The Pandemic Flight of Wealthy New Yorkers Was a Once-in-a-Century Shock


The outlook for this year has become much less certain as the stock market has plummeted in recent months and certain forms of federal aid, like stimulus checks and expanded unemployment benefits, have ended.

The city’s Independent Budget Office said it was not possible to calculate the tax revenue lost from the people who had moved because some of them could be working remotely for New York-based companies and paying city income tax. In the long term, the office said, their tax status could become a major policy issue as states fight for their share of taxes from remote workers.

Sophia and Charlie Blackett relocated last year to Rowayton, Conn., from Brooklyn, partly because both of their jobs in tech allowed them to permanently work from home. Ms. Blackett, 27, had previously considered raising children in the city, but the confinement of the pandemic shifted her thinking.

“I used to thrive on the hustle and bustle,” she said. Now, she said, “I think about waking up in my bed in an apartment, and I just feel a little bit anxious.”

The issue has become a talking point in the governor’s race. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a moderate Democrat, said earlier this year that the steep population drop in New York State, driven by the city losses, was “an alarm bell that cannot be ignored.” Representative Tom Suozzi of Long Island, a centrist challenging her in this month’s primary, has blamed the exodus on crime, high taxes and an unaffordable cost of living.

Gergana Ivanova, 28, a clothing designer and social media influencer, said her decision to move from to Miami was less about taxes. The pandemic made the downsides of living in New York City more noticeable, she said, including the lack of space in her tiny Queens apartment and the trash piling up on the sidewalks. She felt less safe walking around when the streets were emptier.

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