With a population density of 16 people per square mile, New Mexico is one of the most lightly inhabited states in the country. But it’s also a very diverse state—with a wide range of Native American, Spanish and Mexican influences in its history, culture and art. Retire in New Mexico, and you’ll find plenty to see and do.

The landscape in New Mexico is striking—ranging from beautiful red deserts to high mesas and snow-capped mountain peaks. While most people associate New Mexico with desert landscapes, there’s actually a lot of forest in the state—especially in the north. Millions of acres across the state are protected by the US government, including numerous national forests, Aztec and Anasazi ruins, caverns, and other natural monuments.

New Mexico is heavily influenced by Native American culture. There are numerous native pueblos in the state that attract tourists as well as locals. In addition, there are stunning national rock formations and monuments throughout the state.

New Mexico’s climate is dry and hot for the most part, although temperatures in the higher elevations are much milder. Higher elevations also receive a significant amount of snowfall in the winter. No matter where in the state you live, there’s plenty of sunshine year-round.

Home values in New Mexico tend to be higher than the rest of the country; it’s particularly expensive to own a home in Santa Fe. Taxes are generally low; the total tax burden in the state is 33rd out of all 50 states. Property taxes are approximately .51% of a home’s total value; however, in New Mexico a home’s assessed value can’t increase by over 3% per year unless the home has been remodeled or sold. In general, however, there are no specific tax breaks for retirees; New Mexico does tax Social Security payments as well as pension income.

If you’re interested in a New Mexico retirement, there are several communities that may be worth a closer look. These include:

Santa Fe

New Mexico’s capitol city, Santa Fe is known for its thriving artistic community. There are several active arts and writing colonies in the city, as well as numerous art galleries. There are also plenty of museums featuring everything from Spanish colonial to Navajo ceremonial art. There’s also the Santa Fe Opera, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and plenty of cultural and sporting events throughout the year.

Las Cruces

There’s plenty to attract retirees to Las Cruces…including two outstanding hospitals, the beautiful vistas of the Organ Mountains, and plenty of culture and art driven by New Mexico State University. The city gets almost 300 days of sunshine per year—and housing prices are low compared to the rest of the state. There are plenty of opportunities for entertainment in Las Cruces, including sporting, artistic and cultural events. In addition, the university offers the Academy of Learning in Retirement—featuring a lecture series run by retired faculty and deep discounts on classes for seniors.

Albuquerque

New Mexico’s largest city, Albuquerque is bisected by the Rio Grande and is home to half a million people. The downtown features numerous galleries, shops, cafés, and museums—and you can also find hundreds of organizations promoting the visual arts, film, music, dance, theatre, literature, and folk art. Catch a ghost tour through the Old Town; climb the Sandia and Manzano Mountains; or ride the Sandia Peak Tramway and take in the exceptional views.

New Mexico retirement offers plenty of options—from stunning desert vistas to mountainous scenery, big city life to laid-back small towns. If you’re creative, you’ll love the strong artistic communities found in many New Mexico cities. Check out our listing of assisted living communities in New Mexico, and find your retirement nirvana today.