Residents Are Rushing to Leave These 7 Towns in New Mexico

New Mexico is widely known for its stunning natural landscapes, fascinating history, and vibrant cultural heritage. However, not all towns in the state possess the same charm and appeal. Some of them face challenges such as high crime rates, low incomes, subpar educational opportunities, and environmental issues. According to numerous sources and statistics, these are the towns that residents are eager to leave behind.

Seven Struggling Towns in New Mexico: A Statistical Overview

Town Location Median Household Income Poverty Rate Graduation Rate Crime Rate (per 100,000) Key Challenges
Gallup Western NM $34,558 37% 66% 1,537 High crime, low income, poverty, homelessness, alcoholism, unemployment
Deming Southwest NM $25,428 32% 71% 1,026 High crime, low income, poverty, COVID-19 impact, drug trafficking
Espanola Rio Grande Valley $31,717 28% 74% 966 Drug abuse, violence, high poverty, low income, crime
Hobbs Southeast NM $46,729 22% 77% 948 Crime, corruption, environmental degradation (air, water), low graduation rate
Grants Western NM $32,895 27% 76% 921 Economic depression, high poverty, low income, crime, health risks from uranium mining
Belen Central NM $32,031 26% 78% 915 Poverty, low income, low graduation rate, crime, social issues
Raton Northern NM $29,792 25% 79% 905 Economic decline, high poverty, low income, low graduation rate, crime, unemployment


Gallup, a small community in western New Mexico, is often called the Heart of Indian Country due to its close proximity to multiple Native American reservations. However, it also has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the most dangerous places in the state, with a violent crime rate of 1,537 per 100,000 residents—more than four times the national average. The city faces significant challenges, including a low median household income of $34,558, a high poverty rate of 37%, and a low graduation rate of 66%. Homelessness, alcoholism, and unemployment have been longstanding issues that Gallup has been grappling with for many years.


Deming, located in southwest New Mexico near the Mexican border, has gained notoriety for its role as a hub for illegal immigration and drug trafficking. As a result, the town has experienced a high crime rate of 1,026 per 100,000 population. Additionally, Deming struggles with a low graduation rate of 71%, a high poverty rate of 32%, and a median household income of $25,428. Compounding these challenges, the town has also been severely affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, experiencing one of the highest infection rates in the state.


The town of Espanola, located in the Rio Grande Valley in northern New Mexico, boasts a rich creative legacy and a diverse cultural scene. However, it has also gained notoriety for its history of drug abuse and violence. Shockingly, Espanola has the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the country, with 42.5 deaths per 100,000 people, which is more than eight times the national average. Additionally, the town faces socio-economic challenges, with a low median family income of $31,717, a high poverty rate of 28%, a staggering crime rate of 966 per 100,000 population, and a disappointing graduation rate of 74%.


The city of Hobbs, situated near the Texas border in southeast New Mexico, serves as a center for gas and oil production. However, alongside its economic activities, Hobbs also grapples with crime and corruption. The city has a relatively low median household income of $46,729, a high poverty rate of 22%, and a graduation rate of just 77%. Additionally, Hobbs experiences a high crime rate of 948 per 100,000 population. The oil and gas sector, which fuels the city’s economy, also contributes to environmental issues such as air pollution, water contamination, and overall environmental degradation.


Located in western New Mexico, Grants is a town that was once a bustling mining community along the iconic Route 66. However, in the 1980s, the collapse of the uranium industry turned this town into a ghost town. With a median household income of only $32,895, Grants faces significant economic challenges. The poverty rate stands at a high 27%, while the graduation rate is low at 76%. Additionally, the town grapples with a high crime rate of 921 per 100,000 residents. Moreover, due to radiation exposure from uranium mining, Grants also faces a heightened risk of cancer, birth abnormalities, and other health issues.


Located in central New Mexico, south of Albuquerque, lies the town of Belen. Not only is it a historic railroad town, but it is also plagued by poverty and crime. With a median household income of only $32,031 and a poverty rate of 26%, Belen faces significant economic challenges. Additionally, the town struggles with a low graduation rate of 78% and a high crime rate of 915 per 100,000 population. These unfortunate circumstances, combined with limited options and resources, have resulted in a high prevalence of issues such as teen pregnancy, domestic violence, and substance misuse within the community.


Raton, a community situated near the Colorado border in northern New Mexico, is a place characterized by decay and a sense of hopelessness. However, it also serves as the gateway to the majestic Rocky Mountains. The median household income in Raton is a mere $29,792, with a staggering poverty rate of 25%. Additionally, the graduation rate stands at a low 79%, while the crime rate soars at 905 per 100,000 individuals. The decline of tourism and industry has further exacerbated the situation, leading to a high unemployment rate, dwindling population, and a significant number of business closures.


High rates of violence, low salaries, inadequate educational opportunities, and environmental problems are driving people away from these New Mexico towns. Urgent action and funding are needed to improve the standard of living and future prospects in these areas. However, it’s important to note that not all of New Mexico is bleak and desolate. There are several thriving and growing municipalities in the Land of Enchantment for those who wish to make it their home.

FAQ about Struggling Towns in New Mexico

Why is Gallup considered one of the most dangerous places in New Mexico?

Gallup faces challenges such as high crime rates, low income, poverty, homelessness, alcoholism, and unemployment, contributing to its reputation.

What issues does Deming, New Mexico, grapple with?

Deming deals with challenges including high crime rates, low income, poverty, the impact of drug trafficking, and the effects of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Why is Espanola known for drug abuse and violence?

Espanola has gained notoriety for having the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the country, coupled with socio-economic challenges and high crime rates.

What challenges does Hobbs face despite being an oil and gas center?

Hobbs contends with issues like crime, corruption, a relatively low median household income, a high poverty rate, and environmental problems from oil and gas activities.


Also Read:

Avatar photo
MBS Staff
Articles: 4044

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *