Thinking of Moving to Albequerque

KasimaSeptember 1, 2013

Anyone here from that area? I need to be closer to both of my sons, and Albequerque is right about in the middle. They both live in cold climates, which I can't bear, one in the the Great Lakes region and one in Washington State, and I'm in FL, so I'm trying to find a good compromise. It's very expensive for the one in WA to visit very often, since a round-trip ticket is around $800.

I do love vegetable gardening, and I love succulents. Not much into cactus. I've learned a lot about drought-resistant plants here since we've been in and out of drought for the entire 17 years I've been here.

Not too crazy about cold weather and snow, but I hear the winters are short and snow is sort of like I was used to in GA -- where it snows and melts within a day. Since I work at home now and wouldn't have to go out much in the cold, I think I'd be fine.

So what is veggie gardening like in Albequerque? I am thinking self-watering containers and drip irrigation. Is water very expensive? Can't be much more than here. My water bill is outrageous -- $50 administrative fee before I ever use a drop of water. I know there is a monsoon season. How is Albequerque on letting people have rain barrels and such?

Thanks for any info you can give me. I'm going to probably put most of what I own in storage here In FL and do a trial year in Abq. to see if I like it.

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I'm a California native transplanted (many years ago) to the Southwest, and I love it. I think you are right on with the climate, drip irrigation, etc., but can't help you with city specific info because I'm in El Paso. I think ABQ is a little prettier, but has more crime than here.

Be sure to check: the city-data forums. And also the flight routes from there to your kids. I say this because we in El Paso can no longer fly directly into ABQ; we have to go through Phoenix, which is ridiculous.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 5:34PM
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I'm very new to gardening, but I can tell you a bit about ABQ. I've lived here for almost three years now. I'm originally from California.

ABQ is between 5,000-6000 feet in elevation so it's not just a matter if hot/cold but more UV as well.

Snow here tends to happen maybe three times a year and it's pretty rare for it to last more than a day or two once it hits the ground. Most of the time it melts within hours. That's due to the aridness though, because we do have our 30-40 degree days. It's not like living in the midwest or the East coast, but it can be cold.

We have approximately 60-90 days in the 85+ degree weather. You are also going to want to research what it means to have monsoon weather. Starting in July through September we can get very heavy downpours in the late afternoon. They dry quickly but it can be torrential while it happens.

I have friends who successfully plant various squash, tomatoes, and of course, chiles. I believe that onions and carrots do well too. But anything that requires a lot of water would require a lot of vigilance.

Watering hours are limited to early mornings and late evenings during the hot months. I can't say the price of water is outrageous but xeriscaping is heavily encouraged.

Most houses have pretty big back yards which is nice for a gardener. Someone mentioned crime...try not to move to the Southeast side of ABQ. South of I-40 can get sketchy in places. Northeast Heights is one of the nicer and safer areas. The further north you can manage, the better the neighborhoods, generally speaking.

The City Data Forums are a GREAT place to get more information. I used it extensively before buying a home. They did a great job with their advice and are very friendly.

Hope this helps,


    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 3:46PM
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We've been in Albuquerque 2 years. It took a lot of adjustment moving from Boston. Water barrels are encouraged. The city water management urges people to have a survey to see how they can cut down water use. We had this done in spring last year. As a result we replaced our bluegrass lawn with buffalo grass. They gave us a very nice 100 gal water barrel for taking the survey. They also have rebates for people landscaping with xeric plants. I don't know how this works as we've never tried it.

We grow tomatoes and garlic, both of which grow well as long as you water the tomatoes. Rainfall averages under 10" a year normally. Last year we had 4.5".

Herbs do very well here. I have rosemary, thyme, tarragon, sage, oregano, chives, two kinds of mint and parsley which self seeds.

I'm learning about natural wildflowers, ornamental grasses and xeric trees and shrubs. You will learn that the soil is terrible but the city has a great program that offers compost and mulch for very little.

Hope this helps,

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 1:15AM
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I live near Santa Fe, and always enjoy a chance to visit the Duke City. From my perspective Albuquerque is a great place for gardening. Obviously quite different from what is possible in Florida, but compared with large parts of the Eastern and Northern US, very nice. You need to work with the soils and learn how to water properly, mulch, and choose the right plants, but if you do this the sky is the limit. Wonderful tree fruits, grapes, nuts, and veggies are grown in and around the city. Some of the xeriscaping is really outstanding as well.

