"The temporary flight really turned kind of permanent," former New Yorker Casey Madden said.
When Madden left New York City with her boyfriend for the beaches of Tampa, Florida, when the pandemic first started, it was supposed to be a temporary move.
"It's almost like an entirely different person," Madden said. "I went through more change in the last year than I have in my entire life."
ALSO READ | Census: NYC population surges to 8.8 million with almost all growth in cities
The lifelong New Yorker got a new apartment, got engaged, adopted a dog, and started a new life.
She's not alone.
7 on Your Side Investigates analyzed data from the U.S. Postal Service to see how many people have moved and changed their address outside of the city limits.
The data shows 320,000 people left New York City in 2020, a 237% increase from the year before.
Plus, the data shows the exodus continues.
So far this year, more than 100,000 people have filed change of address forms out of the New York City area. That's more than double the typical amount.
MORE NEWS: Tens of thousands of New Yorkers are moving to Florida during COVID pandemic
"We went from living vertically to horizontally," Madden said. "It's very hard to go back to that vertical way of living. I mean, we have so much more space and everything is so much cheaper."
She and her fiancé are trying to recreate parts of New York in Florida, including naming their dog Bleecker after their favorite street in the Big Apple.
The Census showed that New York City's population surged to 8.80 million in 2020, up from 8.17 million in 2010, but many of those gains have potentially been wiped out by the exodus.
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