The Oklahoman

New Yorkers top movers to Florida

Cost savings may be eroding as prices rise

- Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy

Watch out, New Yorkers! Florida is coming for you.

A large kiosk at the mall in Hudson Yards in Manhattan beckons you to experience Tampa Bay, NYC subway ads showcase the pristine beaches of St. Petersburg, and billboards in Times Square tout the hashtag #MovetoMiam­i.

But looking at migration numbers, one wonders if Florida needs to even bother advertisin­g.

Since at least 2016, the Empire State has topped the list for sending its residents to the Sunshine State, data from the Census Bureau shows. During the coronaviru­s pandemic, many New Yorkers who could work remotely and were looking for warmer climes and more affordable housing options left the city in droves.

Nearly 65,000 New Yorkers traded in their state driver’s licenses for Florida’s in 2022, according to data from Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, according to the New York Post. That broke a record set the previous year, when roughly 62,000 New Yorkers left for the Sunshine State.

Aside from the draw of warmer weather and fewer taxes, Florida’s pandemic-era government lockdown policies that opened up the state’s economy a lot sooner than others also helped the state, some say.

In September 2020, while the coronaviru­s was still spreading, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, lifted all restrictio­ns on restaurant­s and other businesses in the state and banned local fines against people who refused to wear masks as he sought to open the state’s economy. That was more than nine months before pandemic-era lockdowns in states like New York and California were lifted.

Jackie Bild, a real estate agent at Douglas Elliman based in Miami, says she has worked with a lot of New Yorkers moving to the state, especially since the pandemic.

“People talk about the Florida lifestyle and weather, but they also say government policy, like when during COVID when our city was more open and lenient on things, as another reason why they came here,” she says.

Democratic politician­s in the Empire State, meanwhile, made political hay as the exodus continued.

Last April, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, launched billboard ads in five Florida cities soon after the passage of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, known by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, denouncing the measure and inviting Floridians to move to New York, “a city where you can say and be whoever you want.”

Bild says roughly 30% of her buyers in the past 12 months were from New York City, and more than half of her clients in the past two years have been from out of town. Affordabil­ity, of course, is relative. As Bild says: “Florida is still affordable – for New Yorkers.”

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