Hi, My husband, children, and I currently live in Hawaii, but we will be leaving in 3 months when my husband gets out of the Navy. We've begun our job hunting and he will be interviewing in Albuquerque with Nikon. I know the area somewhat as my grandparents lived there while they were alive, and my mom grew up there. It has been many years, however, since I have been to New Mexico, so I don't feel I have an accurate idea of what life is like there.
I guess i have all the regular concerns and then, of course, concerns about homeschooling in the area as well.
Is the crime really as bad as everyone makes it out to be?
Do you feel the area is expensive to live in?
What is the general attitude towards homeschooling?
Have you had any problems with the school system/ neighbors concerning homeschooling?
Are there places locally to purchase curriculum, or do you have curriculum fairs?
Are there any homeschool sports activities available, or can the kids join local school teams?
How active is your homeschool co-op, and do you allow children of all ages to attend activities?
Do you feel the town is family-oriented?
What do you think of the local health care?
What areas of town would you suggest to avoid looking for a home?
Gosh, that's all I can think of right now....sorry I've asked so much. We've been in the military now for over 9 years and everytime we got stationed at the next place, we usually knew 5 or 6 months ahead of time where we would be going. Being in the civilian world is new to us and we're so close now. The headhunters have told us that they will only JUST start looking for jobs, now. Needless to say, my nerves are on edge. We have to start the paperwork for our move, and we have no clue as to where to tell them to send our stuff.
I would greatly appreciate any info you can give. Please be brutally honest. We're going to have to make a decision whether or not we want this job, and I want to be sure the area is what would be best for our family.
My name is Deb and my husband is a Naval Test Pilot working for Eclipse Aviation here in Albuquerque now. We just went through a very similar situation as what you're going through yourself now...please contact me privately via my email: firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be easier to address your questions one Navy spouse to another!
We just made the jump out of active duty [after 15 years] and moved here from Misawa, Japan last November. We have no family in the area and are very pleased with our decision.
Hi there, Katrina! It's interesting how different families can have different experiences of a place. We are lucky enough to be able to afford a nice suburb on the NE part of town. We've had no problems with crime in our neighborhood, at least as far as I'm aware. I have to admit that I may be out of touch, as we don't watch TV, such as the local news or crime shows.
Before moving to Albuquerque, my husband and I lived in urban areas, such as Boston, Portland, and the bay area of California. We enjoy the more relaxed pace of living here, with much less traffic, more affordable housing (compared to the areas I mentioned), and access to "big city" amenities such as zoo, aquarium, museums, etc. without the big city crowds.
My husband and I work from home and can live anywhere in the country, but we chose Albuquerque eight years ago, and we're still here!
There's an active homeschooling community here, so that if you do decide to homeschool, there are many opportunities and choices for you with regards to classes, park days & outings, and so on. Your choice of a homeschooling group would depend partly on the age of your kids, your location in the city, your homeschooling style. etc.
The co-op doesn't have an age limit for kids attending our activities, but most kids are in the 0-8 year old age range.
There are local places for curriculum, depending on what you need, such as Title Wave used book store, a yearly CAPE-NM homeschooling convention. Our co-op participates in a curriculum swap/share as well.
Added later: I just noticed that Mary Kay must have removed her reply that was just before mine. She had mentioned some problems she had with living in Albuquerque, and that's why my post started the way it did, mentioning how different families have different experiences with a place.
Thanks Elizabeth and Deb. I'm glad to hear that you both like it there. Homeschooling is probably the most important item to us, next to getting the right job. My kids are 4, 6, and 7. We haven't had any support here in Hawaii and are really looking forward to having an active community with lots of potential friends for us and our children. I spent half of my childhood in Tucson and half in Tennessee. I love TN, but really miss the Southwest and the beautiful landscape (I'm not much for mowing lawns ).
I love the sound of your co-op. It's what really peaked our interest in moving to Albuquerque actually. That, and the location. We're very outdoorsy and desperately miss getting to hike and camp. One would think that there is alot to do in Hawaii, but most of the land is privately owned and the hiking trails are extremely dangerous due to mudslides. Our children were so young when we got here that they were afraid of the ocean. Life kinda stinks on an island when your kids are afraid of the water So we are all very excited to leave and start our new life.....wherever that will be!
