5 Great Neighborhoods in Santa Fe

Get the scoop on some of the top places to live in this Southwestern town.

THE HISTORIC EAST SIDE

This pricey neighborhood’s historic adobe residences are much sought after. Flower-filled gardens and unpretentious facades conceal interior living spaces that range from rustic to opulent. Some of the neighborhood’s winding roads remain unpaved: in Santa Fe living on a dirt road is a matter of prestige. Residents like to see themselves as hardy pioneers living in a time warp.

The advantage to living here, apart from the historic appeal, is the proximity to the Canyon Road arts district and downtown, which are both walkable. The down side? Because it’s a historic district, renovations to the old buildings are strictly controlled. This can also be a problem since many of the historic homes have small, dark rooms, low ceilings and small windows that don’t jibe with contemporary tastes.

The neighbors: Mostly retired couples, second-home owners and a few of the old Spanish families who have lived here for generations and opted to ride out the gentrification wave.

SOUTH CAPITOL

Settled around the turn of the last century, this neighborhood was close to the busy Santa Fe rail yard and was popular among the merchants and workers who depended on the train for their livelihood. It’s also close to the Roundhouse, the state capitol.

Houses are in a variety of styles: Victorian, Territorial and Pueblo Revival, including many made of adobe. The yards tend to be more expansive than on the East Side, and the homes are exceptionally well built. Shady, tree-lined streets with sidewalks make for a congenial neighborhood feel. The Railyard district and downtown attractions are within walking distance, making this one of the more desirable neighborhoods.

The neighbors: With prices rising quickly over the past 10 to 15 years, the area is less accessible to young families and emerging artists than it used to be. Still, you’ll find a number of families as well as professionals who work in government and in downtown offices.

EL DORADO

This development about 15 miles southeast of downtown is the nearest thing Santa Fe has to a suburb. El Dorado was built in the 1970s to appeal to young families looking for affordable housing and, despite rising prices, remains extremely popular with families.

El Dorado has panoramic views, excellent schools and a low crime rate. It’s a mature neighborhood of attractive family homes built on one- to two-acre lots. A small, unobtrusive commercial center lets residents buy groceries and grab a bite without having to drive into town, so it remains a workable blend of town and country living.

The neighbors: Families with young children, horse people, artists, some singles.

Also consider: Oshara Village, which is closer to town and intended to be a model of sustainable building. Houses are smaller and closer together than in El Dorado.

LAS CAMPANAS

To find larger homes and mansions in the Santa Fe area, you have to head for the hills surrounding the city. Las Campanas is a gated community 10 miles west of town with two Jack Nicklaus signature golf courses, an equestrian center, a spa and tennis center and a clubhouse.

Homes here are built in a variety of styles: Pueblo, Territorial, contemporary, ranch, log cabin, and northern New Mexico pitched-roof. The minimum allowed square footage is 2,500, but most homes are larger, and many have guesthouses and other outbuildings as well. The views are breathtaking, so Las Campanas is popular with those who come west looking for wide-open spaces.

The neighbors: Primarily second-home owners, wealthy business owners, retirees and entrepreneurs.

TESUQUE

This tiny village of some 900 residents, six miles north of Santa Fe, attracts those who love country living but prefer to avoid planned communities. Tesuque was founded by the Spanish as an agricultural village adjacent to the Indian Pueblo of Tesuque. Although few residents grow crops anymore, many maintain fruit orchards and vegetable gardens irrigated via the ancient acequia, a Spanish watering system brought to New Mexico more than 400 years ago.

Lot sizes tend to be large, and the homes range from modest adobe cabins to expansive mansions. Most aren’t even visible from the main road. Proximity to Santa Fe, coupled with the sense of splendid isolation, makes this an especially sought-after location.

The neighbors: A congenial mix of millionaires, artists, writers, equestrians, old-time Spanish families and scientists who work at the lab in nearby Los Alamos.

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