Santa Fe, New Mexico
Population: 72,056 (2006 estimate)
Percentage of retirees: 16.4% in 2006
Cost of living index: Above average
Public libraries: 17 within 15 miles
Public transportation: Santa Fe Trails Transit System buses cost $.50 per trip for those 60 and older, or $1.00 for a day pass.
Access to airports: Santa Fe Airport is accessible only by select airlines from a connection in Phoenix, Denver or Albuquerque. Shuttle buses can be arranged to/from airport. Albuquerque International Airport is about 1 hour away. Express shuttle buses are available.
Tax breaks: In New Mexico, taxpayers 65 and older may exempt up to $8,000 (single), $16,000 (joint) from any income source if their income is under $28,500 (individual filers) or $51,000 (married filing jointly).
Number of museums: 29
Number of cinemas: 8
Cultural Highlights: Rich in museums, galleries, and performing arts.
Access to Healthcare: Good, with the regional medical center for northern New Mexico; the New Mexico Cancer Institute, and geriatric care centers.
Climate: Pleasant year-round, with sunny days, low humidity and mild temperatures; all four seasons represented.
Annual precipitation: 14.22 inches
Nearby Attractions: Sangre de Cristo Range, ski areas, Indian pueblos, old mission towns, Georgia O'Keeffe's Abiquiu home all within a couple of hours' drive, Taos about 1.5 hours away.
Useful links: The Official Website of Santa Fe, New Mexico
In the Know: "In deciding on a location to retire to, we always knew we'd go west. But we wanted to find a place that had a lot of amenities that we like: classical music, chamber music festival, the opera, wonderful art, wide open spaces and 300 days more or less of sunshine every year. It's a relatively small city, but for a town of its size there is just a huge amount going on in the way of culture and the arts."
-John Webber, volunteer at the Santa Fe Opera
This small but sophisticated jewel of a town has superb arts, good restaurants and an ethnic mix without the frantic pace or anonymity of big-city life. It also embodies the best of the Southwest, proudly proclaiming its tri-cultural blend of Hispanic, Native American and Anglo traditions, its stunning natural setting, and its proximity to limitless outdoor options, from hiking to skiing to mountain biking.
Situated at 7,000 feet in the high desert of New Mexico, this has been a coveted spot for 400 years, since the Spanish first established Santa Fe as a capital city. The residue of Spanish colonialism is evident today in the design of the central plaza, which functions as the social and cultural heart of the city, while the adobe pueblo-revival architecture that characterizes many of the structures speaks to the even older, Native American traditions of the area.
It's possible to walk from one end of this concentrated town to the other in 30 to 40 minutes, passing along the way four designated historic districts/neighborhoods and a largesse of first-rate museums—the Museum of Fine Arts, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, to name only a few. The city's galleries are concentrated in one of the historic districts, the Canyon Road area, which draws worldwide dealers and clientele, particularly during the annual Art Sante Fe festival. Another annual draw, the Sante Fe Opera, holds performances throughout the summer in a memorable open-air theater. There's also a chamber music festival, and the city has its own symphony.
Only seven miles from downtown, the 1.5-million acre Sante Fe National Forest preserves high mesas and the alpine wilderness of the Sangre de Cristo Range.