9.1 out of 10

Santa Fe

35.6483088688806 -105.99707351228
Great for
  • Clean & Green
  • Eating Out
  • Neighborly Spirit
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Peace & Quiet
Not great for
  • Medical Facilities
  • Schools
  • Childcare
  • Resale or Rental Value
  • Gym & Fitness
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists

Reviews

5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Mar 11, 2016

"An adobe oasis"

This adobe city is known for art, tourism, American Indian culture, outdoor recreation, and having a large retirement community. Even though it’s only an hour away, the state capitol of Santa Fe is very, very different from Albuquerque, the largest city in NM.

HIKING
The Santa Fe area has stunning scenery, being in the Sangre de Cristo, or ‘Blood of Christ,’ range of the Rocky Mountains. Sunsets around here are unbelievable. The desert offers hiking all around, with Santa Fe National Forest to the east, and Bandalier National Monument and Valles Caldera National Preserve to the west. But watch out—the beauty of the natural landscape can also be dangerous. There’s very little to sustain you out here if you get lost, so bring extra water and supplies, and always tell someone where you’re going and when you should be back.

MOUNTAIN BIKING
The mountain biking around here is world class. I personally recommend the Dale Ball trails northeast of town, which are fun and challenging single track. A couple tips: though crashing on your mountain bike is painful anywhere, you might want to be extra cautious here because there are bountiful cacti and lots of rough exposed rock. Secondly, get the self-healing goo-filled tires, for all those cactus thorns you’re likely to encounter so you don’t have to constantly stop to fix a flat.

SKIING
To the surprise of out of towners, Santa Fe is surrounded by great skiing. After all, it’s in the Rockies! Ski Santa Fe is only 16 miles from town center, and is a small, family-style resort. Taos is probably the most well-known, about 2 hours from town. Angel Fire is also about two hours, Sipapu is 90 minutes, and Pajarito is only an hour away. Plenty of options!

ART & ARCHITECTURE
There are dozens of art festivals here each year. People travel from all over the country and world for them, such as the Indigenous Fine Art Market, Objects of Art Santa Fe, and Contemporary Hispanic Market. Also, there are the regular art markets that are held every weekend for most of the year.

I won’t even try to describe or name all the galleries and art exhibits, because there are simply so many to explore.

The streets are so gorgeous, just walking around downtown is like enjoying artwork. Most buildings are the beautiful and practical adobe style that insulate against the temperature. The style is in part due to the ingenuity of the Pueblo American Indians that have lived in the southwest since long before the Spanish and other European immigrants arrived.

MUSEUMS
Santa Fe is rich in museums. There are quite a few downtown, and a second cluster southeast of downtown called “Museum Hill.” My favorite is the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian on Museum Hill. It is housed in a small and beautiful adobe building with a vista of the town and surrounding desert.

RESTAURANTS & BARS
When eating out it’s fun to get a seat in one of the upstairs bars near the central plaza while you people watch. The Thunderbird Bar & Grill is a good one, which also has microbrews for beer lovers like me. I also can recommend the Beestro Bistro, a cute little sidewalk café that does healthy small meals and drinks.

Much of the nightlife is catered to the tourist and older crowd, with a relaxed ‘wine and soft music’ atmosphere. But there is a younger scene if you look for it. Cowgirl was definitely the most fun venue I found. When I was there it was a raucous karaoke night with all the toppings. Super fun. I couldn’t describe it as classy, but then again, they weren’t trying to be.

COST OF LIVING
The cost of living is high for New Mexico and the southwest, but low for the country overall. You could probably find a decent 2 bedroom for about $1000/month, and really nice one with a view for about $1200 or a bit more. There is quite a bit on the market if you’re looking to buy, ranging from modest 1 story 2 bedrooms to luxurious retirement penthouses.

WHO LIVES HERE?
I’ve mentioned retirees a few times, because this is a very popular place to relax in style and comfort. Yet it is not the only big community here. Santa Fe has large and unique Hispanic community, from the long history the area has with Spanish settlers. Some families can trace their heritage in the area back hundreds of years. The American Indian community, however, has a MUCH longer history here. They are a vibrant and important part of the culture and population, and drive much of the arts scene.

