12 Small Towns In New Mexico Perfect For Retirees – TravelAwaits

Retire in New Mexico and enjoy life as it was meant to be: active, social, and fun! You’ll love the rich scenery, day after day of sunshine, and so much to do. Spend your golden years appreciating a low cost of living and low tax rates, affordable housing, recreation, and entertainment, and of course, unique history and culture in this Land of Enchantment. And what more can you ask for than convenient health care and amenities and low crime rates?

We have traveled to New Mexico often because my husband was born and raised in Carlsbad. We love his home state. Here are a dozen retirement towns in New Mexico, in no particular order, that I’ve chosen for the small-town feel and big-town amenities like breathtaking scenery, outdoor activities, access to the arts, and diverse eateries.

Street in Carlsbad, New Mexico.
Traveller70 / Shutterstock.com

1. Carlsbad

Carlsbad is the “Pearl on the Pecos,” with the Pecos River running through it and the Chihuahuan Desert reaching out in all directions. The picturesque town is heaven outdoors. Lake Carlsbad Beach Park offers walking paths, beaches, paddle boats, watersports, swimming areas, picnicking, and fishing. Retirees can enjoy golf, community theater, the Balzano Vineyard, art galleries, antiques, and casual and fine dining. Scenic destinations like Sitting Bull Falls, Brantley Lake State Park, Carlsbad Caverns, Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park, and Guadalupe Mountains National Park are nearby. Take a sunset cruise to see the city from the river’s perspective.

Pro Tip: Our favorite place to stay is The Trinity Hotel in the old First National Bank, with nine luxury hotel suites and fine dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — plus afternoon wine tastings featuring their own Seven Rivers varieties.

Bullard Street in Silver City, New Mexico.
Bullard Street in Silver City, New Mexico (Photo Credit: Underawesternsky / Shutterstock.com)

2. Silver City

Besides providing an array of options for retirees, Silver City is a historic Old West mining town in New Mexico’s southwest corner. It has a temperate climate, a hometown community feel, and a nod to breathtaking mountain scenery. You’ll enjoy a fabulous art community, a lively historic downtown, and lots of festivals and events to keep you busy. Visit nearby Gila National Forest for hiking trails, scenic drives, hot springs, rugged mountains, deep canyons, and the historic Gila Cliff Dwellings. Enjoy authentic Mexican food, explore museums and galleries, play 18 holes, or shop for unique Southwestern art and crafts.

Pro Tip: Stay at Bear Mountain Lodge, three miles outside Silver City, with 11 comfortable guest rooms on 178 acres in the Gila National Forest. Café Oso Azul serves brunch, lunch, and dinner. Enjoy outdoor activities at this tranquil oasis, fully restored and maintained.

El Monte Sagrado hotel in Taos, New Mexico.
El Monte Sagrado hotel in Taos (Photo Credit: Janie Pace)

3. Taos

Taos, in northeastern New Mexico, is an outdoor lover’s dream. Taos is surrounded by mountains, with plenty of skiing, plus it’s close to the Rio Grande Gorge, where activities like fishing, hiking, white river rafting, and hot air ballooning are popular. Taos ranks high for tax friendliness, access to medical care, and social opportunities for retirees, like art galleries, the Taos Society of Artists, history, culture, plenty of restaurants, swimming, tennis, golf, hunting, and fishing. You’re close to Ted Turner’s Vermejo, 550,000 picturesque acres with 30 miles of pristine streams and 19 fishable lakes, and Valle Vidal, a 102,000-acre, remote Rocky Mountain paradise between Costilla and Raton. Just imagine living full time in New Mexico’s top vacation destination.

Sandia Mountains and Placitas, New Mexico.
Sandia Mountains and Placitas, New Mexico (Photo Credit: Julsungaro / Shutterstock.com)

4. Placitas

Placitas is a charming residential village tucked into the foothills of the peaceful Sandia Mountains, northeast of Albuquerque and southeast of Santa Fe. Enjoy a high desert climate, scenic mesas, astounding sunsets, and living with the stars. Select a Southwest-style home with a peaceful small-town feel. Enjoy rich history and Georgia O’Keeffe–esque landscapes with access to restaurants, wine shops, vibrant art, live music, and an astronomy club. Retirees have access to hiking, biking, horseback riding, and championship golf, and you are minutes from the Rail Runner train station and 30 minutes from the international airport for an easy trip to visit the grandkids.

Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe (Photo Credit: Janie Pace)

5. Santa Fe

Santa Fe, the City Different, is the most desirable New Mexico destination for couples. Why not retire there? It’s tops for scenery, pleasant climate, fun cultural events, and great outdoor activities. Retirees benefit from the friendly people, and it’s home to one of the finest healthcare facilities in the region. Flyfish for trout, try whitewater rafting, drive the scenic byways, or grab your skis and hit the slopes at Ski Santa Fe. Enjoy the rich history and Native American culture, shop for authentic jewelry, Pueblo pottery and crafts, and explore the historic cathedrals and architecture. Santa Fe is the nation’s third-largest art market, with more than 250 art galleries, numerous art museums, the Santa Fe Opera, the futuristic Meow Wolf, fiestas, art festivals, and a thriving restaurant scene. Casual or bustling, Santa Fe’s nightlife offers an array of wineries, breweries, and margaritas galore.

