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Hot air balloons in the Albuquerque skyline

16 Things to Know About Living in Albuquerque

Considering moving to Albuquerque? Known by locals as ABQ, this Southwestern city has gorgeous mountain views, vibrant festivals, a unique foodie scene, and so much more! Here are 16 things to know about living in Albuquerque!

An Affordable Place to Live

Overhead view of downtown Albuquerque at dusk. Photo by Instagram user @zcokes

Photo via @zcokes

A major perk of moving to the desert is the cost of living in Albuquerque, which is 4% lower than the national average. Albuquerque real estate is also affordable, with a median home price significantly below the U.S. average. Along with low property taxes, state income tax is 31% lower than the national average, making Albuquerque an affordable place to live. As with any city, some areas are more cost-effective than others, but fortunately, a variety of safe, affordable neighborhoods in ABQ are available to choose from.

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Apply to ABQ’s Job Market

The Albuquerque job market is vibrant and diverse, with opportunities in prominent industries like aerospace, bioscience, and technology. Thanks to funding programs like the Technology Research Collaborative and the State Investment Council’s Catalyst Fund, ABQ is also a great city for tech startups. Devvio, Lavu, and Snowball Fundraising are among some of the more established tech companies in Duke City. Positions in healthcare also make up a significant portion of the Albuquerque job market, which includes major area employers like Lovelace Health System and Ernest Health. Other top ABQ employers include Summit Electric Supply, technology manufacturing experts SUMCO, and energy-holding company PNM Resources.

Seek a Degree at Albuquerque Universities

Moving to Albuquerque to get your degree? ABQ has several great colleges and universities to choose from! Learn about Nursing-Midwifery at one of the top schools in the nation for the field, or pursue any of the other 96 undergraduate degree options at The University of New Mexico. Take hands-on classes, get your prerequisites out of the way for your medical or dental studies, or enroll in trade and industrial programs at Carrington College. Pursue faith-based education with a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in applied science, nursing, and a variety of other degrees at Wayland Baptist University. Engage in higher education specifically designed to serve the indigenous community at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, one of the nation’s 37 Tribal Colleges and Universities recognized by the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC). Or enroll in classes for accounting, welding, and everything in between, or connect with a career counselor for some additional guidance, at Central New Mexico Community College.

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ABQ Has a Growing Film Industry

Actor Bryan Cranston in character on the tv show Breaking Bad. Photo by Instagram user @breakingbad

Photo via @breakingbad

With sunny weather, scenic landscapes, and Film Tax Credits available for inspiring filmmakers—including uplifts for rural filming, qualified production areas, and television pilots—Albuquerque is a growing hub for the film industry. Films shot in the city include Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, The Avengers, and Independence Day: Resurgence. TV buffs may also recognize Albuquerque’s adobe homes and surrounding Sandia Mountains from shows like Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. Want to learn more about how these films and shows are made? Spend a day touring the different film and show locations! Get tickets to see screenings for films, documentaries, music videos, and more, all while supporting local filmmakers at the five-day Albuquerque Film & Music Experience. Or see short indie films presented before a panel of esteemed judges at the ABQ Indie Film Festival.

Getting Around Albuquerque Is Easy

An ABQ RIDE bus driving down the streets of Albuquerque.

Photo via @abqride

With so many things to do in Albuquerque, having plenty of transportation options is a must. Fortunately, there are plenty of choices for public transit in ABQ. Residents can get almost anywhere in the city using Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART). Catch a ride to Albuquerque hot spots on the ABQ RIDE bus. Take the New Mexico Rail Runner Express train from Rio Metro to neighboring cities. Otherwise, those who prefer to drive can also navigate almost anywhere in ABQ via major roadways like I-25 and I-40. Alternatively, the Sun Van Paratransit service offers accessible transportation for those in need of accommodations outside of fixed-route options.

ABQ Is Proud of Its Indigenous Heritage

Native American children performing in a traditional ceremony. Photo by Instagram users @indianpueblo

Photo via @indianpueblo

Albuquerque is located in the homelands of indigenous Navajo, Pueblo, and Apache peoples and has strong ties to these cultures today. Learn about the 19 Pueblos tribes through indigenous exhibits, heritage events, and ABQ festivals like the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Connect with local history and marvel at 700-year-old sacred symbols and designs carved into onto volcano rock at Boca Negra Canyon, Rinconada Canyon, and Piedras Marcadas Canyon at the Petroglyph National Monument. Support Pueblo artists and makers by shopping for beautiful handcrafted jewelry, pottery, and more at Bien Mur Indian Market Center. Or buy intricate beadwork-decorated accessories, fragrant soy candles, and skincare products from Ora Louise Boutique, owned by Southern Ute Indian Tribe member Hillary Frost.

