When the coronavirus pandemic struck New York City in March 2020, the Jackowitz-Solomon family, then living in Brooklyn Heights, felt they had to do something fast. The schools, museums and parks were closed. And there was no indication when any of them would reopen.
The family decided to take a trip to Tampa, where Beryl Jackowitz-Solomon, 42, was raised. She, her husband, Michael, 47, and their two sons, Abe, now 10, and Jonah, now 8, moved in with her father in Florida for 10 weeks.
They knew they needed to come back to New York — but not to Brooklyn Heights, where the amenities of the city they loved were not available. And the schools remained closed, it turned out, that entire year.
Jackowitz-Solomon, who runs an e-commerce business, said that the couple prepared to leave their apartment in the city and began searching for places to live in Long Beach. She and Michael, who is in the real estate business and is also an attorney, spent the summer of 2020 looking at homes while their children attended a day camp that was open in Roslyn.
“We were the first couple to be allowed to enter the homes physically,” Jackowitz-Solomon re-counted. “We wore masks. It was crazy.”
“We had used New York City as our backyard,” she said. “We went to the museums and parks. These weren’t open to us anymore. We couldn’t sit outside. Everything became so difficult.” In Brooklyn Heights, she said, their apartment was too small to keep the kids indoors all day long.
And Long Beach, she said, had so much appeal for the family. The couple had met on Fire Island, and Long Beach was as close to that beach setting as possible. They could walk to the beach and the Long Island Rail Road station. They were allowed to sit in the parks. The air seemed fresh and clean.
“We wanted a unique place,” Jackowitz-Solomon said. She wanted to be outside, and to ride her bike. But, she said, “we had to act fast.”
There was lots of competition from others who also wanted to leave the city, David Kasner, a broker for Coldwell Banker American Homes, said.
“The market was bananas then,” Kasner said. Arguments broke out on front lawns among people bidding for homes. Other brokers said that buyers were offering well over list prices, and often paying cash.
The Jackowitz-Solomon family closed on a home in September 2020, moved in that month, and the kids started school.
They have no regrets about leaving the city. “The city will always be there,” Jackowitz-Solomon said. The couple still spend time in Manhattan for work, but Long Beach is now home.
The big push to get out of New York City because of the coronavirus is largely over, according to real estate brokers. In the meantime, housing inventory in Long Beach is extremely low, Kasner said. “There is very little in relation to demand,” he said.
Average home prices remain above $600,000, said Leah Rosensweig Tozer, a broker and a co-chair of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce.
The market, according to brokers, was dead during the winter months, but picked up this spring. Brokers are hearing the same stories they did during the pandemic. “People want to live closer to the water,” Tozer said. “They want to have a life, and they don’t want to be stuck inside.”