Tips on Moving to Albuquerque, NM: Ultimate Relocation Guide

If you like arid climates, southwestern Native American culture, hot air balloons, and think it’d be cool to live in the metropolitan area with the highest elevation in the United States, consider moving to Albuquerque.

Moving to Albuquerque, NM

Photo credit: Todd Shoemake

It’s known as the nuclear capital of the United States, and its Historic Old Town was founded in 1706.

You can go visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center then go tour the filming locations for Breaking Bad.

Carlsbad Caverns Interior

It’s home to the University of New Mexico, the Sandia Peak Tramway, and Carlsbad Caverns National Park is within driving distance.

If you’re planning a move and want a city that’s fit for a Duke, check out Albuquerque.

Learn everything you need to know for moving to Albuquerque

In this guide we’re going to cover how to:

Quick Burque Snapshot

  • As of 2017, Albuquerque is the 32nd most populous city in the United States
  • With an average 1 bedroom monthly rent price of $708, Albuquerque is the 43rd most expensive metropolitan area in the United States as of 2017. That’s really good! In Albuquerque, $700-$1,000 would be a sweet spot for your target rent budget.
  • Albuquerque has 11 neighborhoods. Like in all cities, each neighborhood has its own vibe and character, along with rental prices. This website does a really great job of describing each neighborhood.

And before we really get into things, enjoy this footage of Alubquerque’s majestic Balloon Festival.

A few tips for finding the perfect Burque neighborhood

First thing’s 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. I’ll give you a minute, so take your time.

Ready? Because things are about to get nuclear. We overlaid a rental hotspot map of the city with the neighborhoods above to give you a good idea where the most expensive areas are.

Albuquerque Neighborhood Map

As you can see, Albuquerque has very little variation when it comes to rent across the city.

For example:

  • Very infrequently will you see an apartment listed above $1,000. Most places will be around $700 or less.
  • Barelas/South Valley can range as low as $400-$500 per month.
  • In general, the most expensive places are at the center of the city and it gets less expensive the farther you get from the intersection of I-25 and I-40 in the middle of town.

Albuquerque Central Avenue

Photo credit: Ken Lund

So let’s get this out of the way now: if you’re on a tight budget, look to Barelas/South Valley or Rio Rancho. If cost is no object, look to Balloon Fiesta Park, Historic Old Town, Corrales, Sandia Heights, and the North East Side.

Next: consider your commute to work

A close commute will make you happy. A long commute will make you sad. You’ll need to figure out how you’ll get to work before you sign a lease or a mortgage.

Here’s a breakdown of getting 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. Each are about two hours away by car.

I-40, The Big I

Interstates 25 and 40 meet at what’s called the Big-I, where a snowman made of tumbleweed makes an appearance each Christmas! Be careful of this interchange and try to stay away during rush hour if possible.

About the drivers… Statistically, New Mexico drivers were ranked 2nd-worst in the country as recently as 2015. Oftentimes, drivers will be going much slower or faster than they should be in the area, and many have the tendency to block people out of merging. Still, the caliber of driver you’ll find in Albuquerque is pretty comparable to most major cities.

Parking Albuquerque features some pretty baffling parking lot designs. Many lots contain sharp curves, random stop signs and one-ways, and can be somewhat labyrinthine.

The public transportation system is serviceable…

Albuquerque’s city bus lines are extensive. The busses are a good choice if you are not traveling a great distance, such as along Central Ave, to downtown, or west to Old Town, at Central and Rio Grande.

ABQ Bus System Map

The Alvarado Transportation Center, is the downtown hub for many city buses. It is also adjacent to the Amtrak station and 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. They run frequently and are inexpensive. Buses are handicapped accessible and have bike racks, making travel easy for everyone!

via GIPHY

ABQ has passes too! 1, 2 or 3-day passes ($2, $4, $6 respectively, available on buses with exact change only) are a great deal for adults. Children 9 and under ride free.
ABQ Ride Paratransit: Door-to-Door service for “persons residing or visiting in the metro area whose impairment makes it impossible to ride the fixed route service.”

Bottom line: with a score of 30, the public transportation system isn’t great, but it’ll get you around. It can get you almost anywhere inside the city within an hour.

If you’re not planning on having a car, you’d better get used to taking the bus!

Why Take the Bus When You Can Walk or Bike?

