The Pandemic’s Impact on NYC Migration Patterns

Since Covid 19 hit nothing has been the same. Life as we used to know it changed completely, and with it our plans. During this time people realized that the simplest things in life are the most important ones. Being healthy, close to the family, and being able to be in the fresh air became everybody’s priority. So, people moved in search of this. The big cities suffered the most. Everybody wanted to escape the quarantine in the city in order to be free in the countryside. For this reason, today, Best Movers NYC has prepared a little overview of the pandemic’s impact on NYC migration patterns.

The pandemic’s impact on NYC migration patterns is huge.
The number of permanent address changes shows the pandemic’s impact on NYC migration patterns.

The pandemic had a huge impact on the life in the New York City

With around 8.4 million citizens, NYC is the largest city in the United States. It represents approximately 40% of the population of New York State. Its population growth is rapid, from 7.3 million inhabitants in 1990 to more than 8 million in 2005. Studies estimate that the city will reach between 9.2 and 9.5 million inhabitants in 2030. New York is a real melting pot, a city that contributes to the mixture of cultures, and origins. There is always something happening in the city, it’s truly a city that never sleeps. Each of the five boroughs (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island) has a distinctive look, and each neighborhood has its own identity. Between the pedestrian streets and the metro, buses, and taxis, sailing from one district to another is easy.

While enjoying their time in the city little did the people know that in March of 2020 everybody’s lives were about to change. At the beginning of the Covid 19, no one could have imagined the gravity of it. So, the more time passed by, the more people started getting ill. And then there was mandatory quarantine and new measures. People’s lives changed and thus the life in the city. A phenomenon that occurred during this time was the migration of New Yorkers towards less crowded and more secure places. So, let’s see how did pandemic impact the migratory patterns of New York City.

The pandemic had a huge impact on NYC migration patterns

The pandemic had a huge impact on people moving into and out of the city. According to the data published by the United States Postal Service, many people fled the city when schools and offices closed in March 2020. The biggest number of relocations outside the city was observed in the wealthier neighborhoods.  They were 4.6 times more likely to leave than people from other neighborhoods. Moreover, residents from wealthier neighborhoods were more likely to mark their address change as temporary. There were 109 net move-outs per 1000 residents compared to 24 move-outs from other places. In the first three months, more than 60% of addresses were marked as temporary. However, since then, 79% of net relocations have been marked as permanent.

a woman and a man sitting on the stairs while holding boxes
During the pandemic, many people decided to move out of NYC in order to escape strict measures.

In what areas of New York did the migrations occur?

Not every neighborhood in New York had the same number of move-outs. Some of them had a huge residential loss, while others didn’t. Move outs in NYC neighborhoods per 1000 residents:

  • The Bronx from 9.3 to 15.7
  • Queens from 8.6 to 18.3
  • Staten Island 2.6 to 4.1
  • Brooklyn 8.3 to 28.7
  • Manhattan 19.0 to 91.9

As you can see residential movers in Manhattan assisted a lot of move-outs in Manhattan neighborhoods since the pandemic started. The largest number of people that permanently changed their address occurred in the Upper West Side. The zip codes 10025, 10023, and 10024 had the highest number of move-outs over the course of the 2020 year.

  • 10025 lost 9,274
  • 10023 lost 7,976
  • 10024 lost 7,311.

The next biggest residential losses were in Chelsea’s 10011 zip code with 7,622 losses in 2020, followed by the Upper East Side zip code 10128 with 7,119 losses.

Statistics of the pandemic’s impact on NYC migration patterns in 2021

In 2021 New York City lost a net of 39,961 residents which is an improvement compared to a net loss of 40,494 in 2019.  As the pandemic situation is improving the number of people returning to do city with local movers Manhattan has been growing. Since July of 2021, the estimated gain of 6332 permanent movers has been recorded according to USPS. The largest gains over the summer of 2021 were in Chelsea/Midtown, Murray Hill/Gramercy, Battery Park City/Greenwich Village, and Chinatown/Lower East Side.

Urban areas were the epicenter of the pandemic

High population density and intensity of mobility flows have made cities perfect for the virus to spread. Even if rural areas are also very affected, the Covid-19 crisis has shown that the cities are the most vulnerable. Yesterday’s strengths of the cities became loopholes that the virus takes advantage of in order to spread. As the UN reported in June 2020, 95% of Covid cases are reported in urban settings. A shocking figure that questions the living conditions of urban dwellers whose setting does not guarantee their health during a pandemic. But then, faced with this unprecedented phenomenon, how are cities reshaped by the dynamics of the epidemic? Let’s find out.

The pandemic’s impact on NYC migration patterns can be seen in the big cities
Big cities were the most impacted by Covid 19.

