Best Places to Live

Los Alamos, NM

Population: 12,274
Photo: Larry Lamsa

With one of the highest concentrations of Ph.D. holders in the nation, Los Alamos, NM, stands out as the "smartest" small town. Innovative education, health and recreational programs have earned the city and surrounding county national recognition, including such titles as "healthiest" and "wealthiest" places in America.

The city's location atop the Pajarito Plateau, near the Jemez Mountains, not only provides breathtaking views but gives residents easy access to high-altitude sports such as mountain biking, skiing, rock climbing and hiking. An urban trail system connects to forest paths. Golf courses, parks, a skating rink and aquatic center provide even more recreational options. Cultural landmarks like the Bradbury Science Museum, Fuller Lodge Art Center, and the Los Alamos Little Theatre frequently hold special events and educational programs for children and adults.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory employs more than 7,000 people and the area's science-based businesses attract top talent from across the globe, making the city the most culturally diverse in New Mexico. Scientific endeavors such as the Manhattan Project, the development of super computing, the Human Genome Projects and the creation of the world's fastest movie camera, reflect the community's innovative spirit. Research and development continues to be the driving economic force. Local companies support initiatives that get children interested in science, technology and art.


*Growth Rate (2010-12): 1.2%

Size: 11 square miles

Median home price: $308,600

Average commute: 16 minutes

*Growth rate for Los Alamos County