RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Rio Rancho is the most stressful place to live in New Mexico.
At least that’s how Creditdonkey.com, a website that compares credit cards and provides financial education, ranks the City of Vision in a report released last week assessing stress levels in communities across the state.
“As one of the fastest-growing cities in New Mexico, it’s only natural that it would experience some growing pains,” the company said on its website.
The four cities with the highest ratings, in order, are Rio Rancho, Aztec, Albuquerque and Santa Fe, based on their violent crime, commute time, average hours worked per week, percentage of divorcees and percentage of income spent on housing.
The six cities and towns in New Mexico that rounded out the ranking, from No. 5 to No. 10, were Carlsbad, Las Vegas, Farmington, Lovington, Taos and Raton.
According to annual crime statistics from the FBI, the odds that someone will become a victim of a violent crime vary considerably: 1 out of 94 in Farmington, 1 out of 133 in Albuquerque, 1 out of 208 in Santa Fe, 1 out of 443 in Rio Rancho and 1 out of 760 in Raton, the company reported.
“I am pleased to see Rio Rancho once again recognized for being a safe community, which is critical for quality of life,” said Mayor Greggory D. Hull in response to the ranking.
The average commute time is 29.7 minutes for Rio Rancho residents, many of whom have to cross the river getting to their jobs. In Taos, the typical employee spends 12.9 minutes getting to and from work. Albuquerque and Santa Fe residents commonly commute for 21.4 and 18.4 minutes, respectively.
In Rio Rancho, “residents spend more time commuting to work each day than any other city, which could be a symptom of a growing population and an infrastructure that hasn’t quite caught up yet,” according to Credit Donkey.
“A priority for local government is to support the creation of more job opportunities in Rio Rancho. As this happens and more residents both live and work in Rio Rancho, one of the many benefits that will be realized is shorter commute times,” Hull replied.
Local residents might see their commute-related stress levels decrease later this year, as phase one for widening NM 528, between Southern Boulevard and Sundt Road, likely wraps up in November and the Paseo del Norte and Interstate 25 interchange project becomes fully operational in December, said Phil Gallegos, New Mexico Department of Transportation District 3 spokesman.
Phase two of work on NM 528, for an additional mile along the state highway up to Northern Boulevard, will probably start in the spring, Gallegos added.
The average number of hours worked per week, counting both part- and full-time employees, is 35.6 in Taos, 37.1 in Santa Fe, 37.9 in Albuquerque, 39.3 in Rio Rancho and 42.2 in Lovington.
The percentage of people in Rio Rancho who are divorced is 10.7 percent of males and 14.5 percent of females. Those figures range from 20.4 percent of females in Santa Fe, to 11.9 percent of males in Albuquerque, to 9.2 percent of women in Lovington.
Rio Ranchoans, on average, spend 23.2 percent of their income on housing. In Las Vegas, residents spend 27.7 percent. In Carlsbad, people spend 17.4 percent. In Santa Fe and Albuquerque, respectively, inhabitants spend 24.5 and 23.1 percent.
“Luckily, residents (of Rio Rancho) don’t need to worry about crime, but the daily stress that comes with traffic and long work hours are enough to earn it its status as the No. 1 most stressful city in New Mexico,” Credit Donkey concluded.