Hot air balloons in the Albuquerque skyline

14 Things to Know About Living in Albuquerque

Are you thinking of moving to Albuquerque? Also known as ABQ by locals, the largest city in New Mexico has gorgeous mountain views, vibrant festivals, a unique food scene, and great neighborhoods for families and young professionals. Ready to learn more about this great city? Here are 14 things to know about living in Albuquerque!

Wonderfully Varied Weather

Living in Albuquerque means enjoying an incredible amount of sunshine—the city has an average of 310 sunny days a year! Even though Albuquerque is located in the Southwest, residents enjoy all four seasons. Summer highs rarely top 79 degrees, and low temperatures stay around a manageable 37 degrees in the winter. Snow in the city is rare, but don’t worry, ski fans! The nearby Sandia Mountains see snow accumulations of up to 111 inches during the winter.

Affordable Housing & Low Cost of Living

The cost of living in Albuquerque is 5% lower than the national average, providing residents with the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful quality of life. The median home price in the area is around $185,400, and median monthly rent is $816, which is nearly 14% lower than the average. Not to mention that, along with low property taxes, state income tax is 24% lower than the national average, making Albuquerque an affordable place to live, work, and settle down for retirement.

Vibrant Startup & Tech Community

Having funding programs like the Technology Research Collaborative and the State Investment Council’s Catalyst Fund makes Albuquerque one of the best cities to start a business, particularly for tech startups. These dynamic startups focus on software technology in healthcare, government, retail, and manufacturing. Some of the most prominent tech companies in ABQ include RiskSenseLavu IncSennheiserAPPCityLife, and Trilumina.

A Growing Film Industry

With an abundance of sunny days, temperate weather, and tax incentives, Albuquerque is becoming a growing hub for filmmakers. Films that have been shot in the city include Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, The Avengers, and Independence Day: Resurgence. Television buffs may also recognize Albuquerque’s adobe homes and Sandia Mountains from shows like Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. And if you’re looking for something fun to do, you can spend a day touring the different film and show locations!

Proud Indigenous Heritage

There are 23 Native American tribes in New Mexico, including the Fort Sill Apache Tribe, the Mescalero Apache Tribe, the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and the Navajo Nation. Since the city is centrally located, it’s a great place to plan a tour of the local tribal heritage. Many tribes offer tours, giving residents and tourists a one-of-kind cultural experience. Learn more about the 19 Pueblos in the area at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, which is an educational institution with a museum, shopping center, and a native restaurant and bakery. Albuquerque also hosts a number of Native American heritage events and festivals like the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow. This spectacular festival includes traditional dancing, singing, a horse-and-rider parade, cultural demonstrations, and the crowning of Miss Indian World.

Gaze Up at the Stars

Albuquerque sits at an altitude of 5,313 feet, almost a mile above sea level. This factor, combined with low light pollution, has made Albuquerque one of the best cities in the nation for stargazing. Get the best view of the night sky through the telescope at the University of New Mexico Campus Observatory, which is free to the public each Friday night and is one of the most popular Albuquerque activities for kids and adults. The New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science hosts a series of monthly stargazing events called “Starry Nights” that take place throughout the city and the surrounding areas. But no matter where you are in Albuquerque, you’re almost guaranteed a gorgeous view of the sparkling sky.

A Beautiful Place to Be Outside

The city is known for its beautiful views and picturesque landscapes! Albuquerque residents can enjoy hiking, biking, and running at the Copper Trailhead in the Sandia Mountains. The Cibola National Forest borders the eastern edge of Albuquerque and is an ideal place to hunt, fish, and go horseback riding. Marvel at 700-year-old symbols and designs from Albuquerque’s first settlers at the Petroglyph National Monument. Get a birds-eye view of the city 10,000 feet up on the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway. Bordering the southern edge of the city is the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, a 570-acre nature preserve full of mountains, volcano tubes, and the Rio Grande River.

Art as Far as You Can See

Albuquerque is celebrated for its local arts scene. The 516 Arts gallery is one of the most popular contemporary art spaces in the city and offers innovative exhibitions, events, workshops, and lectures. The Richard Levy Gallery showcases contemporary work in the pop art, abstract, and geometric vein. With more than 700 events a year, The National Hispanic Cultural Center promotes the preservation and importance of Hispanic culture and art. Colorful murals and public art pieces also decorate buildings and spaces nearly everywhere you look in ABQ. But the art in Albuquerque isn’t only on the walls. One beautiful holiday tradition is the lighting of luminarias, which is a 300-year-old custom where votives are put in paper bags and placed throughout city as a way to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Get Chile in the Desert

If Albuquerque had a signature food, it would be the chile. When placing an order at a restaurant, expect to be asked if you want red or green chiles. If you want both, order like the locals do and request “Christmas.” August through September is chile harvest season, and the air around Albuquerque is filled with the smoky fragrant smell of roasting chiles. Celebrate the chile season at the Bosque Chile Festival, which is a one-day event that includes crafts, food trucks, beer, chef demonstrations, and all the roasted chiles you can handle. Want to learn even more about this spicy food? Visit The Chile Pepper Institute located on the New Mexico State University campus and browse through chile pepper books, posters, artwork, and rare seeds.

