Most Popular reasons for leaving The Upper West Side

by JStudios

The Upper West Side of New York City is one of the best neighborhoods there is in the region, so why the big exit? We took a dive into the reasons behind why so many are abandoning this neighborhood.

Who wouldn’t want to live here?

It’s one of the nicest areas in the city. It has everything you could possibly want. It has Central Park, unpretentious bars, world cuisine, culture, and museums. Did we mention the top schools?  It has all of this and still feels like a neighborhood, a rare gem in the city. The UWS has maintained a residential atmosphere. So why the mass exodus?

It boils down to cost

All of the amenities of living in the Upper West Side don’t come without a price. Even though the UWS feels family-friendly, at first sight, the prices of the available residences say otherwise if you find yourself having to move out of your apartment that you were lucky enough to get a decade or more ago at a ”reasonable” price.  Rent for a two-bedroom apartment today is $7050. Expect to spend a least $2200 for a studio or one-bedroom.

With the escalating rent prices (and low-interest rates), many have looked to purchasing in a co-op as an alternative to renting. The benefit is that their budget will remain predictable for the life of the loan. A charming studio in a co-op is going to cost you $300,000 to $350,000. Add a bedroom, and you’ll go up to half a million or more. The median home price in the UWS is around $850,000.

People have found that by way of steep prices, the necessity to go farther and farther away from UWS for the search for something comparable to what they were paying or something they can afford.

Growing family – changing values

As young couples have children, they decide that it’s time to find a bigger home for their growing family. The massive jump in cost from a studio to a two-bedroom apartment leaves them in shock, and they realize that they cannot afford to grow within the neighborhood they grew to love. They find themselves suddenly looking seriously at the suburbs as an alternative with proximity to the train. The cost of the great schools in the UWS (tuition, uniforms, supplies) for their children is also a big hit to a young family’s budget.

While the UWS remains one of the best neighborhood atmospheres in the city, many parents realize a desire for a complete culture shift with parenthood. They choose to flee the city atmosphere altogether with their growing family for an opportunity to spread out in the suburbs with more personal space, back yards, cars, and a small garden. They yearn for the life they see on television for themselves and their family.

Remote opportunities

Today’s technology has made remote work possible in many professions. This new revolution in the workplace is saving a fortune for companies no longer required to provide adequate office workspaces for their employees. Their company can continue to grow without the added cost of facility expansions.

For the employees working remotely, they can do so from anywhere in the country, and many are choosing to flee with their NYC salaries to the suburbs now that they only need to come into the office every few weeks or months (or never, thanks to telephone and videoconferencing). They can pocket the difference and call it the most significant raise they ever received for the same job.


Eventually, many are ready to retire and must learn to maintain their standard of living on a reduced income. If they cannot accomplish that, they find a way to renegotiate those standards. Perhaps they look for a smaller place with the kids grown with families of their own. They soon realize that the smaller apartment costs twice as much or more than the three-bedroom that they purchased in 1985.

Malcolm Carter has been a columnist for the West Side Rag and real estate broker in the UWS. He was recently weighing his options for slowing his life down. He owns a modest two-bedroom co-op apartment in an undistinguishable building in the UWS. His necessary unnegotiable housing expenses, which include his mortgage, maintenance fees, electricity, and communications run him close to $70 thousand a year. With no income and no taxes and (hypothetically) $1 million in savings, he can live nearly 14 years just paying his housing expenses. No other costs have factored into that equation. Social security might afford him some groceries, and pray that the cost of utilities doesn’t rise much.

It’s harsh realities like these which might send retirees elsewhere to make sure that their income can last the rest of their lifetime.

Life is getting expensive all over the city

Financial exits aren’t exclusive to the Upper West Side at all. With the new tax cap reduction, people are finding excuses to leave from all over New York City, including and all around the UWS and beyond. The new taxes are becoming a sharp reality of sticker shock to many. Many loyal New Yorkers are rethinking their lives and looking for the first time outside of the city. As New York City is experiencing one of the sharpest reductions in population, Florida is experiencing a boom of imports from the region, drawn for the tremendous tax break they receive by moving to a state with no state or city taxes to speak of. For some, this equates to hundreds of thousands per year.

For those who choose to stick it out, this is merely a part of a lifetime of ebbs and flows. If we’re lucky, the price of housing might decline a little to make it possible to grab a lovely and affordable piece of big city paradise. That being said, there are plenty of people still starry-eyed for their opportunity to live within the bright lights of the big city one day.

Moving in or out of UWS – CityMove can help you get there

If you are one of those moving in our out of the Upper West Side or anywhere in the city, CityMove will help you make connections with reputable movers to compare in one place. You post your move details, and the movers will come to you with a competitive quote! No calling around necessary.

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