Albuquerque Moving Guide: UNM, Nob Hill, & Barelas Neighborhoods


Twenty years ago I moved to Albuquerque to attend the University of New Mexico, and the University/Nob Hill area became my home for a decade. It is a place where you can truly experience the heart of the city and its unique local culture and people. As a new, reluctant “Westsider,” I miss the access to the variety of local shops and restaurants and the sense of community that the neighborhood provides, and I still visit often.

If you decide to live here, beware! You may just be charmed by the unique local atmosphere and fall in love with Albuquirky.

Thank you to Montessori ONE Academy for sponsoring this moving guide.

Montessori ONE Academy is a private, AMI-recognized Montessori school serving infants, preschool, and elementary students. These award-winning programs are based upon the internationally celebrated and scientifically-supported Montessori Method: an individualized, experiential approach to education whereby the child’s needs, curiosity, and interests are prioritized leading to a lifelong love of learning.

The Infant Program fosters freedom of movement, fine motor development, early socialization, and language development in a nurturing environment.

The Toddler & Primary Programs introduce Montessori fundamentals such as universal values, practical life, and academic curriculum materials in a mixed age group setting–a key to providing opportunities for leadership development.

The Elementary Program continues these elements with an emphasis on executive function and soft skill development–independence, confidence, focus, leadership, collaboration, abstract thinking, problem-solving, and time management.

Plus, in partnership with AMARAN Senior Living, a luxury senior living and memory care residence, Montessori ONE Academy’s students engage with seniors in a variety of activities designed to nurture participants, young and old alike.

Montessori ONE provides individualized instruction to help unleash your child’s potential for lifelong success and well-being. Schedule a personal tour today.

Barelas Neighborhood General Info

The Barelas neighborhood is located south of Downtown Albuquerque. Originally a vital river crossing for the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, it is the oldest neighborhood in the city. It boomed with the arrival of the railroad, and much of the housing and architecture was built to service railroad workers. Beginning with the decline of the railroad, the neighborhood experienced several economic downturns over the years. But it has seen some renewal with investments in economic development and the redevelopment of the railyards.

RailyardsHome prices range from $100K to $335K with an average selling price of $258K. A proudly historic and Hispanic majority neighborhood, this neighborhood has easy access to downtown, the university/Nob Hill area, and is centrally located in the city.  

UNM Area General Info

Another early addition to Albuquerque, the University of New Mexico was founded in 1889. It is currently the largest school in New Mexico with around 20,000 students at the main campus. The university area is home to students, academics, and their families, and a unique amalgam of people who enjoy access to the university and student-focused shops, restaurants, and bars. The housing in the neighborhood is comprised of a mix of condos and apartments whose tenants flux semester by semester and houses built in the early to mid-1900s with fun quirky arched doorways and telephone hutches. 

UNMNob Hill General Info

Albuquerque expanded from the university to what is now Nob Hill, which gained extra popularity in the 1930s when Central Avenue was designated as Route 66. Echoes of Route 66 can still be found today in the district’s Neon lights, re-purposed auto-courts, and motels. Nob Hill is home to some of the city’s most eclectic and often local restaurants, shops, and bars. An equally eclectic assortment of pedestrians can be found visiting those establishments at just about any time of day.  

Nob HillParks, Recreation, and Family Fun

The UNM neighborhood is home to some of the city’s best recreational facilities. Catch a fun minor league baseball game at Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park which, for the time, doubles as the home of the famous New Mexico United soccer team. Nearby are the University of New Mexico’s athletic stadiums. The Pit hosts the university’s popular men’s and women’s Lobo basketball games. The university’s football stadium is next door. In the same neighborhood, you’ll find the Duke City BMX arena.

On the university’s main campus, you can also find engaging public lectures, visit the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, and enjoy a variety of theatrical performances at Popejoy Hall. The campus is also a beautiful place to experience many examples of Pueblo Revival architecture, designed by John Gaw Meem. Or you can see turtles and ducks at the centrally located duck pond.

» » » » » » »  RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Moving Guide: Southwest Albuquerque  « « « « « « «

There is lots of family fun to be found in this area.

Tasty Tuesdays at Hyder Park in Nob Hill is a popular community event with food trucks, music, and free yoga. Families enjoy spreading out on a blanket and visiting with neighbors while enjoying the festivities. 

