Poll: Most NY Metro Residents Like Where They Live, But Worry About Climate Change

Optimism is up in the New York Metropolitan region, led by a surge of good feelings among New York City residents. That's according to a new poll by the Regional Plan Association, which also found that worry is on the rise over climate change and severe weather threats.

The downside of living here, in the opinion of those polled, are weather events that disrupt lives and destroy property. Fully 60 percent of respondents answered "very likely or somewhat likely" to the question, "How likely is it that climate change will affect you or your local community in your lifetime?"

The leading threat depended on where respondents lived. Long Islanders fear coastal flooding, New Jerseyans worry about hurricanes, residents of Connecticut tremble at the thought of power outages, and those living in the Hudson Valley are concerned about flooding from rain storms. New Yorkers see heat waves as the biggest threat.

The poll says 83 percent of adults in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are "very or somewhat satisfied" with the quality of life in their community. That's unchanged from 1995. But the locals are more bullish about the future. The poll found 28 percent of Metro Area adults believe their neighborhood would be a better place to live in 10 to 15 years, as opposed to only 19 percent who expressed that view in a 1995 poll conducted by the association.

"The main driver for the change appears to be residents of New York City," said researcher Juliette Michaelson, an author of the report. "The quality of life in New York City has gone up in the minds of people."

She pointed out that in the current poll, 37 percent of New York City residents saw better things in their future, while only 21 percent of suburbanites felt that way.

About a third of people polled in the tri-state area said they wanted to move somewhere else, and 26 percent of them said they preferred that somewhere to be an urban area. That's double the rate of those who felt similarly in 1995.

"That change is being driven by young people," Michaelson said. Among respondents aged 18 to 29 who said they wanted to make a move, 45 percent said they wanted to land in a city. The finding accords with studies that show young people are less likely than in previous generations to obtain a driver's license, and are more likely to ride mass transit and seek out walkable neighborhoods. They're also waiting longer to have kids. 

"People used to go to college, live at home or live in the city for a couple of years and then get married and move out to the suburbs," said Michaelson. "But I think that narrative has changed a lot."