Since you started this thread we have had a monumental amount of rain over a week in mid September, most places in Albuquerque got over 4 inches in a few days (compare that to the above mention of 4.5 for all of last year). Now it is more typical Fall weather: gorgeous clear days for the most part with the occasional low pressure system bringing wind and cold. But the bottom line is that although the norm is generally mild and dry with wide temperature swings, really anything is possible weather-wise.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 1:58PM
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Our climate in El Paso, TX, 4 hours from Albuquerque, is very similar with less than 8 inches of annual rainfall.
Vegetables can grow very well here but it take bit more effort than in a non-desert climate. Once you experience the climate yourself and the garden is 1-2 years old it gets much easier to grow.
I have more information on my website about gardening in this region.

Here is a link that might be useful: El Paso Twigs

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 8:44PM
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Nice website elpasotwigs!

The climates of El Paso and Albuquerque are also similar in that they represent warm spots within the larger area. There are plenty of places south of ABQ along the Rio Grande that get colder in winter, and I believe the same is true for El Paso, especially so for the Franklin Mountains. This can easily be seen from the superb 2012 USDA Hardiness Zone Map.

I'm not sure if you're still reading the thread you started, but I could not help wondering about the whole airfare thing. While I love ABQ and it has a wonderfully low-key airport, it is more expensive to fly out of then say, Denver. Believe it or not there are other places closer to your kids with a similar climate. Oklahoma City, Grand Junction CO, Salt Lake City UT, and even Boise Idaho are all within one half hardiness zone of ABQ, with varying amounts of aridity.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 4:02PM
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I live in North Phoenix, AZ but I have a comment or two that might be helpful. First, I believe it's significantly cheaper to fly to/from the cities your son's live from Phoenix Sky Harbor airport than from Albuquerque, and Phoenix is relatively equidistant from both. Second, I moved here from PA and gave up a lot of my interests (fishing, vegetable gardening, etc.) because I thought they were non-existent in the SW, especially in the desert, but boy was I wrong. On the gardening front, I'm able to grow a lot of stuff here that require a long season that I couldn't in PA, such as cassava, saluyot, citrus, etc. Right now I have the cole crops in and they're doing well. You just have to plant the right varieties and water wisely. Probably the biggest challenge is working with alkaline soil which is easily buffered with organic matter and sulfur. I think you'd do well in Albuquerque - you'd just have a shorter season due to the elevation.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 8:16PM
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There's certainly a lot to be said for a mild winter climate like Phoenix's! The summer heat is an unfortunate aspect of it though, but I assume there are cooler places at elevation nearby that also don't have such a rough winter?

Anyway, it's nice to hear from somebody in Phoenix who has embraced the gardening possibilities in his new home!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 10:17PM
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macthayer(z9a NV)

If your primary concerns are weather and air fares, then the greater Las Vegas area is where you want to be. My husband travels for a living, and one of the main reasons we moved here is so he could take advantage of all of the cheap fares and non-stop flights that go in and out of the airport here. These fares and the number of non-stop flights is much better than Phoenix. I'm not one for "Las Vegas nightlife", and we live in Henderson, which is a suburb of Las Vegas, and not incidentally, closer to the airport. Henderson is a lovely area to live. It's a pre-planned, classy community with shopping, police, fire departments etc. well placed to reach any part of Henderson quickly. The climate is the same as Texas and New Mexico, although I think it gets warmer in the summer. Trust me, dry heat is not as hard to take as moist heat. I have a vegetable garden here that allows me to grow almost anything, and yes it's more difficult to begin with. We had to do raised beds because the soil is difficult, and we didn't want to wait forever to improve this soil. With drip irrigation of these beds, my veggies and herbs do wonderfully well. Just a thought for you to consider. I wouldn't live anywhere else!

    Bookmark   December 25, 2013 at 9:27PM
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It's nice to hear from somebody else who likes it where they are. I am certainly jealous of what you can grow in that area being in zone 9, but I beg to differ with the assumption that your weather is the same as that in TX and here in NM.

Most of NM is a zone 7, and at elevation, meaning colder winters and definitely not as hot in summer. Here in Santa Fe we have never gone above 100, which can't be said for most other US cities!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 5:25PM
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