For the past 50 years, Truth or Consequences has been one of the American Southwest’s best-kept secrets. A small resort town with a year round population of just over 8,000, this little town with a big name was overshadowed by its big brother, the neighboring city of Las Cruces. While most towns in northern New Mexico attract tourists to their ski resorts and chic Southwestern-style vacation homes, Truth or Consequences has remained a lesser-known haven for nature lovers and those who want variety in their surroundings with a mild climate. As a result, the town has remained unspoiled and has not seen local development run rampant or real estate prices rise beyond the reach of long time locals. Here the breathtaking sandstone bluffs, nearby state parks and sunny, deep blue skies remain the biggest neighborhood attractions.
Situated on the banks of the Rio Grande in southwest New Mexico, Truth or Consequences has long been a preferred vacation site for New Mexico natives. Traditionally, they have come to bathe in the soothing hot springs or partake in the many recreational opportunities at the two large lakes nearby. In the past decade, however, Truth or Consequences has begun to garner more national praise. In fact, the number of retirees relocating here continues to grow. National publications such as Where to Retire have recently named the city one of the top retirement destinations in the United States.
Affordability is the key to life in Truth or Consequences. Housing costs here are impressively low; in fact, the local realtors’ association reports that the median home price is below $60,000 here. Add to this an extremely low crime rate, beautiful scenery, and perhaps the most moderate climate in all of New Mexico, and it is easy to see why Truth or Consequences has become a prized retirement locale. This little town has much to offer, and it can deliver its amenities on a budget as well. Although locals have had the place to themselves, these days the truth is getting out about Truth or Consequences, New Mexico’s best-kept secret.
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One of the biggest draws of Truth of Consequences is its climate. Located on the banks of the Rio Grande in the southwestern section of New Mexico, Truth or Consequences sits at 4,260 feet above the scorching heat of the lowland summers. High temperatures average around 92 in July and 89 in August. These figures are much more moderate than elsewhere in New Mexico, and the famously low humidity makes warm temperatures quite comfortable. Also, even the hottest days cool down to the low 60s at night.
Winters are quite comfortable, with an average high of 55 degrees. Though it does occasionally snow, the flakes usually melt away with the afternoon sunshine. With less than ten inches of rainfall a year, you can look forward to sunny skies and outdoor activities that are never canceled due to weather. Because of the wonderfully predicable weather, many Truth or Consequences residents are unabashedly “outdoorsy,” and can often be found hiking, golfing, or fishing at one of the local reservoirs. Another bonus of this semi-arid climate is the nightly show: New Mexico has absolutely brilliant sunsets.
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Arts & Culture:
Cultural life in Truth or Consequences is eclectic, ranging from flying fingers at the New Mexico Old Time Fiddlers Contest to the solemnity of The Geronimo Springs Museum. The museum honors the Native American chief Geronimo and showcases pottery, mining and Apache artifacts, as well as fine southwestern art.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for festivals in and around “T or C.” The area is home to some of the most interesting and varied events you’ll ever find. Every May, the Ralph Edwards T or C Fiesta celebrates ancient festive traditions in honor of the game show host who brought the town so much fame. The Sierra County fair brings midway rides, livestock judging and entertainment every October. And the Veteran’s Day Antique & Classic Car Show at the Veterans Center is a great time to admire America’s love affair with the automobile. Destination: Sierra County is another annual fall festival showcasing the art of Sierra County. The monthly Art Hop in downtown Truth or Consequences showcases art galleries, shops and restaurants. Join us the second Saturday of every month from 6 – 9 pm.
More great events are centered around Elephant Butte Lake. From June’s Chile Cook-off to the July 4th Fireworks, the Lake is the place to be. You can’t miss the hot air balloon regatta held here every September. As one of the largest rallies of its kind, the regatta attracts hot air balloon enthusiasts from all over the globe and is sure to please young and old alike.
Of course, Truth or Consequences is blessed with New Mexico’s growing artistic reputation. You’ll find a number of art galleries here, boasting a stable of local and regional talent as well as works by artists from as far away as New Hampshire and Washington.
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A great way to beginsampling the Truth or Consequences area’s recreational activities is by visiting the three nearby state parks. Elephant Butte Lake State Park, located a mere five miles from the city proper, is home to Elephant Butte Lake, an impressive 36,000 acre reservoir that offers year round sport fishing for black and white bass, catfish, pike and crappie. If trout are your preferred game, try casting for the trophy rainbows of the Rio Grande River. From April to October rafting, kayaking and tubing are other popular activities on the Rio. Due to its great fishing and the park’s network of scenic hiking trails, Elephant Butte Lake State Park has become a preferred destination for vacationers nationwide, attracting over a million visitors each year.
If you want a more intimate outdoor setting, take a trip down to Percha Dam State Park, situated just below Caballo Lake.Just a twenty minute drive from downtown, this park also offers great sport fishing, and its campground includes such amenities as sheltered picnic areas, electric hookups, and restroom facilities outfitted with showers. Supplies can be easily procured in the nearby town of Arrey. Campsites can go quickly during the weekends, so if you’re planning a weekend trip, be sure to get there early.
