New Yorkers relocating amid COVID-19 pandemic

Cyril Josh Barker | 8/13/2020, midnight
A side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic are the droves of people looking to leave New York City for what ...
New York City skyline/Manhattan Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

A side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic are the droves of people looking to leave New York City for what could be a “Great Migration” of sorts that could have an impact on the city’s economy.

Home and office organization website unclutter.com surveyed 3,500 New Yorkers and found that 32% of city dwellers are ready to move out of the Big Apple. More than half want to stay in New York State but want to trade city life for the suburbs or even the country.

“It’s about density,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in April, as New Yorkers were contemplating or even planning to move. “It’s about the number of people in a small geographic location allowing that virus to spread and that virus is very good [at] what it does. It is a killer. It is very good at spreading. It is very contagious and the dense environments are its feeding grounds. We learned that lesson very early on.”

Aside from tight restrictions in New York aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, those surveyed cited space as a factor as to why they want to leave the city. According to rental website RENTCafe, New York City ranks high in the smallest amount of average living space residents have at just 733 square feet.

Those looking to flee the big city are also looking for lower costs of living along with a larger space that includes outdoor space. Another factor is mass layoffs and the search for work.

“The pandemic has made a lot of us look at things differently,”’ said Alexander Brown from Unclutterer.com. “Moving home is a big undertaking but worth it for the benefits you get if you choose more space and a more relaxed pace of life. Packing up a household can be hard, but it’s a good opportunity to get rid of all the things you don’t need any more, and organizing your new space.”

Just about a month after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in April, one moving company booking website reported a 250% increase in searches by New York City residents looking to move to suburbs within 90 minutes of the city. The report looked at search data for all suburbs within a 90-minute driving radius of the city.

“In normal times the majority of searches for relocations out of NYC would be to other major cities like San Francisco, LA, Philly, DC…,” said Ryan Carrigan, co-founder and CEO of moveBuddha.com. “While we're still seeing plenty of interest in moving to other major cities, the surge in searches for moving to suburbs within 90 minutes of the city has been unusual.”

Some of the top areas people are looking to move to are Port Chester, N.Y., Montclair, N.J., Long Beach, N.Y. and Maplewood, N.J.

Data also shows that New Yorkers are moving south. Many older residents who have family or property in states like North Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia and Florida temporarily settled in states with low COVID-19 rates for several months at the beginning of the pandemic.

Most southern states are now seeing dangerous rises in cases causing people to return to New York, but they may consider making a permanent transition when the pandemic is over or if New York sees another spike in cases.