Are you wondering about the Pros and Cons of Living in New Mexico? Then you are not alone.
My husband asked me a while ago if I would consider moving to New Mexico with him. Having been there several times, I was already convinced that the answer would be yes.
But I also did my research. It can be hard to judge whether or not you want to live somewhere based on a visit alone.
To make the choice easier for you, I have created this ultimate list with all advantages and disadvantages of living in New Mexico. And of course, I have included all my personal experiences about my move to New Mexico as well.
Let’s get to it!
1. Pro: Natural Beauty: Stunning Landscapes and Diverse Ecosystems
New Mexico is a stunningly beautiful state. It is not called the “Land of Enchantment” for nothing.
Discover the red sandstone cliffs of the Chama River Canyon Wilderness and the glacial lakes of White Peak in the Sangre de Cristo range. Find lush forests, vast deserts, and towering mountains to explore. And the White Sands National Park is something else entirely.
The ecosystems of New Mexico are quite impressive as well. From ancient lava flows to tumbling rivers, New Mexico has an abundance of impressive natural features.
Because of the diverse landscape, New Mexico is home to a wide range of species. The desert regions are particularly unique. You can find lizards, snakes, foxes, coyotes, and many other animals. The forests provide a home for black bears, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and even mountain lions.
This needs to be the number 1 upside on your list of pros and cons of living in New Mexico.
2. Con: No Direct Access to the Ocean
New Mexico does not have direct access to the ocean. For me, this was a bit of a downside of moving to New Mexico because I have always dreamed about living by the ocean.
Apart from the fact that living by the ocean is fun, there are other downsides connected to that.
Shipping goods or receiving imports from the coast takes significantly longer and costs more than if New Mexico had direct access.
It also limits fun activities, such as sailing or swimming, making New Mexico not a number one tourist destination.
Additionally, many industries related to fishing are unable to thrive in the area.
However, there are a couple of nice lakes in New Mexico that can at least make up partially for the lack of oceans.
3. Pro: Rich Cultural Heritage
New Mexico has a rich cultural heritage. Many Native American tribes have roots in the area. It is no surprise that New Mexico has become home to many diverse traditions and rituals.
Many fun festivals are honoring the Native American heritage such as Zuni Shalako, Jemez Red Rocks, and Santa Fiestas.
The culture of this area is also heavily influenced by Spanish colonization. Traditional Spanish foods like enchiladas are still very popular in the area.
Many museums focus on Native American history and culture including the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. The Tularosa Basin Museum of History is one of my personal favorites.
4. Con: Limited Job Opportunities (compared to metropolitan areas)
One major downside to moving to New Mexico is that there are fewer job opportunities than in metropolitan areas. This did not affect me as much, since my husband will be working at Holloman Air Force Base anyways.
In New Mexico, the unemployment rate (3.5 %) is higher than the national average. This makes it difficult for people to find steady work. Additionally, the wages tend to be lower in New Mexico.
Many of the jobs available are concentrated in larger cities like Albuquerque or Santa Fe. In the rural areas, there are even less lucrative opportunities available.
Luckily, nowadays much work can be done online. This means that you can work for a firm in a different state or a city while still enjoying the countryside of New Mexico.
5. Pro: Affordable Cost of Living
The cost of living in New Mexico is relatively low compared with other US states. This is a big upside of moving to New Mexico.
The housing rates in New Mexico are ridiculously low. The average price of a house in New Mexico is $284,090.
Energy costs and food expenses are also relatively low. On average, the cost of renting or buying a home in NM is much lower than that of other US states.
Additionally, NM has no income tax. which helps to keep overall costs down. All these factors contribute to making New Mexico one of the most affordable US states in terms of housing and living expenses and is a big pro for me.
As mentioned before, you can work remotely in another state while profiting from the low living costs in New Mexico. This is a huge win for digital nomads like me on the list of pros and cons of living in New Mexico.
6. Con: Higher Poverty Rates
New Mexico has a higher poverty rate compared to the US average. According to the US Census Bureau, 16.8% of people in New Mexico lived in poverty in 2020, which is higher than the national average.
