17 Reasons Not to Move to Santa Fe, New Mexico (Voted by the locals!)

Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA downtown skyline at dusk.

As the capital city of New Mexico, Santa Fe draws in travelers and residents with its rich history and culture. While these are significant factors that make the city desirable, there are many downsides that exist here as well. According to the locals, Santa Fe has some cons that might be harder to recognize from the outside looking in.

Before making the move to Santa Fe, you might want to consider some of these aspects that could steer you away from this city.

1. You Can’t Escape The Sun

One thing about Santa Fe is that there is consistent sunny weather here. It’s very easy to get sunburned when you’re going about your daily outdoor activities, so this can be quite the downside to living in this city. Depending on how well you handle the heat, the amount of sunshine can be quite the adjustment. Even in colder months like November or February when the sun doesn’t seem as strong, you can still get sunburnedOpens in a new tab.. On average, you’ll experience 300 days of sun a year. It does snow in Santa Fe in the winter, but you still don’t be able to escape the sun. Living here requires you to layer on sunscreen every day.

2. High Cost Of Living

In general, the amount of money you will make in Santa Fe doesn’t quite match the price you must pay to live here. Many locals dislike how expensive it is and find that the real estate is overpriced. However, it is more typical for metro area homes to cost more than rural areas homes.

The cost of livingOpens in a new tab. in Santa Fe is slightly higher than the average cost of living in New Mexico, and it has a lot of the most expensive homes you’ll find in this state. The homes in Santa Fe cost 20% above the New Mexico average. The housing makes this city extremely costly. Because of this high cost of living, Santa Fe might not be worth it.

3. Dust Everywhere

One of the complaints locals tend to share about Santa Fe is the dust problem. This city, as well as most of New Mexico, is in the desert biome. This means you are bound to have dust in and around your home, as it easily creeps in. There’s a good amount of wind throughout the year, and it will blow dust straight into your face. To avoid dust, you’ll most likely have to install an HVAC system in your home. Overall, if you have sensitive air passageways due to disorders like asthma, for example, this can be a crucial reason not to make this move.

4. High Crime Rate

A downside to living in this city is the high amount of crime and drugs. As of 2019, the incidents of property crime were over 55% higher than the national average. While the violent crime rate is much lower, property crime happens the most often out of any other crime. The chances of being a victim of property crime are 1 out of 30Opens in a new tab., which means that you are more likely to get pickpocketed, robbed, or even get your car stolen in Santa Fe than in many other cities. Most cities tend to have higher crime rates than rural areas, but living in Santa Fe will cause you to be extra cautious.

5. Population Is Older

Retirees and older individualsOpens in a new tab. make up a large portion of the population in Santa Fe, and there’s a lack of younger people. Because of this demographic, the city doesn’t have as much of a social dynamic. The environment is more relaxed and tranquil, which might be what you’re looking for, but it affects the entire city.

For example, you won’t find as much nighttime entertainment, and it’s relatively hard to find friends if you’re younger. LocalsOpens in a new tab. sometimes feel like there are days when they don’t even see someone under the age of 55. Not only this, but the older population tends to have a lot of money and a sense of entitlement. This could also be difficult for families. There are only so many kids, and it isn’t quite a social family-friendly climate.

6. Lack Of Nightlife

Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA downtown at night.

This city gets pretty quiet at night and doesn’t provide many options for nightlife. There are some fun festivals that occur in Santa Fe, but for the most part, there isn’t much to do after the sun sets. Unlike most cities, Santa Fe lacks places with live music or dancing.

With so many residents being retired and at an older age, it’s missing a liveliness that is found in many other cities. Most locals suggest driving an hour all the way to Albuquerque to have a good night out. With the few bars and restaurants available in Santa Fe, they often close early. Even on weekends, most bars close at 11:30 pm and are empty by 9:30 pm.

7. Issues With Government

Many people are not satisfied with the decisions made by political leadersOpens in a new tab. in Santa Fe. The problem is bureaucracy. This means that most of the important decisions are made by state officials instead of elected representatives. Since the capital of New Mexico is in Santa Fe, people are more involved with what’s going on with their government choices and dislike the bureaucracy that goes on.

8. Lack of Well-Paying Jobs

A con to this city is that most wages are lowOpens in a new tab.. There isn’t as much of an industry built to support the middle or upper middle class, and there are few job openings. The largest employers are basically the school system and the state or city government. Other employers in this area are very small, and most of them are in the tourist industry. The problem with this place is that it’s very hard to find a job and get paid enough to afford to live in this location.

9. Tax Reform

An issue many locals have with Santa Fe is the tax rates. As for personal income tax rates for the state, it varies from 1.7% to 4.9%, with four income brackets that determine how much you pay. People who work in the state as non-residents also have to pay, even regular military salaries for people stationed in Santa Fe.

