Las Cruces is not the stereotypical dusty little desert town out in the middle of Nowheresville, New Mexico, that some people think of. Up-and-coming Las Cruces is a treasure-trove of history, diverse people, industry, higher education, and culture set amid spectacular geography in The Land of Enchantment.
From extensive agriculture to Virgin Galactic and offices of Spaceport America, Las Cruces residents work in an eclectic range of job sectors. New Mexico State University, a public research institution, adds sophistication, intellect, and a buzzing vibe that keeps Las Cruces lively and forward moving. Festivals, art events, and alfresco adventures add to the vibrant energy and keep locals entertained year-round. Outdoor enthusiasts love exploring the breathtaking Organ, Doña Ana, and Robledo Mountains that surround the Mesilla Valley.
Yep, it’s true – Las Cruces is toasty in the summertime. But things can sizzle any time of year in this town, especially if you stroll the ‘Walk of Flame’ to learn all about growing, harvesting, eating, and drinking the ubiquitous Hatch Chile. And along with embracing the chile – you can investigate other enticing food and drinks on the Wine Trail, Ale Trail, and the many cafes and restaurants that have put an inventive spin on Las Cruces cuisine. Hatch Chile wontons anyone?
Ready to plan your move here? Keep reading for tips and advice on transitioning to The City of Crosses, or click below to request your free moving quotes from top-rate Las Cruces movers.
Living in Las Cruces, NM: What to Know Before Moving to Las Cruces
Located only 41 miles north of the Mexican border and 42 miles northwest of El Paso, Las Cruces is the seat of Doña Ana County. New Mexico’s second-largest city, Las Cruces, is the geographic and economic center of the Mesilla Valley. The diverse population consists of about 102,926 residents, 57% Hispanic, 34% White, 2.7% African American, 2% Native American, 2% Asian, and 2.3% other races.
Pros and Cons
Review the following pros and cons to see if you’re ready to take the plunge and move to Las Cruces.
- Sunny skies amid gorgeous geography: 340 days of sunshine, spectacular mountains, and desert
- Low cost of living: 15% below the national average
- Affordable housing: As of February 2020, the median home price was $176,000, and the median rent was $1,029
- Diverse economy: From alfalfa fields to stellar spaceflight, the industrial sector is diverse
- City management: American City & Country magazine’s ‘Sixth Best-Run US City.’
- University town: New Mexico State University adds verve and sophistication to the city
- Toasty summers: Long hot summers begin in May and last ‘til around October
- Job market: In 2019, the job market was slow and sluggish
- Incomes: The median household income is 25% lower than the US average
- Poverty: 25% of residents have an income below the poverty level
- Sales tax: The sales tax rate is about 1% higher than the US average
- Property tax: Doña Ana County assesses an average property tax rate of 0.718%. On a home valued at $250,000, you’d pay $1,795 in annual property tax.
- Sales tax: The US average sales tax is 7.3%. In Las Cruces, the combined sales tax rate is 8.32%.
- State income tax: The average US income tax rate is 4.6%. In New Mexico, the rate is 4.9%.
You’ll find many advantages to living in Las Cruces – a top perk is the affordable housing prices. As of February 2020, the median home value was $173,667, and according to zillow.com, the market is ‘very hot.’ Although housing values dropped -2.0% in 2019, experts predict that they’ll increase by 2.0% by the end of 2020. Homes currently for sale have a median listing price of $221,500, still lower than the overall US median home value of $243,225.
About 40% of Las Cruces residents rent. If you are renting, plan on a median rent price of $1,029, as of February 2020. The average studio rent is $560, a two-bedroom apartment is $770, and a four-bedroom home or apartment is $1,332. Heads up – be prepared to compete with about 8,000 of the 20,000 NMSU students for rentals. If you’ll be looking for the most affordable areas, check out Espina, Solano, El Paseo, and look into the City of Las Cruces affordable housing plan.
Cost of Living
Another enticement to living in Las Cruces is the overall low cost of living. Compared to the average US cost of living index of 100, the Las Cruces index is 84.8 – about 15% lower than the US average. The only cost categories close to average are utilities, at an index of 100.1, and miscellaneous (repairs, insurance, etc.) at 98.5. Your other general costs will be lower than average: grocery is 94.2, health is 86.9, housing is 74.3, and transportation is 73.9.
The Economic Policy Institute estimates how much a family of four would need to earn to live a moderately comfortable lifestyle. In the Las Cruces metro area, a family of four would need to bring in $68,985 annually, or $5,749 monthly. The Las Cruces family median income is $55,241– the US average is $70,850.
