Albuquerque or Santa Fe? – Where to Hang Your Hat
Albuquerque or Santa Fe? It’s a tough decision.
New Mexico is a historically rich state with much to offer residents and tourists alike. Boasting both arid and alpine climates, the state has something for everyone. It is the 5th-largest state in the United States, but one of the least densely populated, meaning there is room to grow and run. Two of the state’s largest cities, Albuquerque and Santa Fe, are both excellent choices to hang your hat – it all depends on what you are looking for in your new place of residence.
To help you answer the question, “Albuquerque or Santa Fe,” we’ve got all the important information you need to know.
History of Albuquerque
Originally founded in 1706 as a Spanish colonial military outpost, Albuquerque was mostly a farming community. During the American Civil War, the city was occupied by Confederate troops and home to the Battle of Albuquerque in 1862. When the railroad was built in 1880, it bypassed the town plaza, giving rise to a new area of town called “New Albuquerque”. New Albuquerque grew into a major commercial center, and eventually grew to engulf the old town square. Later, Albuquerque was also home to a portion of Route 66, bringing shops and restaurants for wary travellers. In 1939 and 1940, the Kirtland Air Force Base and Sandia Base (respectively) were established, making Albuquerque a key player in the atomic age. The city continues to expand to this day but is limited in urban sprawl due to nearby communities and the city’s Planned Growth Strategy.
History of Santa Fe
The first attempt at colonizing the Santa Fe region was led by the Spanish in 1598. In 1610, Santa Fe was designated the capital of the New Spain province, making it the oldest capital city in the United States. In the Pueblo Revolt from 1680 to 1692, the indigenous Pueblo Peoples were successful in driving the Spaniards out of the region and reclaimed Santa Fe as their own. After the region was reconquered by the Spanish, it became the provincial seat at the outbreak of the Mexican War of Independence – leading to Santa Fe being named as the capital of the Mexican Territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico. In 1846, some 1700 soldiers marched into Santa Fe under the orders of Brigadier General Stephen W. Kearney to claim Santa Fe and New Mexico for the United States. By 1848 they had succeeded, with the U.S. officially gaining New Mexico under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In the 19th century, the railroad was built to bypass Santa Fe, leading to a slow, but steady, economic decline into the early 20th century. At that time, the city was partially revived through art and archaeology with the establishment of a number of resources for each.
Size of each city
Today, the Albuquerque Metropolitan Area boasts a population of approximately 910,000, while the city itself is an estimated 559,000. Of the 239,166 households, 43.6% were married couples living together and 33% of households had children under the age of 18. The age distribution for the city is approximately 24.5% under 18, 10.6% from 18-24, 30.9% from 25-44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 12% that are 65 or older. Albuquerque has a median income of $38,272.
Santa Fe is a smaller center, with an approximate population of 68,000. Of the 27,500 households, 24% had children under the age of 18 and roughly 38% were married couples living together. Age distribution for this city is 20% under 18, 9% from 18-24, 29% from 25-44, 28% from 45-64 and 14% 65 and older. Santa Fe has a median income of $40,392.
Deciding between Albuquerque or Santa Fe might come down to your preference in city size or makeup.
Albuquerque’s main industries include aerospace, defense, energy technology, semi-conductor, and computer chip technology. Major employers include the Kirtland Air Force Base, Sandia National Laboratory, and Intel Corp. Individuals in military or technology careers may find Albuquerque to be a great place to settle. The city has more private industry and is a major player in the tech scene.
Santa Fe’s economy is largely based on tourism and government. More recently, healthcare, scientific research, and light manufacturing have also become significant economic factors. Due to its rich history and attractive climate, Santa Fe is consistently rated as a top tourism destination in the US, which also boosts the city’s retail industry. While the government is the top employer in the city, there are numerous opportunities in the private sector as well.
Weather will clearly be a deciding factor for someone considering whether to move to Albuquerque or Santa Fe. Luckily, both locales have beautiful weather.
The climate in Albuquerque is usually sunny and dry, with very few days below freezing. The city receives relatively little rain and snow. Being closer to the mountains, Santa Fe has a slightly cooler climate with freezing temperatures in December and January. The city is also relatively dry with little precipitation for most of the year.
Do you like colder, crisper weather? Prefer beaming sunshine? Those preferences should influence your decision between Albuquerque or Santa Fe.
Things to Do
As is to be expected in cities with such rich histories, both Santa Fe and Albuquerque boast numerous historical landmarks and tours for the interested tourist or newcomer. In October of every year, Albuquerque hosts the International Balloon Fiesta where for an entire week over 600 balloons fill the sky every day. Every evening the “Balloon Glows” are also a sight to behold, where the balloons are illuminated against the night sky.
Albuquerque is also famous for it’s food and drink scene. Albuquerque has many rich, cultural food offerings ranging from home-style, to exotic to luxurious. Additionally, many craft artisans call Albuquerque home offering handmade food and drink unlike any other offerings in the U.S. It’s also important to note that Albuquerque ranks 12th in microbreweries-per-capita for the U.S.
Because of its proximity to the Mountains, late fall to early spring is a great time to go skiing near Santa Fe. Because of its climate and history, it may be surprising that skiing is a favorite pastime of locals and tourists alike, but four major ski areas within a 2-hour drive of Santa Fe, it’s worth trying it out while you are there.
Santa Fe is most well known for its art scene but has a ton to offer almost anyone. Santa Fe is home to the world-famous Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. For those looking to explore the more eclectic part of Santa Fe, Meow Wolf in Santa Fe is an art museum described as an, “immersive art experience that transports audiences to fantastic realms.” It’s truly something you must see to believe. Santa Fe is also home to the Santa Fe Opera, an absolutely gorgeous partially-outdoor opera amphitheater that hosts concerts of all genres throughout the year.
New Mexico boasts a rich history with the original Spanish occupation, then Mexican rule, then finally American claim. Both cities would be an excellent choice for anyone looking to hang their hat in New Mexico. Albuquerque is a tech hub, offering opportunity in the technology and military spaces, while Santa Fe offers opportunities in tourism, retail, healthcare, research and light manufacturing. Both cities offer numerous things to do for the whole family. When choosing where to live in New Mexico, either Albuquerque or Santa Fe would be a great choice.
The best decision you can make when deciding whether to buy a house in Albuquerque or Santa Fe
The best decision you can make when buying a home — whether in Albuquerque or Santa Fe — is to hire a qualified, local realtor like a member of the Karsten & Associates team. Karsten & Associates is not a national franchise, instead, we’re a local New Mexico real estate team that performs just as well. We consistently rank as a top-5 team for the state of New Mexico. For any New Mexico real estate questions you may have, you can contact a member of our team directly by calling (505) 750-7627. That line connects to a live member of our team 24 hours, 7 days a week.
You can also visit our site to search for homes at your own pace. It’s our own site so you know the results are reliable. Unlike those “other” home search sites, we are local to New Mexico.
Lastly, you can download our mobile home search app to take your search on the go.