But COVID-19 then threatened her husband, John Crellin, a 71-year-old retired architect with a chronic illness. So, on March 18, as the specter of the coronavirus loomed, she walked through their East Fourth Street apartment for enough clothing and supplies to last for about a year. A few days later, they drove 2.5 hours north to Canaan, NY, a small town in Columbia County where his daughter-in-law works as a veterinarian.
So far, Silverstein and Crellin have been able to stay without rent in a red-flanked house owned by a friend of a friend. But they plan to stay longer – because one thing that becomes clear when they settle out of town is that they probably won’t come back. Even if it is deemed safe to return, they are disappointed.
“I no longer love New York more than ever. This is the first time I have felt this, “says Silverstein. “Do I have to rent my apartment in town in the future?” Lots of work I could do remotely. Where do I want to live? “
Many Gothamites fled the five boroughs for safer shelters – from vacation homes in the Hamptons to parents’ basements in the Midwest – until the risk of coronavirus disappeared. But now diehard New Yorkers, some of whom had never even considered leaving the city before, plan to stay away for long.
Take stay-at-home mom, Stephanie Ellis, who left her apartment in Greenwich Village with her husband Paul, a 36-year-old advertising sales manager, and their 16-month-old son Nolan on March 12 with just one day. note. The couple had received an initial offer for their Manhattan rug a few days earlier, but had no specific idea about what to do next. They were going to rent a larger apartment in the city for a year or two before deciding where to move, but the threat of COVID-19 convinced them to retreat hastily.
The Ellises settled temporarily in Stephanie’s mother’s home in Marlboro, NJ. “Now we don’t know if or when we will return to town,” said Stéphanie, a 33-year-old teacher. “If we decide not to go back to town, we also have no idea where we are going.” They work with a counselor to determine their next stop; the best choices include staying nearby in Jersey or possibly decamping on the west coast.
New York’s largest moving company, Dumbo Moving + Storage, said moves had increased 11% in March compared to last year, “which is unusual because people don’t usually move to this location.” time of year, “said CEO and founder Lior Rachmany. “The peak of the travel season starts in May, which is why this increase in travel is strictly due to COVID-19,” said Rachmany, who sees many people leaving the Upper West Side and West Harlem for previews. less dense posts nearby (Staten Island, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut) and far (Massachusetts and Washington DC).
Real estate investor Ed Teig, 40, did not hesitate to vacate his Midtown East apartment on April 1 to rent a house in Larchmont, NY, with five days notice. “It was almost impossible to avoid contact with people [in the city] during the pandemic, ”says Teig. “We have two young children and we had a lot of trouble taking them outside and not being near other families.” They pay $ 8,000 a month in Westchester, which Teig estimates about 25% more than usual rates.
Like Silverstein and Crellin, and the Ellises, the Teigs have no plans to return to the city. They bought land near Rye Brook, NY, and are building a house; he could be ready this summer.
Other worried city dwellers are seeking tenancies north, west, and east of the city, but there is insufficient supplies to meet demand fueled by a pandemic.
“People are dying to rent something, trying to convince sellers to rent short term, but they don’t want to infect their homes,” said Stan Kay, a Keller Williams agent in Short Hills, NJ. Rentals generally represent around 5-10% of its business, he adds, but recently, around 40% of incoming requests are for rentals.
Concerned about the rapid spread of the coronavirus in a dense metropolis, Nick Farina, 32-year-old CEO in quantum computing, spoke. He, his wife Hannah Parnes, 31, their Havanese puppy Rocco, and their friend with pre-existing conditions, Dave Ferguson, 58, left Crown Heights on March 13 for a rental home in Litchfield County, Connecticut . They were able to get a big house for almost the same monthly rate, they paid for their 700 square foot apartment and signed a 45-day lease in less than a day. (They have since signed an additional six months.)
This is usually the time of year when people move around on their [suburban] city search. … But in the past month, we have witnessed an unprecedented surge. We are close to a 40% increase from last year. People are very nervous. They feel stuck.
– Alison Bernstein, founder of the Suburban Jungle real estate board
The crew strolls through a nearby forest reserve, while Rocco enjoys lounging in the warmth of the fireplace. Farina, who compares the space they have in Connecticut to “Versailles”, has even built a squash court in the basement. He adds, “We love it so much here that we plan to rent a house in this neighborhood full time now, regardless of when New York calms down.” (They would rent their apartment in Brooklyn.)
Real estate brokers – and in some cases even local authorities – are encouraging homeowners to heed the surge of interest.
Lack of supply is the reason why coronavirus escapees are willing to look beyond the standard commuting distance for longer term rentals, especially since remote working is likely to be the standard for the foreseeable future. The Catskills town of Woodstock, NY, for example, has 400 short-term rentals. City supervisor Bill McKenna encourages residents to provide opportunities for months to welcome desperate people into the city. Regional agents are also in the process of converting vacant units for sale into rentals.
Those who can’t rent, however, buy: some former New Yorkers have taken the plunge and bought properties in suburbs in the Tristate area – including Greenwich, Connecticut – when rentals were not available. (Low interest rates, around 3½ percent, help.)
“This is usually the time of year when people move around on their [suburban] research the city, ”says Alison Bernstein, founder of Suburban Jungle, a real estate technology and advice platform that helps families leave urban centers. “But in the past month, we have seen an unprecedented increase. We are close to a 40% increase from last year. People are very nervous. They feel stuck. “
On March 13, Katherine King said goodbye to her tight-knit Upper East Side community to move with her husband and three sons to a long-term rental home on the north shore of Long Island. They were able to get a perch in Lloyd Harbor, where she grew up, as they started searching a few days before the biggest exodus in late March and April. As King misses the city, she is also considering what life in the East might look like more permanently.
“I don’t know if I’ll be coming back to the city full time,” said King, 49, a cultural coach. “I want to stay in the moment and do everything step by step.”