A Beautiful Place to Be Outside

Woman looks down into a valley from the top of a mountain peak Photo by Instagram user @visitabq

Photo via @visitabq

Burque is known for its beautiful views and picturesque landscapes, perfect for nature lovers moving to Albuquerque. Bring your kids to the playground or sports fields at any of the 288 public parks in Albuquerque, like Jerry Cline Park, Tigeux Park, or Loma del Norte Park. Walk, bike, or jog one of the many beautiful Sandia Crest Trailheads. Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the city 11,000 feet in the air on the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway. Marvel at mountains, Vulcan volcano tubes, and the Rio Grande River at the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge. Canter on horseback, laugh around the fire while camping, or cast a fishing line at the Cibola National Forest. Or grab your camera and go birdwatching at the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park.

Gaze Up at the Stars in Albuquerque

Visitors look at the clear night sky from inside the ruins of San José de los Mission Church. Photo by Instagram user @visitabq

Photo via @visitabq

Part of the Land of Enchantment, Albuquerque sits at an altitude of 5,269 feet, almost a mile above sea level. This factor, combined with low light pollution, has made Albuquerque a great place to go 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 on Friday nights and is one of the most popular Albuquerque activities for kids and adults. Join in on regular stargazing events through the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science, jointly operated with Sandia Mountain Natural History Center (SMNHC). Get involved with the Albuquerque Astronomical Society. Or plan your own private stargazing get-together with friends and family at Bachechi Open Space, a large public green space popular among local astronomy enthusiasts.

Join Endless Activities in ABQ for All Ages

Polar bear shakes off water from fur Photo by Instagram user @abqtodo

Photo via @abqtodo

There are plenty of activities and things to do for all ages throughout Albuquerque. Enroll your kids in science camps and educational programs, or join them in exploring over 250 interactive exhibits at Explora. Visit fantastic attractions in the Zoo, Aquarium, Tingley Beach, or Botanic Garden all at the ABQ BioPark. See old rockets and missiles while learning about the fascinating world of nuclear science at The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History. Take the family for a walk down the Kid’s Imagination Trail and see rescued wildlife up close at Wildlife West Nature Park. Or hop on the ABQ Trolley to tour some of the best Albuquerque attractions, museums, and cultural hot spots!

Discover Something New in Old Town

Courtyard adorned with colorful banners in Old Town Albuquerque. Photo by Instagram user @qhwinnie

Photo via @qhwinnie

Along Route 66, Old Town Albuquerque is a unique shopping, dining, and historical district, featuring a beautiful plaza with over 150 shops. Pick up a piece of local art from the artist-owned Genuine Southwest Art & Gifts gallery. Choose a handcrafted piece of jewelry from Mama’s Minerals, the largest rock and bead store in Albuquerque. Dive into a plate of Handmade Tamale Pie at the Church Street Cafe, or enjoy a romantic steak and seafood dinner at Restaurant Antiquity. See amazing photography exhibits at events like the Albuquerque Arts Crawl at The Albuquerque Photographers Gallery. Or learn about one of the Southwest’s most notable species, the rattlesnake, at The American International Rattlesnake Museum.

Support Burque Artists

Mural of a woman created by artist Nani Chacon painted on the side of a building. Photo by Instagram user @visitabq

Photo via @visitabq

Albuquerque has a vibrant local arts scene! Tour colorful public art pieces on a variety of buildings throughout ABQ when you explore the Muros de Burque. Study striking Contemporary art pieces, check out public art, or attend events, workshops, and lectures at 516 Arts. Spend a day admiring pop art, abstract pieces, and geometric works at the unique Richard Levy Gallery. See more than 3,000 pieces from across the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Or stroll through the sculpture garden to see world-class exhibits and over 10,000 works of art centered around Southwestern culture at the Albuquerque Museum.

Cheer on Albuquerque Sports Teams

Two members of the Albuquerque Isotopes about to high-five.

Photo via @abqtopes

The Albuquerque sports scene is thriving! Cheer on New Mexico United (USL) as they score goals on their opponents, or watch the Albuquerque Isotopes (MiLB) hit home runs at Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park. See the New Mexico Ice Wolves (NAHL) shred ice in the hockey rink at Outpost Ice Arenas. Get court-side tickets for a New Mexico Bullsnakes (ABA) buzzer-beater. Watch the Duke City Gladiators (CIF) duke it out at the indoor football field in Tingley Coliseum. Grab seats in The Pit to watch the Lobo‘s (NCAA) Men’s and Women’s basketball teams score on the court. Or rev it out on the track with the other racers in the largest covered BMX facility in the country at Duke City BMX.

