The Best College Towns In New Mexico For 2020

Editor's Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our time ranking the best college towns in New Mexico.
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Believe it or not, America has the best colleges in the world. It's been proven by data (and surveys) that the U.S. educational system is of the highest quality

It's actually not even close and New Mexico is home to a handful of them.

While we could debate which colleges within the are the 'best,' that's not the goal of this post.

Instead, ride along with us as we determine which college towns in New Mexico are the best.

You know, the type of places where there's energy and stimulation, but the type of place you can walk around at night. The happiest, chillest, most downright fun places where you can send your kids off to college where you won't break the bank, or worry about their well being.

Without further ado, here are the best college towns in New Mexico for 2020.

The 10 Best College Towns In New Mexico For 2020

  1. Portales, NM (Photos | Homes)
  2. Las Vegas, NM (Photos | Homes)
  3. Socorro, NM (Photos | Homes)
  4. Las Cruces, NM (Photos | Homes)
  5. Albuquerque, NM (Photos | Homes)
  6. Santa Fe, NM (Photos | Homes)

While some of these may not seem like a 'real' college town per se, when you look at the numbers, it's hard to argue against.

And for those who live in Portales, Las Vegas and Socorro - we tip our hats to you and we'll schedule a tour for next week. You can see where Portales ranks in terms of the best college town in America.

Even though there are only 6 cities on our list, you need to remember there are another 417 places in New Mexico that don't even have a college. One might say you gotta be in it in to win it.

Read on to find out more or for more on New Mexico check out:

The 10 Best College Towns In New Mexico For 2020

Portales, NM
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 11,974
% Undergrad Pop.: 24.6% (1st best)
Median Rent: $759 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 1093.4% (6th best)
Crime Rank: 2nd best
More on Portales: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Portales is a city in and the county seat of Roosevelt County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 12,280 at the 2010 census. Portales is located near the larger city of Clovis as well as Cannon Air Force Base, a major contributor to the economy of the region.

Colleges: Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus

Las Vegas, NM
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 13,341
% Undergrad Pop.: 14.2% (3rd best)
Median Rent: $601 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 829.6% (5th best)
Crime Rank: 1st best
More on Las Vegas: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Las Vegas is a city in and the county seat of San Miguel County, New Mexico, United States. Once two separate municipalities both named Las Vegas, west Las Vegas and east Las Vegas, separated by the Gallinas River, retain distinct characters and separate, rival school districts. The population was 14,565 at the 2000 census. Las Vegas, NM is located 110 miles south of Raton, New Mexico, 65 miles east of Santa Fe, New Mexico, 122 miles northeast of Albuquerque, New Mexico, 257 miles south of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and 326 miles south of Denver, Colorado.

Colleges: New Mexico Highlands University, Luna Community College

Socorro, NM
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 8,554
% Undergrad Pop.: 14.5% (2nd best)
Median Rent: $602 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 386.6% (1st best)
Crime Rank: 5th best
More on Socorro: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Socorro is a city in Socorro County in the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is in the Rio Grande Valley at an elevation of 4,579 feet. In 2012 the population was 8,906. It is the county seat of Socorro County. Socorro is located 74 miles south of Albuquerque and 146 miles north of Las Cruces.

Colleges: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Las Cruces, NM
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 101,742
% Undergrad Pop.: 12.2% (4th best)
Median Rent: $779 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 775.8% (4th best)
Crime Rank: 4th best
More on Las Cruces: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Las Cruces, also known as "The City of the Crosses", is the seat of Doa Ana County, New Mexico, United States. As of the 2010 census the population was 97,618, and in 2015 the estimated population was 101,643, making it the second largest city in the state, after Albuquerque. Las Cruces is the largest city in both Doa Ana County and southern New Mexico. The Las Cruces metropolitan area had an estimated population of 213,676 in 2014. It is the principal city of a metropolitan statistical area which encompasses all of Doa Ana County and is part of the larger El Paso-Las Cruces combined statistical area.

Colleges: New Mexico State University-Main Campus, New Mexico State University-Dona Ana, Massage Therapy Trainining Institute

Albuquerque, NM
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 559,202
% Undergrad Pop.: 3.6% (5th best)
Median Rent: $855 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 625.7% (3rd best)
Crime Rank: 6th best
More on Albuquerque: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Albuquerque AL-b-kur-kee; Navajo: Beeeldl Dahsinil ) is the most populous city in the U.S. state of New Mexico. The high-elevation city serves as the county seat of Bernalillo County, and it is situated in the north central part of the state, straddling the Rio Grande. The city population is 559,277 as of the July 1, 2016 population estimate from the United States Census Bureau, and ranks as the 32nd-largest city in the U.S. The Albuquerque metropolitan statistical area has a population of 909,906 according to the United States Census Bureau's most recently available estimate for 2016. Albuquerque is the 60th-largest United States metropolitan area. The Albuquerque MSA population includes the city of Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, Placitas, Corrales, Los Lunas, Belen, Bosque Farms, and forms part of the larger Albuquerque-Santa Fe-Las Vegas combined statistical area, with a total population of 1,171,991 as of the July 1, 2016, Census Bureau estimates.

Colleges: Central New Mexico Community College, University of New Mexico-Main Campus, University of Phoenix-New Mexico

Santa Fe, NM
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 83,847
% Undergrad Pop.: 2.3% (6th best)
Median Rent: $1,043 (6th best)
Unemployment Rate: 504.3% (2nd best)
Crime Rank: 3rd best
More on Santa Fe: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Santa Fe is the capital of the state of New Mexico. It is the fourth-largest city in the state and the seat of Santa Fe County.

Colleges: Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe University of Art and Design, St. John's College

How'd we figure out the best college towns in New Mexico?

To crunch our data on New Mexico's best college towns, we had to first decide which qualities (or rankings) make sense to use in the data, and then crunch the numbers for our rankings.

First off, we firmly decided that only cities with a 4 year college should make the cut -- so there has to be at least one college granting bachelors degrees in town.

You might be surprised to hear that there are only 6 places in New Mexico with an institution of higher learning with that criteria.

Source of data include OpenStreetMaps, the College Scorecard, the U.S. Census, and FBI reporting data to include the following factors:

  • Students Make Up Large % of the Population
  • College-specific Factors
    • Graduation rate
    • Tuition Cost
    • Student Body Diversity
  • Town Characteristics
    • Safety
    • Affordability
    • Income and Employment Opportunities
  • Things to Do
    • Bars
    • Museums & Libraries
    • Population Density

We ranked each city across each of the criteria, with one being the best.

We rolled up the individual scores into the category and ranked them again based on the category.

Finally, we took the average rank across each category, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best College Town In New Mexico For 2020".

And it looks like Portales placed Summa Cum Laude.

There You Have It -- The Best College Towns In The

If you're looking for the best college towns in New Mexico, you came to the right place.

These places all have great college sports programs, tons of stuff to do, and are great places to raise a family.

For more reading, check out:

6 Best College Towns In New Mexico

Rank City Population
1 Portales, NM 11974
2 Las Vegas, NM 13341
3 Socorro, NM 8554
4 Las Cruces, NM 101742
5 Albuquerque, NM 559202
6 Santa Fe, NM 83847

Best College Towns By State

Enjoy The Snack?