Social Security income is also liable for this. Here you would have to pay gross receipts taxes, income taxes, and property taxes. Before moving here, you would want to prepare yourself to pay these various taxes regularly. For income taxes, the bracket includes people who make more than $16,000 a year, which is an incredibly low amount of money.

10. Poor State Schools

sad girl sitting and thinking in the classroom

The quality of schools in Santa Fe is very poorOpens in a new tab.. It’s known for having some of the lowest-rated schools in the state. In this city, there are 29 educational facilities that are part of the school district. In 2018, 8 of these schools were graded an F, and another 8 got a D.

Locals recommend putting your child in a private school or just homeschooling them. This is due to the below-average test scores, extremely low graduation rates, and violent gang activity that goes on inside school buildings.

11. Drug Use Among Youth

If you have children or are planning on having them in the future, Santa Fe is not the place to move to. Aside from the poor education quality, the state of New Mexico has some of the highest rates of drug use in America. Not only does the state have the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths in the nation and the second-highest rate of drug-overdose deaths, but it’s a problem with the youth.

Surveys show that the youth of New Mexico are second in America for cocaine and ecstasy use, and are fifth-highest for using methamphetamineOpens in a new tab.. As for heroin, they are eighth in the country. Especially for families, this is concerning and a component that you would most likely want your kids and family to stay away from. Living in Santa Fe could put you or your family in environments with hard drugs and violence even at school.

12. Bad Healthcare

ResidentsOpens in a new tab. of Santa Fe have noted that the healthcare in the city isn’t quite top-notch. More specifically, it is inconsistent. A problem with it is that the state does not have enough physicians in general. It depends on what you need medical attention for, but it seems that your experience with healthcare in Santa Fe can either be great or really bad.

Many locals complain that there are not the best doctors here, and you might want to go somewhere else for assistance. For example, there is very little to help you if you are struggling with Parkinson’s disease. In fact, there are only three movement disorder doctors in the whole state. Santa Fe lacks choices and options when it comes to doctors.

13. Centered Around Tourists

On average, about 2 million people visit Santa Fe each year. This means that the economy is cateredOpens in a new tab. towards tourists and part-time residents. Due to tourism, prices are a lot higher depending on where you eat, shop, and drink. Streets can get congested at certain times of the year during tourist season, and you might have to figure out different routes to avoid this congestion.

Locals sayOpens in a new tab. that at times tourists are respectful of the city and the culture, but there are also times when there are loud, obnoxious, and annoying visitors. As for the economic side of it, people of Santa Fe feel that this place is so centered around tourists and it almost prevents them from growing in a way that benefits locals.

For example, tourists support businesses that don’t benefit the actual residents. They turn all the housing towards AirBnB, which makes housing prices go up and limit the options of things to do for locals. If you are craving to live somewhere that isn’t so popular to visit, you should consider moving somewhere else.

14. People Are All About Appearances

Something that people don’t like when they move here is the attitudes of some of the locals. For example, the city of Santa Fe tries hard to be “posh” and build things according to that appearance. People can dislike that the city seems to be focused on making everything look as it should.

There are also some snobby residents who can be quite mean. Since a large amount of the community is comprised of wealthier old people, they can be perceived as pretentious at times.

15. Be Cautious Of Insects

Due to the climate of Santa Fe, you will encounter a variety of insects while living here. For example, there is a stink bug that can cause damage and losses to your landscaping. There are also multiple kinds of cockroaches that you might have issues with because these insects love the weather in New Mexico.

During the spring and summer, drywood termites can tend to be problematic in Santa Fe, but they live throughout the city year-round. Other insects that you’ll see include scorpions, rattlesnakes, giant centipedes, and black widows. If you hate insects and don’t want to worry about watching your step when you’re not wearing shoes, this isn’t the place for you.

16. Dry Climate

Santa Fe has a very dry, high desert climate. Living in such a dry area can be frustrating, especially if you are coming from a more humid place. For example, you will find yourself more dehydrated, your skin will need more moisturizing, and it can aggravate already existing respiratory issues like COPD.

Once again, it depends on where you are moving from, but there are a lot of downsides to living in a really dry climate.

17. Higher Elevation

In Santa Fe, the elevation is 7,000 feet, which also makes it the third-highest city in the US. Depending on where you are moving from, this could be an adjustment or what you’re used to. If you are coming from a lower elevation, it will take you a while before you can work out to the same extent as you used.

The elevation also dehydrates you, so you will need to drink more water than you used to. You will also be more prone to altitude sickness in this city, which can cause fatigue.

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