City stories

I don’t travel much these days, but I get around just the same. My work as a real-estate broker means I meet a lot of people, and most of the people I’m meeting these days are from downstate. They’re looking for country homes and they want to move for good.

They tell me New York City just doesn’t feel the same.

“I’m working from home now,” one said, “and I am told it’s likely it will be permanent. Our apartment isn’t set up for that. It’s too small.”


“It’s weird,” another tells me. “So many businesses are closed, or have gone out of business. All the things you enjoy because you live in the city just aren’t available any more. Why live there?”

“It’s different on the streets,” explains a third city client. “There are people, but there’s a tension in the air. It feels like you’re taking a risk, just getting out around other people. I don’t like it any more.”

But then there’s my friend, a dear man who just celebrated his eightieth birthday. He has a home in Woodstock, and he has a home in Manhattan. He still loves the city best. “I can walk to the grocery store, to my doctor, everything I need is right there,” he says.

When he’s upstate, he says feels nervous, cut off from people, and, possibly, at risk.

I told one of my younger clients about him, and she nodded. “I wonder if maybe New York is going to end up being a city full of older people,” she said. “All the young ones seem to want out.”

Read more installments of Village Voices by Susan Barnett.