There have been the anecdotal real-estate stories, the interviews with parents about their kids reclaiming childhood bedrooms, and some data on higher electricity usage out East, all indicating that New York City residents are reacting to the coronavirus pandemic by fleeing to Long Island’s greener and more spacious pastures. Now postal data, acquired by The Point through a Freedom of Information request, shows a rather dramatic data set for the exodus so far.
In total, the United States Postal Service logged close to 25,000 permanent or temporary change-of-address requests from NYC individuals, families, or businesses to Long Island, March through June.
The numbers are a big jump. Each March for the last few years, there have been just a few dozen temporary New York City changes-of-address to Suffolk County – an average of just under 50 each March in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
In March 2020, it was 3,471.
March 1 was the day Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced what was then believed to be the first positive case of novel coronavirus in New York, a woman who lived in Manhattan. Pretty immediately, New York City was a hotspot, and apparently people started heading for the suburbs.
Every pandemic month since March saw more permanent as well as more temporary change-of-address requests from NYC to Suffolk County than the corresponding months in 2017, 2018 and 2019, which is as far back as this data was available and kept by USPS.
USPS logged 4,820 permanent change requests from NYC to Suffolk between March and the end of June, nearly double the total from those months in 2019. But the eye-popping jump is in temporary address change requests to Suffolk: 9,601 for March to the end of June this year, vs. 632 in those months in 2019.
While Suffolk boasts the wealthy second-home communities of the Hamptons, Nassau County saw a significant bump, too, particularly in temporary change-of-address requests. There were 6,569 permanent change requests from NYC to Nassau and 3,766 temporary ones over the same months, vs. 5,385 and 378, respectively, in those 2019 months.
The USPS requests don’t necessarily mean you’re ditching your old place. It could be that you just want your mail sent to another spot — though whether that’s done permanently or temporarily does suggest that thousands of city residents are trying on a new view for size, a shift with all sorts of potential political, economic, and social implications.