The Best Towns in New Mexico for Young Families

We wanted to identify the best towns in New Mexico for young families, so we asked the following questions as we analyzed cities and towns across the state:

  1. Does the town have good public schools? We measured schools’ academic performance with ratings from GreatSchools. This non-profit compares a given school’s standardized test scores to the state average to obtain a rating on a 1 to 10 scale (10 representing the highest score). Higher ratings led to a higher overall score.
  2. Can you afford to live there? We looked at both median home values in each town and ongoing monthly home costs, including mortgage payments, real estate taxes, insurance costs, utilities, fuel and other bills. Lower costs led to a higher overall score.
  3. Is the town growing and prospering? We assessed a town’s economy by looking at median household income and income growth over the last decade. Higher income and greater growth led to a higher overall score.

Many of the top communities featured below have grown significantly in recent years, and several also feature great outdoor recreation, from hiking to boating.

Check out our cost of living calculator here as well as our mortgage rates calculator for more information.

The Best Towns for Young Families

1. Clayton
Clayton is in northeastern New Mexico, at the intersection of Highways 56, 412, 64 and 87. The community has grown substantially over the last several years. With an 18.1 percent growth rate, its population has expanded at double the rate of the state average.

2. Los Alamos
Los Alamos lies on the Pajarito Plateau and White Rock Canyon. The community is just a 45-minute drive from Santa Fe, one of the largest cities in the state. Within Los Alamos, residents can enjoy a number of recreational spots, from a ski mountain to an aquatic center and a high-altitude golf course.

3. Edgewood
Edgewood is a quickly growing community in the Santa Fe metro area. Incorporated only in 1999, Edgewood was first just a handful of subdivisions, a strip mall and a few shops. Since then, from 2000 to 2010, the town has doubled in size.

4. Artesia
Artesia is in Eddy County, in southeastern New Mexico. The city includes eight parks, including Jaycee Park, where residents can play softball, baseball, soccer, football, volleyball, tennis, golf and racquetball. Just outside the city is Brantley Lake State Park, where families can fish, water-ski, boat and sail.

5. Rio Rancho
Rio Rancho is the largest city and economic hub of Sandoval County. CNNMoney has named it one of the best places to live twice in the last five years. Hewlett-Packard and Intel, two big employers in the area, have added close to 2,500 jobs in the last few years.

6. Clovis
Clovis is in Curry County, in the eastern part of the state. The Census declared it and neighboring Portales a microplex in 2003, which has helped bring in new businesses. The two cities share a customer base of 50,000 people, and it is considered a retail hub.

7. Portales
Portales is the seat of Roosevelt County, in eastern New Mexico. In addition to being a retail hub, Portales, like its neighbor Clovis,  boasts plenty of recreational opportunities. Within the city are public parks, baseball fields and tennis courts, and just four miles away is Oasis State Park, where residents can picnic, hike, camp and fish.

8. Carlsbad
Carlsbad is the seat of Eddy County, in the southeastern region of the state. The city’s unemployment rate is low, at just 4.6 percent in July 2013. The city is nearby recreational hot spots, too, including Carlsbad Caverns National Park just 18 miles away and the Guadalupe Mountains National Park further southwest.

9. Silver City
Silver City is the seat of Grant County, in southwestern New Mexico. Silver City is one of National Geographic’s “Adventure Towns” because of its great hiking and the close-by Continental Divide Trail, which ascends the Pinos Altos Mountains into the Gila National Forest. In 2009, Phoenix Home & Garden also featured the city because of its two dozen art galleries and studios.

10. Milan
Milan is a suburb of Grants, in Cibola County. The community is growing quickly, having seen 71.6 percent population growth between 2000 and 2010. Homes in the area are very affordable, too, with a median home value of just $63,400.