New Yorkers Flee Big City Life

Norman Parkinson, 1955

Over three days in late July, a three-bedroom house in East Orange, N.J., was listed for sale for $285,000, had 97 showings, received 24 offers and went under contract for 21 percent over that price.

Last month’s New York Times article on the Big Apple’s mass exodus only told us what we’d been hearing for months; many Yankees want out. And who could blame them? The thought of quarantining without a back yard sounds confining, restrictive. Living in close quarters in small boxes, sans rolling hills with fresh air, offices still shut down after all this time, the germs of cabs and subways. Ick. And can you imagine how stir crazy kids must be? In addition, the divorce rate has skyrocketed. As some spouses shoved together for six months now are able to return to work, instead of enjoying the reprieve from one other, one fears for the safety of their families, now more than ever exposed to the virus by a spouse daily coming into contact with all that death and tragedy. Arguments ensue. Spouses separate. Mom packs up the kids and flees to the ‘burbs.

And in the midst of this often-applauded “freedom” to terrorize and slap and shove and spit upon others who don’t share your views all across big cities, it’s easy to give in to the allure of the suburbs, not only for the hope for folks to remain civil, but for a home that doesn’t share walls with thoughtlessly loud neighbors, not to mention lower taxes and lower crime and available parking and more quiet and even grass and trees. Less gunshots. NYC is strong and resilient, but it’s losing out to the housing market in Jersey, where moving vans cannot keep up with demand. Homes list one day, and sell the next at thousands over list price. And if in fact, many folks, continue to work remotely for years, why not do it in a 3-2-2? Or maybe make the move upstate?

12 thoughts on “New Yorkers Flee Big City Life”

  1. I am sure the folks in New York would consider Indianapolis not much more than a village but to me is a perfect size. Enough eminities to keep your interest but not too large to overwhelm. That being said I could never live in NYC.

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  2. I’m not sure whether NY or Cali are seeing a greater mass exodus. It is incredible how many people are fleeing San Fran and LA. One of the curious indicators is the cost of U-Haul rentals. As of today, the price for a small, 10′ box truck rental from San Francisco to Austin is $2,081 while the rental from Austin to San Francisco is $832. Austin is a popular destination for the Cali expatriates. I’m so sorry to say that (but you can have them.) As with NY, the problems are primarily employment, cost of living, social issues and lack of confidence in state and local leadership. Many anticipate that Cali taxes will become even more ridiculously high to pay for all the damage caused by the fires, the crippling of the economy by Covid-19 lockdowns and the non-stop spending. OK, I’ll pack up my soap box and shuffle off to Buffalo…wait a minute…that’s in NY State, right?

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    1. The Californians have been ruining Texas for 20 years now. Our water is down to a trickle for the past six months because so many have moved here, and move here every day, that we are at projected 2023 levels with not enough water for all of the new houses. I take a bath in 3 inches of water. They bring their crazy large salaries and profits from selling their million-dollar homes and coming by up all the homes here, where people are still making $30,000 a year and can’t compete. Hardly anybody I grew up with here lives in Austin anymore because it’s too expensive. It’s little California now and the identity has been completely lost. I can see why you’d want to flee a state that catches on fire every few months, but my uncle has been singing its Praises since the 70s. He would never want to live in 100% humidity with four days of rain per year and a hundred degrees for four months in a row. He’ll never leave. That is insane about the U-Haul price discrepancies.

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      1. Austin is but one of so many places infested by transplanting Californians and the annoying thing to the long time residents is that the Cali folk seem intent on changing the new location into a mini-Cali. We, of course, were well familiar with this phenomena in Hawaii. I feel for ya but have no idea what the solution is. We came to Cali for the kids/grands and for access to a certain nearby medical facility but if we were a few years younger, we, too, would likely get out of here.

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  3. You nailed it, Kerbey. We are seeing the expansion 250 miles to the northwest here in Syracuse. I just read a news report that listed Syracuse No. 9 on the most attractive mid-size city list nationwide. I was a bit surprised as I get ready mentally for our snowy season.

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