To enjoy New Mexico’s beauty from the comfort of your car, try the Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway. Headquartered in Truth or Consequences, the road climbs over 4,000 feet from desert lakes up to forested mountain passes. This is truly some of the most spectacular natural beauty in the southwest.
There’s no question that the main recreational draw in Truth or Consequences is its famous mineral baths. There are no less than nine such spas operating within the city limits. Most are located in the downtown area, and prices are quite reasonable. Riverbend Hot Springs, the only open air bath in town, also offers a stunning view of the mountains.
A wide range of splendid natural environments surrounds Truth or Consequences. To the east lie the brilliant dunes of White Sands National Monument, while to the southwest are the strange formations of Rock Hound and City of Rocks State Park. North on the Rio Grande, you can run exhilarating Class 3 and 4 rapids through spectacular canyons. Due west are the Gila Cliff Dwellings and evergreen slopes of the Mimbres Mountains.
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Truth or Consequences is home to three elementary schools, a middle school, a newly opened public high school, as well as AppleTree Educational Center. Here, teachers know every student and personal attention is the rule rather than the exception.
In smaller towns like Truth or Consequences, schools often play a role in local events, and parents can always have a hand in their child’s activities. Although the schools here are small, students can be successful. In addition to the Character Counts program, which is sponsored by the JROTC, the local high school has received national recognition for its agriculture program. The program has recently been nationally ranked, finishing in the top five in land programs, and in the top twenty in pasture.
Western New Mexico University has a branch community college in the city, which offers a number of adult education classes, as well as a top-flight nursing program. The school is also an excellent local resource for those who wish to expand their professional skills or take prerequisite courses that can lead to transfer to four year colleges or universities.
Four year colleges in the area include New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology north of Socorro. West of town in Silver City is Western New Mexico University’s main campus.
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Housing & Cost of
Truth or Consequences offers some of the most affordable housing found anywhere in the United States. In fact, more than half of the homes sold here in the past year cost less than $60,000. Although Truth or Consequences is home to only a handful of subdivisions, new developments in the area have recently sold lots for as little as ten thousand dollars per acre.
Though this is a relatively small housing market, it actually offers a surprisingly wide variety of homes, ranging in price from $40,000 to upwards of half a million. Most of the high end housing is found in nearby Elephant Butte, the little town’s affluent neighbor to the north.
Everyday costs in Truth or Consequences are below the national average, which is surprising for a small town with a tourist economy. Any way you look at it, Truth or Consequences is one affordable choice.
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Crime & Safety:
Crime in Truth or Consequences is scarcely more than a rumor, as on average there are fewer than 400 crimes reported annually. Less than 6% of these fall under the category of “violent” crimes, as the vast majority of offenses are petty property crimes like larceny and vandalism.
The city staffs thirteen full time police officers, with the Sierra County Sheriff’s Department employing an additional fifteen. In addition to keeping the streets safe, Truth or Consequences police officers are actively involved in a number of community outreach programs, including DARE, and the torch run, which benefits the Special Olympics.
The crime rate in outlying Sierra County is even lower, as annual reported crimes often number in the single digits. Truth or Consequences is certainly one of the safest places to live in the country.
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Thanks to the many retirees in this area, Truth or Consequences offers much more comprehensive medical facilities than one expect to find in a town of this size. Sierra Vista Hospital is a Joint Powers Facility sponsored by Sierra County, the City of Truth or Consequences, and the village of Williamsburg. The hospital is a 43-bed facility offering a wide range of inpatient and outpatient services.
Other medical facilities include the Sierra Health Care Center, a 110 bed nursing home, Sierra Hills Assisted Living center and the New Mexico Veterans center. Other services found in Sierra County include home health care assistance, a respiratory service, and a public health office. The city is also home to 2 pharmacies, as well as several chiropractic offices.
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Earning a Living:
To accommodate a burgeoning tourist trade, many Truth or Consequences residents work in the service industry. The majority of jobs are either at the local state parks, at the resorts and spas that have built up around the hot springs, or in the many area museums, gift shops and boutiques. Thanks to its dependable tourist influx, the economy in Truth or Consequences is relatively stable. The large and growing population of retirees adds another steady source of money to the economy without significantly impacting the job market.
Although high-tech firms are currently based in the city, the city council still has a keen eye turned toward the future. In recent years, the city has begun to lobby for the state-of-the-art Spaceport program, a launch and salvage operation that is considering Sierra County as a base.
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Truth or Consequences has long been a preferred vacation site for New Mexico natives in the know, and publications such as Where to Retire have named the city a top retirement destination.
Truth or Consequences lies between the brilliant dunes of White
Sands and the pine-wooded Mimbres Range. On the Rio Grande, you can run
Class 3 & 4 rapids.
Truth or Consequences is certainly an affordable hometown. Despite
a small town tourist economy, everyday costs are below average and a
comfortable home here costs $60,000… well below the national norm.
Take a Virtual Photo Tour of Truth or Consequences, NM