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Long Island sweet home

Fran Cirko, center, who is from Long Island,

Fran Cirko, center, who is from Long Island, lived in North Carolina and then returned after missing the community too much. She is pictured at her Central Islip home with children, from left, Kedeidre, 14, Kevin 16, and Amanda, 22. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

It’s a rite of passage for many who grow up on Long Island: move away, then wonder if — or how — they should come back. Here are the stories of  Long Islanders who did.

Fran Cirko

COMMUNITY Central Islip


WHY SHE MOVED AND WHERE Cirko, 48, an audit consultant, grew up in Amityville and graduated from Amityville High School. She moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2001, after leaving a relationship. “I have six children from 33 to 14, and it’s always been me and my kids,” she says. “My greatest accomplishment is being a mother.”

WHAT BROUGHT HER BACK Cirko returned in 2009 to be with family.

WHAT SHE MISSED MOST Having family around. 

ADVICE FOR EX-LIERS WHO WOULD LIKE TO MOVE BACK “To keep in mind the high prices in New York.”

AFTERTHOUGHTS “I fell in love with Charlotte, but New York is my home,” Cirko says. She has a job that she says she loves, and she’s grateful to her supervisor for hiring her for her first position at her company. “I hadn't been employed for seven years," she says. "I had just graduated Farmingdale College and was having trouble finding employment. I thought it was my age, that no one wanted an old lady." Her supervisors says he hired her because “he wanted a mature, reliable candidate," she says. 

Lisa and Chuck Idol

COMMUNITY Baxter Estates.


WHY THEY MOVED AND WHERE Maryland, after Chuck’s job with Citibank was transferred. The Idols met as students at St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset. Chuck Idol and many other Long Islanders were transferred to Maryland in 1987 from Citibank’s Melville office. 

WHAT BROUGHT THEM BACK “I love New York,” Chuck Idol says. “I love Long Island. I love the music on Long Island.” For Lisa Idol, “it was really more emotional, to be with my five sisters,” she says. “I always knew that I wanted to come back here.” Two of their three children also live in New York City.

Chuck left Citi in 2000 and started a tech firm on Long Island. “I can pretty much work anywhere,” says Chuck, who performs with a local band. Lisa is a teacher and is also a certified kids yoga instructor.

WHAT THEY MISSED MOST “The shell shock for all of us was no water,” Chuck says of himself and his fellow Long Island transplants. And the food. “There’s nothing like a Long Island bagel or pizza,” he says.

ADVICE FOR EX-LIERS WHO WOULD LIKE TO MOVE BACK Reconnect with family and friends, get involved in the community and environmental issues and learn local history. 

AFTERTHOUGHTS “I am so happy that my children grew up in the country,” Lisa says. But Long Island is where they want to be now.

Steve Mitchell

COMMUNITY Massapequa

HOW LONG HE WAS AWAY About six or eight months for his first move and about a year for his second move. He returned to the Island both times. 

WHY HE MOVED AND WHERE Mitchell, 54, an Oceanside native who is a kosher butcher and Elvis Presley impersonator, graduated from Oceanside High School in 1982. His first move was to Florida around 1985, so he and his fiancee could check out the lifestyle and job situation. They couldn’t find good jobs, and “it was really hot and buggy,” he says. 

In 1996, he and his family moved to Las Vegas. “Somebody wanted to open the first kosher meat store in Vegas,” he says. “I was able to do a bunch of Elvis shows … but the kosher butcher thing didn’t work out.”

WHAT BROUGHT HIM BACK “That’s where my work was. That’s where my family was. It’s where I could make the most money,” Mitchell says. “It always comes down to money.” Mitchell and his wife, Carolann, raised four children, three of whom still live on Long Island.

WHAT HE MISSED MOST Change of seasons, he says, as well as easy access to life’s necessities, such as coffee and good newspapers, and plenty of activities for families. 

ADVICE FOR EX-LIERS WHO WOULD LIKE TO MOVE BACK Make sure you have a good job — and if you don’t, consider staying put. “If you’re making a living, then you’re doing all right wherever else you go,” he says. Research neighborhoods thoroughly. “Never move back because you’re homesick," he says. "You've got to remember all the reasons you left. The problems will still be here when get back.”

AFTERTHOUGHTS “It’s just something in your blood — you’re a New Yorker," he says.

Michael White

White, an artist, grew up in Baldwin, graduating from Baldwin Senior High School in 1987. He and his wife, Masami, 46, have two children, Cyrus, 11, and Vivian, 7. They moved back to Long Island in 2013.



WHY HE MOVED AND WHERE After getting a bachelor of fine arts from Cornell University in 1991, White, 49, moved to Manhattan, where he’d dreamed of living since he was a teenager. A couple years later, he moved to Prague in the Czech Republic, where he taught English and had his first art show. He returned to New York City about 1994, settling in Brooklyn.

WHAT BROUGHT HIM BACK TO LONG ISLAND White’s family outgrew their Brooklyn loft after his daughter was born. After searching Brooklyn and Queens, the Whites landed on the perfect place: a Garden City rental with studio space — and a backyard that adjoins the yard of his parents’ house. The fence between their yards came down and his children have free rein between the two properties. “That’s been a heavenly thing for us and the kids,” he says. 

It took some soul-searching to become an Islander again. “I feel like, in some way, I was denying my suburbanism, as if it exists in opposition to urbanism,” White says.

WHAT HE MISSED MOST Peace, calm, space, trees, the beach. “I definitely was ambivalent. I didn’t overcome it. I found my ambivalence falling away,” White says. “I realized, ‘I’m not 25 anymore. I don’t have to be in Williamsburg.’ ”

ADVICE FOR EX-LIERS WHO WOULD LIKE TO MOVE BACK "Make an effort to make frequent visits to the city," says Michael. "You don’t need to see such a move as a total trade-off of city benefits."

AFTERTHOUGHTS “I can imagine living in the deep forest and making that work," he says. "I was just at a point in life where I felt like I want my kids to have a certain experience. I want to have a certain balance in life. ”

How many come to LI, how many leave

The Census Bureau estimated that from July 1, 2016, to July 1, 2017, Long Island lost more than 13,500 residents to domestic migration. That’s how many more people left for other parts of the country than the number who arrived on Long Island from other parts of the U.S. Suffolk County lost about twice as many residents to domestic migration as Nassau County did, but both counties saw fewer losses than they had in the two prior years.

Overall, with births, deaths and international migration also taken into account, Nassau’s population rose by about 3,700 people, while Suffolk lost about 1,400. 

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