Las Cruces, the second largest city in New Mexico (101,760, during the 2016 census), is in the southern part of the state. It has been listed as a “Best Place to Retire” by several organizations for many reasons; low cost of living, active cultural life with its major university, and unusually beautiful location. In addition to active adults who choose this as their new retirement community, it is home to 23,000 students of New Mexico State University. Las Cruces is in Dona Ana county.
Las Cruces shows traces of civilization going back 8,000 years. The ancient Anasazi people had communities here, although they seem to have disappeared by 1300 A.D. The town is 4000 feet above sea level and enjoys 350 days of sunshine per year. The nearby village of Mesilla was founded in 1848 and represents a timeless version of what New Mexico was like when it was under a Mexican flag. Mesilla has good shopping and dining. Although Las Cruces has won a “safest city” award, several references cite a high crime rate (which is possibly related to low-level crimes associated with any student population). There is an active master plan with has the goal of sustaining and revitalizing the town’s central shopping area. Farmers markets and other activities keep the downtown vital. In 2009 Topretirements wrote a special feature on New Mexico retirement towns that you might find helpful. Photo of View of Las Cruces with the Organ Mountains to the east courtesy of Wikipedia (public domain); photo of Former Dona Ana County Courthouse courtesy of Wikipedia dn Calvin Beale (public domain).
Watch this short Youtube video prepared by Welcome to Las Cruces:
There are several active adult communities in town. There is a planned rental retirement community as well as an assisted living facility in Las Cruces. Active adults will find communities just for them as well as mixed generation neighborhoods (see Active Communities link at left). Home prices vary according to what you are looking for. Most are in the southwest "adobe" style. In mid-2022, the median home value was $260,224, according to Zillow. Prices are far lower than in Santa Fe. Homes in the newer golf communities go for more. It also has lower property taxes than many states (about $2000/yr on a $200,000 home).
What Is Special about Las Cruces
Frequently chosen as best place to retire by AARP, Forbes and CNN Money. Las Cruces Museum of Art, Pow Wow ceremonies held yearly, Dripping Springs, Whole Enchilada Festival. Southern New Mexico State Fair.Village of Mesilla. Aguirre Springs National Recreation Area. 3 golf courses. New Mexico State University. Outdoor and wilderness activities. The town of Mesilla is a historic town that is also suburb - it is a fun place to explore and see its historic plaza and the Basilica of San Albino. Photo of Main Street courtesy of Wikipedia and Jumacdon.
What Is Not Special about Las Cruces
Although it is not that far from El Paso and only a 45 minute drive to El Paso International Airport, some people who want a more cosmopolitan lifestyle might find Las Cruces too isolated but most retirees which are made up of "snowbirds", mostly out of state, artists, musicians, bankers and educators here are very happy to live in natural beauty and serenity with the majestic view of the Organ Mountains. What some may consider as isolation, most retirees here would see it as an ideal tranquil, safe and picturesque growing city with pleasant sunny climate all year round. Everything you need is at your fingertips. Las Cruces is an active college town and most recently has the Las Cruces Symphony now housed at the NMSU Arts Center building which opened up in 2013. Las Cruces International Film Festival is based here and more films are being made here due to the unspoiled, beauty of the southwest surroundings. The rich history of Las Cruces can be seen visiting La Plaza, the Gasden Museum, Las Cruces Museum of Art and Museum of Science. Every Wednesday and weekends live music is performed at the Las Cruces Farmers Market and at St. Clair's Winery. Always music is performed live at Ls Plaza in Mesilla. The air is fresh, the traffic is low and the pecan orchards abundantly growing against the mountains here make it the ideal place to retire for those who appreciate a more laid-back, serene lifestyle. (see additional comments below in "What People are saying" section)
Who Will Like Retirement in Las Cruces
Active adults who are happy not to live in their former harsh climates, artists, photographers, scientists, educators, mostly everyone likes living in a calm, sunny and dry climate with very picturesque scenery of the Organ Mountains, Robledo Mountains and Dona Ana Mountains and a large university in town offering adult education, performances from singers, musicians and the Las Cruces Symphony. Crime is low in Las Cruces and population has grown now to 100,000 but still has a wonderful laid-back ambience with a caring community of people and retirees who chose to live here because of what Las Cruces offers. This page explains the various types of retirement communities and this has more information about taxes and living if you want to retire in New Mexico
Local Economy Is Driven by
Higher education, tourism, construction, growing film industry. White Sands Missile Range and NASA have helped diversify the economy.
Climate and Physical Environment
Las Cruces is in southern New Mexico in the Mesilla Valley, just 40 miles northwest from El Paso, Texas. The elevation is 3900' and the environment is desert. Winters are mild, (it might snow lightly but it tends to melt in a day) and summers can be very hot during the day but cooler at night, sunny 350 days of the year and pleasantly dry. The Rio Grande River valley is to the west. Thanks to artesian water the valley is green with trees and crops.
Restaurants & Cultural Scene
Las Cruces has a rich cultural environment. New Mexico State University provides many concerts and plays in its Pan Am Center. The Las Cruces Symphony and the American Southwest Theatre Company perform at its Hershel Zohn Theatre. Ballet, Community Theatre and art are also available in Las Cruces. The University has 4 museums including the Las Cruces Museum of Art. The Dona Ana Community College offers classes for retirees at the Academy for Learning in Retirement. There are several important fiestas including The Whole Enchilada Festival.
The crime rate is slightly above the U.S. average.
There are several medical facilities in Las Cruces, hospitals located here include Memorial Medical Center and Mountain View Regional Medical Center.
Las Cruces International Airport has no regularly scheduled flights. El Paso is the nearest airport, 40 miles away. RoadRUNNER Transit is a small transit system run by the city. Las Cruces is below average in walkability when compared to other communities.
Las Cruces now has about 105000 population and is growing quickly with a great deal of construction. A second full hospital has now opened and medical care has improved dramatically. The older hospital has also expanded it\'s services. There is a lot of outdoor activity all year round. The university has a lot of activities. The mountains are not far to drive to on a hot summer day.
Posted by desertfox on January 10, 2018
Do Not Retire in Las Cruces
When you consider retirement think about what is most important when you are considering a town or city to retire. You need excellent hospitals and technology. Medical is very important and this town is lacking. The locals all know to stay away from the only private hospital that has the worst service. It is a small town and the care and medical staff are improperly trained. Put your health first and live in a place that has better health care facilities because this city does not have it. Do your research before you move to Las Cruces.
Posted by lach13 on July 23, 2015
Las Cruces is an OK small town
As a native New Mexican with a duaghter who attended NMSU I have spent many days in Las Cruces.
It is a small town. One small mall so for more enjoyable shopping you have to make the the trip to El Paso. At 40 miles away this is not much of an issue.
The food is great. People are friendly. The university is very good. During the summer it can be too hot for comfort but the other 9 months of the year you will love the weather.
I am not going to retire there but that is because of the small town aspect. It is too boring for me. That could mean peace and quiet for you.
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