Santa Fe, NM

House hunting in Santa Fe, New Mexico is a Challenge That's Worth it, Despite Continually Rising Prices

Carol Lennox

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Adobe house in Santa Fe, New MexicoPhoto by Matt Briney on Unsplash

After too many decades of "trying" to move to Santa Fe, New Mexico, I finally have the determination and an actual plan to buy a house there. Those of you who know me, or follow me elsewhere, know that my nickname and email names are Carolsantafe. Buying there was only a matter of time. Lots and lots of time.

I fell in love with Santa Fe, New Mexico when I was 23 years old. As I drove into the mountains, I pulled over to the side of the road at the sight of the first aspen. I got out, touched it's smooth, white bark, listened to the wind whispering through it's leaves, and cried. I was home.

I love Santa Fe, New Mexico for many reasons, but mainly for the diversity. The people of Santa Fe, New Mexico give it it's culture. Native American, Hispanic, Black, White, and Asian people mingle together and create a culture not found anywhere else. A culture filled with Native American art and ceremonies, with Hispanic influenced festivals, with music from around the world, including world class opera.

That first trip started the attempts to live there. At the time, while Santa Fe is the Capital of New Mexico, it was still a sleepy little town of fewer than 40,000 people. Most of the streets outside of town were dirt roads. Cars had bumper stickers that said, "Texan Go Home."

I was a teacher who was offered a job teaching in Santa Fe, but my husband at the time couldn't pursue his career easily there. I gane up the dream for him.

Many years later, my son's father lived there and we visited constantly. Moving there then would have meant leaving family and friends who were helping with my son. However, when he reached high school, I tried again. This time I was a psychotherapist and got my license for New Mexico. When we looked into the schools, though, we hit roadblocks. So we stayed in Texas.

My son graduated from college five years ago and now lives in Los Angeles. He and I moved to Austin in 2013, and housing prices were out of reach. That's only gotten worse over eight years. As a lark of sorts, I began comparing home prices here and in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

I hesitate to even write that I can buy more house for the same price in Santa Fe, New Mexico now than I can here. I hesitate because I don't want more people rushing there and raising those prices even more. Home prices hit a new high winter 2021. Granted, they were already driven up over the years with people from California and Texas moving there, not to mention the movie and T.V. stars who've purchased homes in Santa Fe. Oprah Winfrey, Sandra Bullock, Jessica Lange and Sam Shephard, Gene Hackman, and Brian Dennehy have all had homes there. I met Jessica Lange in a grocery store in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Brian Dennehy in a bar there.

The population went from around 40,000 when I first visited, to now 70,000. When you add in the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit every year, that's all the infrastructure and water table can sustain.

Now where I live is the new mecca. The average home price where I currently live in Texas is $500,000. Median home price in Santa Fe, New Mexico is also currently around $500.000, accordig to Redfin and the Santa Fe New Mexican, but around $352,000 in the area I want to buy, within the city limits proper. The same amount in Austin would put me far from downtown and way into the suburbs, As a single, retirement aged woman who leads an active social life, the suburbs don't work for me.

I told my son I'm looking for a house in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His father is living there again, so he would have us both in the sme city for the first time. He asked if it would be for vacation home/investment or to move there. I'm not completely sure yet. Buying in Austin or Santa Fe is no longer an investment guarantee as prices keep rising, but in real estate there's always inevitably a bubble.

Also, the winters in New Mexico can be brutal. If I was wealhy, I would be a snow bird, living where I am now in the winter and there in the summer, but I'm not. So, I may choose to "settle" for the fact that the sun shines 360 days a year in Santa Fe, New Mexico, even when there's a foot or more of snow on the ground. The mountains turn a deep purple at sunset unlike anywhere else, and the wind constantly whispers through the leaves of the aspens.

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My purpose is to inspire and inform. You can read more by me on Medium.com/@carollennox, and on the Good Men Project. I've had a lifetime of valuable experiences, and I want to share the lessons I've learned readily, or been forced to learn. I'm a psychotherapist, a hypnotherapist, a mother to my amazing son, Blake Scott, whom I write about often. I also write about race, equality, social justice, sex, government, and Mindfulness, not in that order.

Austin, TX
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