SPIRITUALITY
The desert is a place of such beauty and serenity that it naturally attracts those interested in spirituality. People travel to the area to see the beautiful old Spanish churches, go on a vision quest, enjoy a retreat, try a sweat lodge, or to simply meditate in the wilderness. Overall, there certainly is a slower and perhaps more grounded atmosphere here than in nearby cities.
Pros
  • Art festivals
  • World class outdoor recreation
  • great restaurants
Cons
  • High cost of living for NM
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 4/5
2yrs+

"A great stopping point on any itinerary"

Santa Fe has long been one of my favorite places to visit. I first went there about 15 years ago on business and fell in love immediately.There is a great, laid-back feel to it and it's paradise for anyone who loves to explore shops, art and culture for hours on end. It's also a great location for outdoor enthusiasts, with great hiking trails for different levels of fitness, river rafting, plenty of parks to enjoy the sunshine, and unlimited locations to bike to. There's also camping, boating, fishing and other water sports at the nearby Cochiti Recreation Area. Within about a 40 minute drive are several locations which have ancient petroglyphs. Ranger stations and visitor centers offer numerous books on the area and you can find interpretation of the petroglyphs in small, easy to carry books for just a few dollars. Short hikes provide a look back into time like few other places can offer.

Santa Fe boasts over 250 art galleries and there is something for everyone here. Paintings, sculptures, photography, pottery, textiles and jewelry abound in art galleries featuring local and famous artists. Visitors can find an abundance of Native American art, with every other kind in the mix right up to contemporary. In downtown Santa Fe there are numerous shops, restaurants and galleries to explore. As you walk along outside of the adobe buildings there are always chili pepper strands hanging out to dry, which lend to the Native American feel of the city. Whether you're a typical tourist looking for a t-shirt or a more selective buyer looking for the perfect gift to take to someone back home, this place has it. One thing I would highly recommend seeking out while you're here is the incredible Native American jewelry made out of silver and turquoise. Even if you're not a fan of turquoise the silver pieces are stunning. I find myself leaving with several bracelets every time I'm down there. Often while you're walking about downtown you can meet with the sellers who work directly with the artisans and they are more than willing to talk with you at length about the artist who created your piece. You can tell the pride they take in their work as every item seems to be unique, flawless, and beautiful.

Although there is world class cuisine in Santa Fe, you're just as likely to find a small hole in the wall diner that has some of the best Mexican food this side of the border. I've eaten in many places in Santa Fe and can't think of one place I wouldn't go back to. There are even a couple of culinary schools here that offer classes to the general public. For those with a passion for photography, the Santa Fe Workshops is the place to go. This small school offers week long intensive classes for those interested in photography and the visual arts. You'll find world-renown teachers (think National Geographic, etc.) who take a week from their busy schedules to teach students from all over the world. The school also offers remote classes in different locations around the world. However, if you decide to take a local workshop, there is no lack of beauty in Santa Fe to feast your lens on. From ancient ruins to the worlds oldest church structure still standing to the beauty of the sky with clouds you can almost touch, Santa Fe is like a kaleidoscope of colors to feast your eyes on.

There are numerous museums to visit with everything from art to history, although you can see history still standing at the San Miguel Mission which was built sometime between 1610 and 1626. Although it burned down, it was completely rebuilt in 1710, so still quite old for a church in the U.S.

Santa Fe has approximately 69,000 residents although it never really feels that big to me. The only real drawback to Santa Fe is the crime rate which is almost always higher than the national average, although it is typically non-violent crime such as auto theft and burglary. The schools here are overall pretty good, with more than a few getting top marks across the board. Although there can be a little traffic on some roads it is certainly bearable when compared to larger cities. Compared to the rest of New Mexico, it's pretty costly to live in Santa Fe, although it's still good when you compare it to the rest of the nation.

If given the opportunity, I would highly recommend visiting Santa Fe. The city offers so much and has incredible hospitality. The people are friendly and you can't help but want to go back as soon as possible to find more hidden gems to explore.
Pros
  • over 250 art galleries
  • friendly people
  • great restaurants
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish

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