New York exodus: 30% of city dwellers dream of leaving because of crime and high costs

Discover why high living costs, crime rates, and education concerns are prompting 30% of NYC's residents to consider relocating for a better quality of life.

Although many worldwide dreams of visiting and even residing in New York, 30% of the inhabitants of the “capital of the planet” yearn to live elsewhere, revealed a recent survey by the Siena College Research Institute (SCRI).

The reasons are varied and unsurprising given the constant headlines: crime, high taxes, housing costs – even small apartments – and poor public education. Unrepresentative political leadership and a less-than-ideal environment for raising children were also mentioned as variables, noted the New York Post.

Dissatisfaction is not limited to NYC: among those surveyed, 27% of New York state residents said they want to move to another state in the next five years.

“The vast majority of New Yorkers say the quality of life in the ‘Empire State’ is excellent or good and that they are happy to live here,” commented Don Levy, director of SCRI. “About 30% say they wish they lived elsewhere, and 31% plan to leave New York when they retire.”

That’s not surprising either, as another recent study ranked New York as the 2nd most expensive state in the country to live as a retiree, second only to Massachusetts.

40% of those surveyed by SCRI said that New York is not a good place to raise children, including 61% of black respondents. Twenty-six percent felt the overall quality of education is fair or poor, while debate rages across the state over opening more public charter or “elite” schools.

These are high numbers. These are breathtaking numbers.”

Don Levy, director of Siena College Research Institute.

Might be interesting:

“These are high numbers. These are breathtaking numbers,” Levy said of New Yorkers who want to leave. The exodus of residents in New York – city and state – began shortly before the pandemic and accelerated after that, after many public and private companies gave the option of working from home. Thus, the obligation to live in a small and expensive apartment no longer became so mandatory for many.

Consequently, in 2022 NY State lost a seat on Capitol Hill and the allocation of federal funds due to a declining population, which had declined before the pandemic and has accelerated since then.

Three of New York’s five counties – Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx – experienced some of the largest population declines in the country last fiscal year, with only Manhattan bucking the post-COVID trend, according to U.S.Census data released last month. Several other counties, including Westchester, Suffolk, and Nassau, also saw their population numbers fall.

The SCRI survey was conducted among about 800 adults in early March 2023. Some of the findings yielded that:

  • 67% of residents said New York was not affordable, and only 33% felt it was affordable.
  • 49% rated New York as “fair or poor” when asked if it is where they feel safe from crime. Meanwhile, 51% gave a response of “good or excellent.”
  • 60% said New York is not a good place to retire, and only 38% said it was.
  • 57% felt the political system does not work for them, compared to 38% who said it does. Democrats rule New York politics and are in the majority among voters by a 7 to 1 ratio versus Republicans.
  • 39% of respondents said New York State is not a good place to raise a child. That number rises to 41% in NYC and 61% among black residents.
  • About one-third of residents rated New York’s quality of life negatively.
  • About 40% rated New York’s environmental quality poorly.
  • 40% of respondents also complained about New York’s weather, but most said they liked the four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter.

Another troubling factor not mentioned in the survey is that New York City lost nearly five years in life expectancy due to the pandemic, the worst setback in decades, a phenomenon not seen in nearly 200 years, The New York Times noted. Other factors include overdoses, which increased by more than 42% in 2020 compared to the previous year.

In addition, since the pandemic, NYC has become a haven for “occasion” thieves: retail shoplifting reached record levels for the second year in 2022, and this 2023 continues the same trend, leading to product shortages and even store closures.

The pandemic, the anti-police climate, and penal reform have been identified as factors that have boosted crime in the city. In addition, in January, an estimated 3,400 homeless were living in NYC subway cars and stations.