Living through the pandemic in New York City has been quite the ride, to say the least.

From freezer trucks parked outside of hospitals serving as makeshift morgues, to extreme isolation, to city-wide camaraderie during the “7pm cheer,” New Yorkers have had our Yankees hats handed to us.

Recently, we’ve mourned for the thousands of neighborhood-staple restaurants that have had to permanently close their doors. While holding our breath for all the remaining restaurants that are navigating the new restrictions of outdoor-only dining…in the eastcoast winter. And we’ve watched, bewildered, that the City That Never Sleeps is now completely dark by 10:00pm…even on New Year’s Eve. New York City has been walloped by Covid, and it shows.

But one thing that I haven’t talked about, is the mass exodus that has occured since the beginning of the pandemic. With bars, restaurants, nightlife and cultural staples closed (ie – the reasons that people love NYC), and jobs moving completely remote, New Yorkers have packed up and left for places with lower costs of living, and that weren’t as completely ravaged by COVID.

Over 3.57 million New Yorkers fled the city during 2020. (source: NYPost) 3.57 MILLION. What!?! That is obscene. But to be honest, I get it. Why suffer through the pandemic alone where things cost a’gillion dollars, when you can work from anywhere and be more comfortable while doing it…and around family.

But the thing that people don’t account for when thinking about that number…is apartment vacancies.

One in five apartments is sitting vacant right now. (Time Out NY). That is wild. Wild. And I’ve experienced that statistic first hand. In my building, alone, during the height of the pandemic, only 40% of apartments were occupied. My friends’ buildings — same story. Moving trucks arriving, weekly it seems, with another tenant moving out. You look out the windows at night at other buildings, and there are more pitch black apartments than those with the glow of lights. New Yorkers have left. In a big way. A mass exodus that would give Moses a run for his money.

But — all those vacant apartments, have come with a bit of a silver lining, if you will. As a result, rent prices are the lowest they’ve been in 14 years. Buildings are desperate to fill their vacancies, and as a result are giving super attractive perks on top of lower prices: offering 3+ months of free rent, free amenities, no broker fees. It is really a renter’s market right now.

Which is exactly what my boyfriend took advantage of this past month. If you follow me on Instagram (which I would really appreciate! @beauty.beyond.bones) then you know that I’ve been helping him move! Last weekend was the coup de gras, where the Roadway Moving trucks came and he actually moved! But all last month, we’ve been having so much fun on the weekends touring all these beautiful apartments all over the city. Apartments that have never been priced so low!

And he’s not the only one! We were at a New Year’s Eve get-together with another couple, and they also took advantage of the renter’s market, and scored a two-year lease on a $6500/month luxury apartment on the 54th floor overlooking the river…for “just” $5000/month. I mean, you will never be able to find a deal like that in New York ever again.

Granted, NYC is clearly not what it used to be, and the reasons why people put up with paying such sky-high rents have completely dissipated, but hey – at least you can live in a really nice place while you weather out the third wave!

But I wanted to share my “Take-Aways” from watching my man move in NYC during a Pandemic!

1. Gross Rent is NOT Net Rent

This was the biggest and honestly, most frustrating part of this whole process. And frankly, it’s a little shady, if you ask me. In the apartment listings, the landlords will advertise the NET RENT, which takes into account all of the promotions and discounts they’re offering right now during the pandemic. So, three months free, is going to offset the net rent quite a bit. HOWEVER, the GROSS rent is the ACTUAL rent that will appear on your lease and your monthly bills, and let’s just say, that number is much higher than the NET rent. The promotion will ACTUALLY BE, (for example) – the second month free, and the last two months free – but every other month, you have to pay the GROSS rent, which is NOT what was advertised on the listing that attracted you in the first place.

So that was a disheartening thing to learn. Especially when you fall in love with a place at the top of your price range, only to find out that it is, in fact, WAY out of your price range. Yeah, not cool.

2. See A LOT of apartments!

Not only is it fun to get to peek at all the different types of offerings that XX amount of money can get you, but you also never know when you’ll stumble upon one you love! Manhattan real estate comes in allllll shapes and sizes. Literally. My studio apartment in the village is a pre-war, cutesy/romantic “Friends”-type apartment that you would envision for the downtown Greenwich Village “artsy type.”

