: www.youtube.com
Sandia Heights

As a suburb of Albuquerque, Sandia Heights is very popular with commuters. That said, public transport provision in this small neighborhood is nearly non-existent, but given that median household income is six figures, most residents are two-car families. A daily drive into the CDB is a small price to pay to call this safe and cozy suburban home.

With over three thousand residents and thirty-five excellent public schools in the area, there is much for parents to love about Sandia Heights.

The median rent here is steep, at over $1,000 per month. As expected, the median home value is high, too; try around half a million. With the median rent up there, you will not be surprised that most residents live in owned homes.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Sandia Heights are:

  • Sandia Peak Tramway
  • Turquoise Museum
  • La Luz Trail
  • Tinkertown Museum
  • Sandia Peak Ski Area
  • Sandia Crest
  • Balloon Fiesta Park
  • Casa Rondena Winery

4. Eldorado at Santa Fe

Eldorado at Santa FeSource: amadeustx / shutterstock
Eldorado At Santa Fe

In Santa Fe County, New Mexico, we find the census-designated settlement of Eldorado. The relaxed pace of life first draws people to Eldorado; a large community of retirees is here.

Only 10% of the over six thousand residents are children. Despite this low number of youngsters, eleven public schools in the Eldorado area offer young people a solid start in life.

Properties in Eldorado may only come on the market once in a blue moon, making the quality of build and value for money highly sought after here. An impressive 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom detached family home fetches for around the national average. Considering the generous plot of land as part of the deal, you realize Eldorado’s above-average house prices have occurred with good reason.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Santa Fe are:

  • Santa Fe Plaza
  • Meow Wolf Sante Fe
  • Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
  • Museum of International Folk Art
  • Santa Fe Farmers Market
  • New Mexico Museum of Art

5. Corrales

Corrales MapSource: sevenMaps7 / shutterstock

One of many villages in Sandoval County, Corrales is a community that thrives on agricultural income. The success of this small settlement is mainly due to its proximity to the Rio Grande River, which hydrates the otherwise desert-like lands.

Crime in Corrales is consistently low, providing long-standing and new residents with ample peace of mind. This is partly due to the solid community-orientated attitude adopted by residents. Throughout the year, several festivals see the community join together to share and enjoy life in New Mexico.

The forty-five public schools in Corrale are excelling. The top five schools can all offer their students an A-rated education program which goes a long way when applying for university.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Corrales are:

  • Corrales Growers Market
  • Acequia Vineyards & Winery 
  • Corrales Winery
  • Red Horse Riding Company
  • A Park Above
  • Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Co

6. Mesilla

Mesilla MapSource: sevenMaps7 / shutterstock

This small town in Doña Ana County narrowly misses a spot in the top five best places to live in New Mexico. We’re sure the cozy population of over two thousand residents won’t mind too much, for they keep themselves to themselves.

For those seeking a rental property, Mesilla is the first of our named places that offers monthly rents below the national average. At under $1,000 per month, on average, renting in Mesilla is a sensible move, for the median home value is around the national average.

Mesilla is ranked as the second safest place to live in New Mexico. Local people quickly inform newcomers that crime is seldom an issue here in this suburb of Las Cruces.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Mesilla are:

  • Mesilla Plaza
  • Fountain Theatre
  • Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park
  • Gadsden Museum
  • Farmers & Crafts Market of Las Cruces

7. Rio Rancho

Rio RanchoSource: Bernie Goldbach / Flickr
Rio Rancho

Rio Rancho is home to over ninety-one thousand residents, nearly 5% of New Mexico’s 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 solid social scene developing in Rio Rancho.

For parents seeking excellent schooling for their children, there is very little to complain about in Rio Rancho; from elementary level to high school, this suburb is home to some of the best schools in the state.

Average property prices in Rio Rancho may seem dear at first glance, but the value for money is outstanding. An investment of around $200,000 would see you acquire a two-story, 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom family home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Rio Rancho are:

  • Elevate Trampoline Park
  • Willow Creek Trailhead and Open Space
  • Rio Rancho Premiere 14
  • Tinkertown Museum
  • Rio Rancho Events Center
  • Haynes Community Center and Park
  • Rio Rancho Aquatic Center
  • Vista Hills Park

8. Paradise Hills

Paradise HillsSource: sevenMaps7 / shutterstock
Paradise Hills

Paradise by name and paradise by nature? Maybe so. Paradise by price? Maybe not. The cost of living in Paradise Hills is far greater than in areas like Mesilla, but there is still much to love about this Bernalillo County suburb.

The fact that the Piedras Marcadas Canyon is right on the doorstep is a central bonus point next to Paradise Hills’ name. This cozy community comprises over four thousand residents who are more than satisfied with their lives here.

Paradise Hills has been marked as the most popular place in New Mexico for millennials. Not only can we expect the population to boom over the next decade, but amenities and infrastructure too. Will it still be paradise, then? Only time will tell.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Paradise Hills are:

  • Private Balloon Flights
  • La Luz Trail
  • New Mexico Steam Locomotive Railroad Historical Society
  • Routes Bicycle Tours
  • Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum
  • Rio Grande Nature Center State Park
  • Albuquerque Museum

9. Albuquerque

AlbuquerqueSource: Joseph Sohm / shutterstock

Although not the state capital, Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico, home to half a million people, and can be found in the High Desert.

As you would expect from such a large city, joblessness is hardly an issue; work opportunities are plenty, and living costs are agreeable. Sadly, being a prominent city, the crime statistics are less than ideal. With local people describing the city as the ‘land of enchantment,’ suffice to say that they skim over these issues; perhaps we should too.

