Escape from New York: 300,000 households flee as lockdowns & surging crime sour residents on the Big Apple

Roughly 300,000 households have moved out of New York City since March, fleeing a metropolis that has become a land of lockdowns and rising violent crime in a year dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic and civil unrest.

US Postal Service data obtained by the New York Post showed that there were more than 295,000 change-of-address requests filed by residents moving out of the city’s five boroughs from March 1 through October 31. The data included only moves to counties with 11 or more forwarding requests filed, meaning relocations to places where 10 or fewer New Yorkers moved during the period weren’t counted. Each change-of-address request typically covers a whole household, not just an individual, so the number of people moving would be higher than the number of filings.

There were nearly 245,000 moving notices filed with the Postal Service in March-July alone, the Post said, up from 101,000 a year earlier. The exodus has been blamed on Covid-19 concerns, economic woes, rising crime and troubled schools.

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New York state has suffered more than 33,000 Covid-19 deaths, the most in the nation, and more than 24,000 were in New York City. The city has had some of the most stringent economic lockdowns in the country to deter the spread of the virus, leading to thousands of restaurants, shops and other firms going out of business. New York is also among many large US cities that have been rocked by Black Lives Matter protests and violent Antifa riots and looting in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody in May.

A Manhattan Institute poll taken from July 13 to August 3 showed that 44 percent of New Yorkers who make more than $100,000 annually had considered moving out of the city since March. Nearly two-thirds said they believed present conditions were a “new normal” for the city. Respondents said their quality of life had deteriorated, and their satisfaction with the city dropped by half.

The law of supply and demand also illustrates the growing desire to get out of New York City. To rent a 20-foot U-Haul truck on December 4 to move from New York to Nashville, Tennessee, would cost $2,153, according to the company’s website. To make the same move in reverse on the same date, the truck rental would cost $677, or less than one-third the rate to leave New York.

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As for violent crime, there were 344 murders in New York from January through September, exceeding the total of 335 for all of 2019 with three months still remaining to go in 2020. The number of shootings has risen 94 percent.

The Post said most of the forwarding addresses are in nearby locales, such as New Jersey and neighboring New York counties. But more than 13,000 households moved to three counties in Florida, and nearly 9,000 redirected their mail to Los Angeles.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to urge wealthy New Yorkers to move back to the city apparently have had little effect. More than 16,000 Manhattan apartments sat vacant as of October, the most in 14 years. Cuomo announced new Covid-19 restrictions on Wednesday, prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people in homes and requiring restaurants and bars to close by 10pm. 

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