Moving Guide: Southwest Albuquerque


The Southwest quadrant of Albuquerque, according to the USPS definition, is south of Central Avenue and west of the railroad tracks. The most conventual understanding of this quadrant is south of I-40 and west of I-25. Burqueños refer to the river valley area as the  “South Valley,” and everything west of about 98th street is known as “the West Mesa.”

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.

Moving Guide: Southwest AlbuquerqueGeneral Neighborhood Info

There are many historic neighborhoods throughout the South Valley which means homes can be decades old (as far back as 1940!) with all the pros and cons that come with an older home. At the same time, there are new neighborhoods and houses going up right now in the West Mesa sections (West of Coors). Currently, this section of town boasts the oldest neighborhood of Old Town and the newest neighborhoods currently being constructed on the West Mesa.

Homes can be bought as part of an HOA or not, in a gated community, on acres of land, or in a cool townhome near the heart of downtown.

The West Mesa and south sections of the South Valley offer some of the last remaining swaths of land still within city limits. Consequently, Albuquerque continues to grow in these areas. The Southwest part of the city is populated with approximately 150,000+ residents who are primarily Hispanic (recent data shows close to 80% of respondents are Hispanic). Purchasing a home in this area of town will cost approximately 250k and goes up from there.

Even though this area feels like “One Albuquerque,” there is a large section that is considered Albuquerque metro but is the unincorporated part of Bernalillo County. This comes with benefits such as differing laws or taxes. It can also be complicated to know whether you should utilize county or city resources. On the plus side, I have always found the respective agencies kind to redirect me to the appropriate county or city resource. It can impact your district for voting, particularly whether you are able to vote on Albuquerque city counsel.

Speaking Spanish is a plus in this area of town but is certainly not a requirement. I have improved my Spanish since moving here and enjoy brief conversations often in Spanish with others I meet in a local store.

» » »  RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Albuquerque Moving Guide: UNM, Nob Hill, & Barelas Neighborhoods

Parks, Recreation, and Family Fun

Pat Hurley, with its two levels, is an amazing park that overlooks all of Albuquerque. At Rio Bravo Open Space you can go approximately three miles north through the Bosque to the Hispanic Cultural Center or beyond to reach Tingley Beach, the BioPark, or Old Town. Sandia Speedway on the West Mesa offers a multitude of racing and fun events. It also hosts a drive-through holiday lights display each year. West Mesa Aquatics Center has slides and swimming.

Moving Guide: Southwest AlbuquerqueThe BioPark (Zoo, Aquarium, and Botanic Gardens) alongside Tingley Beach is very popular with families. There are many museums in the area, such as the Albuquerque Museum, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Explora, National Hispanic Cultural Center, New Mexico Holocaust Museum, and the New Mexico Steam Locomotive & Railroad Historical Society. The ONLY Rattlesnake Museum in the world is in our Old Town Plaza. (You and your family can earn a certificate of bravery for making it all the way through and you see some epically cool animals!)

Cool fact: Many of the Breaking Bad tour’s points of interest are in this quadrant of the city.

An Imax theater at Coors and Rio Bravo is a great place to see the latest action movie. Still in its infancy, the West Central Route 66 Visitor Center sits high up Central Avenue to the west near Atrisco Vista at what is commonly known as the top of “Nine Mile Hill.” This venue can be rented for events and is still growing.

The Westgate Community Center, the Ted M. Gallegos Community Center, and Westside
Community Centers offer space for events to be held by local organizations. They also host their own events throughout the year.

The farmers market at the Railyards every Saturday offers the opportunity to sample local flavors and products and meet other locals. The Harvest Festival at the Botanic Gardens offers brews, music, festival treats, and the opportunity to view the changing colors. Other popular events include the Run for the Zoo, Boo in the Zoo, and adult nights at Explora.


Local major high schools are West Mesa, Rio Grande High School, Atrisco Heritage Academy, and Albuquerque High School.

Atrisco Heritage Academy is the newest high school in the APS system. It has seen its graduation rate increase ten percent over the past five years to 81.8% in 2021.

Atrisco Heritage Academy led the way in identifying that many students were not
supported in career development because they were not going to pursue higher education.
Atrisco Heritage Academy answered that need by providing many career pathways to
students and encouraging them to pursue careers of interest.

Moving Guide: Southwest AlbuquerqueThere are ten charter schools in the area to meet the varying needs and interests of students in the area. Dual-language Coronado Magnet School is available for lottery enrollment to teach students Spanish and English as they move through their regular curriculum.

Potential Drawbacks

Though rarely a problem, snow salting and plowing are rare for this part of town. Plan to drive on icy turf at least one day a year or call off work. I believe this is particularly a problem due to the deep slopes of some of the streets and the unincorporated parts. The city is not responsible for those areas, and the county doesn’t have the resources to plow. The snow usually melts by the late afternoon.

This area of town is quite the commute to hospitals. There are not as many dentists, primary care medical practices, or even veterinary clinics to support everyone in the area.

City bus routes are sparse and can take a long time to get anywhere unless you’re only going up and down Central. Because of the breakup in police versus sheriff jurisdictions, it can be difficult for some of the communities to nip poor behaviors in the bud. Though there are shooting ranges, even one run by the CABQ, many people go out to the mesa to fire guns. ATVs and motorcycles are often driven on the streets illegally. Overall it is the same crime level that anyone in Albuquerque might face, but it can be frustrating because there are few methods to de-escalate the issue since it happened in the county one day but the city the next.

Commuting from this area can take some time, especially if you are far west.

Though there are still some things we’re waiting for in this section of town (a home improvement or pet store would be nice!), the things we do have are either historic and well-kept or brand new to our part of town. Plan for the commute back when you drive across town. For example, I must bring a cooler with some ice packs to bring my Costco frozen foods back without them completely melting in the summer.

Why I Love Living Here

Being close to the open spaces of the Rio Grande Bosque or the West Mesa (most of which is private land) is a plus for active people. I love running out on the dirt and overlooking the city to the east of me. If I’m craving shade, I join the dozens of joggers and cyclists along the Bosque trail.

Moving Guide: Southwest AlbuquerqueI am biased, but I believe the libraries in this area of town are supreme. I had never sat next to a fireplace to read my magazines until I visited Central and Unser.

Many of our locations are not populated by anyone who lives in other areas of town. For example, the movie theater and gyms are filled with locals since someone from the NE heights won’t trek out here unless they were already coming for some other reason. I’m not saying these places aren’t busy, but we rarely get inundated with people outside of the community.

I have always found New Mexico to be filled with welcoming neighbors who look out for each other. I have never felt it more than when I moved to this area of town.

It is the place where your pharmacist will learn your name and you will know theirs. Local businesses are welcoming and proficient. While waiting for my car to be fixed back in July, the owner offered me a giant slice of watermelon and let me have the Wi-Fi password so I could keep working from their lobby.

Delicious panaderias, palaterias, and food trucks abound. The restaurants are historic and
amazing. Though you will have to drive quite a long way to find some of your favorite fast foods, it encourages support for the local delicacies. The Barelas Coffee House and El Modelo cannot be beaten. They are just two of the many food jewels we have.

Local neighborhood parks are some of the newest in the city and are beautiful. During July 4th, the entire city can be viewed and enjoyed from the West Mesa.

The Southwest area feels separated from the hubbub of the city, and you can enjoy the luscious greenery in the Bosque and the beautiful vistas all over the mesa.

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.