Despite headlines showing that thousands of people are leaving Long Island, millennials are making a resurgence here.
The number of adults from age 20 to 34 rose 7.6 percent from 2010 to 2015 after dropping for two decades, according to a recent report by the Long Island Association based on U.S. Census Bureau population estimates.
Some millennials are moving here from outside the area in search of larger homes and good schools and following educational and job opportunities. Here are portraits of some who are new to Long Island.
Omar and Dainya Smith, Hewlett
OMAR AND DAINYA SMITH
WHO THEY ARE Dainya, 30, is a registered nurse, and Omar, 31, is an applications developer for a transportation company.
WHERE THEY’RE FROM They moved to Long Island from Queens in April. Both Dainya and Omar grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, where they met in the high school science club.
HOW THEY ENDED UP HERE They were looking for an affordable home and a good school district for their future children.
WHAT THEY BOUGHT A three-bedroom, one-bathroom home for $382,500
WHY THEY CHOSE THEIR COMMUNITY They based their decision on the high ratings for the local school system and Hewlett’s proximity to work and the city. They both work in the city.
WHAT THEY ALREADY KNEW ABOUT LONG ISLAND “We knew Long Island had a reputation for good schools and more yard space,” Dainya says.
THEIR FIRST IMPRESSIONS “We met most of the neighbors, and all were great,” Dainya says. “Plus, the area turned out to be very convenient to amenities.”
Omar and Dainya Smith, Hewlett
WHAT THEY LIKE BETTER THAN WHERE THEY WERE BEFORE Not having to search for parking
WHAT THEY MISS MOST Easy access to the subway and being within walking distance of most things
THE ONE THING THEY WISH THEY KNEW BEFORE BUYING A HOME ON LONG ISLAND “We wish we knew how expensive property taxes were on Long Island,” Dainya says.
Jennifer Kennedy, Mount Sinai
WHO SHE IS Jennifer, 23, is earning a master’s degree in flute performance at Stony Brook University.
WHERE SHE’S FROM Montrose, California, a community in Los Angeles County
HOW SHE ENDED UP HERE “We did a lot of research about the most affordable way to live in Long Island,” Jennifer says. “We discovered that buying a house is actually cheaper in the long run than renting a one-bedroom apartment, especially if we rent to someone. It’s also a lot more comfortable, and I am so happy we made this choice. I love my house!”
WHAT SHE BOUGHT Her parents purchased a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home for $267,000 in August, and Jennifer rents a bedroom to one of her classmates.
WHY SHE CHOSE IT It’s a short drive to Stony Brook University.
HER FIRST IMPRESSIONS “My first impressions of Long Island were that this is a very friendly community, almost its own little world,” Jennifer says. “We drove past Stony Brook Village, and looked at the water across the street and just thought, ‘Wow, what an amazing place to be.’ It’s such a beautiful backdrop that never gets old. The proximity to the city is convenient, but it’s far enough away that you still have peace from the fast-paced New York City lifestyle.”
Jennifer Kennedy, Mount Sinai
WHAT SHE LIKES BETTER THAN WHERE SHE WAS BEFORE “I love that the ocean is so close,” Jennifer says. “My house is about half a block from the water, which is just incredible. In Southern California, a house like this wouldn’t have been affordable for us.”
WHAT SHE MISSES MOST “I miss living in Montrose mostly because I could walk down into the shopping area and downtown Montrose from my house,” Jennifer says. “My family and I love to go out to dinner and walk around that area. A lot of the shop owners know us and everyone is involved with the town festivities. I think that Long Island has an element of that, too, but not quite like my California home.”
THE ONE THING SHE WISHES SHE AND HER PARENTS KNEW BEFORE BUYING A HOME ON LONG ISLAND “I actually feel like I was well prepared by the Lina Lopes team who helped me to find my house,” Jennifer says, referring to her agents at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “They told me details about the area our potential houses were in, they gave us FaceTime tours of the homes and took extra photos for us. They really accommodated our needs, and worked with us to find the perfect house.”