In 2019, Where to Retire Magazine named Las Cruces one of the ‘Top Low-Cost Retirement Destinations in the US’. If you’re a couple moving to Las Cruces, you’ll need an income of about $41,604 or $3,467 monthly to live a moderately comfortable lifestyle.
Poverty is a serious concern in Las Cruces. As of 2017, the reported poverty rate was 24.5% – 5% higher than the rate statewide.
Weather and Natural Disasters
In Las Cruces’ arid desert climate, you’ll have long, scorching summers and short cool winters. Spring and fall are also quick and tend to blend into summer or winter.
The heat gears up starting in May and cools a bit by October. June and July are the hottest months with average highs of about 95 degrees and average lows of 66. Thunderstorms and monsoons begin in late July and continue into the beginning of September; the total annual rainfall is 9 inches.
Winters are typically dry, cool, and windy with frosty nights. The 1 or 2 inches of annual snow melts after a few hours. The two coldest months are December and January, with average highs of about 58 degrees and average lows of 30.
Las Cruces is at low risk for natural disasters, but you may face severe thunderstorms with wind and hail, flooding, earthquakes, and wildfires. Learn about various natural disaster risks and how to stay prepared by reading through the Doña Ana County emergency preparedness site.
Economy and Job Market
Las Cruces is part of the Borderplex Region, the seventh-largest manufacturing area in North America, and with over 2.5 million people, the most extensive metro area along the US Mexico border.
In 2019, the Las Cruces job market was a bit sluggish, increasing only 0.9%. In the next ten years, experts anticipate the job market across the US to grow by 33.5%, while in Las Cruces, they predict an increase of 25.5%. The unemployment rate, at 4.9%, is 1% higher than the US average of 3.9%.
Major industries include educational services; health care and social assistance; arts, entertainment, and recreation; accommodation and food services; retail trade; public administration; aerospace; renewable energy; and agriculture.
The top employers are the federal government, Las Cruces Public Schools, New Mexico State University, Memorial Medical Center, the City of Las Cruces, Walmart, Mountain View Regional Medical Center, Doña Ana County, Doña Ana Community College, Addus HealthCare, and NASA.
If you are looking for work, be sure to update your resume and hone your interviewing skills. The City of Las Cruces Economic Development Office provides information about relocating or starting a business in the city.
Traffic and Transportation
RoadRUNNER Transit operates along eight routes, and NMDOT Park and Ride runs two commuter services. Monday through Friday during commute hours, the Silver Route connects Las Cruces to the White Sands Missile Range, and the Gold Route connects to El Paso. South Central Regional Transit operates four routes with connections to Roadrunner, El Paso County, and the NM Gold Route.
El Paso International Airport is fifty minutes south. Greyhound can take you south to El Paso, northeast to Denver, or west to San Diego and Los Angeles with stops in between. But if you’re looking for some out-of-this-world transportation, book a Virgin Galactica sub-orbital flight at Spaceport America.
Major thoroughfares are I-25, running north to Albuquerque; I-10 running south to the Mexican border and El Paso or west to Tucson; and State Route 70, running northeast to connect with State Route 54 that continues to Wichita.
Walkscore.com rates Las Cruces 35/100 for walking and 46/100 for biking. The urban sprawl means that in general, you’ll need a car to run errands and commute – count on an average one-way commute of 18 minutes.
What To Do
You can stay busy year-round with Las Cruces’ plethora of cultural events and festivals, exploring in the great outdoors, golfing, or supporting the NMSU Aggies.
- Cultural events and festivals: Activities happen around the year, starting with Cowboy Days in early March, the May wine festival, and Cinco de Mayo. Summer brings the two-day 4th of July Electric Light Parade. And fall presents the Southern New Mexico State Fair in October, the fall wine festival, Day of the Dead events on November 1 and 2, the November Renaissance ArtsFaire. On Christmas eve, be sure to see the lighting of thousands of luminarias on the historic Mesilla plaza. In addition to all that fun, you’ll also be able to enjoy the international film festival, country music festival, the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra, City Fest, and Monuments to Main Street Fiesta.
- Museums: The New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum honors ranching and farming heritage. NMSU has two museums: the University Museum features archeological and ethnographic exhibits and collections plus natural science and history collections. The Zuhi Museum features geologic, fossil, and mineral collections. The City of Las Cruces operates four museums: The Branigan Cultural Center, housed in a National Register of Historic Places building; The Museum of Art; The Museum of Natural History; and the Railroad Museum, housed in the historic Santa Fe Railroad station.
