Welcome to Albuquerque, a mid-size city that sometimes has a small town feel. Despite its Breaking Bad reputation, the Duke City can be a great place to raise children. Newcomers might be pleasantly surprised by the interesting culture, unique charm, and beautiful weather. Moving can be one of life’s most stressful events, so use this guide to help ease some anxiety as you settle into the Land of Enchantment’s biggest city.
Where to Live in Albuquerque
Different areas of the city will appeal to different moms. Some will love the suburbs, while others swear by the mountains. Here are a few tips to understanding the distinct neighborhoods around town. Interstates 25 and 40 roughly divide Albuquerque into four quadrants: NE, NW, SE, and SW. You’ll see those quadrants listed on each address of Albuquerque. Each quadrant has its own pluses and minuses depending on what’s important to you. Below are some neighborhoods that might interest potential Albuquerque residents with families moving to the city. It is certainly not an extensive list.
Located in the far Northwest quadrant, Ventana Ranch is a planned community that boasts large, affordable houses with lots of access to parks and playgrounds. You’re almost guaranteed to have neighbors with kids in this area. The downside is that it’s a long commute to the city, the Airforce base, and shopping.
This area of town is probably the most popular due to its easy accessibility to stores, restaurants, and the interstates. The downside is that the homes may be more expensive and older than Westside homes.
Technically the Foothills are in the Northeast Heights. Some of the city’s premier homes are here at the base of the Sandia Mountains. You’ll get some gorgeous city views and a more rural feel.
Homes in the North Valley are near the Rio Grande in the NW quadrant. If you want to feel like you’re living in the country, but are actually smack dab in the center of the city, the North Valley is for you. This is probably the greenest area of the city if desert living doesn’t sit well with you.
Taylor Ranch/Paradise Hills
These are a couple more affordable NW neighborhoods. You might luck out with a home that has amazing mountain views, and the trek into town is closer than you’d have from Ventana Ranch.
This vibrant neighborhood borders the University of New Mexico, so you might be neighbors with professors, artists, or students. This area has an eclectic vibe and is probably the most walkable part of Albuquerque. If you’re allergic to hipsters, this may not be the neighborhood for you though.
Mesa del Sol
Mesa del Sol is another planned community in the southeast quadrant close to the airport. It boasts its own recreation, schools, events, and retailers. The planners of this community were also very purposeful in regards to sustainability and green living.
Education in Albuquerque
There’s no way to sugar coat the fact that education in New Mexico leaves something to be desired, but the factors that lead to our state’s low test scores and graduation rates are incredibly complex. Parental involvement and oversight, of course, eliminate many of the problems a child in school could have. It is possible to find good schools and teachers anywhere.
As far as neighborhood public schools go, there are many strong ones in Albuquerque Public Schools. Make sure to check www.greatschools.org before choosing a place to live. Also, the charter school system in Albuquerque is alive and kicking. However, not all charter schools are created equally. So make sure to do your homework. Most charter schools are lottery based, but some are wait lists, so if there are any that interest you, get your little one on the wait list early on. Of course, there are many private school options as well.
Healthcare in Albuquerque
There are three strong hospital networks in Albuquerque: Presbyterian, Lovelace, and University of New Mexico. Each has its own specialties, and of course, choosing a healthcare provider is very personal. This post may help you as you make some of those decisions: Aspiring Mom Planning in Albuquerque.
The Great Outdoors in Albuquerque
One of the greatest things about this city is the abundance of open space. There are so many areas to explore with your kids including the volcanoes, the Bosque, the foothills, and numerous hiking trails in the Sandias. So after moving in and unpacking some boxes, take a break, strap the baby in the backpack, and get walking. A few of our contributors have written about some outdoor outings with little ones. Check out some of the adventures to be had in and around New Mexico.
Grown-up Fun in Albuquerque
The food in our city is to die for. My husband and I have an ongoing list of restaurants we want to try. And even as a family, we almost never eat at chain restaurants. There’s also a thriving craft beer culture and loads of charming dives dotting the city. Check out some of the following places for grown-up fun: Non-dinner Dates in Albuquerque, Ladies Night’s Out, and 5 Great Places to Eat in Albuquerque without Kids.
Fun with Littles in Albuquerque
One sure way to love your new home after moving there is to get to know it. We lived like tourists for a few months after we moved here, and I really feel like those experiences gave me a taste for the diverse culture and rich history of the state, which translated into a love and concern for the people who live here. Below are a few options of things close by to do with children, but don’t stop exploring your new home.
- Albuquerque has some great museums for a city of its size. Consider The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (or the Dinosaur Museum, as my kids affectionately call it) or Explora, Albuquerque’s Children’s Museum.
- The Albuquerque Biopark, which includes the zoo, the botanic gardens, and the aquarium, is an excellent outing for little ones and grown-ups. Yearly passes are affordable and allow families to visit the Biopark as often as they’d like.
- Don’t forget about water fun. Albuquerque has lots of pools and splash pads to help you cool off from the desert heat.
Certainly there is a lot more to be said about moving to Albuquerque, but hopefully this guide gets you off to a good start. Welcome home!
Anna Stovall, Owner & Broker, 360 Ventures Real Estate
Anna is a native New Mexican and mother of two great kids. Investing has always been her passion. (She worked for Merrill Lynch as a financial advisor before she started her favorite job . . . being a mom.) But she wanted a career that allowed her to balance the demands of motherhood with what she loved…that was the birth of her real estate career. She’s been in real estate now for 15 years and loves everything about it…from investment strategies to helping homes find their forever families. She graduated from Baylor with a degree in finance, which also allows her to help guide people from a financial perspective as well.
She is goal oriented with a passion for investment strategies and showing people how to build their wealth through real estate. She utilizes her background in finance and financial planning to approach the real estate industry and help her clients make strong financial decisions with one of the largest purchases they’ll make in their lifetime.