Boom town: Columbia County saw 204% increase in relocations from NYC


CBRE, a commercial real estate firm, analyzed the data of 29 million address changes reported by the U.S. Postal Service in 2020. The findings showed that “nearly all urban centers saw an increase in move-outs,” with metro dwellers moving to a majority of places that were short-to-moderate distances from their urban hubs. In New York state, that meant the Hudson Valley and upstate were prime destinations for New York City residents seeking greener pastures.

Columbia County, located 125 miles north of Manhattan, checks off this box, as does Ulster County across the river, which is slightly closer to the city. Of all Hudson Valley counties, Columbia and Ulster saw the highest year-over-year change in people moving there from New York, Queens, Kings and Bronx counties from 2019 to 2020.

While 412 people changed their address from New York City to Columbia County in 2019, the data shows a 204 percent increase in 2020, with 1,254 people moving there. In Ulster, 951 people moved there from New York City in 2019 — in 2020, that number jumped to 2,647 people, a 180 percent uptick.

“It’s not a surprise to have people from a dense, crowded city like New York move to the nearby Hudson Valley looking for some peace and quiet, maybe buying a second home,” said Matt Mowell, CBRE Senior Economist. “That’s not news. What is news is how pronounced that trend has been in 2020.”

The New York Times, using the same data set, reports that Hudson and Kingston are the top two metro spots nationwide seeing the biggest change in net relocations. While the upstate metros are highlighted, these cities aren’t the only areas that have experienced a jump in New York City transplants. More rural areas, like Ulster’s Phoenicia and Columbia’s Copake, have also seen considerable shifts in net migration from the city since 2019.

“The joys of living in high-density Manhattan just aren’t there,” said Mowell.