This means that many New Mexican citizens are living below the poverty line and may struggle with necessities such as food, housing, and healthcare. Especially people with an immigrant background struggle in New Mexico.
Despite its low living costs, New Mexico’s high poverty rate indicates that it may not be an ideal state for those seeking economic opportunity or stability. Make sure to check in advance if your field of work will provide enough opportunities for you.
7. Pro: Pleasant Climate
New Mexico has a pleasant climate with mild winters and warm summers. This was one of the biggest reasons for me to move to New Mexico.
The state typically experiences sunny days during the summer months. There are cool evenings and nights, so it is still quite comfortable. In the wintertime, New Mexico is mostly dry. There is no heavy snowfall and no extremely cold temperatures.
The average annual temperature in New Mexico is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius). This means that the weather remains relatively mild throughout the entire year. It rarely reaches extremes.
The climate in New Mexico is ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and cycling. It also makes New Mexico a great place to retire.
New Mexico has on average more than 300 days of sunshine per year. If that is not a great reason to move to New Mexico, then I don’t know what is.
8. Con: Occasional Extreme Weather
Despite the generally mild climate in New Mexico, there are occasional extreme weather conditions. This can affect those living there, so you need to think this through well before going.
The most common types of extreme weather in New Mexico are thunderstorms and flash floods.
Hail is also an occasional occurrence during these storms. Very rarely dust storms and tornadoes can happen as well.
You can mitigate the risk by looking at houses that have been built with storm-resistant materials such as strong foundations, reinforced roofing material, and stable windows. It’s also important to invest in flood insurance coverage for your home.
All in all, I would only think of this as a minor con of moving to New Mexico.
9. Pro: Delicious Southwestern Cuisine and Unique Local Flavors
New Mexico’s cuisine is one of the most unique in the world. I have loved every single meal I have eaten in New Mexico – and I bet you will too.
The traditional New Mexican dishes combine Native American, Spanish, and Mexican influences. As a result, they manage to create something truly special.
The state’s signature dish is “fry bread,” which combines flour, baking powder, salt, vegetable oil, and water to create a delectable flatbread. You need to try that one!
Chilies also play an important role in New Mexican cuisine, since they grow them there. These peppers are used on their own or combined with other ingredients like garlic and onion.
You can also find all major fast-food chains represented in New Mexico. My favorite ones are IHop and Cinnabon.
The food in New Mexico can be spicy, for sure! But it is worth a try.
10. Con: Limited Availability of International Cuisine
While the local food in New Mexico is great, there is not as much variety in international cuisine.
Many restaurants are famous for their Mexican and Native American dishes. Sadly, this makes it a bit harder to find international restaurants, especially in the more rural areas.
However, a trip to Albuquerque or Santa Fe will quickly satisfy all your cravings.
This can be a pro and con of living in New Mexico at the same time, depending on your taste and preference.
11. Pro: Abundance of Outdoor Activities
New Mexico is a great destination for outdoor activities! As a nature lover, this is a big pro for moving to New Mexico for me. From hiking and camping in the majestic Rocky Mountains to exploring the canyons of Carlsbad and rafting down the Rio Grande, there are plenty of options.
Hiking trails throughout New Mexico offer breathtaking views of forests, lakes, rivers, and mountains. My favorite spot to hike in New Mexico is Cloudcroft, you should check out that cute mountain town.
Other popular outdoor activities in New Mexico include biking, fishing, horseback riding, skiing, snowshoeing, rock climbing, hot air balloon rides, and hunting. Head over to Ruidoso for amazing horseback-riding opportunities.
Additionally, New Mexico is home to many national parks including Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, and White Sands National Park.
With such a wide variety of outdoor activities available in New Mexico, there are endless opportunities for adventure!
12. Con: Limited Access to Professional Sports Teams
New Mexico is home to some minor-league sports teams, such as the Albuquerque Isotopes baseball team, but it lacks any major professional sports teams. This is not a major disadvantage of living in New Mexico, but you should still keep it in mind.
This means that you won’t be able to experience the same level of excitement and community engagement as other states. Fans of major sports leagues such as the NBA or NFL will have to travel outside of New Mexico to watch their favorite teams play.
