Need some advice about Albuquerque, NM
December 22, 2011 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Moving from MS to NM in a couple of weeks, and I want to lessen my culture shock... help?

So, i've nixed the idea to move to the PNW, mostly because I'm thinking of finally settling down and of all the cities I've ever lived in, I loved ABQ the best. Okay, it's been awhile (19 years) since I've lived there, but I still remember it fondly and it can't have changed that much. I'm also hoping that the dry heat will be better for my health issues. So, I've bought a ticket to Albuquerque, and I'm off to NM in Jan.

Here's the thing. I've lived in the South for a long time and it's humid here. What should I do to prepare myself for life in the desert? other than drink water, lots of water... It's been a long time since I've lived in the desert (I grew up in the high plains of CA) but I know it'll be different than living in this humid swimming pool. Also, if I remember right, Albuquerque is high altitude, I remember having trouble breathing the first time I moved there until I got used to it. I didn't have asthma then, but I do now -- do you think the altitude will cause problems with my asthma?

Also, can anyone recommend where, other than Craigslist which isn't yielding much, I can find apartments to rent by owners? I don't want to rent from a corporate apartment complex or through a property manager -- they're so inflexible. I'm just looking for a mother-in-law apartment or a garage studio apartment. I know there are other resources out there, but I'm drawing a blank.
posted by patheral to Travel & Transportation around Albuquerque, NM (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
ChapStick, hand lotion, and a humidifier. When I was living in the tropics I always bled profusely from the lip, knuckles, and nose every time I came back to the west for a visit. You'll acclimate, though, after a while I'd bet.

As for the asthma, moving to a less humid climate seemed to ameliorate the asthma symptoms of my wife'n'kids. Of course IANAD, YMMV, CWYHCP

(check with your health care provider) ;)
posted by zomg at 11:19 AM on December 22, 2011

While I was in college in Mississippi my parents moved to West Texas. The things I never really got used to when visiting them out there: no more walking barefoot outside (too many prickly things) and the slimy feeling of the super hard water when you took a shower (and the general inability to drink tap water sucks too). The rest wasn't so terribly different. Rice and beans were black or pintos rather than red but they still eat tamales.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:22 AM on December 22, 2011

The only difference I noticed in my asthma when I moved to a high altitude is when I was doing strenuous exercise or when I went hiking in the mountains. I tired more easily and was winded sooner, but didn't have any actual attacks where I needed to use my inhaler. Sorry, I can't remember how long it took me to acclimate.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:27 AM on December 22, 2011

Oh, my dad and I expected a great relief from our tree pollen allergies, but found ourselves suffering even more. Turns out there's more oaks out there than back east!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:31 AM on December 22, 2011

I moved from Ohio to Albuquerque in 1995 and will likely stay here the rest of my life -- it's rough around the edges, but overall a great place to live. I suspect you'll be happy with the changes that have occurred over the last 19 years!

A few thoughts:

My skin, especially my face, has never adapted -- I'm dependent on Aveeno daily moisturizing cream applied frequently. I still prefer the dryness -- any time I travel back east or to the south, I find the humidity agonizing now.

I never had allergies as a kid in Ohio, and not in NM for the first 6 or 7 years I lived here. But by roughly my 32nd birthday, I had developed nasty allergies to common landscaping plants and trees here with blooms in the spring and early fall.

The altitude in the city (approx 5,500 feet) is pretty easy to get used to, even for those with respiratory problems.

Probably your best bet for non-corporate apartments will be the UNM newspaper: the Daily Lobo, the daily newspaper, ABQ Journal, and possibly the alt weekly, the Alibi. You might also check out Duke City Fix for lots of discussions about living in the city.

Good luck!
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 11:32 AM on December 22, 2011

Get a couple of nice insulated stainless steel water bottles and get into the habit of taking one with you whenever you leave the house. Dehydration creeps up on you in the desert and always having water in the car will help you drink enough to stay ahead of it.
posted by TungstenChef at 11:48 AM on December 22, 2011

Will your kitty be going with you? I know you have mentioned him before.
posted by pointystick at 12:16 PM on December 22, 2011

Thanks for asking, pointystick, but Mr. Mister has been adopted by a good friend of mine. Since I don't have a car, I could not think of an affordable way to move with a cat, so she offered to give him a home. He's now happily terrorizing her Great Dane and doing well. ^_^
posted by patheral at 12:19 PM on December 22, 2011

Welcome back!