Visit Albuquerque Festivals

With a wide range of ABQ festivals and events throughout the year, there’s no shortage of things to do in Albuquerque! See world-renowned flamenco dancers put on incredible performances and enjoy other themed activities over eight days at The Festival Flamenco Albuquerque. Get tickets for music classes, workshops, and free mariachi performances at The Mariachi Spectacular de Albuquerque. Join the 900,000 spectators at one of the largest hot air balloon festivals in the world, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Taste spicy sauces, mouthwatering barbecue, and other delicious dishes at the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show. Hit up a food truck to try local flavors, listen to live music, and enjoy the sunny weather with family and friends at Albuquerque Summerfest. Or watch the parade, see amazing drag performances, and celebrate the LGBTQ community during ABQ PrideFest!

Get Chile in the Desert

Large hatch chiles roasting on a grill. Photo by Instagram user @visitabq

Photo via @visitabq

As one of the state’s official vegetables, Northern New Mexico’s chili peppers are a major regional crop popular in Duke City cuisine. At certain Mexican restaurants in Albuquerque, like the locally-beloved Little Anita’s, you may be asked if you want red chiles, green chiles, or a mix—also known as “Christmas-style.” Celebrate the chile harvest season at the Bosque Chile Festival, a one-day event that includes crafts, food trucks, beer, chef demonstrations, and all the roasted chiles you can handle. Want to learn more about Albuquerque chiles? Visit The Chile Pepper Institute located on the New Mexico State University campus and purchase chile pepper books, posters, artwork, and rare chile seeds—all proceeds fund pepper research!

Tex-Mex & Great ABQ Food Galore

Overhead view of a large meal with burritos, cinnamon rolls, tortilla chips and tortillas. Photo by Instagram user @visitabq

Photo via @visitabq

Albuquerque’s foodie scene features mostly Indigenous, New Mexican, and Spanish flavors, so there are plenty of unique places to eat in Albuquerque. Have a Southwestern breakfast with Huevos Rancheros or grab Blue Corn Enchiladas with a made-from-scratch Key Lime Pie for lunch at Range Cafe. Pull up a chair at Mexican-American Frontier Restaurant, whose owners have served beef and bean Frontier Burritos, Fiesta Chicken sandwiches, and famous Frontier Sweet Rolls since 1971. Gather your friends and head to one of the best restaurants in Albuquerque, Monroe’s, for a plate of Chorizo and Eggs or a massive Double Chile Relleno Dinner. Indulge in American classics like Chicken Fried Steak, Frito Pie, and Chocolate Milkshakes while jamming to the jukebox at 66 Diner. Have date night and start out with a Shrimp Cocktail, paired with decadent dishes like Australian Lobster or Filet Mignon for your entree at Antiquity. Or taste locally-sourced meals like Fried Chicken, Fettuccini, or Duck at Farm & Table.

Check Out ABQ Breweries & Wineries

Closeup of pint of amber-colored beer with Marble Brewery logo on the glass. Photo by Instagram user @marblebrewery

Photo via @marblebrewery


From award-winning breweries, wineries, and distilleries to unique music venues, Albuquerque has a fun, active nightlife scene. Go on a free brewery tour and enjoy fantastic beers like the sweet Pale Ale or popular seasonal drinks like the Pink Lemonade Lager at Marble Brewery. Sip on delicious brews like the Pyramid Rock Amber Ale and listen to live music every Saturday in the taproom at La Cumbre Brewing Co. Enjoy Prohibition-era cocktails like The Sazerac and an Old Fashioned on the rooftop patio at Apothecary Lounge. Put in your song request to dueling pianists, and sip on themed cocktails like Drops of Jupiter, Ice Ice Baby, or Girls Just Want to Have Fun at Uptown Funk. Attend special events in the tasting room or browse a wide selection of house wines for sale, like the 2018 Meritage or 2019 La Copine, at Casa Rondena. Or dance the night away to live DJ sets at LGBTQ-friendly venue Effex Night Club.


Moving to Albuquerque soon? With convenient storage facilities throughout the ABQ area, Extra Space Storage can help with your transition. Find a storage facility near you!

Albuquerque, NM: 16 Things to Know

About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.