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Albuquerque, NM

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Anyone have an educated opinion on Albuquerque?

I'm looking at applying to UNM and over the week I overheard the Albuquerque is a pretty rough city. I received the information third hand, so I wanted to check out if any one has any good/bad experiences with Albuquerque.

Let me know.

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I haven't lived in ABQ, but visited a friend of mine who is a graduate student at UNM this summer. My impression is that the cost of living is low and housing near the campus reasonably priced. Airline travel to and from ABQ is expensive, however; it is a small market and there aren't too many direct flights there from anywhere. If you are into tattoos, rock and roll, southwestern-style mexican food and lots of beer, you will like living there. If you are looking for a more sophisticated atmosphere, it might not be to your taste.

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I am going to bump this because it is one of my top pics for schools....

I am cool with rock, tattoos and Southwestern food. What else goes on there? How are the neighborhoods and libraries? Is it a place you would want to spend a PhD at? Easy to get some part time work?

Anyone love or hate this city? Why?

Just want to get a feel for the attitude of the place...

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I grew up in Albuquerque, in fact in the UNM area, so I know a bit about it. It's basically a pretty typical postwar southwestern city, similar in look and feel to places like Phoenix, Las Vegas, Colorado Springs, etc. It's pretty sprawly and auto-oriented as a whole, particularly in the newer areas.

The UNM area, however, is one of the older parts of town, so it's a bit different. The main UNM campus is on Central Avenue, which is sort of the main drag. There are a lot of cool little cafes and restaurants and other small businesses in the immediate campus area, both on Central itself and on the smaller streets perpendicular and parallel to it. The area south of Central around UNM is known as the student ghetto, and it has that sort of feel; mostly run-down old houses and apartment complexes, all of which serve primarily as student rentals. Some grad students live in this area, but it's mostly undergrads. It's one of the few neighborhoods in the city where a car isn't necessary, and lots of people walk or bike everywhere they need to go. Rents are low.

To the east of UNM but still along Central is the Nob Hill neighborhood, which is fairly upscale. This is a pretty hopping part of town along Central, where most of the businesses are, and there are a lot of good restaurants with a wide variety of price ranges here. Rents are higher here, and the population is more professors than students, but there are some grad students. This is also a pretty walkable neighborhood, and it would be possible to live here without a car.

Further east along Central the neighborhoods get a lot poorer. This part of town is known as the War Zone for the gang violence that used to be extremely frequent there. The violence, which has contributed to the reputation of Albuquerque as kind of a tough city (as noted earlier in this thread), has decreased a lot in the past twenty years or so, although there is still a certain amount. Rents are very low in this area, but not that many students live there.

To the north of the main UNM campus, which ends at Lomas Boulevard, is the North Campus area, which is where I grew up (and am in fact sitting right now, at my mom's house, as I write this). This area is a bit wealthier than the student ghetto, but not really rich the way Nob Hill is. More middle class to upper middle class.The population is mainly professors and other professional types, with student rentals sort of scattered throughout the area. Rents are fairly low. The UNM North Campus (basically the law school, medical school, and a few other programs) is right next to this neighborhood, as is the UNM North Golf Course, which is a great place to run, walk a dog, etc.

To the west of UNM main campus, across University Boulevard, is an interesting little neighborhood called Spruce Park. This neighborhood is built on a fairly steep hill, and the income gradations as you move up the hill are very noticeable and stark. There are big, fancy houses on top, more middle-class houses partway down, and cheap student rentals at the bottom. This neighborhood is particularly close to the anthro department, which is at the western edge of the main campus.

Those are the neighborhoods that are most convenient to UNM. There are a lot of other neighborhoods further away, some of which are pretty interesting, but they're not very convenient to campus and while some students do live in them, I don't think I'd really recommend it. From most places you would have to drive to campus, and parking is a huge pain. Much better to be close enough to walk.

As for the feel of the place, rock, tattoos, and southwestern food is a pretty good description, particularly of Central and the neighborhoods around it. There are lots of restaurants serving the distinctive New Mexican style of Mexican food everywhere. The public library system is fairly good, but somewhat weirdly there are no branches very close to the UNM area. The closest would be the Ernie Pyle branch, which is very small but interesting. It's in a little house that used to belong to the famous World War II journalist Ernie Pyle, in a neighborhood south of the student ghetto toward the airport. For most purposes you'll probably want to use the UNM libraries, which are excellent. As for part-time work, hard to say in this economy, but I doubt it would be harder to get here than anywhere else.