Whereas my boyfriend’s apartment is the sleek, midtown, skyscraper, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city, luxury building built in the late 2010s. Two totally different styles of quintessential New York real estate.

So you never know what will strike your fancy.

And on that note…don’t be afraid to walk into a building without an appointment! The doormen will usually have keys, and it’s in their best interest to show the apartments, so be bold, and just waltz in like you own the place!

3. Know what your “Must-Haves” are, and then rule out the others

Having too many options is…overwhelming to say the least. So know what your “absolutely must haves” are before you even start the process: in-unit laundry? Dishwasher? Pet-friendly? Doorman? Live-in Super? On-site parking? (Which heads up: in New York, monthly parking in a covered garage is upwards of $400/month PRE TAX. Tax on parking in NYC is a whopping 18% percent! So beware that hidden cost. Also – you can apply for a resident tax exemption, which lowers that parking tax rate to 10%.)

4. Bring a friend/write notes

This one seems like a no brainer, but definitely write down your impressions and notes about the apartment AS SOON AS you leave, while it’s fresh. Because apartments look the same, and after 20 one-bedrooms with white walls and hard wood floors, they all begin to look the same. On that note, take lots of photos and videos. And begin the video by saying “14B at XX Street.” Also – bringing a friend is not only fun and safe — but also nice to get a second set of eyes!

5. Hire Movers!

Believe me, you don’t realize how much stuff you’ve accumulated until you have to put it in boxes!

My boyfriend used Roadway Movers – and they were terrific! We didn’t lift a finger. And he was unpacked and settled that same day, to the point where we even got to catch the sunset on the roof with a celebratory cocktail! And if you’d like to use Roadway, they’re offering my readers a discount with my code: “CARALYN 10” for 10% off local moves or 5% off long distance!

So there you have it! I’m so excited for his new chapter in such a beautiful new place! I have gotten such an education going through this process with him, and I’ve found the whole NYC real estate scene-post pandemic absolutely FASCINATING, so I wanted to share about it with you! A little different than my norm, but hey – if I find something interesting, you know I’ll pass it along!

Happy New Year, and I’ll see you on Instagram!

“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5


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90 responses to “NYC’S MASS EXODUS”

    • Thanks Derek! Haha there are days I wish I was!! Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

      • I’ll bet. Happy New Year 🎉⭐ Caralyn! At least you were able to find some positives on your bf’s apartment search. I like the old fashioned sound of yours.

      • that’s for sure! it was exciting to say the least! hahah yeah, both have desirable characteristics!!!! 🙂 have a great night! xox

  1. You may have to forgive me for counting all of those as reasons to never live in NYC… after Comrade Cuomo and Che Blasio, of course.

    • Haha oh I feel you on that! Our leadership is dismal to say the least! Thanks Matt for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  2. Good advice. I must say though, people are not leaving New York City because Covid hit New York harder. It’s because of that tyrant governor you have and all the lies being told about Covid and the number of deaths. New York City is being enslaved by those lies, so people are fleeing to free states like down here in Florida. 1,000 people per day are moving here. I am just praying they don’t come down here and vote the way they did that messed up New York City in the first place. 350,000 people have NOT died from Covid in the U.S. Hospitals are lying about the number of deaths because they get more money for every Covid death. Cuomo is using Covid as a weapon of fear to control the people. It is very sad. I just wrote a post today about standing firm in Christ and not bowing to the new world order. Hopefully NYC can throw Cuomo out very soon! All the tyrant governors need to go. They have destroyed people’s lives with lies. This is not the way America should ever be. NYC is like a failed socialist state now. I will not ever submit to the one world government. Jesus is coming soon. Stand firm in Christ. God bless you!

    • Thanks so much Ryan! You’re definitely onto something there. It’s bewildering that the media is worshiping Cuomo when he absolutely blundered covid and caused so many deaths by his mishandling of the nursing homes. Makes me so mad. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on this! Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

  3. The same thing is happening in the San Francisco Bay Area and for pretty much the same reasons. One effect of the pandemic is that a lot of people are deciding they can work from anywhere with internet access, so why live in hyper-expensive urban areas? Also, as Matt already said, your mayor and governor are largely responsible for driving much of their population away. Oh, fun fact. I just read today that in 2020, Idaho, where I live, was the number one destination spot in the U.S. Probably accounts for the political shift in Boise, since it’s the capitol and the largest city in the state (although the rest of Idaho remains as you might expect). People are moving, not just to escape the expense, but those places also have the strictest lockdown rules compared to where I live.

