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If you've ever been to New Mexico, you know it's a beautiful place. The desert landscapes are some of the prettiest places in the country, and the mountain areas have some of the best outdoor activities in the entire southwest.
But is it all enchanting in the Land Of Enchantment? Of course not. Just like every other state, New Mexico has its trouble spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which cities in New Mexico are the least desirable to live in.
Of course, you'll most likely disagree if you see your town atop this list. But nonetheless, according to science, these cities are the worst places you could possibly live if you make New Mexico your home. These places need a big hug right about now.
After analyzing 32 of the state's most populous cities (over 5,900 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in New Mexico:
What? Where are these places you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we're picking on small town America, that's not the case.
We understand there's a lot of good in every place.
However, according to data (which doesn't measure things like beauty and 'friendly people'), there are far better options in the state for making a place home. And the worst place to live in New Mexico? That would be Deming.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.
For more New Mexico reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In New Mexico
- Cheapest Places To Live In New Mexico
- Most Dangerous Cities In New Mexico
The 10 Worst Places To Live In New Mexico For 2021
When you're looking at science and data, Deming is the worst place you can live in New Mexico. Let's see why.
The unemployment rate here is 12.1%. That's out of this world high. Located about 30 miles north of the Mexico border, there's a good chance that many of the out-of-work residents are recent immigrants.
The average income for a household here is $27,079. According to the U.S. Census, the poverty level for a family of four is $24,600. So the people in Deming are barely making ends meet.
Crime, while not sky high, is still above average for the state, and there were two murders in this small city two years ago. And the public education system is rated very low in terms of the number of dollars spent per student.
Plus, what do you do for entertainment in Deming? It's an hour west from Las Cruces on I-10. All there is to do for fun is shop at Walmart and eat Mexican food. Oh wait, there's an annual duck contest in town every year!
Here's what one person said about Deming on City-Data: "Lots of vacant and/or underutilized commercial property and storefronts, businesses closing, some fairly grim housing, it just seems to lose a little more air every time I'm through there."
Belen's main issue is crime. It's the 2nd most dangerous place in the state of New Mexico. Is that a surprise?
If you live in Belen, you have a 1 in 19.9 chance that you'll be the victim of a property crime. That's really high, especially for a city of its size. That's a lot of stolen lawn mowers, cell phones and cameras. Perhaps it's because the folks here live in far nicer homes than some of the other cities to top this list. They're targets.
The public schools are underfunded and the unemployment rate is far higher than the state average.
Belen is a half hour south of Albuquerque on I-25.
One stat explains why Anthony makes this list: a poverty rate of 46.8%. When nearly half the residents live below the poverty line, little other explanation is necessary. But other factors compound the situation. For instance, housing in town is bad and the educational system is spotty.
Anthony does have its draws, though. Built along the state line with Texas in the southern part of New Mexico, the town sits about a half hour from both El Paso and the Mexican border. Meanwhile, residents can head to nearby parks along the Rio Grande.
Sunland Park sounds like a kind of carnival -- maybe some sort of desert-themed amusement park. Not quite. Sure, the town has its share of perks, like the Rio Grande River, which flows through town, or the local casino. But, generally speaking, life in the area is no thrill ride.
Sitting along the Mexican border in the southern part of the state, Sunland Park has serious economic problems. The median income hovers at $27,266, while the unemployment rate runs 7.6%. Almost 40% of its residents struggle with sub-poverty conditions. This comes with challenges related to housing, affordability and education.
Bernalillo represents a northern suburb of Albuquerque, located a quick 20-minute jaunt up I-25 from the city center. The town is noted for its wine. For more than a quarter century, it hosted the New Mexico Wine Festival -- though the event ended in 2014.
That's a shame. With day-to-day life this rough, locals would benefit from a few bottles of wine. Bernalillo has serious economic problems, from a 9.1% unemployment rate to a 18.3% poverty rate. These financial woes spill over into other aspects of life, leading to concerns related to safety and education. The crime rate runs nearly 25% above the national average.
You don't get more Wild West than a town called Gallup. The community wasn't founded around horses, though. Instead, it originated as a railroad town in the late 19th century.
These days, Gallup has earned the title "Heart of Indian Country." It sits near the Navajo and Zuni reservations in the western part of the state, near the border with Arizona. It ranks as the 6th worst place to live in New Mexico for 2021.
Significant economic challenges hold the area back. More than a quarter of residents live below the poverty line and the unemployment rate sits at 7.4%. At the same time, crime represents a major problem. The crime rate tracks at more than triple the national average.
Grants ranks as the 7th worst place to live in New Mexico for 2021, let's take a look at why.
Grants stands along I-40 about an hour and a half west of Albuquerque. The region is known for its mining interests, especially of uranium. And if digging up radioactive material wasn't enough of a red flag, there are other reasons why Grants counts as the number 7 least attractive hometown in New Mexico.
Mainly, the problems are economic. The unemployment rate sits at 8.5% and about a quarter of the people toil below the poverty line. Elevated crime rates and mediocre education are issues as well.
Still, Grants does provide an important hub for the surrounding region. It offers attractions like the New Mexico Mining Museum and a series of nearby state and national parks.
Clovis has a long history. Like, very long. Like, an entire set of prehistoric technologies have received the name "Clovis culture" because their artifacts were first discovered near town.
More recently, the modern community of Clovis sprung up in the early 20th century as part of a railroad boom. In the 1950s, it became a wellspring of popular culture because of the Norman Petty Recording Studio, where the likes of Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison came to record some of their hits.
Fast forwarding to the 21st century, the area suffers from acute economic difficulties. It sports a 7.2% and a 23.4% poverty rate.
Los Lunas is named after a rich family, one that led settlement in the area during its early days. Specifically, the title stems back to Don Adrian Luna Candelaria, who received a land grant from Spain in the early 1700s.
Well, the Lunas may have been rich at one time. But, these days, not many wealthy families call the area home. Los Lunas has a mediocre economy, with an unemployment rate of 6.5%. At the same time, crime in the area tops the national average by more than 110%.
Enjoy a PB&J with all-natural organic peanut butter? Well, you may have gotten the ingredients from Portales, an area known for its peanut production.
Unfortunately, organic peanut butter isn't exactly a booming industry. For proof, just look at the economic stats for Portales: unemployment rate of 11.5%, median income of $37,921, and a poverty rate of 27.8%.
Also, the town, located in the east-central part of the state, near the Texas border, struggles with high crime and inconsistent housing. At the same time, education poses a problem as well. Few schools in the region score better than a 6/10 on Great Schools.
How we determined the worst places to live in New Mexico for 2021
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We don't think it's a stretch to assume that people like the following things:
- Good education
- Lots of jobs
- Low crime
- Low poverty
- Nice homes
- High incomes
- High population density (Lots of things to do)
- Short work commutes
- Health insurance
We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a larger weight -- if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really bias that ranking.
Furthermore, only cities with at least 5,000 people were considered -- leaving 32 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 32 for all the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria.
Next, we averaged the rankings into one "Worst Place To Live Score".
Finally, we ranked every city on the "Worst Place To Live Score" with the lowest score being the worst city in New Mexico -- Deming. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in New Mexico. You can download the data here.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Wrapping Up The Worst In New Mexico
If you're looking at areas in New Mexico with the worst economic situations, where there's higher than average crime, and not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
And in the end, Deming ranks as the worst city to live in New Mexico for 2021.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in New Mexico:
- Raton (Pop. 6,047)
- Los Ranchos de Albuquerque (Pop. 6,114)
- Corrales (Pop. 8,588)
For more New Mexico reading, check out:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In New Mexico?