Off grid living in New Mexico ( Land of Enchantment )

New Mexico is located in the southern part of the country bordering Mexico, the population density is fairly low as New Mexico only has around 2 million residents. Generally speaking states with a low population density are the best for off grid living, although there are a lot of reasons why New Mexico has a low population density, and not a lot of people consider moving here to live off the grid.

New Mexico is not a good off grid state, although living off the grid here is legal, and the cost of housing and living is below the national average, but there are certain things that will make it almost impossible to live off the grid here. The main problem with New Mexico is the lack of freshwater, although you can legally harvest rainwater but the average yearly rainfall is extremely low. In addition to this New Mexico is one of the most dangerous states to live in as the crime rate is double the national average.

If you want to live off the grid in New Mexico then you will have to store a lot of water, my personal recommendation is to use a BPA free, food grade water storage tank that can hold up to 320 Gallons of water Click here to check it out on Amazon.com

Due to the low population density, New Mexico only has two cities that have a population of over 100k people. New Mexico’s biggest city is Albuquerque with a 560k population, followed by Las Cruces with 102k, Rio Rancho 95k, Santa Fe 84k, Roswell with 49k residents. Although  New Mexico’s population is rising, the process is extremely slow and during the past couple of years, more people started moving out of this state than move in.

Most people think that New Mexico is fairly flat and it is mostly desert, the truth is that in the southern parts of the state there are very few mountains and it is mostly dominated by arid shrublands or deserts, in the northern parts of the state there are a lot of mountains although the climate is still semi-arid. As it is a border state, New Mexico has a fairly high crime rate, and the local law enforcement agencies are simply overwhelmed.

From an off grid living stand of point New Mexico doesn’t offer a lot, the local climate is fairly harsh, and you will have difficulties finding enough freshwater, especially if you want to grow your own crops. In addition to this most of the areas are simply not good for growing crops as the lands are not fertile due to the local climate. If you want to take a look at one of New Mexico’s neighbors then check out my recent article Off grid living in Colorado ( The Centennial State ).

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New Mexico climate

Generally speaking, New Mexico has mostly a semi-arid type climate, although in some areas the climate can be continental and even alpine. During the summertime, the average temperatures are around 100°F, and the average wintertime temperatures are around 45°F, although in the mountainous regions this can drop off to around 30°F.  The semi-arid climate is not great for growing crops, only a select few can actually survive in this climate. If you want to take a look at a state with more options when it comes to freshwater then check out my recent article Off grid living in Delaware ( The Diamond State ).

Types of crops grown in New Mexico

Although New Mexico has mostly a semi-arid climate, there are some areas that are suitable for farming. The most common crops grown in New Mexico are potatoes, onions, peppers, pecans, pinto beans, and nursery products. Generally speaking, the most fertile lands are in the northern and in the western parts of the state, even though they are considered fertile, but if you compare the fertility to some other states then New Mexico lands have a fairly low fertility. If you want to take a look at a state with a similar climate but generally better for off grid living then check out my recent article Off grid living in Arizona ( The Grand Canyon State ).

Freshwater availability in New Mexico

Due to the local semi-arid climate, New Mexico doesn’t have a lot of water, the good news is that you can legally harvest rainwater, the bad news is that in most areas the yearly rainfall is fairly low. Generally speaking the average yearly rainfall in New Mexico is around 14″, in the southern parts of the state this can be as low as 10″ and in the northern parts of the state it can be around 20″.  In most areas, you will have no options accessing groundwater, although this isn’t such a big problem in the northern parts of the state.

New Mexico wildlife

Although the local climate is semi-arid, there are still a lot of different types of animals calling New Mexico home, mostly due to the low population density. The most common animals found in New Mexico are antelope, rabbits, foxes, wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, big horned sheep, and wild turkeys. In addition to this, there are a lot of venomous snakes like the western diamondback, rock snake, Mojave snake, rattlesnakes, coral snakes, and ridge nose snakes.

The types of fish living in New Mexico are mostly warm water species, the most common ones are black bass, temperate bass, panfish, pike, catfish, and walleye. You will need a license both for hunting and fishing http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/fishing/licenses-permits/.

Generating power off the grid in New Mexico

  • Solar power: New Mexico is excellent for generating power with solar panels, in fact, this state even offers a solar tax credit for anybody who wants to set up a solar power system. This solar tax credit is around 26%, although there is also something called the federal tax credit which is also around 26%, but you will have to ask your local authorities if you can apply for both of them.
  • Wind power: Generating power with wind turbines is also viable in New Mexico, this state offers the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit, and on top of it, you should also be able to apply for the federal tax credit.

New Mexico off grid laws

Living off the grid is legal in New Mexico, harvesting rainwater is also legal which is fairly rare in a state which has a mostly semi-arid climate. Although living off grid is legal you will have to respect the local building code and ask the local authorities if there are any restrictions regarding living off the grid. New Mexico is infamous for its educational system, currently, it is the second-worst in the entire country.

Luckily you have the option to homeschool your children, the homeschooling laws are fairly relaxed and there is plenty of information about it online.

New Mexico road access

Due to the low population density, New Mexico doesn’t have roads in remote areas, most people who live here off the grid either use a 4×4 vehicle, horse, or ATV’s to get around. You will definitely need a 4 wheel drive vehicle if you are planning to go offroad.

Price of land in New Mexico

The cost of housing and land in New Mexico is around 17% lower than the national average, although areas that are suitable for growing crops and which also have access to groundwater tend to be extremely expensive.

New Mexico property tax

New Mexico’s property tax is 0.78% which is below the 1.08% national average, so cheap housing, and low property taxes. The county with the highest property tax is Sandoval County with 0.94%.

Cost of living in New Mexico

Generally speaking, New Mexico’s cost of living is below the national average, you will pay around 17% less for housing, 18% less for healthcare services, 7% less for groceries, and around 6% less for transportation.

New Mexico jobs

New Mexico’s unemployment rate is 4.8% which is significantly above the national average of 3.6%. The main problem with the unemployment rate is that the trend is not going down unless some big companies move to this state. The biggest industries where most people work are government, military, oil, and gas. The minimum wage currently is $7.25, which is lower than in the neighboring states.

New Mexico crime rate

New Mexico’s crime rate is one of the highest in the country, currently, there are 8.57 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is 4 crimes per 1000 people. The areas with the lowest crime rate are around Abiquiu, Hanover, Ramah, Mesilla, and Tatum. The areas with the highest crime rate are around Deming, Belen, Albuquerque, Taos, and Gallup.

New Mexico natural disasters

New Mexico doesn’t have a lot of natural disasters, the most common ones are storms, floods, heatwaves, and occasional tornadoes. No matter how long you stay in New Mexico you will definitely experience heat waves, and if you are older than this can be a serious health risk.

In conclusion

At first glance, you might think that New Mexico should be a great off grid state, with a low cost of housing, a low cost of living, and low population density. The truth is that living off the grid in a state which has a predominantly semi-arid climate can be extremely difficult, not only you will have a problem finding enough freshwater but if you also want to grow your own food then you will be fairly limited.