    • Yeah those sky high costs of living just aren’t worth it when you’re spending 24/7 ina tiny apartment and aren’t required to be in a physical office!! I agree – I think that’s a great benefit to come out of the pandemic! Oh wow – that’s so interesting! Thanks for sharing that! Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

      • Yes, believe it or not. A suburb of Boise to be exact, although I’ve lived both in San Francisco and near L.A. (back when mere mortals could afford to live in the Bay Area). My wife is an L.A. native. We moved to Idaho in 1994 when the nearest drive-by shooting was a mile and a quarter from our house and she didn’t want our children (who are now all adults) to get shot. Haven’t regretted it.

  4. This WAS really interesting. I have loved NYC all the 2 times I’ve been there, but I’m definitely not cool enough to live there…I would get too lost and wouldn’t be able to get around without a car.

    • Thanks Lindsay! It really is another world! And the whole – no car – thing definitely takes some getting used to! But I for sure know youre cool enough to live here!! Haha thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  5. The cost of living there is apparently way too high, wow! I really enjoyed reading this post, Caralyn, well done! Be safe. ❤️😊

    • It is really astronomically high! Thanks John! I’m glad this was enhance for you!! Happy New Year my friend! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

  6. The rent in New York City is on a different scale but the jobs are there. Or they were there. New York City will bounce back.

    • It really is terribly high. And I do have hope that it will bounce back! Thanks for stopping by! Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

  7. A few thoughts. 3.57 million have left? As I recall, Detroit City boasted a “mere” 2 million in its heyday! So almost two Detroits have left NYC! Rent – a deal is $5000/month?? When I had heard that rents were dropping, I figured somewhere a bit south of $5K!!! Holy freakin’ frijoles!! (pardon my French)

    I’m glad the he had a good move. When we bought our house 2 years ago, we worked our tails off. We hired movers for the big stuff, but the rest… I kept thinking someone was pranking me, bringing in more between my trips!

    I’m just glad you made it back safely and are well. I’ve been reading about those bike gangs assaulting cars and the general increase in crime. Very worried about you!! Keeping you in my prayers. Just stay on your blog and off the front pages!!

    • Hi Jeff! it is seriously wild. To be a little more clear – $5000 was a bargain for a luxury apartment on the 54th floor!! I read today that the average rent in NYC has gone down from $3500 to $3100 since the pandemic, so there’s that….still grossly high! Yes! I’m so happy for him. He absolutely loves his new pad. yeah, moves are exhausting. Sounds like you know first hand! and to be clear, he packed up everything. they just put the boxes on the truck, and did the big furniture. i just waltzed in on moving day from Cinicnnati, so I guess from my POV, it looked like he didn’t life a finger! hahaha thank you Jeff Jeff for your prayers and for thinking of me. I don’t stay far from my apartment – just on a run and my corner grocery store. Hope you and your girls are doing well too! Wishing you and your family blessings in 2021!! Hugs and love xox

      • Good morning! Yeah, average in the $3000’s is still pricey by most standards, but I guess it looks good to the natives! I’m glad to hear you’re staying safe and not venturing too far. One of those bicycle groups sounded like they struck on the southern end – your area. We remain well here. Hillary is still waiting to hear on job applications. Please pray for her to get something soon. God’s continued blessings to you and yours this year! 🎉 Hugs and love, Jeff

      • Hi Jeff! I agree – still super pricey! But then I guess salaries in NYC reflect the cost of living…not that I would know…I’m just a humble blogger! Hahahah oh gosh – I’ll keep my eye on the crime app. I will definitely pray for her. Exciting times but gosh the waiting game is always tough!!! Same to you my friend! Hugs and love xox

  8. “Why suffer through the pandemic alone where things cost a’gillion dollars, when you can work from anywhere and be more comfortable while doing it…and around family.” This is almost verbatim the reason a friend of mine moved out of NY. He felt it was a sign to come back home. I said to him “ahhh but you just missed out on dancing with the mayor in time square on New Years after the ball dropped.” It’s true though, I’ve worked 100% remotely since 2013 and reside close to family. It’s good to have the support when stuff like this happens. Interesting insight from a NY local, well done!

