Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics


Fear of Terrorism

Leaving New York
While some New Yorkers are leaving the city, citing bad schools, high housing costs or the daily stresses of urban life, analysts debate whether the exodus is anything alarming or unusual, and what to do about it.

Why New Yorkers Are Leaving:

The City Is Too Expensive
by E.J. McMahon

City Schools and Housing Are Inadequate
by David Kallick

New Yorkers Who Left:

Rondrae Hunter
A Frustrating Apartment Search

Allison Woods
Struggling with Strollers and Schools

Stefan Kochi
Bad for Business

About a month after 9/11, I decided that, after having lived in New York for 12 years, I wanted to move. Even though my wife recognized that my fear was somewhat legitimate, she thought we ought to just stick it out for a while and see what happened. And she was very attached to Park Slope, where we lived, and to our friends in the neighborhood. I was attached too, but more than that I was frightened by the risk to our children.

With two kids, I just did not want to be in New York. We were in the middle of the anthrax scare, and I was opening my mail with gloves and a mask on. I was nervous about taking my kids on the subway. I didn't want to put them at risk. Then we had the scare about a dirty bomb and radioactive material in Manhattan. My wife started coming over to my side.

To decide where we would move, we drew a circle with the radius of a one and a half hour drive from Manhattan. Anywhere within the circle was a prospect. Then we visited a friend in Connecticut. I took a drive to the Long Island Sound and fell in love with the shore. It was a beautiful place. We moved to Milford in July 2002.

Though 9/11 was the main reason we moved, it wasn't the only one. Another reason was the financial situation; the rent in our apartment had just increased 15 percent. In the nine years we had lived there, the rent had climbed a total of 70 percent. It was just too expensive.

Our nine-year-old sons were soon going to leave their elementary school, PS 321, and would have to enroll in a middle school. I wasn't worried that they wouldn't get into a good school, but I was worried about how far away it would be. They were going to have to take subways and buses to get to school rather than walk down the street as they used to. I didn't like the idea of them doing that, and we couldn't afford to send them to a private school.

It took my sons awhile -- six months or eight months -- to adjust to the move. My wife had trouble as well. We came back to Brooklyn occasionally, and walked around, and the kids hung out with their old friends. It helped them with the separation. My wife still visits women friends down there, and she's in a book club that meets once a month.

I try to stay away from the city. I am a painter and so I go down and met with my artist friends sometimes. We visit museums and galleries. But I am a little scared. I really don't want to be in the city at all.

I see myself being comfortable again in New York only if we solve the terrorist threat. If Al-Qaeda, and Saddam Hussein were brought to justice and there were no attacks for a year or two, then I would feel much better. But I will never move back to New York. For me, the move is irreversible.

David Bassine, a painter, left New York and moved to Connecticut.

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