Albuquerque isn’t super walkable either, at least compared to the big cities on the east coast. With a walk score of 42, it’s better to walk than it is to take public transportation. As with most cities like this, the downtown areas are more walkable than the outlying areas.

Albuquerque Walkability

Below is a walk score map, similar to the rent price heat map we talked about above. The greener the better. If you don’t like walking, stay away from the yellow when looking for neighborhoods to live in. Good thing for you Albuquerque doesn’t have any red!

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-9-01-45-pm

Albuquerque is also a great city for commuting by bicucle! With a score of 60, biking has the highest transit rating in the city. Albuquerque boasts over 400 miles of bike lanes and paths, and is great for both commuting and recreational biking.

Albuquerque Bike Paths

So, is Albuquerque safe?

officespacenoweb

Albuquerque scores a 3 on the crime index. For reference, 100 is the best.

While these are high crime rates per capita, it’s really not all that different than that of most major metropolitan areas. Essentially, as long as you’re safe, sensible, and don’t go looking for trouble, you won’t have much to worry about.

Generally, the Downtown area 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

Nob Hill tends to be a lot safer, particularly at night and still features plenty of interesting things to do and a more mature, less rambunctious crowd.

Here’s a crime hotspot map. The bluer the better.

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-9-13-54-pm

Downtown Albuquerque can get a bit sketchy, but the Barelas/South Valley area is pretty good!

Which Burque neighborhood is best for me?

Everyone wants to be near people who are at similar points in life, but it can be difficult to figure out where exactly those people are. Fortunately, Esri.com has a fantastic tool that shows you the leading demographics related to any zip code.

So, liet’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?

Albuquerque Esri Zip Tapestry

Albuquerque Metro Fusion

The Varied, but Standard Nightlife of the ABQ

Albuquerque has a small but diverse nightlife spanning Country-and-Western rowdiness to Southwestern cultural cuisines.

    Qbar Lounge

  • QBar has been voted “Albuquerque’s Best Happy Hour” venue 3 years in a row and “Best Ladies Night Out,” this multi-venue bar is Albuquerque’s most upscale nightspot. Offering a piano lounge, extensive wine list, media and billiards room, QBar provides a series of intimate spaces for conversation and a variety of entertainment.
  • Marble Brewery Albuquerque

  • If you’re more into local dives than upscale venues, Burt’s Tiki Lounge is the place. The seats are torn, the floor is sticky and the music is live and loud. Some of the best live music in the Southwest is performed here, an eclectic mix of cowpunk and alternative. The crowd may look a bit sketchy, but the vibe is friendly and laid back. 
  • 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 terms of craft brewery openings, so beer fans will have a plethora of options.

How to Find your perfect Albuquerque Apartment

Okay, now that we’ve narrowed down the perfect neighborhood, it’s time to actually find a place to live in. Here’s the deal…

Must-haves:

  • 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. Summer heat is tolerable because of the low humidity, with highs rarely reaching into the high 90s.
  • Albuquerque Temperature Chart

  • 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.

Albuquerque also has a decent selection of short-term furnished rentals if you’re just looking to stay in the city for a few months too.

Where to look

Here are some good websites to find apartments. Use the sort functionality to drill down on your desired number of bedrooms, budget, etc. It might surprise you, but Craigslist is actually a very useful site in finding apartments (especially places whose owners/landlords are 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.

Volcanic Mesa Storm

Photo credit: Mike Tungate

Yeah, finding an apartment is competitive

Albuquerque’s rental market is just about as competitive as it is throughout the country.

Average rent in Albuquerque decreased by 4% from 2016 to 2017, compared to an increase of 2% in the United States as a whole. Albuquerque’s vacancy rate is 7%, compared to 6.32% for the nation as a whole. In other words, rent in Albuquerque is going up, though there’s still an above average number of places available for rent.

Planning the move

There’s also a couple of things to keep in mind with respect to your timetable in 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 need not be a factor in planning your move. A move in the winter will probably be just as manageable as it will be in the summer.

What you’ll need in order to rent

Most landlords will require first month, last month, and security deposit (equal to one month’s rent).

But remember! In Albuquerque and 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 the 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

cedar crest nm real estate

You can look for homes in Cedar Crest here.

How to get all your stuff moved

Moving Cost Calculator

If you want to get an idea on 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.

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.

albuquerque moving permit

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 Permit: 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 8am-5pm and closed noon to 1pm. 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.

