Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Poll results: Where New Yorkers would go if they had to leave the city

By Alanna Schubach | July 13, 2016 - 8:59AM 

Los Angeles is a popular runner-up to NYC.

Davide D'Amico

Last week, we asked readers to let us in on their decision-making: Current and former New Yorkers shared their dream destinations, the places they sometimes mull over relocating to, and what convinced them to either leave or stay put in NYC. Some of their answers were predictable—the expense of living here is understandably a major factor in pushing people out—but others surprised (and entertained) us. Read on to find out what your fellow urbanites think of life in NYC and beyond. 

Question 1: If you could leave NYC for your dream destination, where would it be? 

Over a quarter of respondents say they fantasize about relocating to the west coast, perhaps for drier, sunnier weather and a more relaxed lifestyle. Paris is also a popular dream destination, and it makes sense that New Yorkers would be drawn to another major city known for its cultural offerings and excellent cuisine.

But nearly 30 percent of people surveyed had their own ideas of the perfect place to live, and their answers included some intriguing spots, including Lisbon (perhaps some excitement over Portugal's Euro Cup win?), the Caribbean, South Africa, and Montana. That last one is compelling—the western state's rugged beauty and low population density would be a refreshing change of pace. (Still, Montana?)

Question 2: And where would you realistically relocate to now, if you had to move? 

Twenty percent of respondents would opt for Los Angeles if they had to leave the Big Apple behind, proving that the perennial East Coast versus West Coast debate rages not only between the two cities, but within the hearts of their inhabitants. (Even a Brick writer and lifelong New Yorker was won over by L.A.'s sunny, laid-back charms.)

Other popular runners-up naturally included the NYC burbs, and people were also curious about San Francisco and Philadelphia, oft-described as the sixth borough. Intriguing write-ins? There were several votes for Miami and other Florida cities like Fort Lauderdale, and one for Costa Rica, which according to Time is the happiest country on the planet. 

Question 3: If you haven't moved, what's the main thing holding you back? 

A majority of readers who took the poll say they stick around for the sake of their careers, though the cultural opportunities are also a big reason for staying, as is the desire to not depend on a car to get around. Fourteen percent of people identified as native New Yorkers who couldn't imagine themselves living anywhere else. And one person wrote that they had "advantageous rent"—we want to know more about how they made that happen. 

Question 4: If you did move, why did you leave NYC?

Over 40 percent of ex-New Yorkers say they got out because of the high cost of living, and nearly 25 percent left in search of a slower pace of life. Job-related relocations or a desire to be closer to family were other common reasons for moving.

Our write-in answers got pretty colorful: "The mayor is terrible and the quality of life has gone down," wrote one responder (obviously not a De Blasio fan.)

And another said, "NYC has no edge left. It's a tourist and dull hipster suburban mall." Whoever you are, you're not alone: last year, the New York Times wrote about New Yorkers fleeing to edgier, artsier climes—in Los Angeles. 


Alanna Schubach

Contributing writer

Contributing editor Alanna Schubach has over a decade of experience as a New York City-based freelance journalist.

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