Why You Might Think Twice About Moving to Albuquerque

Albuquerque has a lot going for it. Sunny weather, tons of outdoor activities, and a pretty low cost of living are among just a few of the benefits of living in this high-desert spot. But it’s not all hot air balloons and spicy tacos in the Duke City—civic problems here are very real. Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t move to Albuquerque.

Crime is an issue

Unfortunately, Albuquerque has an ongoing issue with crime. Property crime and car theft are risks. Crime is persistent no matter what part of town you live in, from the fancy foothills to the historic downtown.

New Mexico has the highest rate of property crime in the United States, driven in no small part by the situation in Albuquerque. This can be attributed to various socioeconomic factors in the city, including low education levels, a high unemployment rate, and higher levels of substance abuse in the population. In 2016, Albuquerque was home to 47% of the property crimes reported in New Mexico.

According to the Associated Press, in 2016, 38,528 burglaries and larcenies were reported in the city and 8,040 cars were reported stolen. In a city of less than 600,000, those are fairly large numbers, which shows you how widespread the problem really is.

Violent crime, too, is more common in Albuquerque than elsewhere. Sadly, the city is ranked fifth in the nation for violent crime, according to the federal government. And the numbers of violent crime continue to increase.

It doesn’t help that ABQ has a serious police shortage, which is worsening. Although the city is working to recruit new law enforcement officers, enrollment of new cadets remains low. And when there aren’t enough police officers to catch the bad guys, the bad guys will multiply.

Schools could be better

If you’ve got kids or hope to start a family in the near future, school quality is probably pretty high on your list of concerns. So, you should know that New Mexico is consistently ranked low for education nationwide. It was ranked 49th out of 50 in Education Week magazine’s 2017 quality ratings. These ratings are based on the high school graduation rate, AP exam results, and pre-k enrollment, among other factors.  

Albuquerque itself is home to the state’s largest school district, serving over 84,000 students in pre-k, elementary, middle, and high schools. In 2016, the district saw more than 40 of its schools drop a full letter grade in rankings.  While there are plenty of choices for alternative schools in the city, you will either have to take your chances in the charter school lottery or find funds to pay for private if you’d like to avoid the public school system.

It’s not that close…to anything

If you’re a jet setter, ABQ might not be the best place to settle down. While there is an airport, flights to and from Albuquerque are somewhat limited. You’re in luck if you want to fly to Dallas or Denver, but flights to bigger cities like New York or Washington DC are limited, so you’ll probably have to grab a connection. Despite the airport’s name of Albuquerque International Sunport, there aren’t currently any international flights offered out of ABQ.

Although NM shares borders with Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Oklahoma and Texas, Albuquerque itself is a pretty isolated city. Sure, it’s just fifty minutes to the state capital of Santa Fe, but in terms of major cities, you’ll have to do seven hours of driving to get to Denver, another six and a half to Phoenix, and over ten to get to any of the bigger cities in Texas. New Mexico is a very large and mostly rural state, so life in ABQ may not be conducive to weekend jaunts to other cities.

Although our problems are serious, there are still plenty of things to like about Albuquerque, including a plethora of amazing cultural resources you just can’t get anywhere other than NM. And we always need smart, committed citizens to get involved to make this city even better.

Carrie Murphy