Rio Rancho is part of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The Rio Rancho area was originally part of the Alameda Grant, which was founded by the Spanish in 1710. By the early 20th century, much of the land grant had been sold to land investment companies. Amrep Corporation purchased 55,000 acres (22,000 ha) in 1961 and turned the land into a housing development called "Rio Rancho Estates", with the first families moving in the early 1960s. Most of these early residents were New Yorkers, as the developers advertised heavily in New York media. The population grew ten-fold between 1970 and 1980, and the City of Rio Rancho was incorporated in 1981. The opening of a large Intel Corporation plant in 1981 had a major economic impact on the city.
Since the 1990s, Rio Rancho has taken steps to become more independent from neighboring Albuquerque, including the establishment of separate school and library systems and attempts to attract businesses to the area. The city's latest project is the Downtown City Centre development that includes a new city hall building, a new University of New Mexico West and Central New Mexico Community College campus, as well as the Santa Ana Star Center. The arena opened in October 2006. City Hall opened in September 2007.
Of 18,995 households, 40.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.4% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.7% were not families; 20.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.14.
In the city, the population was distributed as 29.2% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 32.0% from 25 to 44, 20.1% from 45 to 64, and 11.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.9 males.
The median income for city was $47,169, and for a family was $52,233. Males had a median income of $39,162 versus $27,385 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,322. About 3.7% of families and 5.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.1% of those under age 18 and 5.8% of those age 65 or over.
Hispanics or Latinos of any race made up 37.74% of the city’s population.
Rio Rancho is located at 35°17'10" North, 106°40'14" West (35.286185, -106.670660). It lies in the Albuquerque Basin to the west of the Rio Grande, which bounds the northeast corner of the city. An escarpment lies to the west of the city limit.
Rio Rancho is bordered by Albuquerque to the south, the Santa Ana Indian Reservation to the north, and Bernalillo and Corrales to the east.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 103.7 sq mi (268.5 km2), of which 103.4 square miles (267.7 km2) is land and 0.31 sq mi (0.8 km2), or 0.31%, is covered by water.
Rio Rancho is in an arid climate.
The Intel Corporation is by far the largest employer in Rio Rancho. The services, retail, and government sectors are also major components of the local economy.
Rio Rancho is the site of Intel's Intel Fab 11X, one of the largest semiconductor fabrication plants in the world. The fully automated, $2 billion facility opened in 2002 and was the first Intel plant to manufacture 300 mm silicon wafers, which can hold almost twice as many chips as the standard 200 mm wafers. Fab 7, Intel's original Rio Rancho plant, closed in 2002, but is being converted into a test facility.
In 2005, Rio Rancho became the first U.S. city to offer citywide voice-over-WiFi (VoWiFi) service, although many of its residents complained that the service did not live up to their expectations.
Several call centers call Rio Rancho home. Walmart opened in early summer of 2006 in Rio Rancho, thus sparking several new commercial retailers to locate nearby.
New construction of large facilities include:City Centre development
Loma Colorado development
Mariposa, a 6,500-acre (26 km2) development
A new University of New Mexico West Campus
Hewlett Packard and expansions
Central New Mexico Community College (CNM)Construction now complete.
A new 75-acre (300,000 m2) development on Unser Boulevard in the southwestern part of the city including a new location for the Presbyterian Rust Medical Center, which opened October 17, 2011, surrounded by planned office and retail space, a hotel, and a 12-screen Century-branded Cinemark movie theater with Cinemark XD theater. Construction will consist of three phases originally planned between 2010 and 2013, but little has been developed as of late 2012.
A new 14-screen Premiere Cinemas theater at the corner of Southern Boulevard and Unser Boulevard
The City Council passed an automatic annual increase in water rate equivalent to 25% over a five-year period.
Rio Rancho has seen an increase in foreclosure activity. Sandoval, Bernalillo, and Valencia Counties were some of the worst-affected by the late 2000s recession.
