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The Best Places for Young Families in New Mexico

Eunice, New Mexico

Once you start a family, you’ll most likely want to live in a place that provides the support you need: a stable job market, affordable housing, good schools, a solid neighborhood vibe and a relatively short commute time.

Of course, no single place is the perfect one to raise a family; but New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, offers both a perked-up economy and housing prices that are affordable for many young families. The state ranks fifth by size but 36th by population, so it may be an especially good option for families seeking plenty of open space. Read on for the list researchers at LendingTree compiled ranking the best places for young families in New Mexico.

Key takeaways

  • Eunice is the best place to raise a family in New Mexico, with a final score of 70.7.
  • Santo Domingo Pueblo and Los Ranchos de Albuquerque take the second and third spots with final scores of 68.4 and 67.7, respectively.
  • On the other end of the list, we found Lee Acres to be the most challenging place for young families in New Mexico, with a final score of 39.3.
  • Belen and Meadow Lake finished out the bottom three towns on our list, with final scores of 45.7 and 45.8, respectively.

The top 10 cities to live in New Mexico

No. 1: Eunice

In Eunice, the median household income for families with children might seem modest at $54,120 per year, but this small town of some 3,000 residents in southeastern New Mexico also offers one of the lowest median housing costs in the state, $426 per month. Oil production continues to be high in the area, which may explain why Eunice has both a relatively low unemployment rate and a high homeownership rate among families with children (70%). Almost 45% of Eunice households have children, and school enrollment is high, with virtually all 16- to 19-year-olds either enrolled in or graduated from high school.

No. 2: Santo Domingo Pueblo

Santo Domingo Pueblo — now known as Kewa Pueblo — is a traditional Native American community located between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. While most families with children may not have the option of moving here, the community turned up in our ranking for a variety of reasons. First, it has a high rate of homeownership for families with children (93.9%), and while it came in with the lowest median household income for a top 10 community ($33,750 per year), it also has the second-lowest median monthly housing cost, $283. One drawback to living here: an unemployment rate of 7.3%.

No. 3: Los Ranchos de Albuquerque

Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, a small community north of Albuquerque, ranks third on our list due to a combination of pluses. For example, the median family income here is high, $106,654 per year, and more than three-quarters of families with children own homes. Still, Los Ranchos has a monthly median housing cost of $956 per month, and only 23.2% of households have children. The upside is the village boasts a 0% unemployment rate for 25- to 44-year-olds, and virtually all older teens are either enrolled in or have graduated from high school.

No. 4: North Hobbs

North Hobbs, located in southeastern New Mexico near the larger city of Hobbs, has both the fourth-highest median household income on our top 10 list ($90,469) and the fourth-highest median housing cost ($821 per month). More than 81% of families with children own a home here, and almost 36% of households have children. When it comes to commute time, North Hobbs falls in the middle of the list, with an average travel time of 22 minutes. One potential drawback to living here: North Hobbs had the highest percentage of any top 10 city for the number of older teens either not enrolled in or graduated from high school (4.9%).

No. 5: White Rock

While ranked fifth overall, White Rock has the highest median household income for families with children on our top 10 list, logging in at $137,308 per year. At the same time, this small town near Los Alamos has a median housing cost of $1,361 per month, the highest on our list. The town has the lowest travel time to work at 18.4 minutes, slightly less than Eunice’s, but it also has an unemployment rate of 5.8% for 25- to 44-year-olds.

No. 6: Corrales

Corrales, while sixth on our list overall, ranks either at or near the top in several categories. On the plus side, this small community north of Albuquerque has the second-highest median household income for families with children, $120,194 per year. It’s also tied with Santo Domingo Pueblo for the second-highest percentage of homeownership for families with children, 93.9%. Unemployment here is not an issue. Still, the ranking for Corrales was pulled down due to the median cost of housing, $1,185 per month, the second highest after White Rock. Another factor: Commuters here take an average of 26 minutes to get to work.

No. 7: Los Chaves

Los Chaves, part of the Albuquerque metropolitan area, has plenty to offer young families, even though it only ranks in the middle for many desired features. For one, the median household income for families with children here is relatively high ($69,453), while the median monthly housing cost is relatively low, $756 per month. When it comes to the rate of homeownership for families with children, it’s close to 80%. The community also has an impressive 100% employment rate for those ages 25 to 44 and a 100% rate of enrollment or graduation for 16- to 19-year-olds. Still, two factors pulled down the ranking for Los Chaves: Only 33% of households have children, and the average commute time is almost a half-hour, the longest time for a top 10 city on our list.

No. 8: Lovington

The eighth-best place for young families in New Mexico also ranks near the middle in several categories. It comes in at No. 6 for median household income, $59,146 per year, and No. 7 for median housing costs, $557 per month. The rate of homeownership for families in Lovington is still impressive (68.7%) but not as high as most communities on our top 10 list. More than 44% of households here have children. Still, at the time of our survey, Lovington had a 3.9% unemployment rate for 25- to 44-year-olds, and 5.4% of older teens were either not enrolled in or had not graduated from high school. That number was the highest for any top 10 city in New Mexico.

No. 9: Santa Teresa

This small community near El Paso, Texas, offers full employment for 25- to 44-year-olds, and virtually all older teens have either graduated from high school or are still enrolled. Housing costs relative to family income are not as attractive here as they are in eighth-ranked Lovington, but they’re not outrageous either: a median of $794 per month in an area where the median household income logs in at $49,276 per year. Still, Santa Teresa ranks at the bottom of the top 10 for its rate of homeownership for families with children, 57.3%.

No. 10: Zuni Pueblo

Like Santo Domingo Pueblo, Zuni Pueblo, about 150 miles west of Albuquerque, is home to a Native American community, so some families may not have the option of moving there. Zuni Pueblo turned up on our top 10 list because it has both the highest rate of homeownership for families with children (95.1%) and the lowest median housing cost, $238 per month. It also offers the second-highest percentage of households with children, almost 48%. Unemployment, however, is an issue; when we did our analysis, 14.1% of 25- to 44-year-olds were unemployed.

Understanding the rankings

We chose seven indicators to rank cities and towns with above 1,760 people in New Mexico for how good they are for young families, which were then scored to create an overall ranking of the best places for young families. The seven indicators we used were:

  • Median family income: Money isn’t everything, but a place with high family incomes suggests a place with good job opportunities and a community with more resources.
  • Median monthly housing costs for all households: For families already dealing with new child care expenses, reasonably affordable housing is important.
  • Homeownership rate of families with children: This indicates where homeownership is both more common and — perhaps important for a family looking to buy — more practical.
  • Unemployment rate of 25- to 44-year-olds: This indicates where the job market is healthy and suggests a higher quality of life locally. We focused on 25- to 44-year-olds in particular to capture the most common ages for parents of young families.
  • Percentage of 16- to 19-year-olds not enrolled or graduated from high school: To estimate high school graduation rates and, therefore, school quality, we calculated the percentage of older teenagers who were not in high school yet had no high school degree. This number is not the actual high school dropout rate, but is well-correlated.
  • Average commute time: Shorter commutes mean less stressed workers who have more time to spend with their families.
  • Percentage of households that have children: A community with more children means that other families have already decided it’s attractive. It also usually means more educational and recreational activities suitable for children and their parents and that residents are concerned about policies that benefit families with kids.

Methodology

Analysts used data from the 2017 5-Year American Community Survey by the U.S. Census.  Each of the seven metrics was given a value according to its relative location between the highest and lowest values. The values were then summed and divided by seven for an equal weighting. The analysis was limited to Census-designated places with populations of at least 1,760.

 

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