Santa Fe, New Mexico

Best Places to Retire in New Mexico


Santa Fe, Spanish for “Holy Faith”, was settled in 1610. The Spanish arrived with their soldiers, priests, farmers and their families. They brought oxen, sheep, chickens, seeds, and roots for food crops, and initially settled north of Santa Fe. This first location proved disappointing and the colony was relocated after just a few years.

The Spanish tried to convert the Indians to Christianity, and in doing so attempted to eradicate their native religion. Ultimately the Indians joined forces (Apache, Navajo, and Pueblo Indians were in the area) and drove the Spanish back to El Paso. They returned just 12 years later, but with a much more tolerant view of Indian religion.

Spanish rule had collapsed by the time the Santa Fe Trail (out of Missouri) opened in 1821, but New Mexico was still a part of Mexico. The city became a destination for adventurers, wanders, curiosity seekers, and fortune hunters. It was known for its rowdy bars and brothels.

When war broke out with Mexico (1846), New Mexico was claimed by the United States and the U.S. military arrived in Santa Fe. With the protection of the military and the arrival of the railroads, Santa Fe boomed, attracting a wide variety of people who sought to break out of the somewhat restrictive culture of the times.

Today Santa Fe (the state capital) is a timeless and charming, low-key city of 65,000 residents with a distinctly Southwestern character. The compact downtown section, all of which is an historic district, is nearly 100 percent Adobe buildings and you can easily walk from your hotel to more than a dozen world-class shops – before lunchtime. And Canyon Road, with more than 40 galleries, is only a few blocks away. You will also discover a wide variety of flowers, shrubs and trees – well beyond the junipers, pinon, aspens, and cottonwoods typical of this altitude (7,000 feet).

The city has been shaped by its rich heritage of Indian, Spanish, and Anglo-American cultures. Many of the traditional arts are still practiced, including pottery, textiles, jewelry, painting, and crafts. In fact some historic Spanish arts, which no longer exist in other parts of the world, are thriving in Santa Fe. Its reputation as a haven for artists dates to the 1920s, and today Santa Fe ranks as “one of three major art markets in the world.” It has more than 150 world-class galleries, distinguished museums, and numerous music, dance and performing arts companies. It is estimated that one in six persons in Santa Fe works in the art field: gallery workers, curators, framers, restorers, teachers, and artists. Its galleries represent thousands of artists whose works are collected worldwide, and antiquities from many lands.

There is an abundance of choices for dining, from inexpensive Mexican food or Italian fare to fine dining at some of the very best restaurants in the Southwest. All are casual. Shopping in Santa Fe is said to easily rival the famous Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, or the Via Veneto in Rome. Its boutiques attract shoppers from around the world.

Arts & Culture

Santa Fe is best known for its art galleries. However, it is also well known for its performing arts and routinely attracts big-name stars. Up-to-the-minute arts information, including art openings, exhibitions, performance dates, signings, etc. is available at The Wingspread Collector’s Guide Online.

Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus is a professional ensemble that performs regularly at Lensic Performing Arts Center. The orchestra has over 40 musicians.

The Santa Fe Opera’s season runs through July and August each year and features five productions in repertory. With mountain vistas and spectacular sunsets, the Opera Theater is a magnificent showplace for nature as well as the perfect setting for music of yesterday and today.

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is a professional troupe of 11 classically trained dancers that perform at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in March, July, and September.

Santa Fe Film Festival features contemporary films, documentaries and shorts, along with selected premieres and tributes to accomplished artists. Screenings are held at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, The Screen at the College of Santa Fe, Plan B Evolving Arts, and other venues.

Santa Fe Performing Arts School & Company is a performing arts school that supports children and theater. It offers year-round performances.

Santa Fe Playhouse theatre company is housed in a 100-seat Adobe building in downtown Santa Fe. It produces, presents and collaborates to offer performances of the arts. Its annual season consists of nine productions, from classics to experimental theatre.

Santa Fe Pro M˙sica presents a schedule of concert performances with acclaimed guest artists. Its annual Santa Fe Bach Festival and Santa Fe Mozart Festival attract a wide audience. The 35-member Santa Fe Chamber Orchestra performs masterworks, including Handel’s Messiah.

