It’s a New Mexico small town you’ve never heard of but it’s becoming more and more of a destination of a Baby Boomers looking to retire to the Southwest.
The name is Silver City, and it’s been labeled as an undiscovered getaway with art and culture, panoramic mountain views and a national forest, and weather that offers the four seasons without the brutal winter cold and onslaught of snow. It’s made a lot of lists from best small towns to retire and to visit.
A mining town founded in 1870, the town has a colorful history with Billy the Kid growing up there, says Patrick Conlin, broker and owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Silver City. It’s home to an annual bluegrass festival, food festival and many other events that make it the No. 1 ranked arts council in the state.
Silver City offers homes built of brick and adobe and a renovated downtown and Main Street that makes it a prime candidate not only for relocations but for tourists as well.
“Boomers come to our area to retire for a lower cost of living, and they want an authentic place,” Conlin said. “They want an undiscovered place so the real estate values are really affordable. It’s a relaxed environment. We are welcoming and opening and diverse and friendly. It’s an interesting place.”
Silver City sits at an elevation of just under 6,000 feet but surrounding areas rise to 8,000 feet, Conlin said. That means cooler temperatures in the summer for residents but not quite the higher elevations of some other New Mexico cities where temperatures are colder, he says.
The average high temperature from June to August is 86 degrees and average low in the mid-50s making for some cool nights. July and August are the wettest months of year by getting three inches each. January is the coldest month of the year with an average temperature of 51 degrees during the day and 24 degrees at night.
The elevations are high enough for snowfall but it doesn’t stay on the ground for long, Conlin said.
Silver City is isolated to some degree but accessible. Interstate 10 is about one hour south of the city and the Mexican border is 90 minutes to the south.
It’s an hour flight to Albuquerque versus making a four-hour drive. The closest big city is Las Cruces at 112 miles away followed by El Paso at 154 miles away. Phoenix is a five-hour drive and Tucson is 200 miles away.
“It’s a nice weekend retreat,” Conlin said of Silver City. “We have a lot of people from Tucson who own second homes here who come here in the summertime because it’s too hot for them.
Silver City has buyers who come from abroad and Americans who’ve looked or lived overseas and returned to the U.S. Conlin says. There are many people who have friends from New Mexico or grew up in other parts of the state and moved to Silver City for their retirement, he says.
“It’s a spiritual place and like it’s motto it is the Land of Enchantment,” Conlin says.
The average sales price is about $150,000, Conlin said. Small historic homes in the area of downtown and Western New Mexico University start in the low $100,000s and southwest/Santa Fe-style homes are in the low $200,000s and exceed $400,000, he says.
The most expensive homes in the area are on larger lots and have mountain views. Some have city water but others have a private well and septic system, he says.
Conlin says Baby Boomers comprise about one third of the sales. That group purchases in the $200,000 to $300,000 range, which gets them a house about 10 to 15 years old on a 2,000 square-foot lot on one to two acres.
“They’re coming from usually bigger cities, and are looking for quality of life, lower cost of living, a friendlier and welcoming place, a university town for continued learning, and outdoor recreation – biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, birding,” Conlin says.
There are three senior centers in Grant County, and a program called the Western Institute for Lifelong Learning, Conlin says.
“Since Silver City is off the beaten path, we haven’t been overdeveloped and the people who move here don’t mind that we’re don’t have a shopping mall. They love Silver City for what it is – a quirky, eclectic, artsy, open, accepting place where people from all backgrounds get along because we realize we all need one another and we’re all interconnected in our small town in the corner of Southwest New Mexico.”