Fountain in Ruidoso, New Mexico.
Fountain in Ruidoso, New Mexico (Photo Credit: FrimuFilms / Shutterstock.com)

6. Ruidoso

If you are looking to retire near the natural beauty of the American West, consider Ruidoso in southeastern New Mexico. It sits in the Sierra Blanca Mountains, near the Mescalero Reservation. With reasonable living and housing costs, why not live where you can enjoy a vacation lifestyle permanently? Participate in outdoor adventures such as skiing, horseback riding, zip-lining, fishing, biking, hiking, golfing, and more. There are many more things to do, like seeing a show at the Spencer Theater for the Performing Arts, visiting art galleries, volunteering at historic sites, or taking a scenic stroll along the river. And The Lincoln County Medical Center offers excellent healthcare.

Pro Tip: When visiting, we like to find a rustic cabin in the mountains with all the amenities of home and access to all the outdoor activities.

7. Corrales

With a population of 8,374, this suburb of Albuquerque is one of the best places to live in New Mexico, offering a rural feel but with all the amenities of a large city nearby — the best of both worlds. In Corrales, you have the scenic Sandia Mountains and are near the Rio Grande Bosque, home to many native animals and plants. Enjoy the growers market with locally grown fruit and vegetables, local beef, pork, chicken, eggs, bread, and pastries. Visit the Corrales Winery, Acequia Vineyards and Winery, Casa Vieja Brewery, a cooking school, horseback riding, a handmade pottery and stoneware shop, antique shops, galleries, and local Southwestern restaurants.

truth or consequences
Heading into Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, with Peloncillo Mountains in the distance (Photo Credit: SunflowerMomma / Shutterstock.com)

8. Truth Or Consequences

Changing its name from Hot Springs to that of a popular radio game show in 1950, Truth or Consequences in the Southwestern part of New Mexico has a sleepy desert community feel with under 6,000 people. T-or-C offers a warm, dry climate, therapeutic thermal waters, and relatively low real estate prices for those retiring here. Centered halfway between Albuquerque and El Paso, enjoy picturesque national (and state) parks, national forests, monuments, lakes, and wilderness areas. Explore cultural attractions, ghost towns, mineral spas, the nearby Spaceport America, Mexican restaurants, and more that create a friendly retiree’s lifestyle in the Southwest.

white sands
White Sands National Park in Alamogordo (Photo Credit: Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock.com)

9. Alamogordo

Retirees can golf year round here, explore over 100 hiking trails, go horseback riding, mountain biking, and motorcycling in the sunny months, making Alamogordo one of the best places to retire in New Mexico. During the snowy months, it’s a short drive to the ski resorts. You’ll find a thriving city with family-friendly activities, parks, sporting events, museums, a pistachio farm, and a zoo. The economy centers on the military installations at Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range. Enjoy the New Mexico Museum of Space History, White Sands National Park, the nearby space port, and the Balloon Invitational every September.

bottomless lakes state park
Bottomless Lakes State Park in Roswell, New Mexico (Photo Credit: Jeffrey M. Frank / Shutterstock.com)

10. Roswell

In the southeast corner of New Mexico, Roswell, the county seat of Chavez County, is the fifth-largest city in New Mexico with a population of 45,200. The city is the center for irrigation farming, ranching, dairying, petroleum production, manufacturing, and distribution. For retirees, Roswell ranks well for community amenities, housing, economy, and sustainability. Residents have access to 32 parks, walking trails, and outdoor recreational activities. Bottomless Lake State Park is perfect for camping, swimming, fishing, or outdoor fun year-round. Enjoy the Roswell Symphony Orchestra, the Roswell UFO Festival, Bone Springs Art Space, or plenty of art galleries for art and culture lovers. Two state-of-the-art healthcare facilities are available, plus retirees have access to 11 medical specialties, including cardiology and gastroenterology.

rio rancho car show
Car show in Rio Rancho (Photo Credit: Herman Hernandez / Shutterstock.com)

11. Rio Rancho

With a population of 100,934, Rio Rancho, north of Albuquerque, is the third-largest city in New Mexico and the fastest-growing community in the state. It was named one of the 50 best cities in America by Money magazine in 2020. Retirees will find a large number of opportunities for volunteering and community involvement. The growers market supports small business development and community engagement, and the Memorial Day Wine Festival features top New Mexico wineries. Shop galleries, boutiques, antiques, and restaurants galore. Rio Rancho is the perfect place to be near the scenic Sandia Mountains and close to Albuquerque, but not in it.

Pro Tip: When we visit family here, we always head to Campo at Los Poblanos Inn for cocktails and small plates on the patio as we watch the Sandia Mountains turn red at sunset.

12. Las Cruces

New Mexico’s second-largest city, Las Cruces, boasts stunning sunsets, delicious cuisine, vibrant culture, year-round golfing, and a diverse urban area. This leading agricultural area near the Organ Mountains offers less traffic, plus great art galleries, top community events, and the farmer’s market. Retirees love the low cost of living, small-town feel, intellectually stimulating environment, and easy access to quality healthcare. Las Cruces offers several master-planned retirement communities. You’ll love the rich history, captivating scenery, booming economy, cleanliness, sunny weather, and long-established wineries and breweries.

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