As far as major cities go, property in Albuquerque is seriously affordable. Average house prices are below the national average, with monthly rent hovering under $1,000.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Albuquerque are:

  • Albuquerque Museum
  • ABQ BioPark Zoo
  • Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
  • Tingley Beach
  • Cliff’s Amusement Park
  • Kimo Theatre

10. Los Ranchos de Albuquerque

Los Ranchos de AlbuquerqueSource: frank drewett / Flickr
Los Ranchos De Albuquerque

This northern suburb of Albuquerque is locally referred to as Los Ranchos, or The Village, and can be found in Bernalillo County.

Unlike Albuquerque CBD, house prices here are slightly more ambitious, above the national average. With that in mind, the news that the median household income is slightly over $50,000 will cause you little surprise. This is a more affluent and highly educated suburb of Albuquerque; 21% of residents have a master’s degree or higher.

The homes in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque are charming and cute on the outside and spacious yet functional on the inside. Many properties on the market are waiting to be moved into and require little to no renovations.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Los Rancho de Albuquerque are:

  • Campo at Los Pobloanos
  • Casa Rondena Winery
  • Vernon’s Speakeasy
  • Big Jim Farms
  • Balloon Fiesta Park

11. Las Cruces

Las CrucesSource: dherrera_96 / Flickr
Las Cruces

With a nearly 50/50 split of residents living in owned and rented homes, there is a suitably diverse community in Las Cruces. Much like Albuquerque CDB, the cost of living in Las Cruces is ideal; less than $1,000 per month for rental properties and under $200,000 for entire homes, on average.

Proximity to the Prehistoric Trackways National Monument and the Robledo Mountains are a severe draw to Las Cruces. This is not an affluent city; the average household earns just below $50,000 a year, less than the national average.

Despite this, the residents of Las Cruces are happy and content in their homes here. A good range of public schools keeps parents comfortable, outdoor activities and entertainment facilities keep youngsters amused, and an improving employment climate is keeping the workforce satisfied.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Las Cruces are:

  • Mesilla Plaza
  • White Sands National Park
  • Dripping Springs Natural Area
  • New Mexico State University
  • Plaza de Las Cruces
  • Las Cruces Railroad Museum

12. North Valley

north valley albuquerqueSource: welcomehomeabq.com
North Valley

North of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque is the suburb of North Valley, home to over eleven thousand residents. Although some pricey properties are on the market, some exceedingly affordable family homes are available here in North Valley. A reasonable investment of under $200,000 would see you be the proud owner of a simple but ample abode with three bedrooms and 2-bathrooms.

North Valley is a popular place to raise a family, and with forty-two public schools to choose from, parents can move in knowing that there is a future for their children rooted in this neighborhood.

There is a diverse community of people who call North Valley home. Average household income is below $50,000 per year; this is a suburb of hardworking people striving to keep their families happy and healthy.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in North Valley are:

  • ABQ BioPark Aquarium
  • A Park Above
  • Petroglyph National Monument
  • Cliff’s Amusement Park
  • Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
  • Albuquerque Museum

13. Santa Fe

Santa Fe, NMSource: Frank Romeo / shutterstock
Santa Fe

Plenty is happening in Santa Fe, described as an artistic and creative city, home to over eighty-three thousand residents. This is an expensive city compared to Albuquerque, for example. Median home value is steep around the national average, which is high for New Mexico, and given the slow job climate, you should have work secured before settling in Santa Fe.

Being a large city, Santa Fe has a diverse population in terms of ethnic background and economic standing. Local people love the architecture and the progressive nature of the town. The economy is strengthening here in Santa Fe; perhaps it will have crept into the top ten best places to live in New Mexico in a few years.

Entertaiment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Santa Fe are:

  • Santa Fe Plaza
  • Museum of International Folk Art
  • San Miguel Chapel
  • New Mexico Museum of Art
  • Palace of the Governors History Museum
  • Santa Fe Botanical Garden
  • Neda Matteccui Art Gallery

14. Edgewood

EdgewoodSource: sevenMaps7 / shutterstock

In Santa Fe County is the town of Edgewood, with a residential population of over three thousand; the town limits have expanded into Bernalillo and Torrance Counties too.

Despite its rural aesthetic, Edgewood is a growing town and is not far from jumping from a countryside feel to a suburban atmosphere. This is not necessarily a bad thing; what comes with town expansion? Better facilities and improved infrastructure. Factors that would be of real benefit to Edgewood.

Edgewood is one of the safest places to live in New Mexico; the occasional theft or burglary created Edgewood’s crime rating, to begin with, and there are few other incidents aside from these.

Edgewood is a more affluent area of New Mexico; the median home value is just over $200,000, and annual household income is just over $50,000.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Edgewood are:

  • Wildlife West Nature Park
  • Tinkertown Museum
  • Rattlesnake Museum & Gift Shop
  • Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian
  • Hinkle Fun Center Amusement Park

15. La Huerta

La HuertaSource: wikipedia
La Huerta

Formerly known as Carlsbad North, La Huerta is home to a close-knit population of over one thousand residents. Close-knit they may be, they’re comparatively affluent too. With an average annual income of nearly $90,000, there is a community of successful career people here in La Huerta.

House prices are much steeper than in other parts of New Mexico, but with median rent below $1,00 per month, there are options for those looking to rent. You’ll have to snap rentals up as soon as they appear, though, as only 18% of people live in rented accommodation.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in La Huerta are:

  • Tenacatita Beach
  • Restaurante Martin
  • Lucky Bull Grill


15 Best Places to Live in New Mexico:

  • Los Alamos
  • White Rock
  • Sandia Heights
  • Eldorado at Santa Fe
  • Corrales
  • Mesilla
  • Rio Rancho
  • Paradise Hills
  • Albuquerque
  • Los Ranchos de Albuquerque
  • Las Cruces
  • North Valley
  • Santa Fe
  • Edgewood
  • La Huerta