Ready to pick up and move someplace different, but not sure yet where you’re headed? You’re not alone! Many people living in states with traffic congestion, a high cost of living, and perhaps some natural disasters are looking for a new home that is less crowded, has a lower cost of living, good weather, recreational opportunities, and ideally won’t experience tornadoes or hurricanes. If that’s you, you may want to consider moving to the Four Corners.
The Four Corners is a region around where four states come together: New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona, and the area has a diversity of ecosystems, so there are a lot of choices when we talk about moving here.
What Four Corners Communities Have in Common
One thing all these Four Corners towns and cities have in common is a small-town way of life. You won’t find metropolitan areas with lots of traffic and in almost all, you won’t find an abundance of big box stores but will instead be able to support local businesses. Small towns allow you to easily get involved in local activities because people know each other and are, in general, friendly and welcoming.
Another factor common to this area is the abundance of fascinating historical places to visit tied to Native Americans. The Ancestral Puebloan people lived here and left behind pithouses, kivas, and other structures. Navajo people, the Diné, have also long lived in the Four Corners region and the Navajo Nation encompasses a large swath of the region. Hopi land is surrounded by the Navajo Nation. In Southwest Colorado, the Ute Mountain Utes also have a reservation. Just a few of the many places to visit to explore their cultures and histories include Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, Monument Valley in Utah, Canyon de Chelly in Arizona, and Mesa Verde in Colorado.
While there are no hard and fast boundaries to the Four Corners, much of the region is part of the Colorado Plateau, so you’ll find that most of the areas you’re exploring are at a fairly high elevation. Kayenta, Arizona, for example, has an elevation of 5,700 feet and Durango, Colorado, is located at 6,529. Living at high altitude isn’t for everyone, especially if you have cardiovascular problems. Otherwise, it just means paying attention to drinking enough water, wearing sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun, and giving your body time to adjust before tackling a strenuous activity.
Because the region is so large, the weather is distinct to each area, but suffice it to say that you can get snow in the winter in the Four Corners. Colorado and Utah, being the more northern of the Four Corners states, generally get more snow than New Mexico and Arizona. And, of course, the mountainous areas get more snow than the valleys. You might need to invest in a set of chains for your car.
Summers are generally mild and the area is much less humid than the South. On a hot day, residents will remind themselves, “At least it’s a dry heat!” Each season provides its own recreational opportunities, of course. Read about some of the best things to do in summer and winter in these articles.
Many communities in the Four Corners were founded to mine the abundance of natural resources in the area and some still employ many people in those industries. Tourism has also become an important part of the economy in the Four Corners, whether due to the national parks and monuments or for hiking, biking, camping, birding, fishing, and hunting in the beautiful natural areas surrounding the communities.
Differences by State
One thing that may be important for some people trying to choose a place to live is whether or not recreational or medical marijuana is legal. Both are legal in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Only medical marijuana is legally sold in Utah.
Another law that is specific to Utah is that while beer and some hard seltzers may be purchased at grocery and convenience stores, wine and hard liquors can only be purchased at authorized state stores.
Generally, you’ll find more forested areas the further north or the higher in elevation you go. Monument Valley, for example, is dry desert land while Mesa Verde in Colorado is surrounded by forest.
Cities to Explore in the Four Corners
Farmington, New Mexico, is the largest New Mexican city in the Four Corners region. This charming community has a diversity of neighborhoods, a historic and vibrant downtown area, lots of community events, and plenty of natural and historical areas to explore, such as trails along the river and Aztec Ruins National Monument. Learn more about moving to Farmington here. The town of Aztec is nearby for those wanting an even smaller community.
Gallup, New Mexico, is on the edge of the Navajo Nation and is home to the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial each August.
Just to the north, you’ll find the cities of Durango and Cortez, Colorado. Durango is the larger of the two communities and is 50 miles east of Cortez. Durango is a great place on its own, but is also a jumping-off point from which to visit places like Telluride, Ouray, Silverton, Pagosa Springs, and Alamosa. Read more about moving to Durango here and about events in Durango here.
Cortez is a great hub for those who want to live close to places like Mesa Verde National Park and the many other national monuments in the area that preserve Ancestral Puebloan ruins. Of course, there are all sorts of wide open spaces to enjoy for hiking in Southwest Colorado. Find out about moving to Cortez here and about some of the fun events held in Cortez here.
Arizona cities in the Four Corners include Window Rock — the government seat of the Navajo Nation, Kayenta, and Chinle while Utah communities include Monticello and Blanding.
If living in the fascinating Four Corners is something you’re considering, plan a trip and see if it’s right for you!
Populations of Some Four Corners Cities
Farmington, New Mexico: 46,127
Gallup, New Mexico: 20,932
Aztec, New Mexico: 6,126
Durango, Colorado: 19,531
Cortez, Colorado: 8,855
Kayenta, Arizona: 5,634
Chinle, Arizona: 4,291
Window Rock, Arizona: 2,451
Blanding, Utah: 3,319
Monticello, Utah: 1,802