Brian and Suzanne Schatz, Stewart Manor
BRIAN AND SUZANNE SCHATZ
WHO THEY ARE Brian, 35, is the development director of Manhattan nonprofit Row New York. Suzanne, 32, is the founding principal of Jamaica Children’s School, a district elementary school in Queens.
WHERE THEY’RE FROM They were living in Woodside, Queens, before moving to their home, in the Town of Hempstead. Suzanne grew up in South Orange, New Jersey, and Brian grew up in Whitestone. They had their first date in Brooklyn.
HOW THEY ENDED UP HERE Seeking more space, they saw the listing for their home online and attended an open house.
WHAT THEY BOUGHT They closed on a three-bedroom, one-bathroom home for $525,500 in April.
WHY THEY CHOSE THEIR COMMUNITY They say they liked the location, which was accessible to their jobs in Queens and Manhattan, and the diversity of the town’s schools, which is important to them for when they have kids. They also say they enjoy the neighborhood’s small commercial strip, with some restaurants, a supermarket and other shops.
WHAT THEY ALREADY KNEW ABOUT LONG ISLAND Brian’s family had moved out to Long Island — Lido Beach, Point Lookout and Sea Cliff — over the past several years. “We were familiar with the beaches, the access to the water, and the East End,” Brian says. “We honestly didn’t know a village like Stewart Manor existed on Long Island before we saw this house.”
THEIR FIRST IMPRESSIONS “Neither of us had heard of Stewart Manor before attending the open house, and we were instantly in love, particularly with the yard, garden and tree-lined streets,” Brian says.
WHAT THEY LIKE BETTER THAN WHERE THEY WERE BEFORE “Our new community is extremely peaceful,” Brian says. “In addition to the space upgrade from a one-bedroom apartment, we have a beautiful yard with rabbits hopping around and many different types of birds. So far, everyone is extremely friendly and warm, and we have access to a ton of great restaurants and bars. Also, the pace is a bit slower so we find we can truly relax when we come home after work. It’s also easy to hop in the car and go to other towns whenever we want. For example, last week, Suzanne surprised me at the train station to take me to a coal-oven pizza place in Port Washington when I got home from work. In Woodside, unless we were willing to take a cab or the train, we wouldn’t have wanted to give up the parking spot. Our dog, Penny, also seems to like it more. She wasn’t really into going for walks back in Woodside, but now it’s a struggle to get her back in the house.”
WHAT THEY MISS MOST The local shop owners and workers, and the quick access to the different neighborhoods and restaurants in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.
THE ONE THING THEY WISH THEY KNEW BEFORE BUYING A HOME ON LONG ISLAND “Nothing really prepares you for all that you’re now responsible for as a homeowner,” Brian says. “We were in a one-bedroom apartment before. Building staff pretty much took care of everything. Now it’s on us.”
Stefanie Calderon and Ernie Folcarelli, Huntington Station
STEFANIE CALDERON AND ERNIE FOLCARELLI
WHO THEY ARE Stefanie, 31, is an assistant registrar at a music conservatory, and Ernie, also 31, is an assistant buyer for a comic book store.
WHERE THEY’RE FROM They both grew up in Smithfield, Rhode Island, about five minutes away from each other, meeting in high school and later both attending college in Boston. After they graduated — Ernie in 2007 and Stefanie in 2008 — they moved to Astoria, Queens.
HOW THEY ENDED UP HERE “We had been hoping to buy and casually looking for a while,” Stefanie says. “Ernie’s company moved their warehouse out to Long Island a couple years ago. Once that happened, we started looking at our options a bit more closely and decided, based on our commutes and financials, along with things that we wanted, that Long Island would be best for both of us.”
WHAT THEY BOUGHT They purchased a three-bedroom, one-bathroom home for $292,900 in October.
WHY THEY CHOSE THEIR COMMUNITY They were looking for an area with homes in their budget that was convenient for Ernie to get to and from work, as well as close and easy enough for Stefanie to commute to the city.
WHAT THEY ALREADY KNEW ABOUT LONG ISLAND “Not too much, actually,” Stefanie says. “Before moving out here, we’d only visited a handful of times from the city. Once Ernie started working out here, we did a little bit more often, but mostly only for grocery shopping or to go to the beach.”
