Enchanted Living: Quality of Life in New Mexico
Vibrant, diverse communities give New Mexico lifestyle appeal
If you’re searching for the perfect place to put down roots, look no further than New Mexico. The Land of Enchantment has seemingly countless advantages – a thriving arts and culture scene, plenty of natural beauty, a strong workforce and an array of diverse communities. And it’s affordable, with the state’s housing costs more than 20 percent below the national average.
‘A Cool Place to Gather’
From large metropolitan areas to small towns, New Mexico has it all, and each community offers its fair share of cultural attractions.
Arts and entertainment enthusiasts will fall in love with Albuquerque, named to Livability.com’s ranking of the Top 100 Best Places to Live in 2019.
Along with the Downtown Albuquerque Arts & Cultural District, the city features Green Jeans Farmery, a unique collection of locally owned restaurants, breweries and shops constructed entirely with shipping containers.
“Green Jeans Farmery gives people a cool place to gather and offers a diverse range of dining options for kids, teens and adults, so everyone can find something they’re excited about,â€ says Roy Solomon, the Green Jeans Farmery developer who is in the process of creating a similar development in Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights neighborhood called Tin Can Alley.
Los Alamos, which scored a spot on Livability.com’s list of Top 100 Best Small Towns for four consecutive years, is home to the Los Alamos Creative District. Comprising approximately 13 blocks of the city’s downtown, the district includes museums, galleries, restaurants and retailers, and it hosts a variety of unique events throughout the year.
“The district works collaboratively with other community organizations to host four large annual events that draw thousands of people from our community and surrounding areas,â€ says Jennifer Loveless, creative district curator and events manager for Los Alamos MainStreet.
A signature event is the award-winning Los Alamos ScienceFest, a five-day celebration of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM), Held in mid-July, the event attracts visitors from around the world.
Downtown Las Cruces is also a mecca for arts and entertainment as it lays claim to destinations such as the historic Rio Grande Theatre, Las Cruces Museum of Art, Branigan Cultural Center and Plaza de Las Cruces, an open-air spot that hosts community events.
One of downtown’s biggest draws is the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market.
“It’s been named one of the best farmers markets in the nation, and everything is handmade, grown or produced by DoÃ±a Ana County residents,â€ says Mandy Leatherwood Guss, business development administrator for Las Cruces. “Plus, downtown Las Cruces is growing, with several new restaurants and fun attractions opening all the time. It’s a good time to be here, and there’s something for just about everyone.”
In addition to a flourishing cultural landscape, New Mexico has 35 state parks, three national parks and 10 national monuments.
One of those national parks features the can’t-miss Carlsbad Caverns in the Guadalupe Mountains, which include more than 119 below-ground caves formed when sulfuric acid dissolved limestone millions of years ago. Visitors can hike in on their own via the natural entrance or take the elevator directly to the Underground Lunchroom some 750 feet below and grab a bite to eat.
Looking to cool off? Head to Navajo Lake State Park, home to the second-largest lake in New Mexico and 150 miles of shoreline. Located in the northern region of the state, the park offers ample opportunities for water-based recreation like boating and fishing – particularly on the San Juan River, famous for its abundance of trout – as well as activities such as camping, hiking and biking.
Another top spot to make a splash is Bottomless Lakes State Park, situated near southeastern New Mexico’s Roswell. Highlighted by Travel+Leisure in 2017, the park has nine lakes, which are actually sinkholes filled with water that range from 17 to 90 feet deep. Anyone can visit eight of the nine lakes, but only one, Lake Lea, permits swimming – and because it’s so deep, the lake has become a favorite scuba diving destination.