Institute for Spanish Arts has as its mission the preservation of Spanish heritage as expressed through music, dance and the visual arts. It offers classes, workshops and summer performances of Maria Benitez’s Teatro Flamenco.

The Lensic Performing Arts Center is the city’s premier performing arts venue. This 821-seat state-of-the-art theater hosts the Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe Music Festival, Santa Fe Stages, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, film, theater, and more.

Center for Contemporary Arts is a community arts facility featuring the work of emerging artists. Events in its 100-seat performance space include theater, dance, performance art and the spoken word.

The Greer Garson Theater Center at the College of Santa Fe is a 500-seat theater that is home to its Performing Arts Department which stages four major productions each year. It also houses the 100-seat Weckesser Studio Theater, where numerous musical concerts are performed as a part of the college’s Collaborations Music Series.

Theaterwork is year-round professional theater company offering 10 main stage productions, programming, workshops, internships, volunteer opportunities and special events each season. It presents classics, new plays, commissioned works, short musical plays for young audiences, and works in progress by regional and national playwrights.

Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble is a 12-person women’s choir that performs music from the Middle Ages to contemporary commissioned pieces. Performances are in April and December.

Santa Fe Concert Association presents a distinguished artist series, special events, youth concerts, sponsored events, pre-concert introductions and holiday special events. Performances are at the St. Francis Auditorium and the Lensic Performing Arts Center.

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival presents over 80 concerts, outreach programs, open rehearsals, and other events annually. It is known for its presentation of the best-loved standards in classical chamber music plus jazz and world music.

Sangre de Christo Chorale has been performing since 1979. It is a 35-member volunteer chorale that performs a wide range of music, including baroque, renaissance, contemporary, folk, spiritual and popular music.

Santa Fe Desert Chorale is a professional chorus offering a wide range of music, from baroque to Christmas music, and in a wide variety of venues.

Santa Fe Stages is a fully professional theater group that produces original works and presents outstanding performances by American and International artists throughout the year. Performances include contemporary dance, theater, performance artists, cabaret performers, and world music.

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is dedicated to perpetuating her artistic legacy.

The Museum of Fine Art houses a collection of more than 8,000 works of art, including contemporary southwestern artists and the Santa Fe and Taos masters. Yearly exhibitions feature 20th century art and photography. The museum is one of Santa Fe’s best-known structures, an outstanding example of Pueblo Revival architecture completed in 1917.

The Palace of Governors, built in 1609-1610, is the oldest public building in the U.S. and has served as a public seat of government for four sovereign nations: Spain, Mexico, the Confederacy, and the U.S. The palace became a museum in 1909 and reflects the multicultural history of New Mexico. Exhibits include photographic archives, manuscripts from the 17th century to the present and an extensive historic library. Authentic Indian jewelry and crafts are sold under the portal daily.

Museum of Indian Arts & Culture includes more than 70,000 pieces of prehistoric, historic, and contemporary art, handcrafts, clothing, and artifacts. It presents the stories of the Pueblo, Apache, and Navajo people.

The Institute of American Indian Arts Museum is the home for a unique collection of art derived from ancient traditions and realized in contemporary forms. Exhibitions focus on the works of alumni, students and faculty of the Institute of American Indian Arts, as well as new art forms from Indian country. The Museum is home of the National Collection of Contemporary Indian Art.

Museum of International Folk Art maintains the world’s largest collection of folk art, including costumes, masks, textiles, and toys from over 100 countries.

Museum of Spanish Colonial Art has a collection of over 3,000 objects and artifacts.

Santa Fe Children’s Museum has interactive exhibits in the arts, sciences and humanities.

The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian features exhibits of contemporary and traditional Indian art and culture in three galleries. The Case Trading Post is a working replica of an early trading post.

The Awakening Museum, “With love and transcendence” as its central themes, permanently houses “The Awakening,” by Jean-Claude Gaugy.

