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Old 09-18-2006, 09:48 AM
56 posts, read 385,410 times
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Hi to everyone. We are considering a job offer in Los Alamos. I'm wondering if anyone has any experience there, what is to like or not to like about the town? We would be moving from Utah, and I've spent most of my life in Colorado. Any info or insights would be appreciated.
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Old 09-18-2006, 02:16 PM
Location: Albuquerque, NM
710 posts, read 2,925,970 times
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Los Alamos is a beautiful mountain community. The best thing of all is the proximity to Santa Fe and the wonderful Restaurants and Shopping there.
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Old 09-18-2006, 03:00 PM
Location: Metro Milwaukee, WI
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Los Alamos is indeed, in my opinion, terribly beautiful and scenic.

It is fairly cold...it is over 7,000 feet in elevation! But it is very sunny as well. Summers are wonderful there.

(I have heard from colleagues that it does take a certain type of personality to live there, that the folks that live there can be very tough to live with and very "quirky." It goes along the lines of Los Alamos being pretty much a one-professional workplace town - LA National Labs. Also, Los Alamos is, I believe, one of the richest if not richest counties in the U.S., and has one of the highest concentrations of PhDs.)

But again, that is only conjecture and things I have heard second-hand. Otherwise, I go up there once a year at a minimum for a race, and always have a blast there with its secluded nature and its beauty.
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Old 09-18-2006, 07:22 PM
56 posts, read 385,410 times
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Thanks for the posts. I'm really looking forward to visiting the area, and hopefully making the move soon.
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Old 09-19-2006, 03:27 AM
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Los Alamos is a nice pretty little city. Be sure and buy a place that isn't just covered up in trees because it is in a fire hazard area and almost burned up a few years back. I'd buy a place with some open land around it for a fire break, if it was me. Otherwise a nice place to live. You might look at these sites for more info:
www.sric.org/voices/2000/v1n1/Los_Alamos_Fire.html (broken link)
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Old 10-12-2006, 03:52 PM
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The Los Alamos National Laboratory is experiencing problems. If you are highly qualified, I wouldn't recommend coming here. The contract for running the Lab was recently transferred from the University of California, to a group of several different companies. Many cynics feel this was little more than a give-way to political cronies. The Lab is being taken over by bureaucrats who disdain technical people. It has become largely concerned with documents and procedures, rather than doing any technical work.

Then again, if you are mediocre and aren't bothered by not being able to accomplish anything; this is a good place to get on the government dole. But the job security isn't going to be what is used to be.

This September, 2006 it was announced that from 350 to 600 contractors would be laid off. There is wide speculation that that further layoffs, including direct employees, may occur. There is also speculation that the formerly fairly generous benefits and pensions, may be cut back. Housing prices are going to drop. It would be a bad idea to buy until it is known when, or if, prices are going to hit bottom.

It is not the richest community in the country, by any means. Check out Telluride CO, Aspen CO and Beverly Hills CA. Los Alamos is mostly middle-class and working-upper-middle-class. But there is a uniformity of income here, with few really poor people, and few out-of-sight rich, either. There is considerable resentment of Lab employees among those in the northern part of the state who can't get employed there.

It is true that the scenery is very beautiful here. However, make sure that you'll be able to enjoy it. Make sure that the kind of recreation you want is available. Outdoor recreation here is heavily orientated towards hiking and horse-back riding. The nearby (15 minutes) medium-sized ski hill used to be a very good deal, with a very reasonably priced season ticket, for people living or working in the county. However, the last few years the snow there has been very variable, with the ski area not even opening up some years.

If you're coming from a smaller rural town, you will probably think the housing prices are outrageous. If you're coming from a higher-priced area like urban California, you'll think the prices are a real bargain.

Crime in Los Alamos is low. Most of the problems that occur are from teenage vandalism, etc. However, crime isn't non-existent. There are other places in the USA, mostly rural areas, with just as low or lower crime rates. Another problem is once you are away from the immediate area of Los Alamos, there are areas of very high crime in Northern NM. The whole area around Espanola, about 20 miles away, has a crime rate that rivals major cities, even though it is a small town. You should be very careful away from the immediate area of Los Alamos when participating in outdoor recreation, and think carefully before parking your car in unpopulated areas. There are some areas where if you park your car; it likely won't be still in one piece after half an hour.

Another major drawback is the lack of any shopping here. Groceries and supplies are quite expensive. Even some fairly common items aren't available in town. Even the nearest Wal-Mart is about 35 minutes away, in Espanola. Santa Fe, about 45 minutes away, has a bit more. To get some items, you may even have to go to Albuquerque, 90-plus minutes away.

Many people in the town seem to have a longing for "the good old days". Some seem to be trying to live an unrealistic existence of an idealized 1950s lifestyle, like "Ozzy and Harriet". Some find the atmosphere too repressive or intellectually unstimulating. On the other hand, there is a very high proportion of college educated people here. But many seem to be into seeing how much money they can make, and aren't very philosophical in their outlook on life. Some people call the town "Stepford" (as in "The Stepford Wives") or "Pleasantville" after the more recent movie.

Check things out carefully, and look before you leap. For the right type of person, it can be nearly paradise. But others may find it not to their liking.
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Old 10-12-2006, 04:05 PM
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2nd the above post...we have a friend who works at the lab there but would not live there in case it shuts down "rumors" so they live in santa fe its 45 min. drive but wouldn't get hit in a "market crash" if the lab shuts down!
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Old 10-13-2006, 09:25 AM
Location: Metro Milwaukee, WI
3,198 posts, read 12,527,264 times
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Originally Posted by kingrokon View Post
It is not the richest community in the country, by any means.
While I would agree with this statement, I stand by my original statement that Los Alamos County is one of the richest (or "wealthiest") counties in the U.S.

Here are some links:

-Story: "Los Alamos ranked as one of nation's richest counties"


-Story: "Los Alamos County wealthiest in nation"

http://www.freenewmexican.com/news/35676.html (broken link)

Again, I would agree that yes, living in Beverly Hills assuredly will run you more than living in the town of Los Alamos. I guess that wasn't my point. In terms of ranked personal wealth, incomes, etc., county-wide, Los Alamos county is a very wealthy county, compared to most other counties in the nation. That is all my point was.
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Old 10-14-2006, 08:35 AM
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If you have school aged children, you should look at the schools. Los Alamos schools have an excellent reputation. They are significantly better than the surrounding area. I'm not familiar with all the private schools in the area, it is possible they are on a par with Los Alamos Public schools, but the public schools are not.
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Old 10-14-2006, 09:27 AM
56 posts, read 385,410 times
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Thank you for the replies. I'm glad to hear from folks that live in the area. Kingrokon, I appreciate your insights and am wondering what are some of the aspects of Los Alamos that you like? What about the recent changes do you think will have long lasting effects? How long have you lived there? LAMom, I've heard great things about the schools in Los Alamos. In fact, the schools in that area are one of the main reasons we would consider making a move to New Mexico. Here in Utah, the schools are overcrowded and underfunded (lowest per pupil funding in the country). However,I don't want to be naive about the bigger picture, so I would greatly appreciate any further opinions on life in Los Alamos, positive and negative. Thanks!
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