In 2017, Rio Rancho will host the National Speleological Society's annual convention.
Rio Rancho Public Schools serve students in Rio Rancho. Rio Rancho has two major public high schools:V. Sue Cleveland High School (opened in 2009)
Rio Rancho High School (opened in 1997)
In addition, Rio Rancho has one public charter school called The ASK Academy, which focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, and currently serves grades 6-12.
Rio Rancho is home to the Albuquerque metro area's only oldies-format radio station, KDSK (AM), having moved into the Rio Rancho market in March 2015 and having licensed its newest FM signal, 92.9 FM, to Rio Rancho, New Mexico, in April 2016. The station holds the moniker "Rio Rancho Radio". The station features Rio Rancho area events and airs a weekly talk/discussion show with Gregg Hull, Mayor of Rio Rancho, Sunday mornings. The station signal, broadcast on three frequencies (92.7 FM, 93.7 FM, and 1240 AM), serves the entire Albuquerque metro area along with six counties in central and western New Mexico.
The weekly Rio Rancho Observer is the local newspaper, while Rio Ranchoans also have access to television and radio broadcasts from Albuquerque, as well as the daily newspaper Albuquerque Journal, along with its localized weekly version the Rio West.
Rio Rancho is also served by a government-access television channel available only through the city's only cable television provider Cable ONE. This channel shows all of the government meetings multiple times.
Albuquerque's transit department, ABQ RIDE, operates a bus route (251 Albuquerque-Rio Rancho Rail Runner Connection) connecting Rio Rancho with the New Mexico Rail Runner Express station at Journal Center.
In late January 2011, ABQ RIDE extended two additional routes (96 Crosstown Commuter and 155 Coors Blvd), and introduced an additional route (551 Jefferson/Paseo Del Norte Express) into Rio Rancho. The northern terminus of these routes is at Southern Blvd and Unser Blvd.
The Rio Metro Regional Transportation District operates Rio Transit, a door-to-door paratransit service for senior citizens 55 years of age and older, and disabled adults 18 years of age and older, for residents of Rio Rancho. The service is operated out of the Meadowlark Senior Center, and provides service Monday-Friday from 7:30 am to 3:00 pm. Riders must register with the service prior to using it. Rio Metro RTD also operates a commuter bus route serving the Enchanted Hills neighborhood in Rio Rancho. This service connects residents of Enchanted Hills to the US 550 New Mexico Rail Runner station and provides service during the morning and evening commutes. Rio Metro Bus connections are available at the US 550 Rail Runner station for Zia Pueblo, San Ysidro, Canon, and Jemez Springs. A Rio Metro commuter bus route provides service to and from the Cuba NM area, with a Park and Ride designated at Home Depot, which is located near the corner of NM 528, NM 550. Rio Metro's website and schedules may be viewed at: www.riometro.org
Rio Rancho was home to the New Mexico Scorpions minor-league ice hockey team, which relocated from Albuquerque in 2006, until the team ceased operations in 2009. The Scorpions played at Santa Ana Star Center.
In the spring of 2008, the Star Center became the home of the New Mexico Wildcats indoor football team. However, they only lasted two seasons, folding at the conclusion of 2009.
Starting in fall of 2010, the Star Center was home to the New Mexico Thunderbirds of the NBA Development League and the New Mexico Mustangs of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). The Mustangs' NAHL membership was transferred to Richfield, Minnesota, in 2012. The New Mexico Thunderbirds announced in July 2011 that the team was sold to the Cleveland Cavaliers and will be moved to Canton, Ohio, for the upcoming season.
Since February 2012, Rio Rancho has been the location of the New Mexico Stars, a professional indoor football team. They play home games at the Santa Ana Star Center, with whom they signed a five-year contract.
Rio Rancho is also the home city of New Mexico Strongman, an amateur organization dedicated to promoting and hosting strongman competitions in New Mexico.
New England Patriots defensive tackle Alan Branch is from Rio Rancho.