New Mexico’s official state nickname, the
“Land of Enchantment,” aptly describes this southwestern state if you’re
interested in cultural heritage (Indian, Anglo and Hispanic), striking
desert and mountain scenery, and lack of congestion.
Although it’s the fifth-largest state in
the USA, New Mexico ranks only 36th in population, with approximately 1.8
million people. Its largest city is Albuquerque, home of the famous hot-air
balloon fiesta; its capital is Santa Fe.
Major industries in New Mexico include
mining, oil, natural gas, and tourism. Overall unemployment ranged between
5.4 and 5.1 percent in 2004.
The top five employment sectors in the
state are: (1) government; (2) trade, transportation and utilities; (3)
professional and business services; (4) leisure and hospitality; and (5)
construction. Educational and health services are also popular industries in
Income & Cost of Living
In 2000, the median household income
for Albuquerque exceeded $39,000 and Santa Fe came in at $44,000. Los Alamos
County topped all of the state with over $71,000. Annual per capita
income statewide in 2003 was under $26,000.
Albuquerque compares favorably with other
U.S. cities on living costs; costs are slightly higher than Dallas but well
below San Diego. Santa Fe has a higher cost of living but still ranked below
Housing costs play a significant role in
the Santa Fe cost-of-living figure, as do healthcare costs. Housing also
affects Albuquerque’s costs, rising nearly 5 percent in 2003, from
$128,000 to over $134,000. By comparison, San Francisco increased 5.5%, from
$482,000 to $509,000.
Climate & Geography
The Great Plains cover the eastern third of
New Mexico, and the Basin and Range Region south of the Rocky Mountains also
covers about one-third. More than half of the state is pastureland, and over
a quarter is woodland.
Temperatures can fluctuate substantially
within New Mexico. Statewide averages range from a high of 92.8 degrees to a
low of 22.3 degrees.
New Mexico’s average yearly precipitation
goes from less than tens inches throughout most of the southern desert, to
over 20 inches at higher elevations. In the two months of July and August,
the state receives 30-40 percent of its total annual rainfall. Brown in
varying shades predominates throughout much of the state. If you’re used
to relatively widespread greenness, this might take some getting used to.
Only 234 of New Mexico’s over 121,000
square miles are covered by water. However, it does boast two major rivers,
the Rio Grande and the Pecos, and river rafting is a popular recreational
Culture and recreation:
National relocation resources: