FAQ: Las Cruces and Surrounding Areas

Q: What is the cost of living in Las Cruces? The assistantship offered by NMSU does not pay as much as some other schools, but if the cost of living is low, it would even out. Are the graduate stipends enough to live on?
A: The cost of living in Las Cruces is quite low. Most students get apartments in the $300-$400 range and this is quite affordable with our stipends. If you have pets and need a yard, you can generally find an older house for $450-$550 a month. Some of our students have opted to share places, and in that case you can definitely afford some of the higher end apartments and houses. As far as other expenses go (groceries, utilities, gasoline, etc.), Las Cruces seems pretty typical.

Tuition and fees run to about $1,900 per semester and the graduate students usually do payroll deduction, so that’s about $315/month. NMSU graduate students have been working with the state legislature to pass a tuition-waiver bill for all graduate students across the state, and some year soon it may actually happen. In addition, the Graduate School provides one- and three-year tuition scholarships for some applicants.

Q: What is Las Cruces like? What is there to do? What is the surrounding area like?
A: Although it hosts a large university, Las Cruces is not your typical college town. Because it’s a “border town” in a rather rural part of the state, we have a large Hispanic population and agriculture is an important industry. For the most part, people here are very casual. There are plenty of fun things to do here, they are just not all within walking distance from campus. Las Cruces requires exploring and taking recommendations from people. Aside from the newer chains coming in, many of the buildings look a little run down and you would not necessarily think to stop for dinner or a drink. If you don’t, you’ll miss some of the best parts about Cruces.

The grad students have found a number of ways to occupy their time: going for beer at the local brewery, running, hiking, and rock climbing in the nearby mountains, listening to music (one of our students is a bassist in two local bands), going to indie movies in Mesilla, attending the semi-annual wine tasting festivals, joining university intramural athletic teams, and more. The university itself offers a variety of free and low-cost classes to students including pilates, step-aerobics, capoeira, and dance. The local museum of art (it is rather small) offers classes as well, in things like pottery, photography, and weaving. But to be totally honest, grad students do not do any of this with much frequency because they are trying to keep up with classes and research!

 

saloon
A trip to Ruidoso generated interesting memories for graduate
students looking to unwind after a grueling cumulative exam.

 

Some sites of interest near the Las Cruces area:

Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Cloudcroft
COAS: My Bookstore
Elephant Butte Lake State Park
Gila National Forest
Hueco Tanks State Historical Park
Las Cruces Community Theater
Ruidoso & Ski Apache
New Mexico Museum of Space History
Taos
White Sands National Monument & Missile Range

Q: Any big cities nearby? What else is there near Las Cruces?
A: Our nearest big city is El Paso, Texas. Many people around here do not like the city much but some people love it. It is right on the border with Juarez, Mexico, which is a quite poor but is excellent for shopping. El Paso has two large malls, numerous night clubs, and performance arts (traveling operas, dance companies, etc.). Most people go to El Paso if they are shopping for something specific.

Old Mesilla is a small historical town just west of Las Cruces; it is one of the oldest towns in southern New Mexico. It is quite a cultural center and has many little shops, art galleries, and small restaurants.

The next closest cities are Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Tucson, AZ (in approximately increasing order of distance). It takes about 2 1/2 hours to drive to Albuquerque; a lot of students drive up there to get away from southern New Mexico. The atmosphere up there is quite different, and that includes the climate! Tucson is just a 4 hour drive west of Las Cruces so many students and faculty from our department drive up to Kitt Peak for their own observations. We are also close to the Very Large Array; the Array Operations Center (AOC) is located in Socorro, NM, just 2 hours away by car. Las Cruces is thus in the middle of many large astronomical institutions, so we frequently get a lot of visitors.

You can learn more about the city of Las Cruces on the world-wide web by following these links:

Chamber of Commerce Site
Visitors Bureau