Hi, and welcome. I grew up in Albuquerque and have never lived anywhere else. There are pros and cons. I'll start with the pros - I've found there is a LARGE number of homeschoolers here and most people don't really make a big deal out of the fact that their neighbor homeschools. (I think the reason there are so many of us has something to do with our schools ranking 48 in the nation.) As for houseing- well that's a good and bad situation. We have a lot of transplants from CA and various other areas (I don't have a problem with this) that said, they are raising the cost of housing DRASTICALLY in NM. Many are selling their homes for 200+ thousand (a little house no less - 1400 square feet for a friend of mine and her house went for 375 thousand.) and therefore they can pay more for houses here. Unfortunately, our base wage has not increased drastically with cost of living. Part of this is due in part to the significant number of people in NM without proper education (I think a study showed that something like 55% of NM lived beneath the poverty line). NE Albuquerque has grown tremedously in my lifetime, I grew up there and am amazed everytime I drive there. NM is DEFINITELY cheaper than HI. Crime - well hard to say it's reported so oddly. Certain counties have higher violent crimes and certain counties have higher drug crime etc. Anywhere you have a large agricultural community (smaller rural areas) you see problems with meth - heck, you see problems with meth in the city. I am probably not a good judge of the crime rate as I am an RN and work ER and ICU. We tend to see those that dabble on the darker side often. As for healthcare - again, I probably should not comment. I see good with the bad. I have to say this no matter where you go, KNOW your medications, ASK questions and NEVER blindly trust anyone in the medical profession - we are human and as such are prone to error. There is a used book store called Tidal Wave books that sells used curriculum, there's a teacher's store also that has learning aids. CAPE comes to NM for a fair as well. As for extra curricular activities and the support groups there are a lot of them. This is one of several and you will find lots and lots of help from most all the members. Now, ABQ's biggest con - poor city planning. Just an example, in the 70's I remember debates about building a bridge over the Rio Grande to the west side on Montano. Finally in the 90's it was built - one lane in each direction. There is STILL ongoing debate over this bridge. The west side was built without the necessary infrastructure - roads, schools etc. Now, there are thousands of people on the west side, over crowded schools, traffic is a nightmare and the city is trying to play catch up. NM in general I think, thought that if they ignored growth long enough it would go away. I live in Los Lunas about 35miles south of Albuquerque, but there are issues there as well and you REALLY have to be careful where you build. East mountains, be careful where - little zoning regulations in some areas and a poor water table. I would have to say that the NE Heights probably has the better neighborhoods, but even there, there are pockets of problems, and areas you might not want t live in, and houses have really gotten expensive. (my mom's 2400 sq ft home in 1976 sold for $25,000 now is appraised at $187,000 and it isn't even in the newer, better neighborhoods.) You're right, there is a ton of history and outdoorsy stuff to do here. There are also lots of cultural experiences to be had. All in all, the people are very friendly, and the weather is pretty nice (except the other day when it snowed!) Good luck, Jo-Anne
I've lived in Albuquerque for almost 8 years. I don't know much about other large cities, as this is the largest city that I've lived in. My opinion is that Albuquerque can be a nice place to live if you learn where to go and where not to go. Luckily, this is evident most of the time!
The crime rate does disturb me. We have a lot of problems with meth and drunk driving here. Very rarely do I go out driving after 9pm. There are certain parks I do not take my kids too--parks where I see lots of people sleeping on the benches. There are stores I do not shop at--the stores close to Central Avenue that sell single beers. These stores usually have several people with very sad stories panhandling in the parking lot.
Many of our neighbors have had their houses broken into, but we have been safe so far (we have an excellent alarm system, though). The worse thing that has happened is that someone fired two bullets into my daughter's kindergarten classroom. It was during the weekend, but still!
On the other hand, the city does seem very committed to fighting crime and making Albuquerque more family friendly. When I was a kid (20-25 years ago) the only places to go were the zoo and the art museum. From what I remember, the zoo was a row of stinky cages. Now, there are science museums, a natural history museum, a new and improved art museum and zoo, an aquarium, and a botanic garden with a farm. All of these places have great programs for kids. In the summer, many of these places have outdoor concerts that are well attended. There is also skiing, biking, and hiking. And of course, lots of baseball, hockey, and football games to watch.