The Albuquerque Biopark Zoo is located in the Barelas Neighborhood and rivals zoos found in much larger cities. The zoo hosts exciting educational opportunities and events throughout the year including summer concert series and the popular trick-or-treating event “Boo at the Zoo.” Also in Barelas, the Railyards Area is currently seeing some exciting development by the City of Albuquerque. It hosts weekly markets and the small but mighty Wheels Museum. The National Hispanic Cultural Center hosts several events, collections, and exhibitions celebrating the city’s Hispanic heritage.

The Barelas Community Center is located next to the zoo and is home to a recently renovated four-acre park. They offer a variety of fitness and sports activities, youth and adult programs, and group meeting spaces. In Nob Hill and UNM, you can find the Thomas Bell Community Center, Heights Community Center, and Loma Linda Community Centers.  

Nob Hill is a great neighborhood to experience larger community celebrations, including Summer Fest and the Albuquerque Pride parade. The Twinkle Light Parade and Nob Hill Shop and Stroll are a fun way to enjoy the holiday season. 


The cornerstones of these communities are the UNM and CNMCC campuses. The University of New Mexico is the state’s largest university, drawing students locally and from across the globe. Central New Mexico Community College (CNMCC) is a public community college founded in 1964. It offers associate degrees and a plethora of professional and trade certifications. 

At the primary school level, Albuquerque Public Schools offers many sought-after small community schools in this area. Many University faculty and employees transfer students into the popular Bandelier Elementary located near the UNM campus. These neighborhoods are also home to several smaller charter and private schools. Options include Coral Community Charter, St. Charles Borromeo Elementary School, and Christine Duncan Heritage Academy.

The College and Career High School, a joint program between APS and CNMCC, provides high school students with a unique opportunity to gain college credits while also working toward a high school diploma. 

Why I Loved Living Here

The Barelas/UNM/Nob Hill areas encompass the heart of Urban Albuquerque. These neighborhoods offer a distinct sense of place that is missing in Albuquerque’s more suburban areas. Access to the eclectic local shops and restaurants and the unique history of these neighborhoods put the quirky in “Albuquirky.”

Unlike other car-centered neighborhoods that were designed with vast parking lots and closed-off subdivisions, the walkability of these areas allows you to experience the culture and people that make these neighborhoods unique at a personal level. The central location of these neighborhoods also allows for quick and easy access to the rest of the city. You can drive just about anywhere from these areas in about 15-20 minutes.

Potential Drawbacks

The reasons some families may consider moving to this area are the same reasons others might not choose it. While there are some quiet pockets in the University Heights and Barelas neighborhoods, this area is always bustling. 

Many of the homes in this neighborhood were built in the earlier stages of the city’s development, so they may not be as spacious and modern as other parts of the city. But what they lack in space they often make up for in charm.

Why Your Family Might Love Living Here

LOCAL options! If you prefer options for local dining and shopping, this neighborhood is the neighborhood for you. Throughout the neighborhood are some of Albuquerque’s favorite “staple” New Mexican food establishments. Frontier Restaurant and the Barelas Coffee House are two popular choices.

If fine dining is your scene, Chef Jennifer James at Frenchish and Chef David Ruiz and Scalo elevate the Nob Hill dining scene. Popular bars, a wide variety of local restaurants, and authentic New Mexican cuisine are in no short supply. 

If you prefer an urban feel and enjoy the quirky in “Albuquirky,” this is the neighborhood for you. The hustle and bustle of the university crowd, shoppers, young hip academics, and pockets of established families who have called these neighborhoods home for decades give these places a strong sense of community and place. As eclectic as the people, homes in these neighborhoods often have charming details that showcase the eras in which they were built.

For information about other areas in and around Albuquerque, check out our Ultimate Guide to Moving to Albuquerque.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.

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Tammira Taylor
Originally from rural Wisconsin, Tammira has lived in Albuquerque for over 20 years and considers herself a true Burqueña. She loved learning about New Mexico in various geography and planning courses, and by diving right into the experiences that the state has to offer. Tammira earned a Master of Science in Geography from UNM and works as a GIS professional. Her family is always up for an adventure; you can find Tammira, her husband, and two boys camping and hiking, visiting museums, or attending an Isotopes game. Tammira loves learning, coffee, all things geospatial, antiquing, cooking, DIY, and curling up on the couch with her boys to watch a Friday night movie.