Homeowners from NYC and beyond discuss moving to CT during COVID


Amanda Gabbard and husband Michael McGuirk moved to Ridgefield, Conn. from Manhattan during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two years later, the couple said they “could not be happier” with their life in Connecticut.

Courtesy of Amanda Gabbard / Contributed Photo

Amanda Gabbard and her husband Michael McGuirk lived in New York City for over 21 years. The makeup artist and her actor/singer husband, however, saw their time living in the city’s East Side draw to a close as the COVID-19 pandemic settled into the area.

“We had every intention of sticking it out in New York.” Gabbard said in an email. “It wasn’t until around week three that it started to cross our mind when we talked to friends who had gotten out. All of a sudden, the thought of being able to take the dogs for a walk or the trash out without having to suit up in protective gear and clean ourselves off before stepping foot back inside started to sound intriguing. And most importantly — safer.”

They found themselves in search of a quarantine location away from New York City, and they “packed everything in two days and left.” They landed in New Canaan, Conn. where they thought they would quarantine for three months. But those three months spurred a love affair with Connecticut and a home search, and eventually the duo purchased a home in Ridgefield.

Two years later, Gabbard said they “could not be happier” living in Connecticut.

“We had gotten out of Manhattan after 20-plus years for what was supposed to be a quick three-month stay in Connecticut,” Gabbard said in an email. “Of course, all that changed when we fell in love with the area and happily stumbled on the magical town of Ridgefield which, we realize now, must have been calling our names.”

Of course, the move to suburbia came with some adjustments, starting with the additional space that comes from owning a home versus renting their Manhattan one-bedroom apartment. Gabbard said she has “more closets than I know what to do with” and she will “still squeal with excitement over closet space.” But among the most surprising transitions for Gabbard was the new life she and her husband de ella would come to build so quickly.

“The one thing that we did not realize about moving to our new home here was the community that came with the town itself,” she said. “Ridgefield really does have a tremendous heart and soul. We saw that firsthand with the new neighbors that quickly became friends and realized it extended throughout the town as more things opened up post-COVID.”

Gabbard and McGuirk have since woven themselves into the fabric of the town. Gabbard said her husband is working as a real estate agent for William Pitt Sotheby’s International in Ridgefield and on the board of the Chamber of Commerce and the Newcomer’s Club. He is also putting his theater skills to use, getting involved in ACT of CT’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

As for Gabbard, she’s busy growing her clientele for her beauty business in Connecticut and Manhattan, and she said living away from the city makes her “appreciate it so much more now that [they] have a balance in [their] lives.”

“I will never completely break up with the ‘Big Apple,’” she said. “I simply state that ‘I’ll always love you, we just can’t live together anymore. We’re better off as friends.’”

While they never planned to seek out suburban life, Gabbard said she is grateful to now call Ridgefield home.

“Being happy with our move would be an understatement,” she said. “Not a day goes by that we do not realize how lucky we are to not only survive the pandemic, but also realize that the path it lead our lives on has enabled us both to grow in ways that were never even on our radar.”