Santa Fe

A landscape looking toward the Sangre de Christo Mountains with a bright rainbow over Santa Fe, New Mexico.

In the last chapter, we covered some basic information about Santa Fe from its history to climate. In this chapter, we’re getting down the nuts and bolts of Santa Fe: How do you get to work? Where can you check out some books? How do you register a car in Santa Fe? Read on and find out, or scroll to the section you need.

Santa Fe Traffic

Santa Fe lies between two vast wilderness areas to the east and west of the city. The only place for the highways is in between. The most heavily traveled commuter routes are Interstate 25 on the south side of the city, U.S. Route 285, and New Mexico State Road 599.

These three highways form a kind of hub crossed by secondary roads that also see commuter traffic. These secondary routes include Agua Fria Street, Route 14, Route 283, and Route 300.

Although many neighborhoods in Santa Fe are walkable—such as the Plaza and Canyon Road—residents depend on their cars to get around. About 40 percent of Santa Fe households have two cars. Driving is the most common way to get to work, with about 75 percent of workers driving alone. Ten percent of commuters in eco-minded Santa Fe carpool to work.
Lincoln Avenue facing the Federal Courthouse in the background, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The Rail Runner and train depot with a blue sky and fluffy clouds.
If you’re used to the sprawling 24/7 public transit systems in cities like New York and Los Angeles, Santa Fe can take a little getting used to. The Santa Fe Trails bus system and the Rail Runner Express commuter rail generally run from around 6 AM to 11 PM most days.

It’s easy to get around Santa Fe by public transit, but for best results you will want to plan your trip across town in advance. Make sure to check the schedules before you head out.

Santa Fe Public Transit

Santa Fe’s Public Library System

Santa Fe culture is built around the arts and literature. For new residents, however, the Santa Fe Public Library provides more than books, audiobooks, and DVDs. With three branches that host a range of events throughout the year, the Santa Fe Public Library serves as a community resource ideal for new residents who want to learn about the area.

The main branch is located downtown, just a block away from the Palace of the Governors. South of downtown Santa Fe is the La Farge Branch, and further out southwest is the Southside Branch. Visit online for hours and driving directions.
Side of the Garrey Carruthers State Library in Santa Fe.
Aerial view of Presbyterian Hospital in Los Alamos.
An often-cited report from the AARP cited Santa Fe as one of the healthiest cities in the United States, thanks to low rates of diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. An outdoors-oriented lifestyle, clean air, and an overall focus on health and wellness are contributing factors as well.

For homebuyers looking for Santa Fe real estate and high quality medical care, Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center is the city’s major hospital and health care system. The 200+-bed hospital is located along Old Pecos Trail just east of Interstate 285. Founded in 1865 as the first health care facility when New Mexico was a territory, the hospital serves a population spread across seven counties. More than 52,000 patients are seen there every year.

Santa Fe Health Care

Car Registration

Your destination for registering your car or getting a state license is the New Mexico MVD. Be sure to bring all the required documents with you:

  • Proof of insurance. A current auto insurance card, a copy of your current auto policy, or a letter from your insurance company on letterhead that verifies your coverage.
  • Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin for a new vehicle. The original MCO, not a copy.
  • Odometer mileage statement
  • Your application
  • Two forms proof of New Mexico residency and proof of identity
The wheel and dashboard of a well restored, turquoise Volkswagen Beetle from the 1960's.
A pink sunset with power lines.

Paying online for your utility services is pretty easy in New Mexico. Just head to the City of Santa Fe Customer Service and Utility Billing website, or drop in at 801 West San Mateo any weekday from 8 AM (8:30 AM on Wednesdays) to 4:30 PM and get everything sorted out. You can also have your utilities account set up at City Hall if it’s a shorter trip for you.

Utilities and Online Billing

Water Conservation

From California to Texas, the American West is a comparatively dry part of the county. Many Santa Fe residents do their part to conserve water by joining the Eye on Water program offered by the City of Santa Fe. Powered by Badger Meter, Inc., the program allows you to monitor water usage on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Follow the steps to set up your own account, beginning with entering your zip code.

An aerial view of the Rio Grande Gorge.
Crushed aluminum cans ready for recycling.

Your home might not be equipped with the appropriate blue recycling cart when you first move in. You can call 505-955-2200 to order one, or head to Environmental Services on the City of Santa Fe website for more information.

Be sure to visit Environmental Services to learn about all the recycling guidelines. The good news is that residents can now mix all accepted materials together in their blue recycling cart. Cans, paper plastic, and cartons are accepted for curbside recycling.

Note that the City of Santa Fe no longer collects glass recycling at the curb. Residents can bring glass, cardboard, mixed paper, plastic, and cartons to these recycling drop-off centers.

in Santa Fe