- Outside adventures, recreation, and points of interest: The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument offers spectacular hiking, camping, and exploring. Prehistoric Trackways National Monument, in the Robledo Mountains just northwest of Las Cruces, is where you can see 280 million-year-old fossil footprints and trackways. Additionally, Las Cruces has 87 city parks and seven public pools. Just three miles southwest of the city center, the Mesilla historic downtown plaza is worth a visit. Mesilla dodged the urban renewal that eliminated a lot of Las Cruces’ downtown charm in the 1960s. You can wander through the shops and restaurants and visit the Basilica of San Albino, the Gadsden Museum, and Town Hall. If you’re into projectiles, visit the White Sands Missile Range Museum and Missile Park.
- Sports: The Las Cruces Kings play semi-professional football, and for college sports, the NMSU Aggies play football and basketball. As of February 2020, Aggies men’s basketball has won 15 straight games and are NCAA tournament champions.
Schools and Universities
Las Cruces Public Schools (LCPS) serves students in Las Cruces, Mesilla, Doña Ana Village, and White Sands Missile Range. Forty-one schools – 26 elementary schools, nine middle schools, and seven high schools, plus a K-12 virtual learning academy educate over 24,000 students. Two of the high schools are located on the NMSU campus and provide early college programs. In addition to public schools, you’ll find eight private and charter schools.
Of the 41 public schools, ten are rated above average by greatschools.org. The schools rated 9/10 include Desert Hills Elementary School, Early College High School, and Arrowhead Park Medical Academy. Schools rated 8/10 include Jornada Elementary School, Highland Elementary School, Monte Vista Elementary School, and J Paul Taylor Academy. The schools with 7/10 ratings are University Hills Elementary School, Camino Real Middle School, and Centennial High School. Greatschools.org lists each LCPS school with a link to nearby homes for sale.
You’ll find excellent higher education opportunities at New Mexico State University, a Doctoral/Research Universities-Extensive institution. The Doña Ana Community College campus offers 14 certificate programs, 39 degree programs, and is conveniently adjacent to the NMSU campus.
Although the violent crime rate is close to the US average, the Las Cruces property crime rate is almost double the US average. The violent crime index in the US is 22.7 – in Las Cruces, it’s 21.1. The US average rate for property crime is 35.4 – in Las Cruces, it’s 64.2. The 25% poverty rate likely aggravates the property crime rate. The neighborhoodscout.com crime map shows the pockets with the most crime.
- Gas service: Go online to the Zia Natural Gas service for the new property owner or renter application, or call 575-526-4427, M-F 8 am to 5 pm
- Electricity service: El Paso Electric provides power service in Las Cruces. You can open your new account online or call 575-526-5555 or 1-800-592-1634. Email: email@example.com
- Water and sewer service: The City of Las Cruces provides water and sewer services. Sign up for your utilities online or call 575-541-2111, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Trash pick-up and recycling service: The City of Las Cruces provides solid waste collection. Call 575-541-2111 or 575-528-3513 to set up your service. Recycling service is included in your trash pick-up but provided by Friedman Recycling
- Cable and Internet service: When you enter your new zip code on highspeedinternet.com, you’ll be able to see the list of Las Cruces providers. The site shows each provider’s download speeds, whether they connect by DSL, satellite, or cable, and various plans with pricing
Las Cruces offers an eclectic range of neighborhoods – from two historic downtown neighborhoods to custom homes in the high desert hills to golf course neighborhoods to homes within easy walking distance of NMSU.
Historic Mesquite District
Right in the center of downtown Las Cruces and still the heart of Las Cruces history, culture, arts, creativity, and events, the historic Mesquite District is roughly bordered by E Madrid Ave on the north, N Santa Fe St on the east, Colorado Ave on the south, and N Water St on the west.
The inviting and sometimes funky district is a charming contrast to Las Cruces’ urban sprawl. You’ll find some apartments and a mix of historic properties with homes built mostly of adobe. Some date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s; original settlers’ descendants still own some of them. Urban renewal during the 1960s destroyed some of downtown’s original buildings and sites. Now, city ordinances serve to preserve, protect, and restore the area’s character, which is part of the El Camino de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail.
Historic Mesquite is appealing to young professionals who are buying homes and starting businesses. But it’s also a great neighborhood for retirees who want to live in the heart of the action.
