Roswell, New Mexico
A Great Place to Live!
(from Kiplinger's Personal Financial Magazine ® June, 1998 issue)
Great Place to Retire
by Ronaleen R. Roha
Did an alien spaceship crash-land near Roswell in 1947? As a lifelong science-fiction fan, I know about the "Roswell Incident" and look forward to seeing the town. Soon after my Mesa Airlines 19-seat Beechcraft touches down at the Roswell Airport, I take in the wide open, flat plains of the Pecos River Valley and the airy, pristine look of the town--not bad.
In 1967, when Walker Air Force Base closed, Roswell lost about 40% of its population. But instead of watching it die, the community worked to attract businesses and people. The result is a small city of nearly 50,000 with a healthy economy. It doesn't seem as though that many people live here. Streets, many lined with mature cottonwoods and elms, are broad. Homes sit on expansive lawns or, in a more southwestern style, on the seas of landscaping stones, and they're affordable: Fran Beason, 54, paid $170,000 a year ago for a new 2,600-square-foot brick home with four bedrooms and two and a half baths. The former IBM programmer used a long list of criteria to compare prospective places to live. When Roswell beckoned, she left San Jose, Cal.'s high costs behind.
The February day is glorious--sunny, in the upper 60's with a strong, fresh breeze. I stand at the beginning of a five-mile hiking-and-biking trail in Spring River Park, the largest of Roswell's 24 parks, wishing I had time to go the distance. The trail ends at the entrance to the Spring River Zoo, the only free zoo in New Mexico.
The immediate area is flat except for a gentle roll here and there and a low rise to the east, known as Comanche Hill. But to the northwest I can see the snow-capped vista of Sierra Blanca, more than 70 miles away, and a bit closer, the peak of El Capitan. The wide avenue from the airport becomes Main Street. Downtown, shops and restaurants fill almost every storefront. (Roswell is part of Main Street Center--a nationwide effort to revitalize downtowns, sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.) It's minutes from shopping in downtown to shopping at Roswell Mall--which has Wal-Mart, Bealls, JCPenney and other stores--and other shopping areas.
Not too far from the center of town off Main is the Roswell Museum and Art Center. I toured the museum with Lillian and Harry Hermann, who retired to Roswell from Pearblossom, Cal., near Los Angeles, four years ago. Harry, 69, spent 38 years in the aerospace industry (and is a frequent visitor to the wing housing, the workshop of Robert H. Goddard and to the Goddard Planetarium). Lillian, 68, takes in the gallery featuring the paintings of regional artists Henriette Wyeth and her husband, Peter Hurd. Their cost of living has dropped by about one-third from what it was in California, says Harry.
Retirees like Casey Kazmier, 65, a Chicagoan who retired to Roswell three years ago, keep the International UFO Museum and Research Center running. The museum is a key player in July's UFO Extravaganza, when the town celebrates the Roswell Incident's anniversary. Two vacations and a month in a motel in Roswell persuaded Kazmier to make a landing of his and become a local. He rents a four-room duplex, with a garage, for $400 a month.
Roswell has its own symphony and the Community Little Theater. The New Mexico Military Institute (which is both a high school and a junior college) and Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell offer cultural attractions.
The feeling of wide, empty space is reinforced by the absence of crowds. On a drive to Bottomless Lakes State Park, about ten miles from town, real estate agent Alex Pankey and I see maybe three other cars in an hour. At one point we stop along the road to hunt for Pecos Valley diamonds--small pink and white crystalline rocks. The town lies peaceful below us. There are no trees, just low scrub bushes. The breeze is fresh and the sunset is nearing the glory people assure me is common in these parts.
Copyright © 1998 - A.H.D. Publishing, Garland, TX
This article was found on Kiplinger's web site. You can access their web site by clicking on the magazine cover.
Roswell, New Mexico
Climate: January high/low: 54º/25º; July high/low: 95º/67º; Annual precipitation: 13 inches.
Income Taxes: 8.5% top state rate applies to taxable income over $100,000: up to $8,000 in deductions per taxpayer 65 and over phases out at $51,000 adjusted gross income.
Sales Tax: 6.5% (prescription drugs exempt as of January 1999).
Housing Costs: on typical $85,000 home, $668 in property tax; $507 for homeowners insurance.
Auto Insurance: $711 (GEICO)
Market Basket: $37 supermarket; $44 drugstore; $45 services.
Recreation: Three golf courses, two public swimming pools; 18 tennis courts.
For more information about Roswell, call 505-623-5695 or visit Roswell's web site at www.roswellnm.org
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