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Over 333,000 New Yorkers Have Left City Since COVID Pandemic Began In March

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The city that never sleeps has certainly gotten quieter since the pandemic hit.

People have left, many for good.

Moving trucks being packed up and "apartment for rent" signs going up are signs of the times here.

Sarah Diminich is among those who left New York City, after 23 years.

"I miss the energy. I miss my friends ... but sort of in my mind, I feel like when I think about New York that I love, everything is shut down," she told CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis.

When the city locked down, she felt isolated in her West Village apartment. She took a trip to Myrtle Beach, where she's from, embracing the outdoor lifestyle.

"Just so much healthier, physically and mentally, and then I made really sort of what I think is a tough decision to go ahead and give up my apartment in New York City and relocate down here," Diminich said.


Similarly, Emma Markham, packed up her Brooklyn apartment and returned to her home state, Massachusetts.

"Once my work informed me that we were going to be remote indefinitely, I decided to give up my apartment and just focus on saving money mostly," she said.

They're among the 692,704 city residents who requested a change of address from the U.S. Postal Service between March and November.

Postal service data CBS2 obtained shows about half of those people -- 359,318 -- moved within the five boroughs, but the other half -- 333,386 -- left entirely.

More than 54,000 people moved to New Jersey, 31,268 to Florida, 23,387 to Connecticut and 21,872 to California.

More than 100,000 went upstate or to Long Island.

This data does not include those who left without formally changing their addresses.

RELATED STORY -- Mayor Bill De Blasio, Moving Companies Weigh In On NYC Real Estate Debate: How Many People Are Leaving The City?

"They are taking advantage of the mortgage rates now to leave the city for the suburbs," economist Nancy Wu, with StreetEasy, said.

That's one reason Wu says people are moving. Others include affordability and space. But there's also an opposite effect.

For example, Brooklyn is now a hot market for those who want the city lifestyle.

"Pending sales in Brooklyn reached record highs in October," Wu said.

And in Manhattan, StreetEasy says rents dropped almost 13%, opening the market to attract new residents.

Wu says the city is slowly starting to see some people come back, but vaccine rollout and businesses re-opening are two important factors to how fast people return, if they choose to.

The mayor wouldn't comment Friday but previously has said New York City would bounce back, like it has before. It's a good bet.

RELATED STORY -- New Yorkers Have Message For Those Leaving, Saying City Is Dead: We'll Fix It And Then We'll Welcome You Back

Michael Quinn, born and bred in the city, says he's here to stay.

"There's no place in the world I'd rather be than New York City," he said.

While many have moved, not all say it's for good.

"Yes, there's an open door that I would return to New York," Diminich said.

She and all CBS2 spoke to agreed, there's still no place like it.


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