If you travel the U.S. for work or pleasure, you’ll hear people brag about where they live. Californians, New Yorkers, and folks from Austin, Texas are particularly vocal about why their towns are the best towns, whether it be due to nightlife, worldliness, accessibility, work, weather, or the beach. Sadly, you rarely hear Burqueños (that’s our local word for “people from Albuquerque”) tout the advantages of our fair city, and in fact, will often hear disparaging remarks about economic disadvantages, crime, or old stereotypes from TV shows instead.
But Albuquerque rules. We’ve chosen to live here and base our work here for several reasons, all of them awesome, and none of them related to the Balloon Fiesta.
- Weather – Albuquerque gets all four seasons, but not to the point that you’d ever get tired of any one of them. “If you don’t like the weather in Albuquerque,” the saying goes, “wait five minutes.” Because of the high desert and mountains, the air is dry and generally cool, so even when it’s hot, it’s not that hot, plus we rarely if ever get “scary weather” like hurricanes or tornadoes (and screw earthquakes, ahem, LA). Also, it’s sure to cool off in the evening, no matter what (take that, all of Texas!). We get snow in the winter, but it’s not the oppressive snow that stays for months (looking at you, NYC and Boston) – it looks pretty and then melts within two days. We get a glorious monsoon just when summer seems most unbearable, bringing quick 10-minute showers to cool off the evenings and make the desert surprisingly green (that’ll take out Las Vegas and Phoenix, for sure).
- Landscape – the mountains are breathtaking, and if you get tired of being able to see forever, you can plunk yourself down by the river in the Bosque and see just trees and plants and birds. You can go skiing in the morning, float down the river in the afternoon, and hike a hill for a sunset in the evening. As we mentioned before, the weather is highly accommodating to an outdoor lifestyle. And because we’re not overcrowded, you don’t have to wait in line to do anything (looking at you, Denver and Seattle).
- Traffic – as in, there is none (take note, Houston!). When there’s a wreck on one of the freeways, you can be slowed down for about 15 minutes or so, but that’s a rarity. And because Albuquerque is built on a grid, there are easy-to-navigate side streets you can get to. Rush hour is more like “rush minute”, and you can easily avoid it by leaving five minutes early or late. If anything, you’ll be delayed all of ten minutes, maybe, and it takes 20 minutes to get anywhere in town, tops. And when you do get to your destination, there will be parking, count on it. We have Lyft and Uber, so you can rideshare to your heart’s content. Not up for driving? Almost anywhere in town is bikeable, and you can put your bike on the bus if the uphill climb home is too much for you.
- Culture – art, music, and dance thrive in Albuquerque. We are home to the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the National Institute of Flamenco, both of which are bursting at the seams with culture. Our restaurant scene is top notch, and our breweries and distilleries are nationally recognized. You can find live music any night of the week around town, usually for free. We have painters, sculptors, and writers galore, with theater and slam poetry offering thoughtful entertainment for everyone. Thanks to refugee relocation programs of the 20th century, we have a large population of Vietnamese and Cuban immigrants, who have brought their food and art with them. The city was founded in 1706, and the history of the state is one of the most fascinating stories in the world. You can take a tour of a nearby Pueblo, where native people have been living for a millennium. And then you can go to a casino, where locals have been winning at slots for decades.
- Cost of living – you can get a three-bedroom house with a yard, a garage, and air conditioning in a safe, hip part of town for what it would cost you to get a fifth-floor walk up studio in the worst part of New York City. Gas is cheap; food is cheap; clothes are cheap. Your salary will go five times as far. For a business, this is especially important, because it means you can keep overhead low, and still pay your employees a comparable salary to anywhere else in the world.
- People – for the most part, Burqueños are generous and kind. They’ll smile and wave at you on your evening hike or when you pass them on the street. They’re also diverse. New Mexico has the highest rate of PhDs per capita, thanks to our defense contractors and scientific laboratories, plus our world-class universities. The Pueblo Indians have been in New Mexico for nearly a thousand years, and many of their current reservations reside on their original villages. We have a large immigrant population that spans centuries with origins all over the world. And while there may be economic differences between neighborhoods (compare the International District to the Northeast Heights, if you must), there aren’t necessarily racially segregated neighborhoods in Albuquerque the way there are in other cities (hey, Chicago, wassup).
Sure, we can admit Albuquerque has some problems, just like anywhere else in the world. But it’s got a lot to offer, too, and we consider it a hidden gem. We’re proud to live and work here, and we’ll be glad to brag about it to anyone who asks.