THEIR FIRST IMPRESSIONS “A lot reminds us a lot of Rhode Island, which is nice,” Stefanie says.
Stefanie Calderon and Ernie Folcarelli, Huntington Station
WHAT THEY LIKE BETTER THAN WHERE THEY WERE BEFORE “Having more space is the biggest improvement and probably what we were most excited for,” Stefanie says. “Moving from a one-bedroom apartment to a three-bedroom house with a basement, attic, garage and yard is truly magical. Aside from that, it’s also really cool to see stars at night again.”
WHAT THEY MISS MOST “Definitely the food,” Stefanie says. “And we loved our old neighborhood in Astoria, so we kind of just miss the area. We also don’t get to see our friends that still live in the city as often.”
THE ONE THING THEY WISH THEY KNEW BEFORE BUYING A HOME ON LONG ISLAND “I guess it would’ve been better to know a little more about where everything is in proximity to each other,” Stefanie says. “A lot of Long Islanders we’ve met and become friendly with kind of just expect you to know where certain landmarks and things are, despite you being new to the area.”
Prasana 'Vick' and Sabrina Malipal, East Meadow
PRASANA 'VICK' AND SABRINA MALIPAL
WHO THEY ARE Vick and Sabrina are both 31. Vick works as a service manager for a heating and air conditioning company, and Sabrina is a stay-at-home mother for the couple’s 3-year-old daughter, Rihanna Margaret (pictured, with Vick).
WHERE THEY’RE FROM Both are native Brooklynites.
HOW THEY ENDED UP HERE They were looking for a better school district, more space and a bigger backyard.
WHAT THEY BOUGHT A three-bedroom, 1 1⁄2-bathroom home for $438,500 in August.
WHY THEY CHOSE THEIR COMMUNITY They were looking for a neighborhood with good schools.
Prasana 'Vick' and Sabrina Malipal, East Meadow
WHAT THEY ALREADY KNEW ABOUT LONG ISLAND “We knew it had great schools, lots of fun things to do and was close to the beach and shopping,” Vick says.
THEIR FIRST IMPRESSIONS It provides the backdrop for “great family life,” Vick says.
WHAT THEY LIKE BETTER THAN WHERE THEY WERE BEFORE Less traffic, low crime rates and more privacy
WHAT THEY MISS MOST Being near the subway
Laura and Nick Menchyk, Patchogue
LAURA AND NICK MENCHYK
WHO THEY ARE Laura, 32, works in customer service at PSEG Long Island. Nick, also 32, is an assistant professor of horticulture and plant science at Farmingdale State College.
WHERE THEY’RE FROM Both grew up in Butler, Pennsylvania, where they met in high school, and were living in Greenville, South Carolina, before moving to Long Island.
HOW THEY ENDED UP HERE After Nick earned his doctorate from Clemson University, he was offered a job at Farmingdale State College.
WHAT THEY BOUGHT They closed on a two-bedroom, 1 1⁄2-bathroom home built in 1908 for $315,000 in October.
WHY THEY CHOSE THEIR COMMUNITY They were looking for a neighborhood with houses in their budget, and they like that they are within walking distance of the village.
WHAT THEY ALREADY KNEW ABOUT LONG ISLAND “Absolutely nothing,” Laura says. “I went to school with people from the East Coast, but no one ever mentioned Long Island.”
THEIR FIRST IMPRESSIONS They were surprised by the high rents and cost of living — the couple rented in Huntington for 2 1⁄2 years before buying a home.
WHAT THEY LIKE BETTER THAN WHERE THEY WERE BEFORE The couple likes access to arts facilities, including Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington and the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, as well as the restaurants, beaches, North Fork vineyards and proximity to New York City. “Part of the reason why we chose to stay here is the landscape and the variety of things to do,” Laura says.
WHAT THEY MISS MOST The lack of congestion and newer infrastructure. “The commute is killer,” Laura says. “Whether you’re on the LIRR or the LIE, it’s miserable and really impacts the quality of life.”
