Fearing Zika, some pregnant Florida residents are fleeing for NYC

Share this Article

It's not easy being pregnant in Florida these days. With cases of Zika popping up across the state, expectant women are staying indoors as much as possible, covering up (despite the summer heat), and covering themselves in bug spray. But some of them are taking it a step further—temporarily relocating to New York City, where no new cases of Zika have been reported.

In fact, according to Phil Horigan, founder of Leasebreak, a site that helps people take over leases and find short-term rentals, compared to other times during the year, the first week of September had the most visitors to the site from Miami. In fact, as a percent of total traffic, the share of Miami visitors in the first week of September was 60 percent higher than the average share for Miami traffic for the rest of the year. While users don't always disclose their reason for moving, one testimonial recently said: "We are looking to move to NYC for 2.5 months to escape Zika in south Florida." Horigan suspects that's partly the inspiration behind this uptick.

That's exactly what Shari Bressler is doing: After losing two pregnancies, the South Florida resident told us that she and her husband are particularly cautious about the health of their baby, so Bressler, who is six months pregnant, is moving her family—which also includes a two-year-old daughter and two cats—to Midtown West for a short-term lease. With family on Long Island, they decided New York would be a good (Zika-free) option. Bressler's husband, a lawyer who works for himself and has the flexibility to work here, had lived in Queens once before, so there was a familiarity with the city. 

They will all move into a $3,250 one-bedroom. Bressler, a stay-at-home mom, says she's happy to downsize for the move and hopes to take advantage of a couple of months of living in the city (and can't wait to introduce her daughter to Central Park in particular). They found their apartment through a broker on  "We decided to make it into a vacation adventure instead of staying with friends or family on Long Island," she says. They'll return to Florida (by car) to give birth about a month before the baby's due.

Nicole Roberts, who is also six months pregnant, is living in a furnished rental on the Upper East Side until she goes back down to Florida to give birth. "As soon as my [obstetrician] mentioned Zika, my husband and I decided it would be best... The risk was simply not worth it to us."

(Both Bressler and Roberts hope that mosquito season will be waning by the time they get back to Florida.)

But Josh Younger, an NYC-based obstetrician-gynecologist, says moving isn't necessarily something he'd recommend to patients. "There's no guarantee Zika won't come here," he says. While he recognized that it's a potential short-term solution and you "may be statistically reducing your chances, you're not eliminating them," he says. 

He has seen multiple patients with Zika in New York City already. "I think Florida is the beginning," he said. "If you're expecting now, and think you're going to do your childbearing in the next few months only, by all means do it. But it's ultimately a short-term solution for a problem that is likely to be long-term."

Mercedes Randall, of Apt 212, a company that specializes in furnished rentals, assisted both Bressler and Roberts in finding their short-term NYC homes. She said she's had a number of clients who are pregnant and looking to move from down south. While not all clients come out and say that they're pregnant, Randall says it helps her find the right place for them when they do. "Someone who's pregnant isn't going to want a walk-up, for example, and it's helpful to know that before we start looking." She adds that FaceTime has made it much easier to show clients like Roberts and Bressler apartments from afar. 

Randall suggests other women in a similar predicament try and book as far in advance as possible. "There are fewer options available for short-term rentals after the summer, so it's best to give yourself a good amount of time to find the right place," she says. 

For more tips on renting an apartment from afar, read here and here