10 Pros and Cons of Living in Santa Fe, NM

Updated On October 9, 2023
Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe is the capital city of New Mexico state.

The city is situated in the foothills of Sangre de Cristo and is widely known for its Pueblo-style architecture.

As of 2020, the population of Santa Fe was 84,418 residents.

The city comprises an area of 135,6 km². 

You may be wondering:

What makes Santa Fe so unique?

The city is renowned for several things, such as its art scene, unique architecture, historical tourist attractions, and delicious food.

Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe, NM

Pros of Living in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Let’s dive right into what makes this beautiful, laid-back city unique and worth living in. 

1. Climate

The climate in Santa Fe is one of its strongest features.

The city experiences more sunshine throughout the year than rain.

The summers are warm but not too hot and humid due to the city’s elevation.

The city is a relatively mild climate with lows of 18°F and highs going up to 83°F.

The summers are pleasant and mild, but certain days in the winter can get quite cold, almost freezing. 

The coldest time of the year is from December to March, and the best time of the year to visit Santa Fe is from mid-June through August.

The city sees sunny days for more than 70% of the year, so it is ideal if you plan to invest in solar power for your home.

In addition, the fact that there are more sunny and mild days means more time to spend outdoors. 

2. Festivals and events

Santa Fe is a cultural hotspot.

The city hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, including weekly, monthly, and annual events, such as the Santa Fe Society of Artists Outdoor Fine Art Show, the Arts & Crafts Fairs in Cathedral Park 2022, and the Santa Fe Renaissance Faire.

There are a host of seasonal festivals, such as the Fall Activities at Ski Santa Fe.

The city is bursting with things to see and do.

The calendar for each month has a plethora of family-friendly events.

One of the main attractions is that many artists from around the country come here annually to display their art and crafts at one of the many festivals.

You will enjoy this city if you love to spend time outdoors and enjoy going to festivals and events.

3. Amazing cuisine

Let’s talk culinary and wine!

You will adore this city if you are a foodie and a wine connoisseur.

Santa Fe is renowned for having some of the best cuisines in the United States.

Santa Fe is known for producing various outstanding grapes, such as Syrah, Riesling, Pino Grigio, and Montepulciano. 

The state, on the other hand, was put on the wine map due to its production of sparkling wines.

It is the largest producer of sparkling wines in the US. 

The cuisine is not unique to the city but unique in how it has been adapted.

A lot of the cuisine in Santa Fe is based on other cultures.

However, the city still takes a unique approach to style, ingredients, and technique when it comes to cooking the cuisine.

And that is what makes it so unique.

You will find various cuisines in Santa Fe, from French, Italian, Asian, and the Mediterranean, to Mexican and gastro-pubs.

But, there is a significant emphasis on Mexican-style food in this city. 

4. Outdoor activities

The city is surrounded by adventure!

Do you love the outdoors?

Well, this city has everything and more to offer you! 

Santa Fe National Forest is located near the city and offers hikers miles and miles of trails to explore.

There are many hiking trails to choose from around the city that cater to various difficulty levels.

There are a few world-renowned ski resorts close to the city where you can practice your skills and take the family for an outdoor adventure during the winter.

You will love the Santa Fe river rafting company if you enjoy extreme sports.

There is truly something for everyone to do in or around the city.

From mountain biking, kayaking, camping, skiing, fishing, horseback riding, and hot air balloons to golfing.

The city features some world-renowned golf courses where novice to experienced golfers can try their luck. 

5. Traffic

Santa Fe may be the capital city of New Mexico and the fourth largest city in the state, but traffic is not a concern.

With just over 80,000 residents, parking is rarely a concern here.

That’s because it is one of the smallest state capitals in the country. 

The city has direct access to the interstate system, and even in the summer, with the influx of tourists, traffic is still manageable.

The infrastructure is excellent, and public transport such as buses, trains, and taxis are well advanced.

If you don’t have a vehicle, you can use public transportation. 

The highways are well maintained, the scenery is pleasant, and the traffic is sparse. 

6. The pace of life is slower

Most of the residents in Santa Fe are between the ages of 44 and 50.

The median age in the city is around 46 years old.

Many of the residents are in retirement as well.

This means that the population is older than younger.

What you can expect from this is a calm, laid-back, and relaxing atmosphere.

The pace of life is slower here and more suited to older people and young families.

On the other hand, the city may lack nightlife for young adults.

There are a variety of venues that host different kinds of dancing, such as salsa, jazz, and country music.

However, this is unlike dancing in a club.

There are few, if any, clubs in the city.

This city was made for you if you prefer this pace of life with an exciting outdoor lifestyle. 

Cons of Living in Santa Fe, New Mexico

It’s not always sunshine and roses.

The city has a darker side, and we’ll jump right into it.

1. Crime

Crime seems to be a problem in the city.

It is reported to be safer than only 6% of the cities in the US.

The city experiences, on average, 3.49 violent crime incidents per 1,000 residents and 34.45 property crime incidents per 1,000 residents.

There is an exceptionally high rate of assaults in the city, with 2.78 incidents per 1,000 residents.