No more frizzy hair. If you accidentally leave your clothes in the washer for 2 weeks they don't mildew. The dishes dry completely in the drainer. Your bath towels are dry by the next time you take a shower. Drying yourself after a shower takes almost no time.

Don't forget it takes something like six weeks to fully altitude adjust as far as your red blood cell count. Don't panic if you feel a bit tired at first. (Also your body's first attempt to increase the relative number of red blood cells is to decrease your blood volume by increasing urination. So you need drink extra water during adaptation.)

Green chili cheeseburgers!


100th anniversary of statehood!!!
posted by Sixtieslibber at 7:57 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

You should be able to find someone renting out their outbuilding fairly easily, if you want to avoid large apartment complexes or property managers. Lots of older houses in ABQ, particularly in the area near UNM, have small outbuildings behind them that people frequently fix up and rent out as apartments. Those are probably best found by driving around potential neighborhoods (Nob Hill, the UNM "student ghetto," Huning Highlands [sometimes known as EDo], parts of downtown) and looking for For Rent signs. The Daily Lobo is also a good choice. If you can't find one and end up with a property manager, avoid Lucaya Apartments, which own a lot of buildings in the general UNM area. They're pretty bad.

Friends of mine who moved to NM from the South report that they really had a hard time adjusting to the lack of trees and grass. Keep that in mind. Adobe Fatigue might set in after a while, since so many of the buildings are the same color, but you'll get over it, since everything else is pretty awesome.

(I don't have many other tips -- I moved to NM from Colorado, which wasn't a huge adjustment. I miss New Mexico, and I particularly miss the food. You should eat as many of the deluxe breakfast burritos with green at Winning Coffee as you can.)
posted by heurtebise at 9:18 PM on December 22, 2011

I have lived in Santa Fe (about 1 hr North and 2000 ft up from Albuquerque on I-25).

New Mexican cuisine will repay inspection in spades. You can get green chile on anything there, and it's awesome. Try a green chile pizza; it actually works really well. Oh, also, try a green chile burger if burgers are your thing.

It is absolutely vital that you stay hydrated. The rule I learned is that if your pee doesn't come out clear, you need to be drinking more water. I'm not that old, but even I've heard far worse rules posited in my day.

You should be mostly acclimated to the altitude within a fortnight, and almost entirely acclimated within a month. That said, I'd still take it easy for two or three months, just to be on the safe side.

Drop me a line if you ever head to Santa Fe and want tips on there. Albuquerque's a great town as well, though; I wish I were able to spend more time there.
posted by tellumo at 10:54 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I moved here in the spring from the midwest and felt fairly acclimated within a couple of weeks. Until then (and afterward) keep drinking water throughout the day, especially before bed. I always keep a nalgene bottle on my nightstand as well since I often wake up in the middle of the night thirsty.

That is really the only downside to living here for me though. It's a great city with a ton to do and see and experience and you get to look at the Sandias every single day.

I can't help with the housing situation but feel free to hit me up with any other questions.
posted by highfidelity at 6:46 AM on December 25, 2011

Thanks all! I'll be out there a week from next Friday (Jan 6th) and I'm getting stoked. So, water, lotion and lip balm will be in my arsenal to fight the dry weather. Common sense, I know, but I hadta ask.

I've heard of the student ghetto from another forum, so I'll probably check it out. I don't have a car, and won't have one for awhile, so driving around looking for "for rent" signs is out. I could probably walk around an area and check it out... Maybe?
posted by patheral at 11:17 AM on December 26, 2011

Just before I mark this resolved, I wanted to let y'all know I've been here for about two weeks now and it's been great. I rented an apartment in the SW quadrant and I'm learning very quickly that it's a bit far from *everything.*

As for dryness, yeah... lotion, lotion, lotion. I'm drinking quite a bit more juice & water than I did in MS and a tad less coffee (coffee is still my drink of choice though. Hey, a girl's got to have one bad habit). The altitude hasn't given me much trouble, and I've been walking *everywhere* because I haven't quite figured out the bus system yet. ^_^

Thanks for the advice. I really appreciate it.
posted by patheral at 10:11 AM on January 22, 2012

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