Part of the published estimates for "income needed in retirement" include the assumption that you won't need as much money in retirement as you did before then--and one of the ways folks accomplish this is by paying off their mortgage and/or moving to a less expensive part of the country.
While Santa Fe is undoubtedly more expensive than any other part of New Mexico, I would say that housing is cheaper in Santa Fe than in Boston for comparable property. However, my mortgage is actually about the same as it was in Boston, partly because I bought a bigger house, and partly because I used some of the equity in my house to fund my transition here.
But here are some of the ways one CAN save money here:
• Taxes are lower. According to the US Census Bureau, the per capita state/local tax bill in 2004 in New Mexico was $2,861--only 68% of the comparable number for Massachusetts ($4,217).
• Parking is cheaper. When you live in a major metro area like Boston, you get used to shelling out $15-$20 for a parking space downtown (to see a show, for example). Parking here is either free or only costs a couple of dollars. And airport parking is $22 a day at Logan Airport in Boston--in Albuquerque, it's less than $4 a day.
• Utilities are cheaper. Because the winter is milder, the sun is stronger, and summer nights are cool--the relative demand for heat and cooling is lower. My gas/electric bills since I moved here are just about half of what they were for the comparable period in Boston.
Stay tuned for more updates on this topic!