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For a while, it seemed like everyone was leaving. But slowly, surely, New Yorkers returned to Hell’s Kitchen and the five boroughs, with a new report from Piece of Cake Moving & Storage showing that most residents moved within NYC in 2021. 

New Yorkers schlepped their belongings out of NYC walk-ups into other NYC walk-ups. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Founded in 2018, Piece of Cake Moving & Storage coordinated over 35,000 moves in 2021, compiling customer zip code data with internal surveys to analyze moving trends by neighborhood, borough, city, county, and state. 

Their analysis found that “while more people moved than ever before, that didn’t necessarily mean that they left New York. In fact, the most common move New Yorkers made was within NY.” 87% of the survey respondents moved within New York City, and over 90% stayed in New York State. 

After a devastating rent crisis that forced Hell’s Kitcheners to leave the city — many of whom were laid off or unemployed due to entertainment industry shutdowns — the glut of open inventory coerced management companies into offering rent concessions on new leases (though little support was provided to those struggling with existing rents). Returning and steadfast New Yorkers flooded the NYC rental market, which reached a record median of $3,400 a month at the end of 2021

And while at the peak of the pandemic Hell’s Kitchen lost 7,000 residents (the highest number of move-outs in NYC according to a 2020 CBRE survey), Piece of Cake’s survey showed that neighborhoods on the west side of Manhattan were the most popular “Move To” destinations in 2021.

When New Yorkers wanted to go even further west, they went to New Jersey — the most popular out-of-state destination in the survey. Newfound New-Jerseyians didn’t stray far from the PATH train, however, preferring to move to Hudson County’s Jersey City.

City dwellers who ventured out beyond the reach of public transit overwhelmingly chose the Upper Hudson Valley — where, in a report from the New York State Association of Realtors, “Inventory across the state shrank 26.9% from 2020 to 2021, while the number of days homes stayed on market decreased from 62 days to 51 days — 17.7% — in the same time period,” with homes in Ulster, Dutchess, Orange and Rockland counties leading the pack. Westchester County also had a banner year, outperforming the significantly larger Nassau and Suffolk counties of Long Island. 

Those seeking warmer climes made their way to Florida, the most moved-to destination outside of the Tri-State area. We warn you, the bagels are not the same!!

For the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who moved in 2021, almost as many found themselves in need of professional organization upon arrival to their new home. Juli Oliver, founder and Professional Organizer of OrganizeNY (our W42ST 2021 Runner-Up for Best Service Provider) notes that in a city of renters — “most New Yorkers move every 2-2.5 years,” with May through the end of summer the most popular times for relocation.

Oliver, a longtime Hell’s Kitchen resident who has lived in the neighborhood on and off since the 90s, has been assisting New Yorkers since 2005 in everything from clutter management to closet reorganization, paper management, spatial design, custom decor, and relocation, recently teaming up with Piece of Cake Moving to coordinate 12 moves in 2021 alone. 

Oliver finds that every style of New York apartment has its own quirks and challenges in the quest to maximize precious space. Many of Hell’s Kitchen’s new-development, glossy highrises are “designed without a thought for the person who lives there,” says Oliver, who encounters everything from tiny closets to kitchens without counter space or the ability to store a plate. Older buildings can have strange, bifurcated room layouts — often stemming from significantly larger apartments long since chopped into multiple units — but have more infrastructure for storage-enhancing renovations.

Clutter management demands the right storage. Photo: Juli Oliver

Regardless of New York’s occasionally befuddling building characteristics, she notes that most of her clients choose to rise above and move within NYC rather than ship out. Two of her 2021 clients moved to Hell’s Kitchen and one chose to move within the same building in Hell’s Kitchen — a reflection of loyalty to the neighborhood that Oliver herself feels. 

“Hell’s Kitchen is so familiar and fun — a mix of mom-and-pop shops among all of the new, the small-town-in-a-big-city vibe” one of many reasons she proudly declares “#ILiveInHell 😉”. 

It’s clear from Piece of Cake’s survey that many fellow New Yorkers share Oliver’s staunch devotion to the city we call home (we reiterate, the bagels are not the same anywhere else!). While hard times and high rents may befall the citizens of our fair city, they find a way to make it here, rather than anywhere.

The sun rises behind the skyline of lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center in New York City. Photo by Gary Hershorn

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