11 Pros and Cons of Retiring In New Mexico

New Mexico is a beguiling land of wonder that has rightfully earned its reputation as the land of enchantment. The state is home to breath-taking semi-arid landscapes and a high-spirited welcoming culture. Located on the Southwest border of the United States and Mexico, New Mexico is the fifth-largest state by area. 

This, coupled with the fact that it is very sparsely populated, means that there’s an abundance of settlement opportunities for those who favor its temperate climate.

Furthermore, the state’s inhabitants enjoy a low cost of living, low taxation, reasonable access to amenities, and healthcare. It is the same combination of these factors that make the state a popular destination for retirees. 

However, before you start making travel arrangements, you need to consider the other side of the coin. Some potential pitfalls of retiring in New Mexico include a relatively high crime rate, poor infrastructure, roads, and long traffic jams.

Read on to discover the pros and cons of retiring in New Mexico.

A photo of a long highway in the desert with a driftwood sign that says New Mexico

Pros

Living in New Mexico has an impressive list of advantages that have made it extremely popular among retirees across the country. The state is ideal for those looking to enjoy their retirement years in a gorgeous, serene setting. 

New Mexico also boasts several large cities, including Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Santa Fe, and Roswell, despite its rich natural scenery. Below are the benefits of retiring in New Mexico:

#1 Low Cost of Living

This is the one number item that all senior citizens consider when choosing retirement spots. If you’re on a tight budget and can no longer enjoy the benefits of an assured weekly or monthly wage, New Mexico may be the ideal solution.

The cost of living index is measured against a national average of 100. By comparison, New Mexico’s is 96.3. In simple terms, this implies that it is cheap to live in the state as one would need less money to spend on everyday utilities such as grocery and transportation.

In the cities where the cost of living is lower than the state’s average, living solely off one’s social security pension income is a viable option. The areas that boast a meager cost of living include Lovington, Truth or Consequences, Hobbs, Carlsbad, Roswell, Bloomfield, Alamogordo, Tucumcari, Gallup, and Grants. 

#2 It Is Rich In Scenery

A photo of Shiprock, New Mexico, USA. It shows a huge rocky outcrop in the desert. The image is shot at dusk with the sky a vivid blue, pink and purple color

Retirement is a blissful affair that ought to feel like a permanent vacation, where one can reward themselves with endless picturesque experiences. Fortunately, New Mexico boasts a broad range of stunning natural scenery.

From the white sands covering its sprawling desserts to clear skies that offer breath-taking views of the night sky, New Mexico will fill your days and nights with child-like wonder. Some of the places deserve a visit include Ghost Ranch, Valles Caldera, Carlsbad Caverns, the Tent Rocks, the Blue Hole, and Bandelier, to mention a few.

#3 Favorable Housing Conditions.

New Mexico is the perfect place to settle for those who prefer quiet neighborhoods. Despite its massive size, the state is generally sparsely populated and offers plenty of opportunities to escape the hustle and bustle of big cities.

Additionally, it is relatively cheap to purchase a home in the state, with the median listing price being $184,200, which is about 5% below the national average. Rental prices are also quite pocket-friendly, with Albuquerque clocking an impressive range of $735-$841. Santa Fe has by far the highest rental costs.

For retirees looking for a quiet place that simultaneously offers some of the lowest real estate market prices, choose New Mexico. 

#4 Warm Climate

New Mexico residents relish a warm climate while also experiencing all four seasons. They receive approximately 3,700 hours of sunshine per annum, a factor that most retirees are fond of, as one can bask in the sun for the bulk part of the year and receive a moderate amount of snow in the winter.

The state records temperature highs of 84 °F during summer and lows of  23 °F during winter. It also receives an average of 2inches (5cm) of snow and 11inches (28cm) of rainfall annually, which is way below the national average at 38 inches (97cm).

As per the data above, New Mexico’s climate is ideal for senior citizens as it offers unlimited sunshine while experiencing all four seasons. 

#5 Long History and Unique Culture

New Mexico has a long, far-reaching history, with Santa Fe is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States. What’s more, New Mexico is home to three UNESCO heritage sites, the most of any in the country.

The state is also home to one of the most diverse populations in the entire country. It is an ethnic and cultural melting pot in every sense of the word. Here, you will find people belonging to the Native American tribes, Hispanics and Latinos, Black Americans, Asian and Middle Easterners.

The cuisine and other aspects of life such as architecture and other art forms have been heavily influenced by the various groups. The state is also home to some of the best wineries. Some of the vines have been growing since the ’60s and produce fantastic wine with a heavy Spanish influence.

New Mexico is the place for you if you have an open and exciting outlook on life and are willing to indulge in other people’s perspectives. 