The UNM campus itself is beautiful. All the buildings are in Pueblo Revival style architecture, which lends it a certain uniformity that I at least find very pleasing (not everyone agrees). There are some very cool little places on campus to study or just relax. The anthropology department, as I'm sure you know, is very well-regarded, so I'm not surprised that it's one of your top choices.

I wouldn't say I love Albuquerque, exactly, but I certainly don't hate it. It's a sprawling sunbelt metropolis without much of a college-town feel, but it has its charm if you know where to look for it. I'd be happy to answer any further questions you have.

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Hey,

Mind if I pester you with a few questions myself? lol

I'm going to UNM in a few weeks and I was wondering if there were any banks on or around campus. All of your answers from before have really been helpful.

Thanks

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Great response teofilo! I am fairly new to ABQ as I've only been in town for 2months. It's definitely different from anywhere else I've lived and it's taking me a little longer to get used to than I originally expected. I will be starting postbac/prereqs later this month at UNM. As Teofilo mentioned, the campus is beautiful.

Milleniumsamurai - I use Sprint and haven't had a problem since moving out here...

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I spent a semester at UNM on a domestic exchange during undergrad and I loved the school and Albuquerque, specifically because the place was unlike any other I've been to before. I came from a cram-jam bustling metropolitan area in the Mid-Atlantic and ABQ and the rest of NM is beautiful in an unusual, peaceful, desolate desert sort of way. The pace of life and people are very chill and laid back. A friend of mine who visited me from back home while I was there got the heebie jeebies from ABQ and the people for the very reasons noted by studentfromLA, but I didn't mind the quirkiness of the town.

I didn't have a car and was fine walking or using the public bus to get around ABQ, but I was more limited if I wanted to go outside of the city. The city does have a stop on the Rail Runner Express, though, which is a cheap commuter train that goes North/South down the state from Balen to Santa Fe. The cost of living in NM is super cheap compared to the Mid-Atlantic. I concur with all the other things said about ABQ and UNM above. You may need a certain kind of disposition to be happy in ABQ, but I'd go back there in a heartbeat if I had the opportunity.

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I went to UNM for my undergrad and have lived in Albuquerque all my life. First let me set the record straight. Albuquerque is not a rough city. I've never had any problems with theft or vandalism. I've lived in the student ghetto for most of my undergrad of Albuquerque and I never once have had a problem. North of the University you'll find nicer neighborhoods. If you worry about crime, The Albuquerque Police Department website has crime stats for different neighborhoods throughout the city. The student ghetto is located to the south of the University. Housing costs are fairly low. A decent 2 bedroom house can run from $800 on up. Apartments, of course, are cheaper. I would try to live on the east side of I-25. The further west you go, the more difficult transportation becomes.

People in Albuquerque are usually pretty laid back. We're not all into tattoos and rock and roll. This might describe the downtown scene, but not Albuquerque as a whole. Albuquerque is fairly diverse, as all large cities are.

Travel to Albuquerque is not too expensive, depending on where you fly from. We've got a fairly large airport, nothing like LAX or Salt Lake City, but large enough. I've been able to find flights to Washington DC nonstop for around $200, and to California for $350. Of course, last minute flights can be more expensive, and some places may require you to take 1 or more connecting flights.

Depending on what you like to do, Albuquerque could be a great match for you. There are lots of ethnic restaurants, several pubs, and lots of good hiking and rock climbing. The Sandia mountains are directly to the east of the city and provide a good escape from the heat in the summer.

Transportation can be an issue. Albuquerque has a pretty good bus system, which students can ride for free. There are not many taxis in town, and those are expensive. It would be pretty easy to commute by bicycle if you choose your neighborhood carefully. There are many bike trails and lanes in town and the buses all have racks for carrying bikes. Getting out of town, however, would be problematic. The Rail Runner train only runs Monday through Friday and travels from Belen to Santa Fe. Otherwise, it seems like you'd have to rent a car to leave town.

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As a veteran of Albuquerque living, both on/near/far from campus, I can agree that it isn't "rough" and most times the only way you come across trouble is if you went looking for it. I would recommend to anyone attending UNM to live near the camps and experience the community of the area and great proximity to anything you need. Its great to go to a busy, compact school but be surrounded by a sprawling city that has plenty of opportunities for enjoying the open spaces of New Mexico. A lot of people claim it's boring, but with some effort there's always an enjoyable activity waiting to be found.

