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Living a College Town Lifestyle in Las Cruces, New_Mexico

An incredibly interesting and culturally diverse college community, Las Cruces is the second largest city in New Mexico (92,000), and is in the southern part of the state. It is a desirable community for its active cultural life resulting from its major university, and its unusually beautiful location. 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.

Where to Retire in Las Cruces and Home Prices

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)

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.

Medical Facilities

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.

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