#6 Recreation and Entertainment

An image of a band on a stage with a large crowd watching. The stage is illuminated by several purple and red lights

Despite its vast semi-arid landscapes, New Mexico also boasts several rivers, lakes, mountains, and plenty of green areas for exploring your adventurous side despite its vast semi-arid landscapes. 

If you love the outdoors, there is a wide range of outdoor activities in New Mexico that are guaranteed to pique your interest. These include fishing, camping, skiing, hiking, kayaking, rafting, and horse riding.

The art scene is also very much alive and thriving, attracting an impressive collection of musicians, artists, and writers. Here, you can enjoy theatre, opera, painting, and even attend the numerous music festivals held in the state, such as the Annual Balloon Fiesta. Casinos are legal in New Mexico, which means one can pass the time by gambling.

In case you’re looking forward to leading a lively lifestyle post-retirement, then New Mexico may be the place for you. 

#7 Convenient Access to Healthcare and Other Amenities

The state provides ready access to healthcare services, a crucial factor for the retiree demographic. New Mexico has 11 Critical Access Hospitals, 17 Rural Health Clinics, 107 Federally Qualified Health Center sites located outside of Urbanized Areas, and 20 short-term hospitals located outside urbanized areas.

Although New Mexico is sparsely populated,there’s no shortage of convenience stores, diners, drive-ins, restaurants, and gyms around the settled areas. It also has its fair share of hotels and motels.

There are also many retirement communities offering both assisted and independent living conditions at an average estimate of about $3,500 per month.

By having guaranteed access to all of these amenities just minutes away from residents’ homes, New Mexico cements its position as an excellent place to retire in.

#8 Safety

A photo of police lights on a car at night time. The image represents the level of safety in New Mexico

Despite some of the neighborhoods in New Mexico being prone to property crime, many cities and towns are renowned for their low violent crime rate. 

The safest cities are the likes of Rio Rancho, North Valley, Los Alamos, and Farmington. For instance, the crime rate of North Valley is approximately half that of the rest of New Mexico. 

The crime rates in these cities are at a record low, and statistically, the lowest in the state. If looking to retire in New Mexico, then these are the safest cities to settle in.

Cons

While settling in New Mexico after you retire has several perks, it is crucial that we also take a keen look at the drawbacks.

The following are the cons of retiring in New Mexico: 

#9 Bad Roads and Traffic

Estimations from studies conducted have placed the dilapidated and worn-out rural roads in New Mexico at a whopping 30%. Even a disturbing 6% of the bridges in New Mexico have been declared structurally unsound. 

Naturally, such poorly-maintained roads create several inconveniences for New Mexico residents, ranging from workers who use these roads to transport goods and other utilities daily to travelers, tourists, and most of all, the state’s rural inhabitants. 

Worse still is that these poor road conditions increase the risk of crashes and preventable accidents multifold. This not only serves to endanger the lives of car occupants and pedestrians but also causes frustrating traffic jams, which may inevitably delay services such as healthcare and delivery of other essential services.

It is, therefore, no shock to anyone that the state has attained a countrywide acknowledgment of having the “Most Dangerous Road in the USA” – the U.S. 666 or “The Devil’s Highway.” The rural roads in the state are, without a doubt, the worst in the country. In addition, the roads traversing the state’s hilly regions have also fallen into disrepair.

The poor state of the roads in New Mexico needs to be a key consideration when deciding whether to retire there.

#10 High Crime Rate

The crime rate in New Mexico is relatively higher than the national average. An alarming statistic claims that 42% of the residents fear for their safety. The proportion of violent crimes committed is 8.6 per every 1,000 residents, 4% above the country’s mean figure. The state has also legalized the use of assault weapons such as tasers and stun guns for self-defense.

Overall, New Mexico’s frequency of occurrence of criminal activities is a significant concern. It is, therefore, crucial to consider whether the relatively higher crime rate in the state is a deal-breaker.

#11 High Altitude

Because New Mexico is riddled with hills and mountains, its high altitude may not be favorable to those unaccustomed to the heights at which most houses are built. Moreover, this may induce altitude sickness in some senior citizens, especially those who dwelt in low-altitude areas.

Retirees afraid of developing breathing complications due to the shift in altitude would be better off retiring somewhere else.

Conclusion

Just like any other retirement destination, New Mexico has its share of pros and cons. 

Some of the upsides of spending your post-retirement life in New Mexico are a low cost of living, affordable housing, as well as guaranteed access to necessary amenities. Other benefits of retiring in New Mexico include a temperate and continental climate, a vibrant and diverse cultural scene, not to mention the beautiful landscape, and lots of fun activities.

The main drawbacks include a high altitude, a disturbingly high crime rate, and the poor condition of the state’s roads. Therefore, it is prudent that one carefully compares both sides of the coin before deciding whether or not to retire in New Mexico. See anything we missed? Let us know in the comments below.