Housing in Albuquerque is not as expensive as in some cities, but it is going up faster than the paychecks! We live between the Unversity and the Airforce base, and a 950 sq. ft. home in our neighborhood just sold for $168,000. I can't say that I would have paid that much for it, but obviously someone else felt differently! I've noticed that food, gas, and cars are more expensive than say, on the east coast. We don't pay sales tax on food, and that does help.
I have been pleased with the health care I've received here, although I feel that the hospitals are understaffed. I think that is a problem everywhere, though.
It's hard to say which areas of town should be avoided. There are pockets of good and bad all over Albuquerque. Realtors always say that you should buy a house in the best neighborhood you can afford, and that's probably good advice. If I could live anywhere in Albuquerque, I would probably live in the far Northeast Heights. There are nice neighborhoods there, good shopping, etc. The foothills are also nice, if you don't mind bugs. We lived in an apartment in the beautiful High Desert development for a year, and found a scorpion and a couple of large centipedes in our living room. Yuck! That ended my desire to live there.
HA! I just have to laugh about the bug thing! No matter what you hear about our "paradise" in Hawaii, don't move here unless you'd like to be on a close and personal level with the insect community. I freaked when we first moved here. The movers were setting our boxes and furniture in our carport as they unloaded the trucks and roaches were crawling all over into our stuff. I ran around screaming and stomping on them. It was futile as the ground literally crawls with them. If you wear sandals they will crawl in and out of your shoes! Then of course there are the centipedes and ants which infest everything. You can't eat outside beacuse of the flies. And you have to get used to the dozens....yes dozens....of geckos that live in your home. Of course, you'll like them because they eat the other things! The glass in the windows are slatted jalousy windows, so they don't seal completely. Our house is so old (gotta love that military housing ) that I can stick a pencil in between the slats when they're closed. Ahhhh paradise.
Sorry, I just had to comment on that. I spent half of my childhood in Tucson though, and you just get used to the desert creatures that make your yard their home, or maybe that's ...you make their home your yard . We lived at the time out in the foothills. Do you all have the rattlesnakes, gila monsters, horned toads, etc. that AZ has? I imagine they're in NM, but do you have them alot in neighborhoods? I remember as a kid that we had annual "desert survival training". Do they do that there too?
Some one go enjoy a chile relleno for me this weekend....sigh....I do so miss that food!
I used to live in Texas as a kid, and we always played with the grasshoppers, horned toads -- heck! even the ants. My kids find ants and lizards in our backyard, but nothing all that exciting. I don't think there are many horned toads around here, but lots of other lizards. I've seen a rattlesnake or two, but only out hiking.
Your comments on bugs in Hawaii got me remembering my own experience with tropical paradise. My husband and I took a year off work and traveled many years ago. We stayed for a couple of months in Hawaii, Fiji, and the Cook Islands. Talk about bugs. I never saw huger centipedes (millipedes?) and roaches. In your bathroom, in your suitcases nestled in your socks, in your hair at night. Thank goodness for geckos. Sometimes we'd splurge for a more upscale abode, and if you didn't see them there, you knew it was because your living space was liberally coated with potent insecticide. Give me the desert over the tropics any day!
If you come to Albuquerque, don't worry about fitting into the homeschooling community. That'll be easy. Our group may have one of the more obvious internet presences, but there are also lots of other groups here that are equally friendly, and will be easy to connect up with once you're here. Plus, there are plenty of activities where you don't need to be a member of a group at all. Did you ask about sports? There are a reasonable numer of sports/PE type things that scheduled during the day and geared specifically to homeschoolers, like bowling, gymnastics, stuff like that.
And Katrina, how does it feel to have such a famous name?!
It's funny that you say that.....the storm every one was worried about right after Katrina was Rita. That's my mom's name! There was also a Jose this year...spanish for my dad's name, Joe. There have been alot of family jokes. My husband has a newspaper article from TN (where my parents are) that says "Katrina's One Mean Witch!". He just thinks that's hilarious.
Your memories of the tropics cracked me up! How true!!! It's been raining here now almost non-stop for over a month. We're in a fairly high area of the island, so we haven't flooded, but one area here had 48 inches of rain in just three weeks.....and it's still raining. Kuaui's dam broke and the island is a mess. There's several dead and homes ruined. I can't tell you just how happy we'll be when we leave....ironically, we fly out on Independance Day.