THE ONE THING THEY WISH THEY KNEW BEFORE BUYING A HOME ON LONG ISLAND “I wish in general we had taken a little more time to dig deeper into the home before making an offer,” Laura says. “I think it’s just scary for any first-time homebuyer, when you are in a position that requires such a big commitment.”
Mina Nabizada and Stephen Messana, Huntington Station
MINA NABIZADA AND STEPHEN MESSANA
WHO THEY ARE Mina, 30, works for an international nonprofit, and Stephen, 29, works for an intraoperative neuromonitoring company. They met in Albany.
WHERE THEY’RE FROM Mina, whose father was a diplomat, lived around the world, including in Dakar, Senegal, and Grenada, the West Indies, before moving to Albany as a teenager. Stephen lived in Valley Stream as a child and as a teenager lived in upstate Windham, Coxsackie, then Albany. From age 16 to 18 he lived in West Hempstead. The couple lived together in Flushing, Queens, for eight years before moving to Long Island.
HOW THEY ENDED UP HERE “We loved Flushing, but couldn’t afford” to buy a home there, Mina says. Stephen “wanted to be near the ocean because he’s a fisherman.”
WHAT THEY BOUGHT They closed in July on a three-bedroom, 2 1⁄2-bathroom ranch for $524,000.
WHY THEY CHOSE THEIR COMMUNITY They say they wanted to have a commute to work that was no longer than an hour and a half, and found they needed to be far enough from the city to find a home they could afford.
WHAT THEY ALREADY KNEW ABOUT LONG ISLAND Mina, whose parents are from Afghanistan, says she thought the suburbs wouldn’t be as diverse as the other places she had lived. But Stephen knew it was a place he wanted to live in.
THEIR FIRST IMPRESSIONS “Huntington was more diverse and lively than I had expected,” Mina says. Stephen says he thought the area was very peaceful and felt different from anywhere else on the Island that the couple had visited.
WHAT THEY LIKE BETTER THAN WHERE THEY WERE BEFORE “I love the people in my neighborhood,” Mina says. “It’s a close-knit community.” They also like the quiet. “When we moved here, the only thing we could hear was crickets, which was like heaven,” Mina says. Stephen says he likes that there is plenty of space and privacy.
WHAT THEY MISS MOST The access to diverse food and overall accessibility and proximity to the city. The couple often returns to Flushing for Asian noodles.
THE ONE THING THEY WISH THEY KNEW BEFORE BUYING A HOME ON LONG ISLAND “I wish I knew how bad the traffic truly is,” Stephen says. “I knew my commute wouldn’t be easy, but I figured I would just have to leave a little earlier than usual. But even leaving at 5 a.m., I still hit traffic every day.”
Serenity Hart, Hicksville
WHO SHE IS Serenity, 27, is a freelance model and sells handmade bath products through her own business, Embrace Your Nakedness. Her boyfriend, Tom Keough, 54, owns a food distribution business.
WHERE SHE’S FROM Serenity was born in London and grew up in Toronto. Tom grew up in Ireland and moved to New York at age 20.
HOW SHE ENDED UP HERE Serenity was living in London and decided to move to New York City to be closer to her family in Canada. She and Tom met online and moved in together on Long Island in August.
WHERE SHE LIVES They rent a two-bedroom home for $3,000 a month and are looking to buy.
WHY SHE CHOSE IT Their home is set on a commercial property zoned for residential use and Tom can park the truck he uses for his business there.
WHAT SHE ALREADY KNEW ABOUT LONG ISLAND “I knew nothing,” Serenity says. “I’m a city girl.”
HER FIRST IMPRESSIONS “My first year was almost like culture shock because I’m not a suburban girl,” Serenity says. “When I lived in Toronto, I rode my bicycle everywhere.”
WHAT SHE LIKES BETTER THAN WHERE SHE WAS BEFORE “I like the fact that it forces you to slow down,” Serenity says. “When I first got here, I was complaining about it. Everything was closing at 10 o’clock. But it forces you to plan to do things in your community instead of going there because it’s just there.”
