Some residents commute into Albuquerque, crowding the freeways on their way to cultural events and employment. However, Rio Rancho's city government actively promotes development to make the area culturally and economically independent of the neighboring city.
The city is sunny and warm, with temperatures fit for casual walking year-round and only the occasional small earthquake. Practice your safety triangle earthquake drill once and we’re sure you’ll be all right.
Most Rio Rancho residents own their homes instead of renting, so there's not the same kind of rush to land an apartment as in a major city – vacancy rates for apartments have hovered around 12% in recent years. Most new residents move into their new apartments within a month and a half of beginning their search.
Now for the good stuff.
When to rent: Apartments in Rio Rancho are available for new tenants throughout the year, with one of the shortest average housing searches in the area.
What you need: Not too much that you wouldn't need anywhere else – bring your completed application, pay stubs, security deposit, and references and you shouldn’t have any problems. However, Rio Rancho is one of the fastest growing cities in New Mexico, so you'll want to keep your eyes open and your wits about you when on the hunt.
Rio Rancho sports a high level of diversity in terms of apartment accommodations. The city's spread out into two counties, with a large northeast section near the countryside and cattle, and a more developed area to the southwest. Most shopping, and museums and attractions are in the southwest.
Northeast There is a large area here that's near the country. You’ll be able to enjoy hiking and bicycling in the warm weather around here.
Southwest Most of the new construction in Rio Rancho – housing, shopping, and movie theaters – is taking place in the southwest side of the city.
City Center This part of Rio Rancho is the most cosmopolitan. The city center is where you’ll see the museums, and major shopping centers.
In short: Friendly, welcoming, and down-to-earth.
Since it's a fairly new city, people used to joke that Rio Rancho was the 'little brother' to Albuquerque, but it's now developing in its own right. The residents are quickly developing a greater sense of pride in their local culture, touting a great library system, farmers market and festivals.
Rio Rancho lacks sidewalks in many areas and is set up so that people have to drive from place to place, so considering bringing a set of wheels along. You will probably want to have the option of visiting Albuquerque, even if you land a job within the Rio Rancho city limits. Shopping, banking and other daily chores will likely become significantly easier with a car since the city’s pretty spread out.
All things considered, Rio Rancho is your place if you're looking for a nice area sandwiched between the city and the country. With gentle temperatures and a developing local culture and nightlife, then this city makes plenty of sense for you! Good luck on your search, dear apartment hunter.