MORE people are moving to Manhattan than before the pandemic


MORE people are moving to Manhattan than before the pandemic despite rent surging 40% in a year: Experts warn that economic recovery is still under pressure as just 36% of office workers return

  • Following the pandemic exodus in 2020, more people are opting to move into the Manhattan and fewer are moving out
  • The pandemic led to 153,000 households moving out of the Manhattan in the past two years, but 76,000 have moved in with the trend increasing this year
  • It comes as the city recovers from the worst of the pandemic, but the population influx has also lead to a surge in rent
  • Median rent in Manhattan hit an all-time high of $4,000 per month in May, a 40 percent increase from a year ago and beating out February’s high of $3,700
  • Experts also warn that the city is still under economic strains as only 36 percent of office workers have returned as many continue to embrace remote work 

More and more people are moving to Manhattan despite a 40 percent surge in rent as the pandemic winds down after nearly 153,000 households fled the city in the past two years. 

From April 2020 to July 2021, Manhattan lost 117,375 residents, according to the US Census Bureau, with New York City as a whole loosing more than 333,000 residents. 

But beneath the gloom and doom, the city has been steadily seeing an influx in new and returning residents, with 33,000 households moving into Manhattan in the first year of the pandemic, and 43,000 households coming in the second year, according to Melissa, a global data intelligence and address analytics company. 

Overall, Manhattan has seen an net loss of 83,000 households since the pandemic, but the number of households moving out in the last year fell by more than 30 percent while the number coming in rose by nearly 33 percent, with an estimated 5,000 more people moving in so far this year.  

‘New York City had one of the largest declines in the first stage of the pandemic and one of the fastest rebounds,’ Rob Warnock, a senior researcher at the rental search platform Apartment List, told Bloomberg.  

With the steady stream of new residents, the city has seen an extraordinary amount of housing competition, coupled with the end of COVID-era discounts, that has caused median rent in Manhattan to hit an all-time high of $4,000 per month in May, a 40 percent increase from a year ago and beating out February’s high of $3,700, according to a new report from real estate brokerage firm Douglas Elliman

The shift comes as experts warn that the city is still under economic strains as only 36 percent of office workers have returned as many continue to embrace remote work.

After the pandemic exodus in 2020, more people are opting to move into the Manhattan and fewer are moving out

After the pandemic exodus in 2020, more people are opting to move into the Manhattan and fewer are moving out 

Median rent in Manhattan hit an all-time high of $4,000 per month in May, a 40 percent increase from a year ago and beating out February's high of $3,700

Median rent in Manhattan hit an all-time high of $4,000 per month in May, a 40 percent increase from a year ago and beating out February’s high of $3,700

Rent has also shot up in Brooklyn and northwest Queens

Rent has also shot up in Brooklyn and northwest Queens

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many New Yorkers fled the city, which had among the highest cases in the nation, causing rental prices to plunge as desperate landlords tried to lure willing renters into their units with special deals. 

Many property management firms offered deep discounts or sweeteners, including multiple months of free rent, to entice renters to sign new leases.

Jonathan Miller, who prepared the Elliman report, told DailyMail.com that the deals not only worked to keep some New Yorkers around, but it also enticed others who left the city after previous rent hikes to return to take advantage of the new discounts. 

Once the COVID vaccine distribution erupted in 2021, Miller said it disrupted the narrative that the city was ‘unsafe,’ leading to bigger tide of new residents coming in. 

According to data from the United States Postal Services, following the peak of vaccinations in the spring, New York City gained a net 6,332 residents between July and November 2021. 

Miller also noted that as mortgage lending remains tight, fewer people are able to qualify for homes after thousands left the city to enjoy work from home in the nearby suburbs. 

In the last two years, 15,956 households left Manhattan for the suburbs in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, with 8,609 moving to other major cities. 

Miller said that not only is the tide now reversing as more and more people are being pushed out of the housing market in the suburbs and into the rental market in New York City, but he also added that work-from-home policies are actually attributing to the population influx. 

‘We’ve had this stereotype that working from home means people are moving to the suburbs, but remote work is a perk anyone can take advantage of,’ Miller explained. 

‘People are now free to live anywhere in the city where they don’t have to care about their commute.’ 

While appearing to aid population growth, the remote-work lifestyle could strain the city’s economic recovery as only 36.6 percent of workers returned to their offices so far, Bloomberg reported. 

Mayor Eric Adams has pleaded with companies to prioritize mandatory attendance in order to stimulate the city’s bruised economy, and 7.6 percent unemployment rate- the worst in the US – thanks to the continued popularity of working from home.

Workers readjusting to pre-pandemic rituals such as long commutes, juggling child care and physically interacting with colleagues have yet to make a full comeback to the office, with at least 28 percent of Manhattan office employees sticking to fully remote work, according to a May report by the advocacy group Partnership for NYC.

Many argue that such routines have become more difficult two years later, citing increased exposure to COVID-19 and increased costs for lunch and commuting.

While housing in the city remains alluring, many are complaining that the increase competition is causing rent to soar at historic levels. 

One New York City tenant saw his rent shoot up by $1,300

One New York City tenant saw his rent shoot up by $1,300 (left), while in the south, Katelyn Fletcher, 25, of Austin (right), saw her rent increase from $2,200 per month rent to $4,678

One Tik Tok user who went by Michael said he got a letter from his landlord that his rent would be going up by $1,300. 

‘The fact that we’re getting an increase of $1,300 pretty much prices us out  on principal alone,’ Michael said. ‘This enrages me because I’ve heard other people’s rent are going up 50 per cent.’  

New Yorker Stephanie Leigh went on to TikTok to vent that the landlord over her condo decided to raise her rent ‘an absurd amount.’ 

‘This market right now is insane,’ Leigh said as she went apartment hunting at an East Village complex where units went for as high as $8,000. ‘I’ve never seen it like this, and this is my eighth time moving in New York.’ 

Prices in the city have also been affected, to a lesser degree, by warehousing, a practice where apartments are shelved by landlords in order to drive up demand and wait for better renting deals in the near future.

Available housing units in New York City reached nearly 100,000 in August 2019, the number has now plummeted to just over 40,000 in April

Available housing units in New York City reached nearly 100,000 in August 2019, the number has now plummeted to just over 40,000 in April

Evan Rugen, a former real estate broker, said his apartment has four units that are currently vacant because the landlord is warehousing them looking for better deals in the future

Evan Rugen, a former real estate broker, said his apartment has four units that are currently vacant because the landlord is warehousing them looking for better deals in the future

Data from Zillow shows that while the number of available housing units in New York City reached nearly 100,000 in August 2019, the number has now plummeted to just over 40,000 in April.  

The Real Deal reported that more than 1,814 apartment listings were removed in March in order to drive up competition in the market, a moved condemned by state Assembly member Linda Rosenthal. 

‘I think it is unconscionable that some landlords are keeping units off the market, and are just, you know, sitting with their arms crossed waiting for rents to go up,’ Linda told the Wall Street Journal after landlords levied the vacant units in an attempt to overturn a 2019 law that removed a 20-percent rent hike on rent controlled apartment. 

Evan Rugen, a former real estate broker, said his apartment has four units that are currently vacant because they’re rent controlled, meaning the landlords cannot raise the price that the previous tenant held as they hope the state will overturn the law.

‘They’re betting the law will change back, so [the units] just sit vacant, taking an apartment away from a New Yorker,’ Rugen said. ‘This New York city rental market is ridiculous.’ 

Rosenthal plans to introduce a law to fine landlords who warehouse apartment for more than three months.  

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