By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – New Yorkers are abandoning the Big Apple even as the Big Apple is opening up.

The drumbeat from South Florida boosters, including the Miami mayor, who recently visited Wall Street, said “come on down,” and they are.

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“My business down here is needed way more than New York, so I decided to open a satellite location here in South Florida,” said Ado Deljanin.

Deljanin’s company locates and delivers new cars for customers, “hassle-free,” he said.

About his decision to personally move to South Florida after a recent visit to New York City?

“I could not believe New York. I don’t know, I found it is just like it is not what it was. I feel COVID put a damper on it,” said Deljanin.

He is not alone. From September 2020 to March 2021, over 33,000 New Yorkers traded New York driver licenses for a Florida license, an increase since 2019 of 32%.

“We are seeing actual families relocating here, they have been given the opportunity over the last year to examine their lifestyle,” said Harlan Goldberg of Bespoke Real Estate.

Goldberg says the pull of South Florida goes beyond the beach, the weather.

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For New Yorkers, South Florida has reached a point where there is more than just “Fun in the sun.”

“Florida was very ‘one dimensional.’ It was all about the beach. Today, it has culture. Things to do off the beach and we are seeing a migration pattern taking place off the beach in Brickell and Coral Gables. The market always spoken about, but not as hot as today.”

Restaurants, entertainment, the arts, many with New York roots, are now part of the fabric of the South Florida lifestyle. And where are those New Yorkers settling?

In Palm Beach County, 14,000 have moved in; in Broward, over 8,000 have relocated, and Miami-Dade has seen 8,000 make the decision to depart New York.

“It is across income levels, across family lifestyle, across job description, it is across industry,” said Goldberg.

Not always hi-tech silicone valley stuff and the atmosphere. We are not talking about the weather.

“Here in South Florida, I have met New Yorkers and I say when we find out we are both from New York, I ask what makes you so nice while you are in Florida? In New York, how do we say, we can be rude sometimes!” Delijanin said.

There is an old saying that South Florida was New York’s “sixth borough,” especially in the winter.

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Now, it is year-round and looks like folks are here to stay year-round.