Photo credit: Todd Shoemake
Albuquerque is the 32nd most populous city in the U.S and the largest city in New Mexico with a population of 564,559. It sits in the Rio Grande Valley, it’s the county seat of Bernalillo County, and its historic Old Town was founded in 1706 by Spanish settlers.
In this guide, we’ll help you learn how to find a place to live, how to plan a successful move, and how to seamlessly transition into your new life in this gem of the Southwest.
Learn everything you need to know for moving to Albuquerque
In this guide we’re going to cover how to:
- Find a place to live. We want you to find a place to live that fits your budget and needs. We’ll do this by looking at your commute, walk scores, crime stats, neighborhood demographics, nightlife and lastly, some resources to find available apartments or houses.
- Get everything moved. This is our specialty here at moveBuddha. We’ll give you the full breakdown on how to lug all your worldly possessions into that new Burque neighborhood.
- Settle in and make friends. Lastly, we’ll break down a bunch of resources you’ll need to get fully set up post-move. Things like car and voter registration and some good resources to find things to do and make some new friends.
- And if you’re looking for more info on moving to Albuquerque, check out our Albuquerque moving cost guide.
Quick Burque Snapshot
- Albuquerque is the 32nd most populous city in the U.S, with a population of 559,374.
- With an average 1 bedroom monthly rent price of $775, Albuquerque is one of the more affordable of the country’s largest cities in terms of cost of living. $700-$1,000 would be a sweet spot for your target rent budget.
- Albuquerque is divided into 11 distinct neighborhoods. Like in all cities, each neighborhood has its own vibe, character–and of course, rental prices. Check out what each neighborhood has to offer.
And before we really get into things, enjoy this footage of Albuquerque’s majestic Balloon Festival.
A few tips for finding the perfect Burque neighborhood
The city of Albuquerque is divided into 11 distinct neighborhoods plus the surrounding areas. Like with all cities, each neighborhood comes with its own vibe, character, and of course, housing prices. Check out what each neighborhood has to offer.
First things first: Set a budget. There’s no point looking at places you can’t afford, so bust out your calculator and figure out a target monthly rent or median home price.
With an average one-bedroom monthly rent of just under $1,000 and an average home value of roughly $320,000, the cost of living in Albuquerque is relatively affordable when compared to the other largest cities in the U.S.
Photo credit: Ken Lund
As with any other city, costs vary quite a bit from neighborhood to neighborhood. In general, the most expensive places to live are located in the center of the city. Real estate gets less expensive the farther you get from the intersection of I-25 and I-40 in the middle of town.
If you’re on a tight budget, look into South Valley/Barelas or Rio Rancho. If cost is no object, look to North Valley areas like Balloon Fiesta Park, Old Town, Corrales, and Sandia Heights.
Consider your commute to work
No matter what the job market looks like, a short commute will always make you happy. In addition to considering distance, you’ll need to figure out how you’ll get to work before you sign a lease or mortgage.
Here’s a breakdown of all the potential ways you could get around the city:
If you want to have a car…
Albuquerque is very accessible by car.
Highway access is good. Interstates 25 and 40 run through the city and cross each other in the middle. I-25 can take you north to Santa Fe and Colorado or south to El-Paso. I-40 can take you west to Arizona or east to Texas.
Interstates 25 and 40 meet at what’s called the “Big-I,” where a snowman made of tumbleweed makes an appearance each Christmas. Be extra careful around this interchange and try to avoid it during rush hour if possible.
Statistically regarding your fellow commuters, New Mexico drivers recently tied with Texas drivers as being the worst drivers in the country. Still, the caliber of drivers you’ll typically encounter living in Albuquerque is pretty comparable to that of most major cities.
The public transportation system is serviceable…
Albuquerque’s city bus lines are fairly extensive. These are a good choice if you aren’t traveling far, e.g., if you’re going from Central Ave to downtown or west to Old Town at Central and the Rio Grande.
The Alvarado Transportation Center is the downtown hub for many city buses. Adjacent to the Amtrak station, it serves as the departure/arrival point in Albuquerque for interstate bus lines such as Greyhound.
Most places in Albuquerque are within half a mile of a bus stop, and the vast majority are even closer than that. Buses run frequently and are inexpensive, plus they’re accessible and have bike racks, making travel easy for everyone!
ABQ RIDE’s paratransit system is also available, providing door-to-door service for “persons residing or visiting in the metro area whose impairment makes it impossible to ride the fixed route service.”
With a transit score of 29/100, the public transportation system isn’t great, but it’ll get you almost anywhere inside the city within an hour.
Think about walking or biking instead
Albuquerque is ranked as the 28th most walkable big city in the country. With a walk score of 43/100, it’s markedly better to walk than it is to take public transportation. Of course, as with most cities like this, the downtown areas are more walkable than the outlying areas.