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Guys this is great posting, anyone could please post which areas are best for family living (good elementary school). I saw so many posts online regarding different areas which made me confused which are the best for a family living. Also I have a car so I don't mind commuting to campus. Any ideas?

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Guys this is great posting, anyone could please post which areas are best for family living (good elementary school). I saw so many posts online regarding different areas which made me confused which are the best for a family living. Also I have a car so I don't mind commuting to campus. Any ideas?

I would recommend the northeast heights or, if you're really willing to commute, the west side. Check out Ventana Ranch, they have some nice amenities out there and I've heard good things about the Elementary schools.

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Just want to say thanks to everyone who's posted on this thread. I'm looking into PhD programs in Art History (specifically History of Photography) and UNM is one of my top choices right now. It's definitely helpful to hear so many well-informed opinions of the city!!

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I'm looking to revive this topic! Was accepted to an MA program in Anthropology at UNM.

 

General thoughts on Albuquerque?

I've heard that neighborhoods like Spruce Park, Sycamore, and Nob Hill are nice.

Have any info on rentals and/or apartments in these areas? What about University Studio Apartments?

 

Thanks!

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I'm looking to revive this topic! Was accepted to an MA program in Anthropology at UNM.

 

General thoughts on Albuquerque?

I've heard that neighborhoods like Spruce Park, Sycamore, and Nob Hill are nice.

Have any info on rentals and/or apartments in these areas? What about University Studio Apartments?

 

Thanks!

 

I'd also like to learn more about Albuquerque! I got into UNM School of Law. I go to undergrad in Boston and my permanent residency has been in NM for the past two years but I haven't spent *that much* time there.

 

Does it seem like a good place to live in general? Any highlights of the city??

 

asterismos: I read some reviews/news articles about university housing (and specifically the apartments) and I read that there was a whole lot of partying... so much that it has been in the news and stuff. It would obviously be different if you're living in a studio on your own but the general atmosphere of the place seems to me to be more conducive to undergrad than graduate studies (at least in my opinion). Hopefully other people will have more specific insight! 

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Hey asterismos - Are you going to the two-day campus visits next week in Abuquerque?  I was accepted to the anthro program at UNM as well and am going there to check it out.  If you're not going, I can let you know a bit about the school, area, etc when I'm back.  

 

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Hey asterismos - Are you going to the two-day campus visits next week in Abuquerque?  I was accepted to the anthro program at UNM as well and am going there to check it out.  If you're not going, I can let you know a bit about the school, area, etc when I'm back.  

 

 

Hey,

 

That would be great! I am actually not visiting next week, but for 2 days the week after. Are you doing PhD or MA?

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Hey,

 

That would be great! I am actually not visiting next week, but for 2 days the week after. Are you doing PhD or MA?

 

PhD.  I didn't realize they were different weeks.  Either way, I can give you my thoughts when I'm back and then you'll get to see soon enough for yourself.  I had a friend who did her undergrad there years ago and absolutely loved it, so here's to hoping its a cool area.  :) 

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Hi all! I grew up in ABQ and currently go to UNM. 

 

I'm looking to revive this topic! Was accepted to an MA program in Anthropology at UNM.

 

General thoughts on Albuquerque?

I've heard that neighborhoods like Spruce Park, Sycamore, and Nob Hill are nice.

Have any info on rentals and/or apartments in these areas? What about University Studio Apartments?

 

Thanks!

 

Those are all good neighborhoods but can be more costly for students and tougher to find rentals. There are not a lot of apts in that area but you may be able to find a room. 

 

 

asterismos: I read some reviews/news articles about university housing (and specifically the apartments) and I read that there was a whole lot of partying... so much that it has been in the news and stuff. It would obviously be different if you're living in a studio on your own but the general atmosphere of the place seems to me to be more conducive to undergrad than graduate studies (at least in my opinion). Hopefully other people will have more specific insight! 

 

You are thinking LoboVillage. That is an undergrad off campus dorm. If you are a grad student and consider living there, good luck! I think university studios is a complex. Berger and Briggs has a lot of stuff too around  campus. Some are nicer than others but most are walking distance. It just depends on what you want. The place west of UNM, off MLK are pretty cool and a short walk. South of campus is the "student ghetto." It is mostly houses and pretty affordable. 

 

Let me know if you have any other questions. 

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So I've committed to UNM and will be looking for a place to start renting on July 1. Do any of you experienced folk know if I'll be able to find something when I visit around June 1? Is it going to be tough entering a lease in July rather than August? I'm also hoping to rent something more house-like and less apartment-complex-like if that changes things at all. Any insight would help, thanks.

