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February 7, 2024 86 mins

Dr. Michael Stracener is currently a Visiting Professor in social welfare policy at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He has 40-plus years’ experience as a clinical social worker and doctor of public health, retiring to Las Cruces in 2021 from Federal service with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Stracener is married to Larry King, a clinical social worker who also retired from Federal service with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  Due to the increasingly conservative political policies in their home state (Arkansas) and the overturning of a city ordinance in place to protect employees on the basis of gender identity and expression, the couple decided to leave Arkansas for retirement. Upon retiring from Federal service, the couple researched things such as economics, political climate, cost of living, access to healthcare, and climate in New Mexico, Arizona, California Colorado, and Oregon. The couple narrowed the options to California, Arizona, and New Mexico and made several trips to each to get a feel for where they wanted to live. Climate, moderate cost of living, progressive political climate, and the friendly and diverse cultural community drew them to Las Cruces, New Mexico The presence of a university or college in their retirement community was important and Las Cruces is the home of New Mexico State University (NM SU), a university with enrollment of around 22,000 students. Surrounded by beautiful mountains, Las Cruces looks very similar to Palm Springs California terrain wise, but does not have the high Palm Springs cost of living. Las Cruces is the second largest city in New Mexico with a population of over 100,000. 

The couple bought their home in the Mesilla Valley area of Las Cruces in September of 2021 and were able to complete their move in November 2021. In November of 2022, Michael was contacted by a recruiter and asked to consider teaching social welfare policy at NMSU as a Visiting Professor. He began teaching in January 2023 and continues to teach online courses for the School of Social Work at NMSU, focusing on social policy. Since retirement and the move to Las Cruces, Larry has been engaged with a national therapy organization to provide online mental health counseling to residents of New Mexico and Arkansas.

Lac Cruces:

  • Population: 111,385 (2020)
  • Location: Southern New Mexico, on the banks of the Rio Grande
  • Elevation: 3,908 feet (1,193 m)
  • Climate: Warm, dry desert climate with 350 days of sunshine per year
  • Major industries: Education, healthcare, tourism, agriculture
  • Notable attractions: White Sands National Monument, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park, New Mexico State University, Spaceport America
  • Why people visit Las Cruces: For its warm weather, beautiful scenery, and variety of cultural and recreational activities
  • Why people live in Las Cruces: For its affordable cost of living, friendly people, and proximity to outdoor recreation

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