Vincent Shields, 37, alumnus of class 1992, said that when his class got together for their 10-year reunion, only five out of about 100 attendees were still living in Glen Cove.
“My age group doesn’t exist in Glen Cove,” Shields said. “Nobody wants to leave; but you end up leaving because you have to survive.”
It’s called the “Brain Drain” – the emigration of a group of people from one location to another based on a number of factors. And it’s happening right in your hometown.
Whether it be the lack of jobs, high living costs, or just the “cool” factor of living in the suburbs, a large percentage of Long Island’s college graduates are leaving the Island to search for a better situation.
“Between 2000-2009, Nassau lost 26,902 residents age 25 to 34 and it lost 45,347 residents age 35 to 44,” said Dr. Pearl Kamer, Chief Economist of the Long Island Association.
Experts have attributed this loss of youth to a number of issues, but Kamer said she thinks housing is the biggest issue.
“We’re losing young people because we don’t have the affordable housing they need,” Kamer said. “And we don’t have some of the cool downtowns that people like to live in.”
Shields – who works as a videographer and volunteers for the – says that Glen Cove’s inconvenient location plays a key factor in young residents leaving the area.
“To live here, you have to work here,” Shields said. “Glen Cove is a trek to get to. There’s no easy way of getting to the city. People who stay in Glen Cove usually have a family business.”
Shields currently rents an apartment in Glen Cove and said he has no plans to purchase a home in the area anytime soon.
While some residents are reluctant to leave their Glen Cove roots, Lori Abbondondolo-Benazzi has made a new life for herself and her family in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Born and raised in Glen Cove – and an alumnus of the High School class off ’99 – Abbondondolo-Benazzi worked as a teacher at . She had been renting a cottage in Old Brookville with her then-fiancé; but the couple chose to move back home with her family to save money for their wedding.
“It was really expensive to live on the Island and although we were making it, we were both working a lot,” Abbondondolo-Benazzi said.
A graduate of C.W Post with an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s in Special Education, Abbondondolo-Benazzi said that she ultimately decided to move out of state because it was a better way of life.
“About four years prior to actually moving to Wilmington, NC we came to visit and fell in love,” she said. “The people were nice and the houses were huge and affordable. We really decided to leave because it was such a nicer way of life. We came to visit again in March 2008 and we were looking at houses, just for fun. We found the most beautiful house and we couldn’t believe the price. My husband and I didn’t know what we were doing but we made an offer – very low. A couple of weeks later our realtor called us and they’d accepted the offer.”
The couple wed on June 26, 2008 and moved to their new home just seven days later.
“We both quit our jobs and just went. We didn’t know anyone and were very nervous but it was the best decision we’ve ever made,” Abbondondolo-Benazzi said. “It’s funny, many of my friends and family members told me how lucky I was to be able to move. They said they wish they ‘got out’ when they could have, that they now felt ‘stuck.’ I didn’t want that.”
Abbondondolo-Benazzi said that while Wilmington reminds her of Glen Cove when she was a child, her new city offers a refreshingly low-maintenance lifestyle.
“It doesn’t matter how much money you have or what kind of car you drive,” she said. “Nobody judges you on that material stuff, like they do up north. Don’t get me wrong; I was caught up in all that mess too. I am just so grateful that I got away from it and I can raise my daughter in a less competitive environment.”