    • Thanks for sharing that! yeah, definitely a great reason to return home indeed. I found myself struggling with the same thing! Nothing beats family! Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

  9. Tempting descriptions, but no thanks. I prefer rural. Ten-ish years ago I lived in western South Dakota, 90 miles from the nearest drive-through restaurant (then 90 miles back home). I could go outdoors and scream as loud and as long as I wanted and no one would ever hear me. 😉

    • yeah, the city is definitely not for everyone! oh wow, that sounds lovely! nothing beats the outdoors! thanks for stopping by! Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

  10. Good advice all the way around. My Sweetie & I kind of count as a pandemic move, however we were planning that late last year before all of this hit. I’m appreciative for having lived and worked in NY, particularly in the South Bronx. I am happy though to be where I am now in part because both of us would have been out of work and even with our living expenses as low as we could make them we would have really struggled, painfully struggled. NY will always have a special place in my heart.
    Happy almost Epiphany Caralyn!

    • Thank you Teri! oh I didn’t realize you lived in NY! you’re right – New York definitely captures the heart. Congrats on your move! Thats exciting! prayers for your new chapter! you too, my friend! Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

  11. That is so outside my reality, but very interesting! I can’t even fathom paying those rents or those taxes. I’m happy for you and your boyfriend!

    • thanks PK! yeah, New York is definitely quite the beast. Thank you! yeah, I’m so excited for him and his new chapter! Hugs and love xox Happy New Year! 🎉

    • Hi friend! oh gosh, thank you for saying that! yeah, NYC is a beast, to say the least! Hugs and love xox Happy New Year! 🎉

  12. NYC real estate! In my younger years, say from 19 to 30ish, I moved about every 2 years or so. Kept one from accumulating stuff. Enjoy your Village to Mid-town options (vigorous walking between). I have a friend in Jackson Heights where I used to live. I’ve been meaning to check in with him on this topic. My moving days are over… until the assisted living requirement comes along. Hopefully that will be a couple of decades off. I’ll stick to the woods in our log cabin (where, incidentally all of D.C. is trying to buy property). Happy New Year! – Oscar

    • haha thank you Oscar! oh that’s awesome. Yeah — surprisingly our apartments are only about a 15 minute walk apart! makes it quite nice to not have to acquire such high uber bills! oh wow that sounds so picturesque! enjoy! Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

  13. Interesting. It seems like there is a mass exodus from California in general too, but rents and home values keep skyrocketing up. Probably because more and more people keep moving in too. If I do decide to start over somewhere else, though, that would make a good chance that I would be able to sell the house and not lose money on it. It’s too early to make that decision, though…

    • It is really fascinating the ramifications of COVID! yeah definitely something to think about Greg. I’ll be praying for your discernment! . Hugs and love xox

    • Hi Linda! I know, rent here is truly sickening. Ick! Haha I don’t blame ya! I love MN! Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

    • That’s a really great question Sheree! My guess is yes! Thanks for stopping by! Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

    • Oh my gosh!!! That is incredible. Wow. I know. Prices here are sickening!! Thanks for stopping by! Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

  14. I’m happy your boyfriend found an affordable place. A good friend of mine is an architect who works primarily in renovation and adaptation of old buildings. (There’s a name for it, but I forgot.) I’m amazed by the variety of housing and offices in NYC, particularly when modern meets classical architecture.

    As for migrating New Yorkers (and Californians), I hope they are open to the culture of wherever they move and don’t impose their preferences. My little township went from less than 9K about a decade ago to over 20K now, mostly due to white-collar commuters looking for affordable water-access homes. But the taxes and the pace of life have stayed the same: low and slow. My newest neighbors are workers-from-home from a tony Detroit suburb; they love the quiet and agreed not to put up light-polluting outdoor lights (disturbance to wildlife > deterrence of criminals).

    • Thanks J! Yeah he is thrilled by it! Oh wow what a cool profession! There really are so so so many options! Me too – New Yorkers could use a little “reality check” if you ask me! Haha Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

  15. I’ve always said, like many other places, NY’s a fine place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there. That saying’s truer than ever now. It’s sad to see a great city deteriorate because of bad leadership but, at least from my perspective, that’s obviously what’s happening. I commend your courage for not moving away. Yet… God bless you in 2021.

