Here’s What to Know About Off Grid Living in New Mexico

New Mexico lies in the country’s southern region, bordering Mexico, and has a low population density due to its small population of roughly 2 million people. States with a low population density are generally ideal for living off grid. Yet, there are various reasons why the state has a low population density, and few people contemplate living off grid in New Mexico.

Although living off grid is legal in New Mexico, several factors make it nearly difficult to live off the grid here. The fundamental issue in New Mexico is a shortage of freshwater;. At the same time, rainwater may be lawfully harvested, and the average annual rainfall is quite low. Furthermore, New Mexico is one of the most hazardous states to live in, with a crime rate double that of the national average.

off grid living in new mexico
New Mexico is known for its expansive dry lands.

General Statistics for Off Grid Living in New Mexico

New Mexico has just two cities with over 100,000 people due to its low population density. Albuquerque, with a population of 560k, is the largest city in New Mexico, followed by Las Cruces (102k), Rio Rancho (95k), Santa Fe (84k), and Roswell (49k). Although New Mexico’s population is growing, it is doing so slowly. More individuals have moved out of the state in recent years than have moved in.

Most people believe that New Mexico is flat and mostly desert; however, the truth is that there are few mountains in the southern parts of the state, which are mostly dominated by arid shrublands or deserts. At the same time, there are many mountains in the northern parts of the state, which are still semi-arid. New Mexico has a high crime rate because it is a border state, and local law enforcement authorities are simply swamped.

Living off grid in New Mexico can be tough; the local climate is severe. You’ll have trouble getting adequate freshwater, especially if you intend to cultivate your own food. Furthermore, due to the local environment, most locations are simply unsuitable for producing crops because the fields are infertile.

If you’re interested in a state with a better climate, I recommend checking out my guide to Living Off Grid in New Hampshire.

What’s the Climate in New Mexico?

New Mexico has a semi-arid climate, while it may be continental or even alpine in select locations. The typical summer temperature is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average winter temperature is around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this can dip to around 30 degrees Fahrenheit in hilly areas. The semi-arid environment is not ideal for cultivating crops, and only a few species can thrive in it.

What Type of Crops are Grown in New Mexico?

Even though New Mexico’s climate is generally semi-arid, certain locations are appropriate for farming. Potatoes, onions, peppers, pecans, pinto beans, and nursery goods are the most prevalent crops farmed in New Mexico. Even though they are considered fruitful, the most fertile lands are in the northern and western regions of the state. However, when compared to other states, New Mexico lands have relatively low fertility.

Looking for a more fertile state? I recommend checking out my complete guide to Living Off Grid in Wyoming.

What’s Freshwater Availability Like in New Mexico?

New Mexico does not have a lot of water due to its semi-arid environment; the good news is that you may legally capture rainwater; the bad news is that yearly rainfall is rather low in most locations. The average annual rainfall of New Mexico is roughly 14 inches. However, it may be as low as 10 inches in the southern sections of the state and as high as 20 inches in the northern regions. You won’t be able to access groundwater in most locations. However, this isn’t such an issue in the state’s northern regions.

What Type of Wildlife is in New Mexico?

New Mexico is home to a diverse range of species despite the semi-arid environment, owing to the low population density. Antelope, rabbits, foxes, wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, big horned sheep, and wild turkeys are the most frequent creatures found in New Mexico. Poisonous snakes such as the western diamondback, rock snake, Mojave snake, rattlesnakes, coral snakes, and ridge nose snakes can be found.

Most of the fish found in New Mexico are warm-water species, with black bass, temperate bass, panfish, pike, catfish, and walleye being the most prevalent. Both hunting and fishing require a license which can be found here.

How to Generate Off Grid Power in New Mexico?

Solar power: New Mexico is a great place to generate electricity using solar panels; in fact, the state grants a solar tax credit to anybody who wants to install one. This solar tax credit is roughly 26%. Still, there is also a federal tax credit of around 26%, so check with your local authorities to see whether you can apply for both.

Wind power: Using wind turbines to generate electricity is feasible in New Mexico, as the state gives the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit. You should be able to qualify for the federal tax credit.

Are There Off Grid Living Laws in New Mexico?

In New Mexico, living off grid is permitted, as is rainwater gathering, which is unusual in a state with a largely semi-arid environment. Although living off grid is permitted, you must follow the local construction code and check with the local authorities to see if there are any restrictions. New Mexico is well-known for its educational system. It is ranked second worst in the US.

Fortunately, you have the option of educating your children; the regulations around homeschooling are rather loose, and there is lots of material available online.

What’s Road Access Like in New Mexico?

Because of the low population density in rural parts of New Mexico, most individuals living off grid in New Mexico rely on 4WD vehicles, horses, or ATVs to move around. You’ll surely need a four-wheel-drive car if you want to travel offroad.

Check the neighboring state of Texas to find out another Off Grid Living State.

What’s the Price of Land in New Mexico?

Housing and land costs in New Mexico are around 17% cheaper than the national average. At the same time, places that are excellent for producing crops and have access to groundwater are often quite costly.

What’s the Property Tax in New Mexico?

New Mexico’s property tax is 0.78 percent, lower than the national average of 1.08 percent, resulting in affordable housing and inexpensive property taxes. With a property tax rate of 0.94 percent, Sandoval County has the highest property tax rate.

What’s the Cost of Living Off Grid in New Mexico?

New Mexico’s cost of living is generally lower than the national average; you’ll pay roughly 17 percent less for housing, 18 percent less for healthcare, 7% less for food, and around 6% less for transportation.

New Mexico is cheap but it may interfere with typical amenities. I recommend checking out South Carolina if you’re looking for healthy balance.

What’s the Job Market in New Mexico?

The unemployment rate of New Mexico is 4.8 percent, which is much higher than the national average of 3.6 percent. The primary issue with the unemployment rate is that it will continue to rise until some major corporations relocate to this state. Government, military, oil, and gas are the largest industries in which most people work. The current minimum wage is $7.25, less than in surrounding states.

What’s the Crime Rate in New Mexico?

New Mexico has one of the highest crime rates in the country, with 8.57 crimes per 1000 people compared to the national average of 4 crimes per 1000 people. The areas of Abiquiu, Hanover, Ramah, Mesilla, and Tatum have the lowest crime rates. The areas of Deming, Belen, Albuquerque, Taos, and Gallup have the highest crime rates.

Is Living Off Grid in New Mexico Affected by Natural Disasters?

The most prevalent natural catastrophes in New Mexico include storms, floods, heatwaves, and tornadoes on rare occasions. No matter how long you remain in New Mexico, you will undoubtedly face heat waves, which can be dangerous to your health if you are older.

Is Living Off Grid in New Mexico Possible?

At first look, living off grid in New Mexico seems to be ideal. With low housing costs, a low cost of living, and a low population density there are many benefits. However, living off the grid in a state with a mostly semi-arid environment may be incredibly challenging. You will have trouble getting enough freshwater, but you will also be limited in your ability to cultivate your own food.

off grid living in new mexico

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