Why Millennials Want to Leave Long Island (OP-ED)

By: Miya Jones
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Why Millennials Want to Leave Long Island (OP-ED)

I’m a millennial and I was born and raised on Long Island. I enjoy my life here. Going to beaches, camps and high school in one of the top school districts in the country is something I’m grateful for. My friends and family have always been close and I’ve never had to struggle financially. But I do eventually want to move to Brooklyn, Manhattan or Queens.

Why is that?

As much as I enjoy living here, it just doesn’t appeal to me as much as the hustle and bustle of Manhattan or the boroughs where professional opportunities are as plentiful and advertised as the night life.

Given any Friday or Saturday night, there is a club to turn up at or an event to attend that appeals to more than one demographic. As an African-American, I want to be able to hear hip-hop, reggae and R&B, current and old school, and not just pop music with hints of Drake thrown in here and there. To find the diversity I’m looking for, I have to take a 40-minute train ride or more twice and pay a $24 dollar ticket to get to Brooklyn or the city. If I lived further west, I’d live right in the middle of everything.

Nightlife on Long Island consists of bars, concerts and restaurants, which is an option, but good luck finding a club because at this point they’re virtually nonexistent. When I went to college in North Philly and talked with people from different states, off top they could name the top clubs they went to or tried to get into back home and in Philly. I couldn’t think of anything.

Another reason why millennials are feeling the urge to move further west is housing. Even though the city and certain parts of the boroughs aren’t cheap, you still seem to get more bang for your buck with the amount of social and professional possibilities. The American Community Survey broke down housing and income levels in 2017. For Nassau County, the median income for an individual was $64,058. When it comes to renting, a small percentage of apartments are below $1,000 a month. Around 40% of rentals are between $1,500 and $2,500 each month and 24% are between $1,000 and $1,500 monthly. Buying a house will cost on average $451,700, so monthly it’s $1,603. If you do decide to own property, you’d have to deal with the second highest property taxes out of 3,143 counties at $8,711 annually.

Why Millennials Want to Leave Long Island (OP-ED)

In Suffolk County, the median income was $58,022. Renting in Suffolk is not too much different from Nassau. Around 45% of apartments are between $1,500 and $2,500 per month and 27% of apartments are between $1,000 and $1,500 each month. Houses are around $376,000, which puts pricing around $1,598 monthly. Property taxes in Suffolk are the 12th highest among 3,143 counties at $7,192 annually.

Ironically, there has been an increase in the millennial population by over 36,000 people from 2010 to 2015 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But the 2017 Long Island Index indicates that 71% of young adults ages 18 to 34 are likely to leave Long Island.

So what’s the solution?

We have to make the island more appealing to young adults. A friend and fellow millennial once pointed out that we live 20 miles from the top city in the country and it feels like we’re behind the times and slow. I agree. Yes this is a suburban area and things don’t move as fast as the city, but that doesn’t mean we can’t update and try something new. Why can’t we have a curl fest like the one in Brooklyn every year? Why can’t we have a major hip-hop club here? Why can’t we have regular well done networking events for different industries?


Now talking to my fellow millennials, I know you’re tired of having to always take the LIRR to network and go out, so we have to realize the potential that’s right here on the island. It’s not like we don’t have the space, time or smarts to create events, festivals or parties. We can do it if we put in the effort and will. If we decide to invest and create, we can have more pride in where we come from.

Miya Jones

Miya Jones

Miya Jones is a Long Island native and the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Shades of Long Island. She's been a journalist since the age of 17 and is a diversity advocate. Follow Miya on Instagram and Twitter: @miyajones1996 and on Facebook as Miya Jones.

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SHADES OF LONG ISLAND is a media outlet dedicated to elevating the consciousness of Long Island through informative reporting and sharing the news, stories and events revolving people of color in our region.


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