    • That’s very true – it’s a great trip! I agree – I pray it bounces back! Thanks for stopping by Rollie! Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

  16. So interesting about the living situation in NYC, I haven’t thought about that and had no idea about all the vacancies. Glad your boyfriend is all settled! Happy New Year, Caralyn!

    • Hi Jeni! thank you so much! Yeah, it is wild how much Covid has changed NYC! big hugs to you ! Happy New Year! 🎉

  17. My heart will always be in NYC and there’s nothing better than a historic “home” whether it’s an apartment or townhome or farmhouse! I had to share this post with my realtor husband – especially with those NYC rental deals! 😉

    • Hi Lisa! NYC definitely captures hearts, that’s for sure! oh wow, thank you for passing it along! yeah, it’s definitely an interesting time to be a real estate agent, that’s for sure! Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

  18. It’s happening in the big cities in the West too. People moving out in droves and buying up rural properties driving housing prices up while depressing prices in the cities because of population loss. These are unique times.

    • Hi Ian! it’s really wild how Covid has turned this whole country upside down! thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  19. the low rent will last for some time, but I would leverage it as much as possible in writing because it will rebound eventually, lock it in… I wonder if any of those really cool/old/original cobblestone places are available like behind st nick in spanish harlem and other places… just thinking out loud, I know the city well but could never live there unless I had a porch/terrace (like some places on the west side have on 56th/58th.. not on the river, who can afford that?). I must admit I am surprised how loyal you are to the city not being native… my native relatives all fled after 9/11 pretty much. The city does bounce back better usually from the depths… but all the restaurants… that is the worst loss… that is what bothers me the most.

    • You’re right about that David. Gotta lock in a long lease if possible with such great rates. Thanks for that awesome advice. Honestly it’s the people who keep me here! Happy New Year! 🎉 Hugs and love xox

  20. Hey Caralyn, during this pandemic I got out of the habit of checking the blogs I follow. Soooo I had no idea you now have a boyfriend. Awesome! You two look great.

    It was very interesting to get an inside perspective on how things have changed in NY. Thanks for the post.

    • Hi friend! Haha yes! He has been such a joy in my life. I am very grateful. Thank you!! Yes!! My goodness how covid has changed NYc. I pray it bounces back!! Happy New Year! 🎉 and thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

    • Did you know that God had chosen Trump and that his features were described by a 99,9% accurate true prophet a century ago? We may have our opinions but God knows what He sees and then man comes and bungs up God’s plan, as we see in Hosea 8:4. America is going to pay dearly for the blunder of these days and too many people simply don’t ask God for HIS perspectives; something I learned to do decades ago. If only His people……….

  21. 3.57 million is almost like plucking the entire Cape Town off the planet in one go to make the people all disappear. Yes, even my wife and I lost everyting and ended up right at the edge of a tiny nature reserve, an hour’s drive out of Cape Town. While the accommodation is an upgrade, circumstances are anything but ideal and we are having a hard time. This plandemic had touched us all in so many ways, just like 9/11 did.

    • It really is wild how much this city has changed. It’s almost unrecognizable! you’re right about that. thanks again for stopping by. Hugs and love xox

      • If we look at Biblical prophecies, this was just a trial run as much worse is to come. The Bible also mentioned oceans and rivers dying, global warming, etc. Somehow, Christianity never saw this. While it is in the Bible – mentioned twice – I never even heard a preacher mention the Seven Spirits of God in a conversation, let alone from a pulpit. We all have numerous Bibles at our fingertips but the majority of people don’t even know what it teaches. Why don’t they preach about Ezekiel 9 or The Revelation 13?

  22. Hey, another good column and great read. I found this shocking (and, quite frankly, hard to believe): ‘Over 3.57 million New Yorkers fled the city during 2020. (source: NYPost) 3.57 MILLION’ …. Wow!

  23. Those are crazy numbers! It is so hard to comprehend how much it has changed. We were supposed to visit in April last year. Maybe one day we will get back there (we live near Atlanta). My niece lives there. My SIL too.

    • Hi Shannon! I know, the numbers are absolutely wild! it’s so sad what Covid has done to NYC! fingers crossed! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

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