Anywhere you go in Albuquerque, you’re bound to run into an award-winning restaurant or café with completely authentic local cuisine. If you want to pass as a local while dining out, ask your server for “Christmas”; that means you want to try both green and red chile with your meal. Chile is a New Mexico staple, and no one does it better than Albuquerque.
Just like the city itself, Albuquerque’s cuisine is a medley of hundreds of years of Mexican, European, and Native American influences. There’s even a fusion café, the Pueblo Harvest Café, within the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Old Town. Don’t be intimidated by the local cuisine if you don’t eat animal products; Albuquerque is so agriculturally rich that it’s very easy to find fresh and unique vegetarian and vegan options.
Albuquerque is served by two major interstate highways (I-40 and I-25), making it easy for drivers to get around town and around the region quickly. Don’t have a car? There are plenty of apartments near public transportation services in Albuquerque (ABQ RIDE), and depending where you’ll be working or studying, its mild temperatures and sunny skies will have you walking or biking everywhere in no time (the city has earned significant recognition for being very friendly to both pedestrians and cyclists). Downtown Albuquerque apartments are especially convenient: Many residents choose to walk to work, and if you need to go someplace farther, the speedy Rail Runner Express takes you to universities, hospitals, concert venues, and more. For those particularly long-distance trips, the local airport (Albuquerque International Sunport) sits on the south end of the city.
The most popular shopping malls in Albuquerque are the Coronado Center in Quigley Park and the Cottonwood Mall on the west bank of the Rio Grande. The high-end ABQ Uptown offers an open-air shopping experience that takes full advantage of New Mexico’s dry, sunny climate. For a more specialized shopping experience, many small vendors and storefronts offer unique products from the large community of artists, designers, and crafters in the city; you’ll find the most galleries and boutiques in Old Town, Nob Hill, and Downtown.
The cost of living in Albuquerque is exceptionally low, and this is reflected in the extremely competitive rental market. Apartments under $500 per month are surprisingly abundant, including many options near the local college campuses that are ideal for students as well as faculty and staff members on tight budgets. Many high-end condos and houses are available to rent as well, though rarely exceeding the $2,000-$3,000 per month range.
In general, the farther you get from the Rio Grande, the lower your rent will likely be. Every income level and age group is well-represented in Albuquerque, but its wealthier residents tend to gravitate toward the river, which has tends to provide a greener environment than the rest of the city.
Albuquerque locals are renowned for being active and fit, and the city’s environment is highly conducive to that lifestyle. The east bank of the Rio Grande features a large network of popular parks and green spaces, incorporating trails, a zoo and aquarium, a country club, and lush greenery to enjoy. The fifty-two-acre ABQ BioPark and Botanic Garden is the most dominant landmark here; enjoy the blooming flowers and plants in its iconic glass conservatory, stroll through the relaxing Sasebo Japanese Garden, or get up close to the animals at the park’s Heritage Farm. Smaller parks are sprinkled throughout the city’s neighborhoods, giving everyone easy access to playgrounds, dog runs, and more.
For more adventurous outings, massive nature preserves sit just outside the city limits. Albuquerque borders the Sandia Mountains to the east, with the Manzano range and Valles Caldera National preserve nearby offering endless opportunities to explore New Mexico’s rugged and beautiful natural landscape.
Albuquerque was established in 1706 as a Spanish colonial outpost, with a village built up around a central plaza (an area now known as Old Town). It remained a military stronghold for Spanish and Mexican forces until the United States took over the New Mexico territory following the Mexican-American War. For a time, the city was occupied by the Confederate Army during the Civil War, culminating in a minor battle with Union forces during the Confederates’ retreat to Texas. The arrival of the railroad in 1880 began a period of steady growth, which only increased with the construction of Route 66 in the 1920s and modern military developments between 1939 and 1949.
To truly appreciate your new hometown’s place in history, find an apartment near Albuquerque’s historic Old Town district, where many homes are on the National Register of Historic Places. There’s live weekend entertainment throughout the summer in Old Town Plaza, and some of the city’s best shopping too.