Where can you experience the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains and the Chihuahuan Desert without crossing any state lines? New Mexico! Despite its diverse geography, New Mexico is often associated with its desert landscape thanks to imagery associated with the Roswell UFO incident or the missile and rocket test facilities at White Sands. New Mexico's history is just as varied as its landscape, with a cast of characters ranging from indigenous cultures to Spanish to American (and even Confederate soldiers) laying claim to this territory. Perhaps nowhere else in the United States is indigenous history so stunningly tangible as it is at Taos Pueblo, where the Red Willow people's adobe homes have remained intact and inhabited for over 1,000 years. Although our data hasn't uncovered the secret to maintaining a thousand-year-old civilization, it can certainly help you compare the safest cities in New Mexico.
How We Determined the Safest Cities in New Mexico
We narrowed down the safest cities in each state based on two primary categories. First, we evaluated public safety factors including violent, property and hate crimes in each area to help determine the safest areas to live. We then evaluated financial and socioeconomic factors including household income, average rent and health insurance. In addition, we evaluated each state for natural disaster safety and public health safety. You can find a detailed breakdown of our methodology and links to sources here.
Here are the public safety factors we counted for each city:
*Public safety data is based on a population of 10,000 (for example, a “2” means two incidents for every 10,000 people).
- Property crime – Number of property crimes reported in the city (FBI Crime Report)
- Violent crime – Number of violent crimes reported in the city (FBI Crime Report)
- Aggravated assaults – Number of aggravated assaults reported in the city (FBI Crime Report)
- Hate crime – Number of hate crimes reported in the city (FBI Hate Crime Report)
- Officer-related incidents – Number of officer-involved shootings reported in the city (Gun Violence Archive)
- Mass shootings – Incidents in which four or more people are shot/killed in the city (Gun Violence Archive)
Here are the financial safety factors we counted for each city:
- Annual rent – Annualized median rent
- Unemployment rate – The average rate of unemployed residents in each city
- Cost of living – The average annual rent and household income per city
- Poverty rate – Percentage of families that reported experiencing poverty in the last 12 months
- Uninsured employed – Percentage of employed residents that reported not having health insurance
- Uninsured unemployed – Percentage of unemployed residents that reported not having health insurance
3 Safest Cities in New Mexico
No. 1 Belen
Founded in 1740, Belen was initially occupied by approximately 40 families who devoted their time to agriculture and shepherding. Now, Belen is a bustling transportation hub thanks to its central location along both railways and highways. Although Belen could improve its financial safety, low crime rates propel Belen to the top of our list of the safest cities in New Mexico.
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Total Violent Crime Aggravated Assault Property Crime Hate Crime Officer Incident Mass Shootings 18.41099 (2nd) 209.602 (3st) 512.6753 (2st) 1.41623 (3nd) 1.41623 (3nd) 0 (1st)
Annual Rent Household Income Unemployment Rate Poverty Uninsured Employed Uninsured Unemployed 8160 (3nd) 33553 (3st) 0.12 (1rd) 0.203 (2rd) 0.052 (1nd) 0.174 (3st)
No. 2 Las Cruces
Home to New Mexico State University, Las Cruces is a festive town that seems to throw a city-wide celebration every week from September to November. In terms of both financial and public safety, Las Cruces fares well compared to other cities in the state.
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Total Violent Crime Aggravated Assault Property Crime Hate Crime Officer Incident Mass Shootings 9.784449 (1st) 30.62532 (1nd) 354.882 (1rd) 0 (1rd) 0 (1rd) 0 (1st)
Annual Rent Household Income Unemployment Rate Poverty Uninsured Employed Uninsured Unemployed 9348 (2rd) 40551 (2rd) 0.078 (2st) 0.204 (1st) 0.018 (2st) 0.191 (2nd)
No. 3 Albuquerque
Fans of the show “Breaking Bad” may recognize Albuquerque as the show’s setting, but how does the real town compare to its fictional portrayal? Financially, Albuquerque’s residents enjoy a relatively low cost of living, unemployment rate and poverty rate compared to other cities in the state. However, higher-than-average incidences of crime do prevent Albuquerque from clinching the top spot in our list of the safest cities in New Mexico.
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Total Violent Crime Aggravated Assault Property Crime Hate Crime Officer Incident Mass Shootings 45.10607 (3rd) 91.37237 (2rd) 617.9371 (3nd) 0.464091 (2st) 0.464091 (2st) 0.267745 (3st)
Annual Rent Household Income Unemployment Rate Poverty Uninsured Employed Uninsured Unemployed 10260 (1st) 51128 (1nd) 0.063 (3nd) 0.148 (3nd) 0.006 (3rd) 0.213 (1rd)
New Mexico State Safety
Natural Disaster Safety
New Mexico is considered the 33rd state most likely to experience damage from a natural disaster according to Insurance Journal’s report. Historically, wildfires are the most destructive natural disaster in the state. The most common type of extreme weather in New Mexico is hail. Thunderstorm winds and floods represent the second and third most common weather threats. New Mexico experienced relatively frequent earthquake activity throughout the 1960s and ’70s, but earthquakes have not been a recent concern.
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Data from America’s Health Rankings’ 2019 report names New Mexico as the 35th-healthiest state in the U.S. New Mexico has the highest chronic liver disease/cirrhosis death rate in the nation, the 4th-highest rate of suicide, and 5th-highest rate of death by accidents. However, New Mexico also has one of the lowest cancer death rates in the U.S., even though cancer remains the second-leading cause of death in the state. The America’s Health Rankings report lists a low high school graduation rate, a high violent crime rate and a large number of children living in poverty as the most serious threats to health in New Mexico.
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Top 3 Safest Cities in New Mexico