Albuquerque is also a great city for commuting by bicycle. With a bike score of 61/100 and more than 400 miles of bike paths and trails, ABQ is a great city to ride your bike for both commuting and recreational purposes.
Albuquerque is also a great city for commuting by bicycle. With a score of 62, biking has the highest transit rating in the city. They boast over 400 miles of bike lanes and paths, which is a great option for both commuting and recreational biking.
How safe is Albuquerque?
Albuquerque scores a 1 on NeighborhoodScout’s crime index (for reference, 100 is the safest).
While this is certainly a high per-capita crime rate, it’s really not all that different from most major metropolitan areas. The downtown area generally tends to be fine during the day, but it can get a bit sketchy at night. This isn’t a problem unique to Albuquerque, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind.
That being said, the safest parts of the city tend to be the areas farthest away from the city center, such as North Albuquerque Acres, High Desert, and Sandia Heights.
Which Burque neighborhood is best for me?
Everyone wants to be near people who are at similar points to them, but it can be difficult to know where those people are. Fortunately, Esri.com has a fantastic tool that shows you the leading demographics related to any zip code.
So, let’s say you want to know what kind of people live in Nob Hill (87106), you just throw in the zip and Esri spits out the three leading demographic groups. Pretty cool, right?
How to find your perfect Albuquerque home or apartment
Now that we’ve outlined a few factors that can help you choose the right ABQ neighborhood, it’s time to find a place to live.
- Good news! Albuquerque has some pretty mild weather, but temperatures fluctuate pretty rapidly between day and night during the summer and winter months. Because of this, it’d be good to get an apartment with heating and air conditioning. Winters are brief, averaging 36 degrees. The coldest it gets may be a low of 10 degrees. New Mexican summers are tolerable because of the low humidity, with highs rarely reaching the high 90s.
- Laundromats aren’t hard to come by, but if you’re planning on going without a car, a washer/dryer is a must have. You don’t want to be walking around the neighborhood carrying dirty clothes.
If you’re moving to Albuquerque for a brief stay, there’s a decent selection of short-term furnished rentals if you’re just looking to be in the city for a few months.
You’ll also want to consider things like the average internet cost for the area when looking for a place to live.
A few more moving resources:
- If you’re looking to hire a moving company to help you move to Albuquerque, we created a list of the best interstate movers.
- Or, if movers are out of your budget be sure to check out our list of best moving pod companies. They’ll be cheaper but still allow you to avoid some of the hassles of moving.
- Lastly, if you need to ship a car be sure to have a look at our list of best car shipping companies.
Where to look
Here are some good websites to find apartments. Use the sort functionality to narrow down your desired number of bedrooms, budget, etc. It might surprise you, but Craigslist is a very useful site for finding apartments (especially places with owners/landlords desperate to rent out).
Note: This DOES NOT mean you should trust Craigslist implicitly. Here’s their own guide on how to recognize potential scammers.
New Mexico Rental Law
Here are some links to things you should know before moving so that a landlord can’t hoodwink you.
Photo credit: Mike Tungate
- New Mexico Required Landlord Disclosures
- New Mexico Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines
- Filing a Security Deposit Lawsuit in New Mexico Small Claims Court
- State Landlord-Tenant Laws
Albuquerque’s Rental Market
Albuquerque’s rental market is just about as competitive as it is throughout the country.
Average rent in Albuquerque increased by 8% from 2020 to 2021. Albuquerque’s vacancy rate is 7.26%, compared to 5.97% for the nation as a whole.
In other words, rent in Albuquerque isn’t going down anytime soon–but Albuquerque’s rental market isn’t too different from that of the national average, so at least there won’t be any surprises.
Planning the move
There’s also a couple of things to keep in mind with time management when finding an apartment.
Leases usually begin on the first day of the month, so you should start looking two weeks before the start of the month you want to move in at the very latest.
As we’ve already talked about, the weather in Albuquerque is extremely temperate, so that shouldn’t be a factor in planning your move there. A move to Albuquerque in the winter will probably be just as manageable as it will be in the summer, of course depending on where you’re coming from.
What you’ll need in order to rent
Most landlords will require the first month, last month, and security deposit (equal to one month’s rent).
But remember! In Albuquerque and in all of New Mexico, there is technically no limit on how much a landlord may charge for the deposit.
Finding a house near Albuquerque
Just in case city life is too much fun for you.
The nicest suburb of Albuquerque is Cedar Crest. It’s about a half hour drive to Albuquerque, right down I-40 from downtown
You can look for homes in Cedar Crest here.
How to get all your stuff moved
If you want to get an idea of the cost of different moving services, check out our moving cost calculator.
You also may want to have a glance at our moving out of state guide for more info and tips to consider when making a long-distance move.
If you’re moving locally, you can find great local Albuquerque movers with reviews here.