On average, there are approximately 322 assault cases reported per year.

Assault is followed by robbery, with approximately 3,388 cases reported and 5 cases of murder reported each year.

You have a one in 289 chance of becoming a victim of violent crime in the city.

Property crime seems to be much worse.

You have a one in 30 chance of becoming a victim of property crime.

Theft is the most prolific type of property crime in Santa Fe. 

The crime rate in Santa Fe is over 50% higher than the national average, making it one of the more dangerous cities to live in.

2. Housing prices are high

The median house price in Santa Fe is $547,000, nearly double that of the national average.

The cost of living is lower than the national average, but the soaring house prices have pushed the cost of living up in Santa Fe.

Affording a home for the average person may not be a realistic goal in Santa Fe unless you earn a high-paying salary.

There are a few reasons for the soaring house prices in the city.

There is a high demand and a slow supply, in addition to delays in construction.

Furthermore, many people are purchasing second homes in Santa Fe and displacing locals.

Several local homes have been turned into Air B&B and short-term rentals.

There has been a significant jump in rental and property prices over the past few years. 

3. High taxes

Get ready to pay taxes.

The income tax in New Mexico is between 1.7% and 5.9%.

It may not be the highest tax rate in the US, but it is much higher than states that do not charge income tax, such as Florida and Nevada.

And almost no one is exempt from paying this tax.

There are four tax brackets, and your salary will determine which bracket you fall under.

There are deductions for those that qualify, but if you earn $16,000 or $24,000 and above, you can expect to pay in the highest tax bracket, whether single or married.

In addition to the income tax, you will also be paying city gross receipt taxes and state taxes. 

4. Dusty and sand

The city is located in a desert. Be prepared to deal with sand in your home constantly.

The city does experience many warm days, but there are many days when the wind will constantly be blowing sand into your home.

Keeping your windows open on warmer days isn’t an option.

You may need to invest in a good quality air-conditioning unit. 

This will result in higher utility bills, which is a double negative.

And, those with respiratory problems may find it challenging to live in Santa Fe due to the sand and wind. 

Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe, NM

Pros and Cons of Living in Santa Fe, NM – Summary Table

Pros of Living in Santa Fe, New MexicoCons of Living in Santa Fe, New Mexico
1. Climate1. Crime
2. Festivals and events2. Housing prices are high
3. Amazing cuisine3. High taxes
4. Outdoor activities4. Dusty and sand
5. Traffic
6. The pace of life is slower

Santa Fe Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Santa Fe Safety Review

Safety Index:
Santa Fe

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of food is popular in Santa Fe?

Santa Fe is widely known for its exceptional Mexican cuisine.

Apart from the traditional American restaurants that you will find in Santa Fe, you can almost expect to find a good Mexican restaurant on every corner.

In addition, if you are a chili pepper fan, you will genuinely appreciate Santa Fe.

Red and green chili peppers are some of the most common ingredients in the food here.

Are there a lot of insects in Santa Fe?


The city has a problem because it is surrounded by so much nature.

Many of the insects are harmless, but there are a few that are pretty dangerous and should be avoided.

What is the top-rated tourist attraction in Santa Fe?

Art is something this city is widely known for.

When you visit the city, you must visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

Georgia O’Keeffe was a famous artist who moved to the city, and the museum in honor of the artist is well worth the visit.

4 Comments on 10 Pros and Cons of Living in Santa Fe, NM

  1. I have lived in Santa Fe 6 years and can’t wait to leave. It is extremely dry and my skin is always itching and chapped. Painful finger cracks are the norm. Dusty is an understatement. You cannot keep your house clean. The lack of oxygen is noticeable and cuts heal much slower. Taxes are very high. Sales tax is over 8%. Property taxes are less but not worth all the negatives of living in a high desert. It’s very brown and after a while you are dying to see greenery. It’s mostly retirees which after a while gets tiring. I miss the vibe of a younger demographic. Property is no longer the bargain it was 5-10 years ago. It’s been an experience but now it’s time to leave.

  2. P
    Paul R. says:

    I relocated from NY to Santa Fe in 1978. I love living in the high dessert. In summer, warm-hot summer days have cool nights, no need for a/c.
    The pace of life here suits me. The public school system is mediocre but my daughters were accepted to big name colleges back east anyway.
    The tri-cultural mix of residents keeps life here interesting. The many food choices in restaurants is great. The scenery is amazing.
    Cost of living is a little above average, housing is relatively expensive. Health care is OK. Modern hospitals do a good job. Taxes are high. Tourism is a big thing most of the year.

  3. A
    Anonymous says:

    Thanks to all the developers, is why there are so many cons.
    Santa Fe has lost its magic due to their self serving greed. They have driven out the locals due to high costs, taxes, crime and so on.

    1. L
      Local realist says:

      I take it you don’t believe in capitalism, in that you think it is the job of a company owner to work without a profit for the good of the people. So are you communist or socialist? i always get those confused, but i think the end is the same – send all your money in and we’ll redistribute it as we see fit, right? That model has been a rousing success throughout the world; i can’t imagine why it wouldn’t work for us here in Santa Fe 🙂

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