In historic Mesquite, you can enjoy Klein Park, Thomas Branigan Memorial Library and Cultural Center, the Museum of Nature & Science, and the Farmers & Crafts Market of Las Cruces. Some neighborhood favorites are Nopalito’s, Beck’s Coffee House, and La Nueva Casita Café.
- Population: 3,986
- Median home value: $174,000
- Median rent price: $887
- Schools: Hermosa Heights Elementary School, Sierra Middle School, Las Cruces High School
The Historic Alameda District
The downtown Historic Alameda District is directly west of the Historic Mesquite District and is bordered by Hwy 70 AKA W Picacho Ave on the north, N Water St on the east, Hwy 28 on the south, and N Valley Dr on the west.
The Santa Fe Railroad Depot was the hub of the historic Alameda District. In the late 1800s, when trains started bringing freight, building materials, and new residents to Las Cruces, the Alameda District started to blossom.
Homes, many on large lots, were built at the turn of the 20th century in Mission Revival, Pueblo Revival, and Art Deco designs, contrasting with the Mesquite District’s adobe buildings. The array of home styles anchors this district as the city’s architectural core.
Pioneer Women’s Park sits in the middle of the district, and the Las Cruces Railroad Museum sits on the western border. Amaro Winery, High Desert Brewing Co, The Shed, and Ranchway BBQ & Mexican Food are just a few of the places locals enjoy.
- Population: 2,002
- Median home value: $322,000
- Median rent price: $575
- Schools: J Paul Taylor Academy, Central Elementary School, Alameda Elementary School, Sierra Middle School, Picacho Middle School, Alma D’arte Charter School, Las Cruces High School, Mayfield High School
Located about ten minutes south of downtown’s historic districts, Mesilla Park, founded in 1887, has a captivating history of its own. The borders roughly include I-10 on the north and east sides, Pajaro Rd on the south, Hwy 478 on the west, and NMSU is directly east over the I-10.
You can find housing in historic small cottages built after the turn of the 20th century; three and four-bedroom single-story homes, some with a pool; apartments; and mobile homes. Some acreage is also available for sale. Many properties have beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Zillow.com reports home values dropped 11.4% in 2019 but will likely go up 4% by the end of 2020.
Roads have a rural feel and, in some areas, border lush green alfalfa fields and a lot of open space. Locals enjoy Total Nutrition for a quick bite with fast service and pick-me-up brews at Picacho Coffee Roasters.
- Population: 3,014
- Median home value: $219,556
- Median rent price: $988
- Schools: Mesilla Park Elementary School, Zia Middle School, Las Cruces High School
Bordered by I-10 on the north and east, Capri Rd on the south, and the Rio Grande River on the west, Mesilla is about a seven-minute drive south of the downtown historic districts. Mesilla has been a cultural and agricultural center of the Las Cruces area since 1849.
You can find homes built in the early years around the central historic plaza; newer, larger homes on acreage nestled in pecan groves; more modern custom homes; and manufactured homes in active senior parks. In Historic Mesilla, crime rates are low.
Historic Mesilla appeals to artists and NMSU professors, and although 94% of residents work in white-collar jobs, the ethnically diverse residents experience a wide range of socioeconomic status.
The plaza is the economic, spiritual, and social center of town, with year-round events. Locals enjoy the charming patio at Café de Mesilla; the historical significance of La Posta de Mesilla, serving food since 1939; and Josefina’s Old Gate Café for traditional meals with a modern twist.
- Population: 2,496
- Median home value: $145,881
- Average rent price: $868
- Schools: Mesilla Elementary School, Zia Middle School, Las Cruces High School
A triangular neighborhood surrounding the NMSU campus, University Park is five minutes south of the downtown historic districts and is bound by E University Ave on the north, I-25 on the east, and Sam Steel Way AKA I-10 on the west.
Housing here is mainly apartments and small single-family homes, although as of March 2020, several five-bedroom homes were on the market. The majority of residents rent, and 88% of the housing consists of one or two-bedrooms.
Residents are generally low income – due to college students being part of the statistic – however, an alarming 63% of children in University Park are below the federal poverty line. At the other end of the spectrum, the Spaceport America corporate office sits in south University Village.
Suburban University Park appeals to students, retirees, military, and young professionals. You can easily walk – 40% of residents walk to work – and bike in this neighborhood, and the convenience to NMSU campus is fantastic.