The roads in Albuquerque are nice and wide, so parking a truck or moving container on the street shouldn’t be a problem. It’s not 100% clear whether the city requires a permit or not to leave a moving container on the street overnight.
Your best bet is to contact the city ahead of time and make sure no permit is required. If you’re going to be blocking the street it’s likely a permit will be required.
Everything you need to do post-move
- Voter registration: you can find the steps to register to vote here.
- Driver’s licenses: You can find steps to obtain a New Mexico driver’s license here. In the process of getting a New Mexico driver’s license, you will be issued a temporary license and your old license will be hole punched. You can present them together as identification until your new license arrives.
- Vehicle registration: find the steps for registering your vehicle here.
- Parking permits: some residential streets in Albuquerque have permit parking. In order to get a parking permit, you must apply in person at the Parking Division Office at Plaza Del Sol, 600 2nd Street NW, 5th Floor, Room 510. Office hours are M-F 8 am-5 pm and closed noon to 1 pm. You must bring a valid government issued ID card, vehicle registration for all vehicles you’ll be requesting a permit for, a valid lease, and proof of residency (such as a utility bill). Find out more here.
- Trash & recycling: The city handles trash and recycling. Go here for more information and to find out when your address has trash day.
The varied, but standard nightlife of the ABQ
Albuquerque has a small but diverse nightlife spanning Country-and-Western rowdiness to southwestern cultural cuisines. It’s no New York, but there’s a reason why Burque resides in the Land of Enchantment.
- Highly rated for their craft cocktails and happy hour, Founders Speakeasy has a hint of exclusivity with a laid-back approach. Located in downtown Albuquerque beneath El Rey Liquors, you’ll find a selection of nearly 150 spirits to accompany its seasonal cocktails. Additionally, the bar serves wine and beer, but you’ll need to know the weekly password–found on their Facebook page–to get the “in”.
- If you’re looking for where the party’s at, look no further. Located just off of Route 66, Sister has just about everything you’ll need for a great night. Serving local cuisine, craft brews, and cocktails alongside classic arcade games and live music, this spot is sure to please a wide variety of interests.
- If you’re into beer tasting and brewing, Marble Brewery is a production brewery with an on-site tasting room and outdoor beer garden located in downtown Albuquerque. It offers a lineup of seven house beers and a variety of seasonal styles in draft and bottle. The attached pub has 10 beers on tap and a 40-foot long bar that looks into the brewery.
Albuquerque has also seen a recent boom in craft brewery openings, so beer fans will have plenty of options.
Finding things to do in the ABQ
Even if nightlife isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of fun things to do in Albuquerque. This is a city bursting with food, culture, art, and nature that can be enjoyed year-round. In addition to everything below, the /r/Albuquerque subreddit is a great resource for information on upcoming events. As you can see, there are plenty of great reasons to visit Albuquerque!
The Mountainair Ranger district is a great nearby place to explore the great outdoors, as are New Mexico’s Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and Jemez Springs. These spots all provide great options for a serene weekend spent enjoying outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking trails like the Paseo del Bosque trail, and taking in the scenic Sandia Mountains. You can even ride the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway for a scenic (and speedy) trip to the top!
Boca Negra Canyon (located within the Petroglyph National Monument) and the Rio Grande River are other great options for seeking outdoor adventures, and you can always enjoy a great day of fishing at Tingley Beach.
History and culture
Old Town Albuquerque is home to more than just a variety of historic adobe buildings like the San Felipe De Neri church. The area is perfect for sightseeing day trips and walking tours as well as spookier undertakings like ghost tours.
Albuquerque is also home to the ABQ BioPark Zoo, Botanic Garden, and Aquarium, the American International Rattlesnake Museum, the Albuquerque Museum, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and Explora (a hands-on, family-friendly children’s museum). And you can always check out a variety of performance showcases at the historic KiMo Theatre.
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a yearly hot air balloon festival that takes place in early October. It’s a nine-day event with more than 500 balloons each year, making it the largest balloon festival in the world. You can check a hot air balloon ride off your bucket list or take in the sights from ground level. And while you’re at it, swing by the nearby International Balloon Museum.
You can cheer on the University of New Mexico Lobos football and basketball teams, among others. For baseball fans, the Albuquerque Isotopes offer a great chance to catch some Minor League action. Meanwhile, the Unser Racing Museum offers an immersive look at the world of auto racing.
The /r/Albuquerque page on Reddit is also a great place to search for upcoming events and find lesser known tidbits and activities.
Welcome to the Land of Enchantment!
Moving to Albuquerque might sound like an arduous undertaking (what move isn’t?), but the Land of Enchantment clearly has a lot to offer. If you’re ready to start calling yourself a New Mexican, the ABQ is a great place to start—and we hope this guide has helped set you on the right track ahead of your big move.
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