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Nearly half of New York’s top earners have considered leaving the city


Nearly half of New York’s top earners have considered leaving the city during the coronavirus pandemic – with declining quality of life and rising crime named as the top reasons to flee

  • Poll surveyed 782 New Yorkers who make more than $100,000 a year
  • Found that 44% of high-income New Yorkers have considered leaving
  • The group makes up 80% of the city’s income tax revenue
  • Cost of living, crime, and lifestyle are the top reasons they consider moving 

By Keith Griffith For

Published: | Updated:

A new poll has found that nearly half of New York City‘s highest earners have considered moving elsewhere during the coronavirus pandemic, flashing a warning signal over the city’s evaporating tax base.

The survey of 782 New York City adults earning at least $100,000 a year was conducted between July 13 and August 3, and commissioned by the Manhattan Institute, a politically conservative think-tank.

The high-income demographic accounts for more than 80 percent of New York City’s income tax revenue.

The survey found that 44 percent of high-income New Yorkers say that they have considered relocating outside the city in the past four months, with cost of living cited most frequently as the top reason. 

Manhattan residents are seen packing a U-Haul on Saturday. A new poll has found that nearly half of New York City’s highest earners have considered moving elsewhere

Perception of quality of life in the city has dropped dramatically during the pandemic

New York has already seen a massive exodus of residents during the pandemic, leading Governor Andrew Cuomo to plead with wealthy residents to return.

On Tuesday, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer warned that the city’s wealthiest residents should be prepared to ‘step up and help’ close a gaping $4.2 billion deficit by paying higher taxes

The new survey found than half of high-income New Yorkers are working entirely from home, and nearly two-thirds believe that this will be the new normal for the city. 

Of those considering leaving New York City, 30 percent said that the possibility of working remotely makes it more likely that they will move.  

Cost of living, crime, and desire for a different lifestyle were the top reasons for leaving

Still, a majority of respondents to the survey said that New York City is on the right track

A strong majority believe that the pandemic will permanently change working habits

The desire to relocate varies with age, with more than half of those aged 18 to 44 considering moving, while less than a quarter of those over 65 thinking about a move. 

The cost of living in New York was the most commonly cited reason for wanting to leave, with 69 percent of respondents saying it was a reason to move.

Other reasons cited by respondents considering leaving New York City include crime (47 percent), desire for a nonurban lifestyle (46 percent), and the ability to work from home (30 percent). 

The survey found more than half of high-income residents of New York are working entirely from home due to pandemic restrictions, perhaps contributing to their willingness to leave.

A moving van is seen loading up in Chelsea in New York on Tuesday July 14, 2020

Of New Yorkers earning at least $100,000, 38 percent believe that the city is headed in the wrong direction, compared with 53 percent who believe that it is on the right track.

The results are split along partisan lines, with 62 percent of Democrats saying that New York is on the ‘right track,’ while 72 percent of Republicans say that it is headed in the ‘wrong direction.’ 

It comes after New Yorkers have been leaving the city in droves since the pandemic began. Between March 1 and May 1, more than 420,000 fled, many of whom resided in the city’s richest neighborhoods, including SoHo and the Upper East Side.

By the end of June another 16,000 New Yorkers had permanently changed their address from NYC to a Connecticut address. 

In the months since, others have fled to Vermont, Idaho, Ohio and elsewhere in search of new pastures.


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