WHAT SHE MISSES MOST Public transportation and festivals in Toronto. “In Toronto, I bounced around from one event to another event and there was always something you could find,” Serenity says.
Haman and Preeti Anand, Massapequa
HAMAN AND PREETI ANAND
WHO THEY ARE Haman, 28, is vice president of operations and minority owner of a hotel he is opening with his family near John F. Kennedy International Airport. Preeti, 25, recently graduated from the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University.
WHERE THEY’RE FROM Haman grew up in upstate Lansing, and Preeti is from Staten Island. They met through family.
HOW THEY ENDED UP HERE Preeti transferred to Hofstra’s law school in 2015, and Haman joined her in a rental apartment in Mineola. “We quickly realized that we wanted to be in Long Island and began the house hunt,” Haman says.
WHAT THEY BOUGHT They closed on a four-bedroom, three-bathroom home for $555,000 in November.
WHY THEY CHOSE THEIR COMMUNITY It isn’t too far out on Long Island and is close to New York City, with easy access to major highways and the Long Island Rail Road, as well as restaurants, shops and a mall. “For me, it was important to have the small-town feel,” Haman says. “I come from a small town, so I like being in a tight-knit community where you can get to know your neighbors and small businesses.”
WHAT THEY ALREADY KNEW ABOUT LONG ISLAND It’s a good place to live for commuting to New York City, a good place to raise a family and has great beaches, they say.
THEIR FIRST IMPRESSIONS “We quickly realized how expensive Long Island is, whether it was gasoline, eating out at restaurants, or going to get eyebrows done,” Haman says. “The prices were a lot higher than the prices we were used to.”
WHAT THEY LIKE BETTER THAN WHERE THEY WERE BEFORE A larger town with more restaurants, good food and nice neighbors.
WHAT THEY MISS MOST “We miss our friends and family,” Haman says. “However, we may have convinced a few members of our family to make a move our way because of the amenities available and the great school districts. We miss outdoor activities on the lake, waterfalls and farms. We are finding it hard to find peace and quiet with a train that is right behind our house, basically.”
THE ONE THING THEY WISH THEY KNEW BEFORE BUYING A HOME ON LONG ISLAND “We wish we realized how high taxes can be,” Haman says. “We also wished we realized how expensive the market in general can be. If we had known earlier on, we would have been able to budget ourselves better.”
Nelson Burgos, Franklin Square
WHO HE IS Nelson, 21, is a signal maintainer for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. His mother, Ana, 48, is a manager for NYC Health + Hospitals.
WHERE HE’S FROM Ana was born in Venezuela and came to New York City as a teenager. Nelson was born and raised in Woodside, Queens.
HOW HE ENDED UP HERE “We wanted a bit of escape from all the rush and such, the fast-paced lifestyle New York City has to offer, and be able to unwind at the end of our days with a more calm and relaxing setting,” Nelson says.
WHAT THEY BOUGHT Nelson purchased a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home for $516,000 in April with his mother’s help. They live there together.
WHY THEY CHOSE THE COMMUNITY “We were open to looking at homes in different communities around Queens and Long Island, but just searching for that ‘home’ feeling,” Nelson says.
WHAT HE ALREADY KNEW ABOUT LONG ISLAND “Long Island was always somewhere we would visit often, from shopping to eating or going to the beach, so moving here, we were already familiar with it,” Nelson says.
HIS FIRST IMPRESSIONS That it was very peaceful and calm.
WHAT HE LIKES BETTER THAN WHERE HE WAS BEFORE “Not having to worry about parking when you get home is definitely nice,” Nelson says.
WHAT THEY MISS MOST “Since we both work in the city, we still have the best of both worlds and can enjoy everything without losing a lot,” Nelson says.
THE ONE THING HE WISHES HE KNEW BEFORE BUYING A HOME ON LONG ISLAND “We were aware of the changes we had to make and extra expenses we had to take care of. For example, longer commutes to and from work or going from paying just maintenance in a co-op to now paying a mortgage and paying for oil, water, etc. We prepared ourselves beforehand pretty good to be able to take a big step like buying a home for the first time.”