Finding things to do in the ABQ

Albuquerque is a city bursting with food, culture, art, and nature.

International Balloon Fiesta

Camping: Mountaineer Ranger district is a great nearby choice to explore the great outdoors, along with New Mexico’s Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and Jemez Springs all provide great options for a serene weekend spent enjoying nature with friends.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a yearly festival of hot air balloons that takes place every year during early October. The festival is a nine-day event, and has over 500 balloons each year, making it the largest balloon festival in the world.

In Albuquerque, there’s always tons of ways to meet new people!

One great way is to use meetup.com.

Meetup Things To Do In Albuquerque

The /r/Albuquerque page on Reddit is also a great place to search for upcoming events and find lesser known tidbits and activities.

Welp, that’s all of it. Let us know if we missed something in the comments!

  • mmeaders

    “Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a short drive away.”
    According to Bing: Distance from ABQ to Carlsbad Caverns: 317.6 mi (5 hrs 44 mins)

    “Finding things to do in the ABQ”

    It’s Mountainair Ranger district, named for a nearby town.

    It’s Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.

    “Jemez Campgrounds” Maybe you mean campgrounds near Jemez Springs or Jemez Falls

    • Thank you for the input! We’ve updated a few things for clarity and added in your suggestions. We appreciate you taking the time to make this guide better.

  • civilwariscool

    Having lived in Santa Fe for almost 30 years, I can say that ABQ is a dirty, shabby, crime ridden cesspool of rundown strip malls, gangs, serial DWI and no economy… and which gets worse every year.

    • wallynm

      And Santa Fe has all of these things and more. Major Santa Fe economy is fueled by state government employment.

  • Craig Norborg

    Cedar Crest a suburb of Albuquerque? Not really! It’s an eastside (ie: other side of the mountain) little town that doesn’t have much in it. If the weather is inclement, you can easily get cut off from Albuquerque. There are quite a few nicer neighborhoods in Albuquerque, esp. in the NE quadrant. If you want to call something suburbs, that would be things more like Rio Rancho, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, Corrales, Bernalillo and maybe even Placitas. Placitas has very nice houses as well as Los Ranchos and Corrales! South of town you’ll find Los Lunas, which just landed a new Facebook datacenter. The city is divided into 4 quadrants each labelled after a compass heading (ie: NW, NE, SW, SE), essential to know when navigating the city. The city has about 300 parks, and about 400 miles of bike paths and trails. Quite a few follow the various arroyo’s which keep the city from having problems during heavy rain, which doesn’t come often. Stick to the major cross-streets, the arroyo’s don’t have bridges at minor streets so you’ll find yourself stuck in a neighborhood otherwise, somewhat nice because it cuts down on speeders going through residential areas. While 2 hours to Arizona is about right, its 3 hours to Texas, 4 to the nearest decent city (Amarillo). For those dog lovers, I consider Albuquerque to be very dog friendly, it has about 14 off-leash dog parks and quite a few restaurant patios are dog friendly. Many of the breweries that have popped up, about 30 of them I think, have either dog friendly patios or you’ll find a few that don’t serve food that let you bring your leashed dogs inside. Rio Rancho has several others. The weather here is unbelievably nice! The low humidity and clear skies means when its hot during the day if you find some shade your good, and it cools down >very< nice at night.

    • Great points! Thanks for sharing.

    • JewelerNM

      You forgot to mention, murders, illegals, heroin epidemic, meth labs, high property crime, #1 in car thefts and drug cartels. Don’t forget if a house had a meth lab and it was painted over, the seller doesn’t have to disclose it.

      • Craig Norborg

        Car thefts definitely aren’t good, had mine snatched a bit after moving here, although in June they rated it second, not first! Meth was much worse in Indiana when I was there. I’ve heard of some high school kids getting into heroin, but not what I would call an epidemic and police seem to be working on it. Drug Cartel’s are a problem all over the US, but I’m sure their activity here isn’t nearly as bad as border towns although the proximity to the border probably pushes it higher on rankings. Property crime is something the mayor has been concentrating on. 26 states require a seller to disclose meth contamination in the home, of which New Mexico IS among them (in the process of buying a home, so i checked it out). However, if concerned I’d have some testing done yourself. http://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/homeownersadvice1/item/26223-20130924-are-you-obligated-to-disclose-previous-meth-contamination

  • mountaingirl78

    There is no good reason to move here. Crime is through the roof and the cops don’t care. Most of the cops, especially in Torrance County are all corrupt. As well as the court system. There are no jobs, the healthcare systems are bad, doctors are leaving the state in droves. Cost of living is outrageous in any part of the state, rents are horrendous. GOOD LUCK finding any kind of apartment or house UNDER $800 a month that’s not in a crime-ridden part of the city. The city AND state are full of illegal drugs, illegal people, alcoholics driving under the influence with no repercussions, and nothing is being done about it. WHY on earth would anyone want to move here…..

