At $700 median rent per month, and a rent cost 15.3 percent of one's income, Albuquerque is the cheapest place to live in America. One of the best things about New Mexico is the sunsets, and this city is no exception. Residents enjoy around 300 days of sunshine and blue skies every year, and the Sandias Mountains to the east turn watermelon pink at dusk. The city sits 5,000ft above sea level, and one of the best ways to take in the scenery is via the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway. Round trip adult tickets are $29 for the 15-minute journey as riders ascend to the mountains’ 10,378ft crest, and five dormant volcanoes on the west side round out the magical nature. Albuquerque’s near-perfect weather conditions make it a prime location for hot-air ballooning, and it even holds an international festival each year.
As for free and cheap things to do closer to the ground, the KiMo Theatre has a rich history, with architecture steeped in Pueblo Deco styling, and the programming includes everything from ballets and movie screenings to artist discussions and concerts. Historic Route 66 is also nearby, and on a particular stretch of the old highway, the road sings. Referred to as The Musical Highway and installed in 2014 as part of a partnership between the New Mexico Department of Transportation and the National Geographic Channel, it encourages drivers to go the speed limit.