El Rancho De Las Golondrinas is a living history museum depicting village life in Spanish Colonial New Mexico.

The Art Center at Fuller Lodge hosts local, regional and national artists in monthly gallery exhibits. It offers a variety of art classes for children and adults, and sponsors two arts and crafts fairs annually. The Art Center is housed in historic Fuller Lodge, an original building of the Ranch School.

Site Santa Fe is a contemporary art museum that exhibits regional, national, and international contemporary art.

The Indian Arts Research Center at the School of American Research is a working laboratory that houses one of the world’s finest collections of Indian pottery, textiles, paintings and basketry. The center is open to scholars and Native American artists by appointment. Public guided tours are conducted each Friday.

Randall Davey Audubon Center is a 135-acre nature sanctuary. It offers educational programs and trips, and also runs a children’s day camp. The Randall Davey house is operated as a museum during the summer months, and free natural history and birding walks are offered.


Northern New Mexico has an ideal climate for year-round outdoors activities. There are numerous stables and horseback riding is a part of Southwestern culture. You can even learn to play polo. There is an endless supply of trails for hiking and mountain biking, and there are also great road rides. Trout fishing can be enjoyed in the Pecos River, Jemez River, Rio Chama, and the Rio Grande, and there is whitewater rafting up in the Taos area. The lake on Cochiti Pueblo land offers windsurfing, canoeing, and kayaking, and you can water ski at a number of other lakes. There is golf at the Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe that offers both nine and 18-hole layouts with stunning mountain views.

Visitors are also welcomed at Lomas Santa Fe Country Club.

Snow skiing is available at Ski Santa Fe, only 30 minutes away. There is a 1,650-foot vertical drop and its 43 trails offer challenges for every level of skier.

Santa Fe Parks and Recreation Department –

If you want to stay fit, the Genoveva Chavez Community Center has a 50-meter lap pool, an indoor track, racquetball, and aerobics and weight rooms. It also has a kid’s pool, an ice rink, and basketball and volleyball courts. The municipal Recreation Center has softball and soccer fields, hiking trails and a park. Other city parks have pools and tennis courts.


The College of Santa Fe is a private school that has evolved from St. Michael’s College, which dates back to 1859. In 1966 it became a co-ed school and adopted its present name. In 1985 its MBA program was accredited and in 1986, with the closing of University of Albuquerque, the college assumed responsibility for its programs and continues to serve both campus sites.

Santa Fe Community College serves about 5,000 full-time and part-time students. It offers short-term, non-credit courses that cover just about everything from Southwestern history to art — many of them are hands-on, or include field trips. There are more than 1,100 enrolled in adult basic education programs.

Santa Fe Art Institute offers residencies, workshops, lectures and exhibitions.

Senior Programs

The city’s Senior Services Division offers extensive services and programs, including Senior Centers, Senior Olympics, volunteer programs, legal assistance, activities programs, and more.


St Vincent Hospital, originally run by the Sisters of Charity, is today a non-profit, non-affiliated hospital. It has a staff of 250 physicians representing 22 medical specialties. It is the only Level III Trauma Center in New Mexico. The hospital is licensed for 268 beds.

Lovelace Sandia Health System, based in Albuquerque, operates a clinic in Santa Fe.


The Santa Fe Municipal Airport is nine miles southwest of the city’s central business district. It cannot handle commercial aircraft with more than 30 passenger seats on a regular basis.

Albuquerque International Airport is approximately 60 miles from Santa Fe.


Santa Fe is blessed with an average of 300 days of sunshine each year. It averages 14 inches of rain annually and 32 inches of snow. The average date of the first frost is October 10th, and the last frost is May 1st. January has an average high temperature of 40 degrees and a low of 19 degrees, while July averages 91 degrees and 57 degrees.


Santa Fe Times –

Property Taxes

State Taxes

Chamber of Commerce

State Aging Agency


Albuquerque – 64 miles
Taos – 70 miles
Las Cruces – 287 miles
Colorado Springs, CO – 322 miles
Phoenix, AZ – 526 miles
Tucson, AZ – 565 miles
Las Vegas, NV – 634 miles

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