My son lives there and we visit often. Love the Pueblo style architecture and the desert plants, the informality, the whole feel of northern New Mexico. It's kind of magical. The Rio Grande Valley, the geology. And the history is fascinating, with the Spaniards arriving in the late 1500's, all the Indian pueblos, the Mexican revolution, the US fighting the Mexicans for control, etc. There's a mystique.
But I agree Santa Fe was a lot more livable twenty years ago. Even ten years ago. The traffic is horrendous, and the south part of town is like our northside times ten--one mall after another and soooo many cars. Only 75,000 people, but outside of the historical district downtown around the plaza, and out along Canyon Road where so many galleries are, it feels a lot like the San Fernando Valley--mall, mall, mall, traffic, traffic, traffic--even in the middle of the day. Partly the 400-year-old road layout is to blame. But clearly the urban planning process is a bit different from here....
Look forward to hearing what you have to say about Taos. Though New Mexicans often call it a tourist trap, I like it better than Santa Fe. Feels like SF did fifteen years ago.
Hope you have a chance to get to Ghost Ranch, do some hiking.
Beautiful & strong land...
But here`s a reminder to those going in search of "enlightenment" from the many self-appointed instructors..
"If you are FROM S.B.,you`ve no need to look anywhere else for your enlightenment...in-fact, their Elders come HERE in search" [used to meet at Zaca]