I had the privilege of growing up in the cool pines of Ruidoso, New Mexico (elevation 7,000 feet), before venturing off into the world for college. After graduating from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, I packed my bags for Nashville, Tennessee. With my parents still living in Ruidoso, I came home every chance I would get. For the past 25 years, I would visit in the summer and winter to see my family and soak up a bit of mountain life before returning to the big city.
I now split my time between these two lovely states. I spend the summer and winter months in Ruidoso and the spring and fall in Nashville. The two locations I call home could not be more different.
Nashville has become a busy city with incredible growth, hustle and bustle, and an ever-growing population of celebrities. Meanwhile, Ruidoso has remained relatively untouched since I left in 1990.
Sure, there are a few changes, but the laid-back mountain lifestyle has remained the same. Life is relatively quiet and peaceful in this small community. The retail shops and boutiques close at 6 p.m. on Sudderth Drive, and this quaint town goes to dinner and then to bed. Yes, there’s a touch of nightlife, but you must go out and look for it as it won’t find you!
I spoke to family and friends who have lived and worked in Ruidoso for many years to get their insight into living in this community.
Ruidoso Weather: Five seasons
I reached out to Misty Strickland, associate broker with Pinnacle Real Estate and Development, with whom I went to high school, and she shared a few things that she thought would be helpful for people to know before moving to Ruidoso. She has this discussion almost daily as a real estate broker.
“Ruidoso is truly a one-of-a-kind community,” says Misty. “One of the things I enjoy the most about living in Ruidoso is experiencing all four seasons and all that they have to offer. The winter snows, the fall colors, the spring blooms, and the cool summer days and monsoons. And, occasionally, a fifth season between March and April of New Mexico winds.”
Misty goes on to talk about the various diverse activities offered in the community. Ruidoso is known as “The Year-Round Playground of the Southwest” and she agrees.
“There is absolutely something for everyone to enjoy in Ruidoso,” says Misty, “from mountain biking, hiking, sightseeing, skiing, swimming, hunting, Grindstone Lake, the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino, Ruidoso Downs Racetrack, boutique shopping, museums, the diverse culture and history of Lincoln County, arts festivals, and outdoor music or just sitting on the porch and enjoying the day.”
My family agrees that the various walking, hiking, and biking trails throughout the village and Lincoln National Forest are impressive, as well as several lakes to enjoy on a moderately warm summer day. The average daily summer high is in the 70s and that’s why so many tourists retreat to the cool pines during the summer months.
With ideal weather nine months out of the year, Ruidoso boasts seven golf courses in this small village.
There’s also notable entertainment with Broadway shows, musicals, and special musical guests appearing at the Spencer Theater, Inn of the Mountain Gods, and the Ruidoso Downs Racetrack. Ruidoso works hard to provide good entertainment, festivals, and events for residents and tourists alike. You can also enjoy a variety of restaurants and some good “watering holes” for an after-dinner drink.
Wildlife among us
If you are new to town, you certainly need to be aware of the vast numbers of wildlife that walk up to your backdoor looking for food in your trash, or quite possibly on the road while you’re driving. With elk, deer, turkeys, wild horses, and occasionally some black bears, it’s important to be cognizant and alert, whether you’re a longtime resident or tourist for the day.
Wildlife plays an important part in our mountain life and residents worry about these sweet animals. Misty jokes that, except for busy holiday weekends, wildlife causes most of the traffic jams in the Village of Ruidoso. Residents know that the speed limit protects drivers and wildlife.
A sense of community
Both Misty Strickland and Shawndra Perez, massage therapist at Blue Lotus Day Spa, talk about the sense of community in Ruidoso. When the wildfires hit Ruidoso in the spring of 2022, the community came together to help one another. Shawndra says that’s what’s expected of those that live here.
“You have to do your part,” says Shawndra. “You can’t just live here and not be part of the overall community; you have to be ready to give back when needed.”
