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?