- Population: 4,617
- Median home price: $128,178
- Average rent price: $829
- Schools: Conlee Elementary School, Lynn Middle School, Arrowhead Park Early College High School, Las Cruces High School
Ten minutes east of the downtown historic districts, the gated, master-planned community of Sonoma Ranch borders Morningstar Dr on the north, Sonoma Ranch Blvd on the east, Sonoma Springs Ave on the south, and Roadrunner Pkwy on the west.
Homes range from apartment complexes, condos, and one-story three to five-bedroom pueblo styles to three, four, and five-bedroom two-story traditional styles. Some are brand new never-lived-in construction, and some lots are available if you’d like to build your own custom home. Most homes appear neat and tidy with desert zero-scaping. Be sure to check with your realtor about the Sonoma Ranch Homeowners Association monthly fee.
The Sonoma Ranch Golf Course is open to the public and includes a clubhouse with restaurant, the Sunset Grill; hot tub; fitness center; and pool. Three pocket parks with playgrounds and a pool, plus the Desert Trail Community Park, are popular with families. A convenient large commercial area in the southwest corner of Sonoma Ranch has grocery stores, gyms, movie theaters, restaurants, and tons of shopping.
- Population: 6,690
- Median list price: $289,000
- Median rent price: $873
- Schools: Sonoma Elementary School, Camino Real Middle School, Onate High School
Mission Santa Clara
About twelve minutes east of the downtown historic districts, Mission Santa Clara is bordered by Sonoma Springs Rd on the north, open agricultural land on the east, La Purisima Dr on the south, and Sonoma Ranch on the west.
With breathtaking views of the Organ Mountains, building lots start at $30,000, and a four-bedroom two-bath home sells for $228,000. Mission Santa Clara residents love the safety, quiet, and peacefulness of this friendly neighborhood.
Along the eastern border of the neighborhood, you’ll have easy access to the Bureau of Land Management acreage for exploring flora and fauna and for hiking. Miramar Community and Sam Graft Parks are just north of the neighborhood, and the award-winning Sonoma Ranch Golf Course is only five minutes west.
You’ll need a car to commute and run errands. Nearby restaurants, shopping, and movie theaters are just eight minutes west at the vast commercial areas that surround the intersection at E Lohman Ave and I-25.
- Population: 5,510
- Average home price: $220,000
- Average rent price: $1,100
- Schools: Desert Hills Elementary School, Sonoma Elementary School, Camino Real Middle School, Onate High School, Centennial High School
In undulating terrain with a semi-rural feel, beautiful Picacho Hills is about twenty minutes west of the downtown historic districts. The borders include Desert Blossom Rd on the north, Fairway Village Dr on the east, Barcelona Ridge Rd on the south, and Anthem Rd on the west. Four custom home developments surround the Picacho Hills Country Club and its championship golf course: Picacho Mountain, Barcelona Ridge, Butterfield Ridge, and Coronado Ridge.
Most residences consist of patio homes or one-story stucco pueblo styles of three to five-bedrooms. Houses are generally on large lots with easy to maintain drought-tolerant desert landscapes. In particular, the Picacho Mountain development is a “green build” community. Set in the hills, many homes have gorgeous views of the Rio Grande River, Organ Mountains, and Mesilla Valley.
With few amenities in Picacho Hills, you’ll need to drive about ten to fifteen minutes east to run errands.
- Population: 2,689
- Median home value: $373,800
- Median rent price: $1,430
- Schools: Fairacres Elementary School, Picacho Middle School, Mayfield High School
Quality Moving Services from Las Cruces Movers
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If you’re moving to Las Cruces, New Mexico from another state, keep your stress levels in check and hire an affordable licensed and insured interstate moving company. They’ll handle all the complicated details and make sure your move goes smoothly.
Intrastate and Local Moves
Moving from one New Mexico city to another? Or planning to move to another neighborhood in Las Cruces? A local move may seem easy, but you still have to box up and transport every single thing you own, no matter the distance. Get help from a cheap but top-rated local Las Cruces moving company.
Small Load Moves
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Art and Antiques
Your valuable fine arts and antiques need extra special care when being moved. Traditional movers don’t have the required training. When you hire an art and antiques moving specialist, they’ll customize every phase of the move to make sure each piece arrives safely and intact.
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Same Day, Emergency, and Short Notice Moves
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Small moves, big moves – they all require boxes, wrapping paper, bubble wrap, tape, and more. Save a step in the moving process. A moving and storage company near you can deliver the supplies you need right to your home or office.
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If you’re ready to move to Las Cruces, save time and stress by getting your free moving quotes now! Get stellar customer service and a low-stress move from Las Cruces’ most affordable licensed and insured moving companies.