America's Best Cities: Albuquerque, New Mexico

No. 6

Sandia Mountain Foothills     Photo: courtesy of Kip Malone

KEY STATS
845,000: Population (metro)
$182,000: Median home price
B: Multisport grade
278: Average number of sunny days

A few cities in the Southwest enjoy their own versions of Albuquerque's main attractions: a surplus of sunshine, mild weather, and easy access to trails, rivers, and mountains like the 10,678-foot granite escarpment above town. But what sets the Duke City apart these days is stability. Off the speculators' radar, Albuquerque was relatively unscathed by the circus-tent collapse of the housing market, even as its economy bolstered by growth in the high-tech, film, and renewable-energy industries has remained stable. The upshot? It now boasts the fifth-lowest unemployment rate among major U.S. cities. And when all those workers are ready to blow off some steam, the city welcomes them with more green space per capita than any on our list including easy-access singletrack and the 38,000-acre wilderness just east of the city. Plus three ski areas (including the steeps of Taos), fly-fishing in the Jemez Mountains, and Class IV whitewater are all within day-trip range. Take that, Phoenix. It's also a good place to save: The low cost of living and reasonably high wages in professional fields put Albuquerque fifth on Salary.com's list of the best U.S. cities for building personal net worth meaningyou'll have all the more means to gear up for time off the clock.

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