13. Pro: Low Population Density, allowing for a Quieter and more Peaceful Lifestyle
New Mexico is a great place to live if you enjoy a quieter and more peaceful lifestyle. After living in the Netherlands for three years, this was one of my biggest reasons to move to New Mexico.
With a population density of 17 people per square mile, it’s one of the least densely populated states in the country. This makes it an ideal place for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
There are plenty of wide open spaces and scenic landscapes to explore in this beautiful state. New Mexico will give you enough space for yourself and that is something priceless to me.
14. Con: Limited Public Transportation Options, Especially in Rural Areas.
Public transportation in New Mexico can be limited, especially in rural areas.
For those living in the city centers, busses and trains are very much available. Albuquerque and Santa Fe are also nicely connected with public transport. Sadly, it doesn’t reach all parts of the state.
People living in rural areas may have difficulty getting around without access to a car.
In addition to limited public transportation options, some cities, and towns may not have access to ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft.
This boils down to the fact that you need to live in the city or buy a car. Since I am not a fan of public transport (besides flying) in the first place, it was not a big reason for me to not move to New Mexico.
However, for many people this is a big discussion point when talking about the pros and cons of living in New Mexico.
15. Pro: Breathtaking sunsets and stargazing opportunities due to clear skies
I had the best sunset of my life when driving from El Paso back to Alamogordo. The sky lit up in the most beautiful, intense colors. It was insane.
New Mexico is famous for its sunsets and stargazing opportunities. The combination of low light pollution and clear skies provide an ideal environment for natural spectacles.
Most evenings you get to see glowing orange and pink hues in the sky, as well as stunning starscapes.
For me, this was one of the moments when I was sure that I wanted to move to New Mexico.
16. Con: Limited Access to High-Speed Internet in Some Rural Areas
In rural areas of New Mexico, access to high-speed internet can be limited or non-existent. Keep this in mind if you are planning on working as a digital nomad, like me.
Even when available, the speeds may be insufficient for activities such as streaming video or online gaming.
This Con of living in New Mexico is often a bit overlooked, but it can affect your quality of life. Make sure to check in advance how good the coverage in your area is going to be.
17. Pro: Proximity to National Parks like Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands
New Mexico is home to many different National Parks. If you are an outdoor enthusiast like me, this is gonna be a huge advantage of living in New Mexico for you.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is one of the nation’s largest cave systems. It is stretching out over 117 miles and features some of the most incredible stalactites and stalagmites.
White Sands National Park in southern New Mexico offers an amazing escape into endless white sand dunes. It is my favorite spot in all of New Mexico.
18. Con: Less Shopping Opportunities
This downside of moving to New Mexico might only affect the girls among us. Many of my favorite brands do not have stores in New Mexico.
Especially the rural south does not have a lot of great shopping opportunities. The closest designer outlet center is in El Paso, Texas.
It is also a bit harder to find healthy grocery stores outside the bigger cities. Keep that in mind when thinking about moving to New Mexico.
19. Pro: The Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque
The balloon fiesta is an annual event that takes place every October. It is one of the world’s largest hot-air balloon festivals.
People from all over the world come to take part in this amazing event and admire stunning views of hundreds of colorful balloons taking off into the sky. There are also activities like concerts, competitions, food markets, and much more!
This might not be one of the big pros and cons of living in New Mexico, but it is a nice bonus.
20. Con: High Crime Rates in Some Cities
New Mexico has some cities that have high crime rates, which can be a downside for those looking to move there.
According to the 2019 Crime in the United States report, New Mexico had the second-highest rate of violent crime of any state in the U.S., with 689.1 crimes per 100,000 people. Drug abuse is sadly also an issue in the bigger cities.
This is something to consider when moving to New Mexico. It is important to check out the area you are looking to move to and assess, whether it is safe or not.
21. Pro: Low Crime Rate Compared to National Averages in Rural Areas
In rural areas of New Mexico, the crime rate is much lower than the national average. This is a big upside of moving to New Mexico.
According to a recent report from the FBI, New Mexico had the lowest rate of violent crime in rural areas out of all 50 states. Those who live in rural areas are at a lower risk of becoming victims of violent crimes.
