Carlsbad residents’ utility bills are among the most expensive in New Mexico, according to a recent survey conducted by doxoINSIGHTS, a bill management service with over 6 million users throughout the U.S.
Carlsbad residents on average paid $1,558 a month on bills – rent or mortgage, utilities and car payments – in 2021, according to doxoINSIGHTS.
Residents that paid the most expensive bills were from Los Alamos at an average of $1,920 a month; Santa Fe at $1,737 a month; Roswell at $1,657 a month; Albuquerque at $1,657 a month and Hobbs at $1,577 a month.
Albuquerque and the state’s capital, Santa Fe, are the most populous urban cities in the state. Albuquerque had a population of 564,559 and Santa Fe had a population of 87,505, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 Decennial Census.
Hobbs and Roswell are in rural counties with an economy that relies on mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction. Hobbs has a population of 40,508 and Roswell a population of 48,422.
Los Alamos is home to Los Alamos National Laboratory and has the highest number of Ph.D.’s per capita in the U.S., according to the American Community Survey (ACS). The largest industries in Los Alamos include professional, scientific and technical services. The city also has the highest median household income in the state at $121,324.
Residents that paid the least expensive bills in New Mexico lived in Grants at $1,265 a month; Deming at $1,314 a month; Las Vegas at $1,320 a month; Ruidoso at $1,349 a month and Taos at $1,353 a month, according to doxoINSIGHTS. All except Taos are rural areas.
While New Mexico residents paid on average $1,585 a month on bills, residents from 12 of the 19 cities surveyed paid less than $1,500 a month.
Associate manager of doxoINSIGHTS Aria Thaker said the higher costs in cities like Los Alamos and Santa Fe can skew the state average.
“We see patterns like this in other states as well, perhaps most notably in New York state. The (New York City) area is, by a long shot, the most populous and most expensive city in the state, which brings up the state average,” Thaker said.
While bills in Carlsbad are more expensive than most places in New Mexico, residents also paid 17.5 percent less than the national average of $1,889 a month. New Mexico had the fourth most affordable bills in the country followed by Mississippi, Arkansas and West Virginia, said Thaker.
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Carlsbad residents paid an average of $1,000 a month on their mortgage and $926 a month on rent. Thirty-five percent of residents paid a mortgage in Carlsbad and 31 percent paid rent.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 68 percent of households in Carlsbad are occupied by owners and 32 percent are occupied by renters.
Census data also shows that 61 percent of residents paid less than 30 percent of their income on rent.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), households that pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing are cost-burdened and may struggle to pay for necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care.
While most Carlsbad renters paid below that threshold, roughly 39 percent paid more.
Seven percent of residents paid between 30 and 40 percent of their monthly income on rent; 9 percent of residents paid 40 to 50 percent of their income and 13 percent of residents paid over 50 percent of their income.
Residents also paid about $256 a month on utilities such as water, sewage, electricity and gas — 19 percent less than the national average of $316, according to doxoINSIGHTS.
In Carlsbad, 72 percent of residents paid bills for health insurance in 2021. On average they paid $74 a month.
The most recent census data shows that 90.3 percent of Carlsbad residents had health insurance in 2019. Twenty percent of them had Medicaid; 16.7 percent had Medicare coverage and 60 percent had private health insurance. Roughly 9.7 percent were uninsured.
At least 70 percent of Carlsbad residents paid bills for a vehicle. They paid roughly $454 a month on car loans and $113 on auto insurance.
Carlsbad residents also paid roughly $102 a month on cable, satellite and internet services and $125 a month on cell phone services.
The most common biller in Carlsbad include Xcel Energy, the City of Carlsbad, New Mexico Gas, Windstream and the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA).
Claudia Silva is a reporter from the UNM Local Reporting Fellowship. She can be reached at [email protected], by phone at 575-628-5506 or on Twitter @thewatchpup.