New Mexico proves affordable living is relative


You can get a house in New Mexico for under $200,000. But you also don’t make much. (AP Photo/Amir Bibawy)

Don and I grew up in Albuquerque, NM. We’ve talked about it a million times on the radio. But did you know that Microsoft also spent its youth in Albuquerque? It’s true. Look it up.

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Just about every day we hear stories about income inequality and affordable housing. We definitely have some housing problems in our region, there’s no doubt about that. I’d like to do a little thought experiment with you. What would have happened if Bill Gates and Paul Allen decided that they liked Albuquerque and never moved the company to the Pacific Northwest?

First, let’s compare some modern day averages.

Median price of a house in Albuquerque, according to Zillow, is $188,000. That sounds pretty amazing, am I right? Many of you are probably thinking, awesome, I’ll take two.

The median price of a house in Seattle, also according to Zillow, is over $727,000. Boo! Let’s march in the streets about affordable housing.

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There’s one more very important average that needs to be accounted for: income.

The average income in Seattle is just a tad over $80,000 a year, according to And in Albuquerque? The income per capita in the Land of Enchantment is “$26,876, which includes all adults and children. The median household income is $47,413.”

It’s easy to imagine that Microsoft never moved. The company grows like wildfire and starts to attract an army of programmers. Other tech companies sprout up all over the Sandia Valley and you have a major tech hub in the beautiful Southwest. Back in the Puget Sound region, tech never takes hold and we still hang our collective hats on the current state of Boeing like the good old days.

I’ve lived in both places. Both cities are charming and friendly, by and large. Both places have amazing assets and scenic beauty, and both have their own set of problems.

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Which set of problems do you choose? The ones where the economy and opportunity are booming or the ones where you are surrounded by poverty?

Buying a house for $180,000 sounds amazing, but be careful what you wish for. A lot of other things come with that price tag.

You can hear “What are we talking about here?” everyday at 4:45 p.m. on 97.3 FM.

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