The state also has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. Many rural communities have strong bonds, that can provide an extra layer of safety when it comes to preventing crime.
These lower crime rates in rural areas make it a great place for families to live and raise their children. New Mexico is also a great place for people looking to retire.
22. Con: Limited Access to Quality Healthcare in Some Rural Areas
New Mexico sadly has a stark disparity between urban and rural healthcare. This is one of the most important downsides of living in New Mexico to consider.
Access to adequate healthcare in the cities is generally good. Sadly, many small towns do not have a local hospital or medical care center. Even if they do, services are sometimes limited due to a lack of personnel or equipment.
Luckily, our healthcare needs are covered by the military. But if you have any specific concerns about the coverage, make sure to research it well before moving to New Mexico.
When waging the pros and cons of living in New Mexico, this has to be considered.
23. Pro: Tax Advantages for Retirees, Including Pension and Social Security Exemptions
Retirees in New Mexico have some of the most favorable tax laws for their income in the nation. This is a major reason why New Mexico is an amazing place to retire in the United States.
Social Security benefits, pensions, and other retirement income are exempt from state taxation. Retirees can keep more of their hard-earned money.
The property taxes in New Mexico are also very low. The homestead exemption allows homeowners over 65 years old to receive a reduction in their taxes if they have their main residence in New Mexico.
Sales tax is also relatively low – just 5% – with exemptions for groceries and prescription drugs. All this makes New Mexico a great place to live for retirees.
24. Pro: Friendly and Welcoming Communities
New Mexico is known for its friendly and welcoming communities. I have experienced it myself, and it was an absolute pleasure.
People are incredibly hospitable and inviting, it is easy to find new friends. Many New Mexicans have a deep appreciation for nature and a lot of dedication to the community.
The Southwest in general is known for its warm hospitality. New Mexico is one of the most welcoming states in America.
If you do not have any friends in the area yet, this is a great upside to moving to New Mexico. You will find a nice community quickly.
25. Pro: Excellent Public Education System
The public education system in New Mexico is highly regarded in the country. New Mexico is home to over 800 public elementary, middle, and high schools. There are also many community colleges and universities.
New Mexico has begun implementing Common Core standards. This approach emphasizes critical thinking over memorization. In addition to the traditional academic options, New Mexico also offers career and technical programs. You can learn in fields such as agriculture, welding technology, automotive repair technology, media arts, cosmetology, and culinary arts.
This is a really important upside of moving to New Mexico, especially when you have kids or are planning on having kids in the future. This is a big thing to consider when making your list about the pros and cons of living in New Mexico.
26. Pro: Easy Access to International Airports
There are quite a few International Airports located throughout the state making travel easier. This is a great pro of moving to New Mexico when you are still planning on traveling a lot.
Albuquerque International Sunport offers numerous flights daily both domestically and internationally. Residents of the south can easily also reach El Paso Airport in Texas.
27. Pro: Progressive Legislation Ensuring Rights for Everyone
New Mexico is a state that has embraced progressive legislation when it comes to ensuring rights for everyone. As a lawyer, this is an incredibly important upside of moving to New Mexico for me.
The New Mexico Human Rights Act was amended in 2019 to protect individuals from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. This means that those who identify as LGBTQ+ now have clear legal protections in the workplace and elsewhere.
The state also recently adopted an Equal Pay for Equal Work Act that requires employers to provide equal pay for employees doing identical work, regardless of their gender or race.
Conclusion: Pros and Cons of Living in New Mexico
These were my most important pros and cons of living in New Mexico. As you could see, the upsides outnumbered the downsides of moving to New Mexico for me.
The beautiful state has a reputation for not being a great place to live. But I hope this article could convince you to give New Mexico a chance.
Make sure to consider all advantages and disadvantages carefully when planning your move to New Mexico.
If you are wondering about the quality of life in the neighboring state of Texas, check out my biggest reasons not to move to Texas.
About the Author
Sabrina is a passionate travel blogger and content creator based in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Her goal is to explore the beautiful state of New Mexico and share it on this blog. She’ll also dive deep into culture, history and other interesting facts about her new home on this blog.