Lively & Colorful Festivals

With a wide range of festivals and events, it’s no secret that Albuquerque loves a party! Hosted by the National Institute of Flamenco and the University of New Mexico, The Festival Flamenco Albuquerque is an eight-day cultural event with incredible performances by world-renowned flamenco dancers. Get tickets to The Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque and attend music classes, workshops, and free performances. Join the 800,000 spectators at The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the largest hot air balloon festival in the world. Over 500 unique hot air balloons set sail above the Salina Mountains with events like chainsaw carving contests, balloon shape rodeos, and spectacular fireworks closing out the event. Looking for a fun thing to do in Albuquerque over Labor Day? The Harvest Wine Festival is the perfect place to taste 200 wines from 20 wineries, take a free painting class, and enjoy live music.

ABQ Activities Are a Blast

There’s no shortage of exciting things to do in ABQ! If you’re searching for family-friendly activities in Albuquerque, the Explora science museum offers camps, classes, and interactive exhibits perfect for children of all ages. Visit fantastic attractions like the ZooAquariumTingley Beach, and Botanic Gardens all in one spot at the ABQ BioPark. With over 900 animals, 32 acres of green space, and a 285,000-gallon aquarium, this sprawling center is one of the best places to visit in Albuquerque. Go nuclear at The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, the only museum of its kind in the country where visitors can see rockets and missiles, as well as learn about the fascinating world of nuclear science. Want to spend a day seeing it all? Hop on the ABQ Trolley and take a tour of these attractions, museums, and cultural hot spots throughout the city!

Discover Something New in Old Town

Located in the heart of Albuquerque is Old Town, a unique shopping, dining, and historical district centered around a beautiful plaza with over 150 shops lining a ten-block area. Stop by the artist-owned Genuine Southwest Art & Gifts gallery to pick up a piece of local art. Choose a handcrafted piece of jewelry from Mama’s Minerals, the largest rock and bead store in Albuquerque. Dive into a plate of Handmade Tamales at the Church Street Cafe, or enjoy a romantic steak and seafood dinner at Restaurant Antiquity. This area is also home to Albuquerque attractions like The Albuquerque MuseumThe Albuquerque Photographers Gallery, and The American International Rattlesnake Museum. With a variety of hotels, dining, and entertainment options, Old Town Albuquerque is an ideal place to take a staycation.

Good Eats Everywhere You Go

Albuquerque cuisine blends Native American, New Mexican, and Spanish flavors. As a result, there are plenty of incredible places to eat in Albuquerque! Pull up a chair at Frontier Restaurant, a Mexican-American restaurant that has been serving beef and bean Frontier Burritos, Fiesta Chicken Sandwiches, and famous Frontier Sweet Rolls since 1971. Gather some friends and head to one of the top restaurants in Albuquerque, Monroe’s. Their varied menu includes everything from Chorizo and Eggs to the massive Double Chile Relleno Dinner. Locals also flock to the Range Cafe for Huevos Rancheros, Blue Corn Enchiladas, and the delicious Amaretto Bread Pudding. Step back in time at the 66 Diner to listen to some tunes on the jukebox while indulging in classics like chicken fried steak, frito pie, and chocolate milkshakes. Do you love spicy food? Then attending the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show is a must! This three-day festival brings the best in spicy barbecue, hot sauces, salsas, marinades, and even desserts to the hungry masses.

Tons of Local Breweries

Looking for a city with a great beer scene? Albuquerque breweries are loved for their creative beers and cool taprooms. With free brewery tours and fantastic beer like the sweet Wildflower Wheat, Marble Brewery is an Albuquerque favorite. La Cumbre Brewing Co not only pours some of the best beer in Albuquerque (like the Pyramid Rock Amber Ale), but it also hosts live music every Saturday in the taproom. Enjoy a crisp Nexus IPA and some Southern fare like fried chicken sandwiches at Nexus Brewery & Restaurant. Or visit Tractor Brewing Company, which has been serving award-winning beers to Albuquerque residents since 1999. Try a sweet Berry Cider or indulge in the vanilla and chocolate sweetness of the Chocolate Milk Stout.

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14 Things to Know About Living in Albuquerque