Enjoying a slower pace
Mary Austin, an associate broker at Coldwell Banker, says that newcomers should embrace the slower pace of life in the mountains.
“Instead of time spent in the car commuting in a city, you’ll have time to take a walk when you get home,” says Mary. “You can enjoy the wildlife or play a round of golf before an incredible sunset.”
When I am in the city, I look at my watch to account for 30- to 45-minute commutes to meetings, errands, etc. In Ruidoso, everything seems to be within a 5- to 10-minute drive (excluding Alto). It’s just a slower, easier pace of life. You actually take time to stop and smell the roses!
Getting involved in the community
Mary also encourages new residents to get involved in the community through charitable or civic organizations as a great way to meet new people. Various volunteer opportunities might be of interest as well.
In addition, Ruidoso has a wonderful faith-based community, with a variety of church options, that is very involved with its members and giving back to others.
Working in Ruidoso
Sure, you’ll see “now hiring” signs in Ruidoso just like any other community. Good help is hard to find just about everywhere! The top industries that are hiring in Ruidoso are service industries (food/beverage, retail, construction, etc.) as well as trade positions like medical, teachers, electricians, plumbers, and cable/alarm technicians.
If you have the flexibility that allows you to work remotely, then Ruidoso is a great spot to land. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you might find exactly what you’re looking for in these mountains. But if you’re looking for lots of corporate opportunities or to climb a corporate ladder, you’ll have to do that in a bigger city.
We have many retired residents in our community and healthcare is an important topic. Lincoln County Medical Center, part of Presbyterian Healthcare Services, is a nice, new facility with a 24-hour emergency room. The hospital and area doctors do a good job taking care of our residents.
However, for major medical needs, surgeries, and specialty care, residents are typically referred to hospitals and doctors in Las Cruces, Albuquerque, or El Paso. Keep that in mind if you plan to make Ruidoso your full-time home.
Ruidoso was an incredible place to grow up and it’s now a pleasure to return as a part-time resident. It’s a great place to take a break from the grind and pace of any big city, whether it’s for a day or a new chapter in life. Many residents agree that you simply can’t ignore the true peace, tranquility, and beauty of the mountains.
Welcome to Ruidoso!
15 things to know about living in Ruidoso:
- Ruidoso is at 7,000 feet elevation, so you may need to acclimate to the altitude.
- Expect four, or maybe five, seasons. Ruidoso experiences high winds in the spring.
- Many shops and restaurants close in the evening and may be closed in the off-season or early in the week. If you’re looking for nightlife, you’ll find it when you go looking!
- Embrace the slower pace of life in Ruidoso.
- There are lots of things to do in this forested mountain area, including hiking, mountain biking, and camping.
- Ruidoso boasts seven golf courses.
- Venues such as the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino, Spencer Theater, and Ruidoso Downs Race Track offer great entertainment options.
- Many businesses here are locally owned and operated, so when you go out to eat or shop, you’re supporting your neighbors.
- Watch out for wildlife on the roads, or in your backyard if you don’t secure your trash. Don’t leave out pet food as it will attract wild animals.
- Be ready to be part of a community that supports each other when times are tough.
- Forest fires have impacted this community and it’s something to be aware of as a resident. Make sure your home is fire safe.
- Service, retail, and trade industries are the top job opportunities in the area.
- Ruidoso has several civic organizations, volunteer opportunities, and church organizations with which you can get involved.
- The typical commute time in this town is 5 to 10 minutes.
- While this town has a new hospital and ER, if you need major medical care, you’ll need to travel to surrounding cities.
About the Author:
Tresa Halbrooks is a freelance writer and owner/founder of LEGACY Consulting, PR & Events in Nashville, Tennessee. She has spent more than 20 years coaching some of the most illustrious athletes, artists, and business professionals in the Nashville community as well as being an award-winning event producer. She now splits her time between Tennessee and New Mexico — enjoying what both states have to offer.
Story by Tresa Halbrooks
Posted by Ruidoso.com