Atlanta Couple Strikes Gold with New El Dorado Home

For centuries, legends of the mythical city of El Dorado, with its unimaginable wealth, inspired many expeditions through South America to find paradise. However, several hundred years later and about three thousand miles north of the Amazon, El Dorado, New Mexico’s non-fictional town, provides a high desert paradise for LGBTQ+ couples of all ages.

Among El Dorado’s newest neighbors are Ryan Craig and husband Ryan VanderGiesen – a pair of Atlanta transplants who were quick to fall for the magic of El Dorado’s quiet streets, large lots, beautiful night skies, trails for running & biking, and proximity to Santa Fe’s amenities.

The pair met in 2010 in Colorado when they were seated together at a Top Chef Dinner and struck up a conversation. By 2014, they were married and living in the Buckhead area of Atlanta – a city they chose to advance their careers. A few years and a pandemic later, they were considering relocating options.

“We had been looking at the Pacific Northwest and other areas,” Craig told me. “We were familiar with Santa Fe because we would visit when we lived in Denver.” Then, in Fall of 2022, the food and wine enthusiasts visited the Santa Fe Wine and Chili Fiesta. “When we got back to Atlanta,” VanderGiesen remembers. “We thought, ‘Why not Santa Fe?’”



I entered the picture when the couple started house hunting. “We looked at different agents in Santa Fe and wanted someone in the LGBTQ community,” Craig recalls. “Mark popped up. We went forward working with him, and he was super responsive, kept us very informed and help navigate some unique issues with our property.”

Like all couples looking to buy a house, Ryan and Ryan had a list of requirements for their dream home. “We were focused on newer builds, a little bit outside of town,” Craig said. “Size was a consideration because we needed a guest room, a home office, and a gym.” Space was important for VanderGiesen, who told me he didn’t “want to be stacked on top of another house.”

Although I showed them a few properties and helped get them the lay of the land, they decided to buy the first house they saw online – a 3 bedroom home with high ceilings on a quiet cul-de-sac with courtyards surrounded by stucco walls.


The couple wanted a new build, and their slice of paradise was completed by April. They both played an active role in making choices about finishes, cabinets, and other details.

VanderGiesen loves the big windows and the many skylights.  “I’ve never lived in a house that has so much natural light. They really did a good job of putting skylights in places that could have been dark,” he says.

Craig is delighted with his new kitchen. “I do a lot of cooking and love that I now have lots of cabinets and counter space,” he says. “It’s great for entertaining.”

And the ample 1.3-acre lot is a hit with their dog, Molly.Thanks to the flexibility of 21st-century workspaces, Craig—a technology executive for a Fortune 30 company, and VanderGiesen – a communications consultant, work from home.



Any new home can be a veritable sandbox for owners with imagination – and the couple has plans to make their place perfect for them, including the addition of solar power. For VanderGiesen, landscaping is the number one priority. And Craig is looking to add in more plantings and water features. Somewhere down the line, they plan to add a splash pool.

In their spare time, they’ve been riding the Rail Trail, trying Santa Fe’s great restaurants, and have already hit up several wine tasting events. “We like Tia Sophia’s, Geronimo’s, and Horno.” You may even catch them at a future Friends of Dorothy event.