    • Robo

      To spend time with the happy charming people like you of course!! =D

  • AllThingsConsidered

    One the best pieces of advice about moving to Albuquerque is to live, work, and play on the same side of the river. We have limited river crossings and commuter traffic on the bridges is horrendous! If you live in Rio Rancho and work in Albuquerque you’ll lose two hours every day just sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Truth!

  • Robo

    Burque has some problems don’t get me wrong, but it is a nice place to live and the weather cannot be beaten.

    Nothing like living at altitude!

  • PRenee Hayden

    The rents in Albuquerque are low in areas where the crime rate is high and finding a reasonable apartment in the 400 to 650 range is not difficult except there tends to be a preponderance of slumlords who manage the apartments. Those apartments need to be investigated carefully.

    Transportation is poor in the later hours of the day. For an individual who gets off after 9pm at night expect to own a car or some other form of transportation. Walking down Central Ave or any side streets in downtown or areas within 7 miles of the I-40 and the I-25 is dangerous. Be prepared for shootings along the Central Ave corridor.

    Car theft is a rampant problem and so is drug abuse. What is not unusual in Albuquerque is the appearance of addicts and streetwalkers in the evening and night hours and most of those can be seen down Central Ave all the way East to Four Hills.

    Traffic is terrible. If a person lives in Rio Rancho then expect up to a one and a half hour commute to downtown Albuquerque when there is rain or school is back in session or at peak travel times. Living in Rio Rancho requires a job close by or a majority of time spent will be in a commute.

    Don’t expect justice in this town either. APD is about as corrupt as a police department can get. They don’t care and they are as much of the drug problem as the addicts on the street.

    My advice to anybody considering moving to Albuquerque or any place nearby…….stay away and enjoy your life since ABQ is one big cesspool.

    • Jon Salinas

      BS on half the statements made

  • Noodles

    When I add the pros and cons, the pros list is incredibly short (great weather) and I don’t know whether I have enough room here to list the cons. Natives think Albuquerque is a big city but it’s rather a big town. They don’t have the witty, sarcastic intellect of big city dwellers. Crime here is unbelievable and I’m from NYC. There seems to be an old west lawlessness mentality here and the “bad guys” seem to know it. That’s why crime is getting worse. There is always some public servant getting caught with their hand in the till so it seems there are criminals on both sides of the fence and it’s probably why the state is so poor. People say the cost of living is low but don’t believe them when you take into account what people earn. I come from the best public transportation system in the country (NYC) and I’m so happy I have a car because riding the buses here can be very scary. If you do ride the bus, keep your eyes down because if you make eye contact with a nut-job you might be physically attacked. I’m not going to talk about the poor education system because I’m sure everyone is aware that NM ranks either the worst or next to worst in the country. NYC is a walking city not so much here. There is a shortage of police. Our home was broken into and all my jewelry, our laptops, music system was stolen. Jewelry that my father had given me many, many years ago is gone along with my father who has been gone for 21 years. Recently our mail and a package I ordered from Amazon was stolen from my doorstep. Another time, someone knocked on our door checking to see if our home was empty so they can rob us but were surprised to hear my voice behind the door. They had their car backed up in our driveway – I guess to fill up their trunk. Needless to say, I miss NY and New Yorkers. I’d rather live with the threat of terrorism than the petty crime here. If you want to live in a mile-high city, move to Denver.

    • Jacqueline M Martin

      I am born and raised NM lived in Albuquerque most of my life. I moved away 5 years ago for everything you said in your post. I only been to NYC once but felt more safe and secure there than most days in Albuquerque. I miss the old way Albuquerque where everyone watch out for each other and there was less crime and more small town business type places. Most of my friends and family live somewhere else but come back to visit 3 to 4 times a year. I wish we all could move back but it is not safe. Not to be a bummer but this post is right. I am in Iowa right now and way safer and happier. If you want a nice place in the West, there are many other places to live.