I had to comment on the Chile rieno comment - you do know New Mexican food is VERY different than most other Mexican food. Being raised here I hate traveling to TX, AZ, CO, or CA because the Meican food is not what I am used to. As for rattle snakes etc, yes they are here but not really in Albuquerque unless you get into the FAR NE heights into the foothils or far north near the Sandia reservation. Like I said, I live in Los Lunas in a subdivision out in the boonies and I told my husband 8 years ago when we moved in that the first rattler I saw near the house we were moving. So far, we haven't moved... I should have been more specific and said first HUMONGUS spider (not kidding the size of the palm of my hand! black - provbably turantuala (spelling?, wind scorpian (ugly creepy looking things), scorpian, centipede or snake - we'd move... but I didn't and here we are. Man I love my exterminator. =) I really HATE bugs... my aunt is in FL and we went to visit - ICK - flying HUGE roaches! I think Alaska might work - to my knowledge there aren't any icky huge infestations of bugs! At any rate- now that I have the shivers and am paranoid I should get to work!
How is the food different? I ate at Gordunos alot when we visited my grandparents....but it was a LOOOOOONG time ago. I agree that TX is alot different.....there more Tex and way less Mex. My hubby's from San An......can you believe they don't even know what a sopapilla is???? Crazy Texans I miss the Indian fry bread......it's been decades since I've had that!! Is the food really that different from AZ? My grandma has a wonderful recipe for green chile dip. i still make it....that is when I can find the anaheims to make it with.
Well - first I noticed there is definitely a difference in the flavor of the green chile - also one restaurant in Flagstaff called a jalepeno green chile. NM food doesn't have the cilantro in it that you find in other places. You can definitely see the Nativa American influence on the food - also I think we tend to put more cheese on our food. I personally prefer NM food, but that's what I was raised on. I can't stand cilantro and hated every bit of the Mexican food we had in CA because it was VERY heavy on cilantro.
Oh yeah, I doubt Flagstaff would have much in the way of mexican food. In my opinion, even Phoenix is vastly different than Tucson. Now, mind you, my opinion of AZ is from 15 + years ago. But Tucson is almost to the border of Mexico, so it's probably closer to authentic than most cities....I would venture to guess that most border towns and close to border towns are.
My hubby and kids will love the cheese part. I've always teased my husband because he came from TX and thinks what he eats is Mexican food. My first time in a a TX restaurant was the first time I'd had Mexican food in years. I was so excited and couldn't wait to have a sopapilla. It was a tortilla that had been fried with cinnamon sugar on it!!!??!! I spent the last half of my childhood in TN where they think that Mex food is Taco Bell. They call everything a jalepeno too. I've seen greek pepperocinni called jalepenos.
I don't think I've ever seen anyone make green chiles like my grandmother, maybe it's a NM thing. She would roast the chiles and then peel and chop them finely. She added some seasoning and I think oil(it's escaped my memory at the momment...you can tell I haven't made it in ages) and then we would dip them with chips or crackers. It wasn't like a salsa or anything. But I haven't met a person yet that doesn't love it.
Something else that you all have that's very different is luminarios. My mom grew up in Albuquerque so that was how she had always decorated for Xmas. We spent 1 1/2 years living there when my father got out of the Air Force and moved from Turkey. We went to Tucson from there (I was very little at the time). The fist winter in Tucson, we decorated the whole house with luminarios and won the nieghborhood decorating contest. They said they had never seen anything like it before. My hubby new what they were, but said that no one really decorates with them. Now they've gotten more popular and they make all those with plastic bags and such. I doubt that most people know what they're really supposed to look like. I can still remember Old Town all done up.
You all have been so kind to help me out with this. Thank you everyone. I feel much better about moving there. My hubby's interview got pushed off a few days as the HR guy at Nikon is sick. We're still keeping our fingers crossed. He has a preliminary interview on the phone (since we're so far away) and then they fly him out the first week of April.
Hi Katrina!! Just wanted to 'chime in' about the insects. My friends live in the far NE Heights (?), area in the NE north of Alameda. Their neighborhood has a problem with scorpions, but there are toxic-free traps they place in the vents and in the garage. I live in the Valley Farms area of unincorporated south Alb. (just north of the Isleta Res.). We have a really BIG problem with Black Widows. Let me just say that I have become used to encountering them everywhere. Really not a problem except for my little one (almost 2 now). Tammy