It’s not just young people who are making the move to the big city. Increasing numbers of empty nesters are also looking to make the switch from the suburbs to the city. The reasons range from wanting to be closer to their now grown kids, to downsizing to better convenience and cultural opportunities. At present, New York is home to almost 1.4 million people over 60, a number projected to increase to 2 million by 2040. Whatever your reasons are for moving, here are the things empty nesters should consider before making the move to the Big Apple.

Rent or buy

The first thing to consider is whether to rent or buy. A rental building, as opposed to a condo, is the more stable option. A condo owner could sell at any time which can leave you without a place to live. For shorter term through a condo can also work. If renting, know that it’s pretty common for landlords to require that tenants make 40 times their rent to secure a lease.

If you’re looking to buy, enlist the services of a good realtor who can help you secure a good place. They can help not just with finding a good apartment but also negotiating for a good price and handling the paperwork.

Be realistic about how much space you need and can get

If you’ve never lived in NYC before you need to be realistic about how much space your money can buy. Even if your whole reason for moving is to downsize, be careful about going too far. You may feel that a one bedroom apartment will be fine but if you’re downsizing from a four or five-bedroom house it can feel very cramped.

What sort of amenities do you need?

The New York housing market is crazy for amenities now. On-site gyms, 24-hour doormen, laundry, a pool, the list goes on. All of this can seem very enticing at first but don’t get carried away. Decide on what amenities are important and which you can’t do without. For empty nesters, this might be the extra convenience of doormen buildings where you can receive packages, dry-cleaning and so on. An outdoor space such as a balcony is also a much-requested feature.

Decide on what neighborhood suits you

If your moving to be close to family this might already be decided on. Otherwise, take some time to learn about the different boroughs and neighborhoods. In general, older people tend to favor the Upper East and Upper West sides due to their relative tranquility. People are coming back to the city because they want to enjoy life, which makes the busy atmosphere of SoHo and downtime no good. Of course, it depends on what your interests are.


The proximity of a home to public transport is a big factor in NYC housing, especially so if you’re still working. Getting around in NYC can be chaotic, which tends to make homes located closer to subway stations pricier. Those coming from the suburbs also tend to have a hard time giving up their car. If so, be prepared for a lot of wrangling with New York parking rules. To make it easier, factor in a garage or parking space arrangements in your search.


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