Is NYC Worth It Anymore? More and More Flee… ‘Freedoms we’ve come to take for granted not there’

The pandemic was already wearing on Lyn Miller-Lachmann, a children’s book author and translator who lives in the East Village.

“My husband and I love New York City,” she said. “We sacrificed a lot to live here.”

But it wasn’t until the curfews and talk of the National Guard entering the city started that she considered leaving her home.

For Ms. Miller-Lachmann, 63, the chaos of the past week has “shown us that freedoms we’ve come to take for granted in this country may not be there for us,” she said. “We’re watching the warning signs.”

New Yorkers have been fleeing for months. But the fear some residents have of the violent reactions to the protests here is adding a new challenge to those asking themselves whether they can hack the city. Many are deciding not to return.

It’s a decision that must be made individually and privately, one that some 420,000 New Yorkers with the resources to do so had already made between March and May in reaction to the pandemic, according to cellphone data analyzed by the Times.

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But it’s also a decision that has fueled collective judgment. If you say you love New York, city patriots reckon, how could you leave it when the going gets tough?

Debating the topic, of course, is practically a blood sport. There is an essay genre devoted to “Leaving New York.” But the city has a long history of flight and resurgence. It came back after the 1970s recession and after Sept. 11. It has survived power outages and hurricanes.

The pandemic alone, however, poses new challenges for a city that thrives on, and is packed with, people. It also comes at a time when New York is pricing out those who are perfectly capable of working elsewhere remotely.

Rebekah Rosler, a therapist and doula, decided to leave, even though her family history in New York goes back to the 1870s, she said. Her parents are in Manhattan and her grandparents lived on the Upper West Side and in Brooklyn. “I love, love, love the city more than anything,” Ms. Rosler, 40, said.

But on March 24, she fled her two-bedroom home in Stuyvesant Town with her husband and their children, a 4-year-old and 2-year-old twins.



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