Life in Rio Rancho
This is probably a year too late, but here is your answer. We moved here from Cleveland, Ohio 9 years ago. We picked Rio Rancho for the schools (I was 8 mos. preg. at the time). The schools are great....they are not part of Albuquerque Schools...they are their own sep. thing. We are building 2 new elem. and 1 new high shool this year. This city is very school oriented.
Not too many places to shop - yet. But Abq. is not too far away (20-30 minutes). Many people live in RR and work in Santa Fe (there is a shuttle you can take and there is a commuter train that will soon go to Santa Fe - it already goes to Abq.)
Right now you can get a good deal on a home (lots of home on the market). We are not as bad as Cal, Florida and AZ as far as the housing market....but it is still a buyers market. Homes are from $150,000 - $700,000. THe only people that have "sticker shock" are people moving here from Texas (where you can get a house for a song). Do not know what the market is like in Germany!
We had planned on moving over to Arizona - this was to be a temp. stop for us, but we fell in love with it and want to stay. There is a slower pace to life here - that can take some getting used to. We love getting all 4 seasons. We love snow, but love that it is melted off by 10am and the blue sky and sun is out every day.