Should I Panic?!
February 19, 2008 6:47 PM   Subscribe

What is the job market like in Santa Fe, NM?

I'm planning to move there and then look for a job (I've been searching on internet job sites like, but haven't had any luck) and I'm getting nervous.

My background is in geology and environmental science, but I'm interested in getting into elementary education. Which means I'll need to go back to school. But, before I do that I need to be able to make money to pay rent, etc.

Do I have much of a chance getting a job in Santa Fe?

A full time job would be ideal, but I don't mind working a couple of part time jobs or doing temp work either. As long as I'm making some money. I don't speak Spanish fluently. I'm willing to commute to Los Alamos area.
posted by backwords to Work & Money (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Look on craigslist. The pay rate is low compared to the rents. I think it is a very expensive place to live when you compare what you can earn vs. what it costs to live there.
posted by 45moore45 at 6:50 PM on February 19, 2008

45moore45 pretty much hits is squarely. Overpriced and underpaid.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:25 PM on February 19, 2008

Geology & environmental science? Try Los Alamos National Lab 45 minutes from SF, or any of a number of environmental engineering support contractors. And yes, it's damned expensive to buy there, so much so that a number of years back Debbie Jaramillo, the firebrand mayor, threatened to stand out on Cerrillos with a shotgun if the Orange County real estate boomers, hollywood types, & rich Texans & New Yorkers didn't stop moving there & driving up real estate prices such that indigenous types' kids couldn't afford to live there.
posted by Pressed Rat at 7:29 PM on February 19, 2008

Santa Fe is quite small for a city. You will probably have better luck finding a job in Albuquerque or Rio Rancho, which both have considerably lower rents than Santa Fe. If you don't have a specific reason to be in Santa Fe right away, you might consider renting month-to-month in Albuquerque or Bernalillo while you are looking, many people commute from these areas, and you can always move later.

Your chances of getting a job at LANL will be better if you already have a security clearance. If you don't have one and get a job there, you will probably not be able to start until you get one, which sometimes takes months.

Some teaching jobs will hire at a lower rate of pay and let you get your certification later. There is a shortage of teachers in much of NM.

You might get some more specific answers about geology and environmental science jobs if you post what degrees, experience, etc. you have in that field.
posted by yohko at 7:33 PM on February 19, 2008

In addition to high rent and low wages, Santa Fe's high altitude means high winter house-heating costs, or so a masseuse there told me back in '85. Not what one would expect from a state with 'Mexico' in the name. That's the price of enchantment, I guess.
posted by doncoyote at 7:37 PM on February 19, 2008

This is just adding to my already second thoughts about moving there. I've looked on craigslist (a couple times a week for the past couple of months) and nothing looks remotely promising there either.

I've been wondering where the people without much money live in Santa Fe as I've been looking for apartments. There aren't many apartments there for under $800/month (rental).

I'll look at Los Alamos lab. I was thinking of cold-contacting engineering firms too.

Thanks for your advice so far!
posted by backwords at 7:38 PM on February 19, 2008

BTW ... I have a B.S. degree in Earth Science. About 5 year of experience working in engineering geology and less than a year experience working in environmental consulting.

Is anyone familiar with any work-to-teacher programs in the Santa Fe/Albuquerque area?

I'd like to stick near Santa Fe, because that's where I have friends (which is one of the reasons I'd like to move to Santa Fe).
posted by backwords at 7:44 PM on February 19, 2008

I've been wondering where the people without much money live in Santa Fe

This is like wondering where the people without much money live in Palm Springs. They don't live in Santa Fe, they live somewhere else and commute. Bernalillo or Espanola will be cheaper, as well as not as trendy and stylish, and far less overrun with tourists. Trendy, stylish types who live in Santa Fe may look down on you for living in these areas, if you care about that sort of thing.

Albuquerque is less than an hour from Santa Fe if you want to visit your friends. It's also considerably warmer in Santa Fe in the winter. You can rent a two bedroom house in Albq. for about $600 to $900 a month. A friend of mine rents a studio apartment with utilities included for about $450 a month. Memail me if you are interested in buying.

I've known several people in Albuquerque who have gotten jobs with a Bachelor's in a similar field. I think some of them might have worked with the state environmental (or something) department. One of them worked with a company that cleaned up gas stations. I've also known geologists who got work with LANL. If you are considering Albuquerque, you might also look at Sandia National Labs.

Some of the charter schools in Albuquerque are particularly keen on the work-to-teacher programs, particularly with a science degree. I know someone involved with this in a different part of NM, I will ask them about this.
posted by yohko at 8:14 PM on February 19, 2008

Santa Fe can be tough. High rents low pay, yep. Some people, though, they just get taken care of here. It can be surprising.
posted by pointilist at 11:26 PM on February 19, 2008

i had to leave because i couldn't fine steady work after a year, even though I have a BA from a very prestigious private college and was working in my chosen field of study, in the state government, whose seat is in NM. Basically, it's sooo hard to find work there unless you are a) working for the gov't (and then you're subject to all sorts of BS) b) working in hospitality like a hotel or a restaurant or c) a really good artist. maybe. I was so bummed to leave but i was tired of being dirt dirt dirt poor and freezing cold in the winter. we couldn't afford to heat our house properly (which only had one heater, out in the hallway, for the whole thing anyway) so i used to sleep with all my clothing piled on top of me. it was pathetic.

that being said i wouldn't trade the experience of moving there for the world. i wouldn't do anything differently. it's suuuuuuch a great place and so much fun. register with all the temp agencies and if you can waitress or bartend you'll probably make it.
posted by Soulbee at 10:42 AM on February 20, 2008

I live in Santa Fe, but I live in the less scenic part of town (think strip malls and trailer parks), and even so I have to share my house with four other people. Also, our heating costs for the past few months have been about $500 a month, which is par for the course (since it gets really, really cold here. Our house is a little drafty, though). Most of the jobs are in the hospitality industries: hotels, restaurants, other tourist stuff. In the summer, when lots of tourists come, you can make tons of money working in one of the high-end restaurants, but the rest of the year, it's hard. Not to mention, chances are wherever you are living, you have to pay for water, since that is a semi-scarce commodity here, in drought years it can also get expensive. This also isn't a very walk/biking friendly town, unless you live right downtown (and even then, not so great for getting groceries and whatnot), and the public transportation is awful. So, you can definitely expect relying heavily on your car.
That said, there are relatively cheap places to live. Look for stuff off of Airport Rd. It's not the best part of town, but that goes with it being affordable. Los Alamos though, is way, way cheaper, and if you work for LANL you might make a decent salary. I wouldn't commute though, it's kind of far, and in the winter when it snows they aren't so great about clearing the roads.
Kind of discouraging, yes. But Santa Fe is a very beautiful place (New Mexico in general), and if you're into outdoors stuff, it's great. If you're young or otherwise enjoy nightlife, you might be disappointed. There's just about nothing to do here after 9 pm.
posted by Oobidaius at 12:28 PM on February 20, 2008

Thank you for you answers. You've alleviated and aggravated my anxiety at the same time and given me some more things to think about.

I'm going to give it a go and see what happens.
posted by backwords at 6:00 AM on February 21, 2008

One other thing to consider - The Rail Runner will start serving Santa Fe later this year. If you end up living or working south, as in Albuquerque, this gives you an inexpensive commuting option.
posted by azpenguin at 8:31 AM on February 21, 2008

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