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Student housing is exhorbitantly expensive and the older dorms are NOT well maintained. Living off-campus is the best option.
 
The "student ghetto" (south of the University, sometimes called Silver Hill) is best for people without children. It's walkable, with a local grocery store, a farmer's market stand, restaurants, laundromats, and small retailers. The two biggest east-west streets south of UNM, Lead and Coal, were recently re-paved, with nice landscaping, new benches, new bus stops, and new trees. These streets also now have bicycle lanes. So the area is very liveable and has been spruced up a little.
 
There aren't many large apartment complexes in the student area. Apartment buildings are usually 10 units or less. The large complexes tend to be older and poorly maintained. Generally the best way to find a place is to walk around the neighborhood and call numbers on the "For Rent" signs. Craigslist or ads in local newspapers like alibi.com can work, but many landlords do not advertise online. My landlord never does anything but put a sign out, and he owns many properties in the area.
 
If you're looking for something house-like, you're in luck! Most of the residences in the Silver Hill and Nob Hill areas are "casitas," small 1 BR or 2 BR houses. Apartments are usually housed in duplexes, triplexes, or quadplexes, so they're  more "house-like."
 
Most casitas are one-story. If you're looking for an apartment, try to get a second-floor apartment if possible. The area south of UNM (and UNM itself) is infested with roaches when it's warm (most of the year). They are big suckers and they are everywhere at night. You'll still see some on the second floor, but not as many as on the first floor.
 
Street parking in this area usually requires a permit, which can be obtained from the city for free. Parking on campus is difficult; walking or taking the bus is your best bet.
 
Crime isn't too bad in the UNM area. In the summer there are a lot of "characters" (publicly drunk people, panhandling, crust punks who are backpacking across America, etc). I go out at night but I walk fast and stick to more well-lit streets. There is some violent crime but the biggest problem is theft. Lock your bike securely, don't leave your windows open, don't leave your car unlocked, etc. UNM recently had a couple of high-profile cases of sexual assault by strangers on campus, and in response they have beefed up their security, so on-campus isn't as scary at night.
 
On the other hand, the EDO (East of Downtown) area is rough. Ditto the part of the city south of Central and east of San Mateo. (DON'T live at Cinnamon Tree apartments if you can help it!)
 
It's definitely possible to live without a car in the UNM area. However, it's nice to have a car to visit the rest of NM: Sandia Crest, the Jemez Mountains, Las Cruces, Taos, etc.
 
It's a dry heat, so the shade is very cool, and the temperature drops a lot at night. If you're from a cooler, more humid climate, remember to drink LOTS of water (keep a bottle of water with you at all times) and use lip balm and lotion frequently. On the upside, outside of the rainy season in the summer it almost never rains so you can plan a lot of outdoor activities and/or walk to campus without incident.
 
Albuquerque isn't the most cosmopolitan city. There are some good museums and Old Town is fun, and there are some fancy restaurants/boutique hotels/art galleries springing up in the past few years. But despite being the biggest city in New Mexico, Albuquerque has a small town feel, especially around UNM. You will run into people you know all the time. There are only two malls (well three, but two of them are across the street from each other). The restaurant scene is kind of dismal with a few gems. Things close early; there is not a lot to do late at night but go to the Frontier for carne adovada. But, the weather is nice, there's a lot of outdoorsy things to do, lots of interest in sustainable living,and people are distinctly laid-back.

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Reviving this topic. I'm going to be visiting Albuquerque in two weeks to meet with people from UNM as well as hunt for apartments. Does anyone have recommendations for places to look? I don't mind a commute so long as it's bike-able or I can take public transit. My fiancé and I are looking for a two bedroom that's nice enough to stay for about five years--after jumping around a lot in undergrad and grad school, I'm looking to stay in the same place the whole time for my Ph.D. 

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I'll be attending UNM in the fall as well.  As far as I can tell between reading gradcafe, city-data, and reddit, everything that was true in 2010 is still true now.  The best places to look are around campus.  There is a ton of housing, but most places are not complexes and most places do not advertise online anywhere so the best thing to do is walk down the streets writing down phone numbers.  This part for me is particularly daunting since I'm quite a ways away.  What I've learned so far is to avoid anything East of San Mateo.  And there are bike paths all over the place so biking is super easy. 

 

Side question: were you invited for your visit or are you going on your own?  I've been accepted by my dept since then end of January, but I'm STILL waiting for the graduate school to officially accept.  It's driving me nuts!

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