The 5 Most Affordable Cities in New Mexico

New Mexico offers cheap living among breathtaking views, hot air balloons

Bonnie Burch
On Monday, May 8, 2017 - 17:08
New Mexico

With beautiful high desert vistas, wonderful Southwestern cuisine and some of the friendliest people in the country, it’s no wonder folks are flocking to New Mexico.

And the 47th state offers highly affordable living for those who call themselves residents.

In order to find out what areas present the most bangs for the bucks, used specific data points in transportation, housing, food and utilities to find out not only the cheapest cities but also those that offered the best quality of life.

In order, here are the top five New Mexican cities for budget conscious residents.


5. Santa Fe

Founded by the Spanish in 1610, Santa Fe, which is also the state capital, has a lot of history. In fact, it’s not only the oldest state capital in the nation but also the highest as the city sits 7,000 feet above sea level.

The city’s rich cultural heritage has garnered attention previously. In 2012, Santa Fe made it to the number three spot on’s “10 Best Cities for Historic Preservation”  due to inhabitants’ efforts to save places such as the 1777-built Santuario de Guadalupe, San Miguel Mission (perhaps the oldest church in the country when it was built in the early 1600’s) and the adobe-covered Palace of the Governors, the oldest contiguously operating government building in the country.

Median home price is a little on the high side at $276,500 while median household income is $50,213. But look at all the amazing features the city boasts.

In addition to history, residents are proud of their art scene including the popular Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, shopping opportunities including a year-round farmers’ market and recreation for hikers, bikers and snow skiers in the Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Basin. A great place to eat is Tia Sophia’s, a diner opened in 1975 that features chiles, sopapiallas and breakfast burritos on the menu.


4. Alamogordo

The governmental seat of Otero County, Alamogordo  is famous as the Trinity test site when the first atomic bomb was detonated near this town in 1945. A stone obelisk marks the spot of this historic moment.

Initially, this area was chosen for its isolation. However, today Alamogordo is a thriving city filled with park conveniences, sporting events and family-friendly activities such visits to the Alameda Park Zoo, which has a breeding program to save the endangered Mexican wolf.

The economy is still centered on military installations at Holloman Air Force Base and the White Sands Missile Range. However, tourism is also prevalent with the White Sands National Monument and its rare and highly photogenic white gypsum sand dunes close by. Visitors also come to see the New Mexico Museum of Space and the White Sands Balloon Invitational, a hot air balloon festival held each September.

Median home price in Almogordo is $112,100 with median household income hovering at $43,460.


3. Rio Rancho

A part of Albuquerque Metro area, Rio Rancho is a great place to raise a family with a decent school system, libraries and dozens of parks, trails and sports facilities.

Seniors also find a lot to love in Rio Rancho with the 4,400-member Meadowlark Senior Center, which has partnered with the Sandoval County Senior Program to provide in-home meals and transportation and with the Mid-Region Council of Governments, which operates the Rio Transit system. The center also has an endeavor with PeopleWorks-NM to offer counseling for seniors.

Semiconductor manufacturer Intel Corporation has a large plant here.

The median home price is $172,400 but the median household income is also a nice steady $59,243.

Opened in 2006, the Santa Ana Star Center provides 7,000-seat event space in the heart of downtown Rio Rancho.


2. Carlsbad

The gateway to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, the city of Carlsbad  

benefits from a large influx of tourists who come to wonder at the magnificent stalactites in this underground cave system.

But oil, natural gas and potash mining also bolster the economy.

Families are often seen boating, fishing or picnicking along Lake Carlsbad, dubbed “The Pearl on the Pecos.”

You can get a house for fairly cheap here. Median home price is $107,300 with median household income at $48,058. Historically, the crime rate is Carlsbad is very low and the school system is highly rated.


1. Hobbs

Our top affordable city in New Mexico has much that residents find attractive – an excellent school system, tons of recreational opportunities and great shopping and dining but with a highly affordable standard of living.

Median home price in Hobbs  is a great value at $104,900. But residents make good paychecks too with median household income at $53,750.

That’s because the economy here is strong with plenty of jobs in ranching and agriculture, oil and gas mining and nuclear, wind and solar energy production.

Zia Park Casino, Hotel & Racetrack  brings many visitors to Hobbs to try their luck on the slots and the thoroughbred horse races while staying in the 154-room hotel.

Hobbs is also home to the Soaring Society of America, a 12,000-member group dedicated to the sport of sailplane and glider flying.


Bonnie Burch is a writer who spent 20 years working in news media and print journalism. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, canoeing and camping.