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 5,000 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in New Mexico:
- Belen (Photos)
- Deming (Photos)
- Sunland Park (Photos)
- Bernalillo (Photos)
- Gallup (Photos)
- Anthony (Photos)
- Lovington (Photos)
- Bloomfield (Photos)
- Grants (Photos)
- Taos (Photos)
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 Belen.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more New Mexico reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In New Mexico
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In New Mexico
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In New Mexico
How we determined the worst places to live in New Mexico for 2019
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 — Belen. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in New Mexico.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Belen’s main issue is crime. It’s the 1st most dangerous place in the state of New Mexico. Is that a surprise?
If you live in Belen, you have a 1 in 12.4 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.
When you’re looking at science and data, Deming is the 2nd worst place you can live in New Mexico. Let’s see why.
The unemployment rate here is 11.7%. 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 $25,428. 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.”
Welcome to Sunland Park, which might be one of the poorest areas in New Mexico. Residents average $28,231 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 38.0% of Sunland Park residents live below the poverty level.
Homes here go for an average of $104,400 and the unemployment rate hovers near 11.0%.
If you live in New Mexico, you may or may not be surprised that Bernalillo ranked, at least on paper, as the 4th worst place to live in the state. It has the 7th highest unemployment rate in the state, and the 9th most dangerous.
Incidentally, Bernalillo is the 29th most densely populated city in New Mexico. Draw your own conclusions.
Things are starting to get progressively more ‘modern’ and in line with what you expect in a great state such as New Mexico when we get to Gallup. Sure, the unemployment rate is at 9.2% (which is really high), and the median income is $43,598. But the homes are at least above the $100,000 mark, and the schools aren’t a complete mess.
Anthony is way down by El Paso, where people earn about $24,398 a year. The homes are a lot more expensive ($84,300). Meaning it’s even harder to live in Anthony at the poverty level.
Lovington is in a bad place. Again, the household incomes here are really, really low, and the average home value is $103,500. That means it ranks as the 8th lowest in New Mexico.
You can make a case that based on the fact that Lovington has no real indoor entertainment, and crime is the 12th worst in the state, it’s one of the worst places you can live in New Mexico.
Bloomfield has some of the same issues that the cities above have. The crime is statistically the 22nd-highest in the state of New Mexico. And residents earn far less than it takes to live a normal life. The unemployment rank is also higher than almost every other city in the state at 9.3%.
Additionally, 19.6% of the population lives below the poverty line.
You can’t blame them for living in Grants since it’s really beautiful, but there are sacrifices you make to live in the boonies. One of them is income.
Not only is the unemployment rate the 3rd highest in the state here (12.1%), the residents in Grants earn the smallest household income in the state of New Mexico. At a combined income of $35,671, families of four are barely above the poverty line.
In addition, the crime here is really high for a small city in New Mexico. Grants has the 30th highest crime rate in the state.
Now we can get to some actual cities that might have some normal numbers. In this case, Taos ranks high mainly due to the low economic numbers. Homes are the 30th cheapest in the state here at $281,500. Say what you want about low cost of living. What the data says is that cheaper homes means less demand. And there isn’t a lot of demand to live in Taos.
The median income levels here are the 9th lowest in the state of New Mexico, at $29,849. Crime is above average, but not horrible like some of the cities we’ll talk about in a minute. And almost 8.3% of people in Taos were without jobs according to the latest numbers.
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, Belen ranks as the worst city to live in New Mexico for 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in New Mexico:
- Alamogordo (Pop. 30,963)
- Rio Rancho (Pop. 93,317)
- Corrales (Pop. 8,463)
For more New Mexico reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In New Mexico
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In New Mexico
- 10 Safest Places In New Mexico
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In New Mexico
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In New Mexico
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