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New Yorkers have been leaving the city in large numbers in recent years, with many citing concerns about safety, cleanliness, crime, and rising prices as driving factors. Samantha Pillsbury, a content creator and marketing consultant, left the city after nine years, feeling that the culture of workaholism and safety concerns were affecting her quality of life. Many others, like Stephanie Heintz, also felt a shift in the city they once loved, with the pandemic exacerbating safety fears and leading them to seek refuge elsewhere.

Despite the initial lure of New York City as a place where one can thrive and make it in the world, the experiences of many residents during the pandemic have led to a change of heart. Heintz, who moved to New York 14 years ago to work in the fashion industry, eventually felt overwhelmed by safety concerns and a sense of constriction in her daily life. High rent prices, coupled with a surge in crime, made her decision to move to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, more pressing.

Others, like Sophie Alvi, left the city for different reasons, such as feeling stifled by the fast-paced, money-driven culture of New York. Alvi, a former lawyer, found a more peaceful and fulfilling life in Austin, Texas, where she pays less in rent and is considering starting a mindfulness brand. The desire for a more relaxed, authentic lifestyle away from the rigid environment of Manhattan motivated her to make the move.

Many New Yorkers who have left the city express a mix of nostalgia for their former home and relief at their decision to relocate. Despite the challenges they faced in New York, they acknowledge the city’s unique appeal and the opportunities it offers. With remote work becoming more common and lockdown restrictions easing, some felt liberated to explore new places and pursue different careers. The allure of unfamiliar surroundings and a change of pace motivated them to take the leap and start fresh elsewhere.

The exodus from New York City is not just a temporary trend but a long-term shift, with half of the city’s residents planning to leave within five years, according to a Citizens Budget Commission poll. This movement is driven by a desire for safety, affordability, and a more balanced lifestyle, which many feel they can achieve outside of the city’s confines. Despite the challenges and changes they experienced, former New Yorkers encourage others to consider making a change and exploring new opportunities beyond the city’s borders.

In the end, those who have left New York City still recognize its appeal and acknowledge the myriad opportunities it offers to those who choose to call it home. While safety, cleanliness, and affordability concerns have led many to seek greener pastures elsewhere, the memories and experiences they gained in the city remain valuable. New York City may have lost some of its allure for these former residents, but they still appreciate its vibrancy and diversity, acknowledging that it is a city like no other.

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