Retirees come to Taos, New Mexico for a variety of reasons. This high-altitude village in the beautiful, desolate countryside of northern New Mexico has a very liberal, hippie-ish ambiance and is home to a thriving, richly textured artist community, in which painters, sculptors, weavers and many other artists create their works. Many famous names, including D.H. Lawrence, Tom Wolfe and Kit Carson, have made their home here. Today, Taos has a population of 5,400 people, 42% of which are age 45 or better. The cost of living is about 5% above the national average, but the median household income is below the national average.
In addition to its artistic vibe, Taos is known for its adobe architecture, a mixture of pueblo style and territorial style, with brightly painted doors, gates and window frames. The median home price is roughly $245,000.
Outdoor recreation is a prime calling card of this region. Taos is a rather remote town, about 45 miles from the next closest metropolis, and it is this isolated locale that allows for nearly unlimited hiking, bouldering and fishing within just a few miles of town. This region is also known for its amazing light, which creates an almost mystical feeling, particularly when combined with its Native American history and culture.
Festivals are many, and artist studios and galleries number near 100, which is impressive for a town this size. It is even said that Taos has more artists per capita than does Paris. Restaurants come in all shapes and sizes, and many are award-winning. They serve an eclectic mix of menus, including everything from posada to sushi. The fun summer long Taos Farmers Market has a good variety of organic foods.
Holy Cross Hospital is the primary medical facility. It has 45 beds, but it does not rank well in numerous patient safety areas, and it is not accredited by the Joint Commission.
The climate is very pleasing. Taos is situated at nearly 7,000 feet above sea level, and summers are relatively mild with temperatures in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Winters are chilly and temperatures often drop below freezing. Humidity year-round is very, very low, and the sun shines roughly 295 days of the year.
Unfortunately, Taos has a high crime rate and a very high poverty rate. A mix of cultures, including Anglo, Hispanic and Native American, mingle, but not all socioeconomic groups receive an equal share of the economic pie. Divisions between the “haves” and “have nots” are evident.
With its unique architecture, low-key lifestyle, liberal bent and outdoor recreation, Taos can be hard to resist. Retirees should, however, take into account the evident class lines, the high crime rate and the high poverty rate if considering this New Mexican village for retirement.