Where did New Yorkers move to during the pandemic?

New York City is as we all know the most crowded city. And since Covid 19 spreads faster in the crowded areas New York became the first U.S. epicenter of the virus. While it seemed like people were staying at home, they were actually moving more than usual. Also, NYC is one of the most expensive cities in the country. So, the decision to move from NYC to a smaller town at this time maybe not only be due to the fear of getting COVID-19 but also for economic reasons. The Coronavirus has stalled the economy. The national unemployment rate hit 16% by May. People who were already struggling in the highest-rent areas were no longer able to afford to be laid off or unemployed. So once offices have closed, people have realized that they do not have to live close to work anymore.

People who live in the big cities fled to move back home or somewhere cheaper. This is when working remotely during Covid became a common thing. Almost seven in then workers started working from home. Working remotely gave the opportunity to people to live wherever they want. Many are still leaving big cities and populated areas for suburbs or small communities in the country. Since a  lot of people come to the big cities in search of a better-paid job, with remote there is no need for that, you can still have the same pay without having to spend too much money on rent.

The pandemic’s impact on NYC migration patterns is visible mostly in the suburbs
Moving to suburbs during the pandemic became a big trend among New Yorkers.

The pandemic’s impact on NYC migration patterns- the suburbs became the new place

When New York was preparing for a lockdown, many people were preparing their suitcases in order to move from Manhattan to the suburbs. High real estate prices, duration of the work-home journey, population density… If until now most city dwellers put up with it, the very special period of lockdown has changed the situation. By staying confined in their homes, people have become aware of the cramped space in which they live, with no access to the outside for the most part. People moved to Connecticut in order to have more space.  You have more freedom in the suburbs when you live in the house with the yard. You can go out in the fresh air without risking getting Covid from someone. NYC is always filled with people, so escaping crowded areas is hard. In suburbs you feel safer since the risk of getting infected is lower.

Moreover, many people realized that the most important things in life are the simple ones, and thus they looked for a different way of life than the one in the city. They recognized the value in having more space, more property, a place for the kids to play, so they bought homes in the suburbs. In 2020, the chicest neighborhoods lost more inhabitants than the more popular areas. Moreover, many businesses that want to cut overheads while retaining their most skilled workers are setting up their offices in smaller towns where rent is lower and introducing more remote ways of working.  As a result, after decades of big-city growth, the suburbs are now doing well. 

silhouette of palm trees near the body of water
A lot of people moved to Florida in search of a better life.

The pandemic’s impact on NYC migration patterns to Florida

Apart from moving to the suburbs, New Yorkers moved a lot to Florida. More than 33.000 people decided to move from NYC to Florida during the pandemic. The sun, looser Covid 19 restrictions, and lesser taxes are the things that attracted many people to move to the sunny state. From September 2020 to March 2021, 33.565 New Yorkers applied for a Florida driver’s license according to data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. This represents an increase of 32% compared to the year before. Florida was definitely one of the most desirable destinations.

Some of the people decided to move temporarily, and buy a second home in Florida, while others loved their new life there and decided to move permanently. The county of Palm Beach was definitely the most popular destination. It received 14,045 people from NY from 2019 to 2021. With its beautiful weather all year round and beaches, Palm Beach is one of the best places in Florida for ex-New Yorkers.

Many people picked Texas as their new home

Texas is still one of the places that received a huge number of New Yorkers since the beginning of the pandemic. The measures in Texas were not as strict as in NYC so people started being interested more and more in moving to Texas. Moreover, the cost of living in Texas is lower and there are no personal income taxes. For the same amount of money for which you could get an apartment in New York, you could get a three-bedroom home in Texas. Also, the cities in Texas are less crowded and have more green spaces.

You will find everything you need to have a great life. The economy in Texas is strong, and there are many job opportunities, especially in tech. Moreover, life in Texas is more relaxed and peaceful than in NYC. People are friendly, and always there to help you, so this is not a surprise that so many people decided to leave NYC in order to move here.

A man and a woman packing boxes
Slowly people are coming back to New York.

Is the exodus from NYC going to stop?

The answer to this question is – probably. The city remains and will remain attractive because it offers access to some of the best schools in the country, many job opportunities, and a lot of activities. People were scared when they started to move out of the city. Those who decided to move in order to feel safe, are slowly starting to come back. Things are slowly going back to normal, which attracts people to come back.

However, to regain the pre-pandemic population there is still a long road ahead. The number of people coming back with the long-distance NYC movers to the city will depend on the Covid situation. As long as the situation is getting better and the city is able to maintain the in-person activities and attractions the number will continue to grow. In the months to come, we will continue to observe the pandemic’s impact on NYC migration patterns as it looks like there are still going to be some changes.


Latest Posts