How High Is the Cost of Living in New Mexico?

New Mexico’s overall cost of living falls below the national average—especially when you look at housing. Learn more here.
Written by Melanie Krieps Mergen
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
While some cities can be more expensive than others,
New Mexico’s
overall cost of living falls below the national average, especially when it comes to housing. A single adult would need to earn at least $33,800 to live comfortably in New Mexico.
With a human history spanning at least 12,000 years, it’s no wonder it’s nicknamed the “Land of Enchantment.” But how much does it cost to live here? Here to examine exactly that is
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How high is the cost of living in New Mexico? 

The
Council for Community & Economic Research (C2ER)
gave New Mexico a cost of living index of 93.6 for the second quarter of 2022.
The average cost of living in the United States is assigned an index of a flat 100—numbers over 100 are more expensive, and numbers under 100 are less expensive. So, New Mexico’s overall cost of living is about 6.4% less expensive than the national average.
How do other states compare?
Hawaii
,
Washington, D.C.
, and
Massachusetts
top the list, with respective scores of 189.9, 154.5, and 147.9. The three most affordable states were
Mississippi
,
Oklahoma
, and
Kansas
with respective scores of 84.9, 85.7, and 86.4.
Overall, New Mexico ranks as the 19th most affordable state to live in, which puts it somewhere in the middle of the pack. That said, when you take a closer look at specific categories—like food, housing, or healthcare—living expenses can start to look very different, and some aspects of living in New Mexico can be even more expensive than average.
 Let’s take a closer look.

Food: $333 to $1,193 per month

Food is arguably going to be your most essential living expense—and in New Mexico, you can typically expect average grocery costs to be relatively similar to or slightly less than the national average. 
Your budget for food expenses will depend on where you live and the size of your household. Based on data from MIT’s
Living Wage Calculator
, a single adult could expect to spend about $333 per month on groceries, while a family of two adults and three kids could need to spend as much as $1,193 per month.
How does that compare to the national average? According to the
USDA,
a moderate-cost grocery bill for a single adult under 50 could cost $308 to about $365. In a household with kids, you could expect to add $172 to $370 per child depending on their age.
Keep in mind, too, that we’re just talking about groceries here. For a meal at your favorite restaurant or a cup of joe from your go-to coffee shop, factor in additional expenses.

Healthcare: $218 to $750 per month

Based on C2ER data, healthcare costs in New Mexico are about 3.1% more expensive than the national average.
The Living Wage Calculator estimates many New Mexico households could spend somewhere between $2,614 and $8,439 annually on healthcare costs. 
In 2020, per capita healthcare expenses came out to an average of $8,902 for New Mexico residents. This is compared to a national average of $10,191, according to data from the
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
.
But individuals’ healthcare needs can vary widely, so there’s room for variation here. If you or someone in your family requires recurring treatments or prescriptions, you may need to account for additional healthcare expenses when you set up a budget for living in New Mexico. 

Housing: $700 to $2,100 per month

Generally speaking, housing is one of the most affordable aspects of living in New Mexico.
The average value of a home in New Mexico is about $296,833, according to Zillow’s
Home Value Index
, while the average United States Home Value is about $355,852. And according to 2020 census data, the average New Mexico homeowner with a mortgage paid $1,293 monthly on housing expenses compared to a national average of $1,621.
As for rent costs, the average one-bedroom in New Mexico is about $1,245 per month, according to data from
rent.com
. The national average rent for a one-bedroom is about $1,770 per month.
But that can vary depending on what city you live in and the size of your home. As an example, here’s a look at average housing costs in
Albuquerque
:
  • Median monthly cost for homeowners with a mortgage payment: $1,346
  • Average studio rent: $837
  • Average one-bedroom rent: $1,197
  • Average two-bedroom rent: $1,593
  • Average three-bedroom rent: $2,021
And here’s how they compare in
Santa Fe
:
  • Median monthly cost for homeowners with a mortgage payment: $1,539
  • Average studio rent: $1,357
  • Average one-bedroom rent: $1,812
  • Average two-bedroom rent: $1,997
  • Average three-bedroom rent: $1,650

Transportation: $411 to $1,217 per month

The costs to get around New Mexico will also vary. If you’re an Albuquerque resident without a car, for example, you might be able to enjoy free public transit costs. While if you live in one New Mexico town and commute to another, you might depend on a car—in which case you’ll have to shell out expenses for gas, insurance, and maintenance and repairs.
Here’s a look at some of the costs that can influence what your transportation costs might look like in New Mexico:

How much you need to live comfortably in New Mexico: $33,800 to $109,532 per year

Depending on your household makeup, a single adult would need to earn at least $33,800 per year while a family of two adults and three kids would need to earn at least $108,532 per year to live comfortably in New Mexico.
On top of that, there’s a difference between being able to cover living expenses and having enough funds left over for some of the finer things you enjoy. 
Beyond basic living expenses, here’s what the costs of various items can look like in New Mexico:
  • Average cost of a dinner for two: $65 (US average: $65) 
  • Average cost of a night at the movies: $12.62 per person (US average: $10.61) 
  • Average cost of a Big Mac: $4.31 (US average: $5.81) 
  • All-day pass at Cliff’s Amusement Park: $25 per person (US average theme park ticket price: $91)
  • Average sales tax: 7.84%(US average: 5.09%)
All this considered, different households will have very different needs and lifestyles, so these numbers can vary considerably from city to city in New Mexico. While one person might be able to get by on $33,800, another might need to bring in substantially more to live comfortably.

The New Mexico cities with the lowest cost of living

Overall living expenses in New Mexico are a little less than average, but some cities are more expensive than others (looking at you, Santa Fe and
Las Vegas
).
Based on data from
Niche
and
BestPlaces
, here’s how the cost of living in some of New Mexico’s most affordable cities compare:
  1. Las Cruces
    (COLI: 84.8): New Mexico’s second-largest city of more than 100,000  borders the Chihuahuan desert. There’s a vibrant local culture, breathtaking natural scenery, and a great food scene—and at a lower cost of living than Albuquerque.
  2. Albuquerque (COLI: 90.8): New Mexico’s largest city has held onto its historic charm and has a rich, diverse local culture—and it’s a great place to catch a hot air balloon ride.
  3. Monterey Park (COLI: 72.1): Monterey Park is a small suburb of about 1,000 outside Albuquerque that lies northwest of Petroglyph National Monument.
  4. Chimayo (COLI: 85.7): Just 40 minutes from Santa Fe, Chimayo is home to an internationally famous chapel that goes by the name of El Santuario de Chimayó and has many traditional weaving shops whose expertise goes back generations.
  5. Valencia (COLI: 85.2): Valencia is a suburb that’s found along the Rio Grande. It’s considered part of the Albuquerque metro area and lies south of the city. Drive about 40 minutes farther south, and you’ll end up at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge.
If you’re looking for an affordable New Mexico city to relocate to, you’ll want to keep these places on your list as you research where the best fit for you might be.

How to easily find home and car insurance in New Mexico

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FAQ

It depends on your household makeup, needs, and lifestyle. Based on MIT’s Living Wage Calculator estimates, a single person without children living in New Mexico would need to earn about $2,817 per month to live comfortably.
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