You have probably heard by now that power couple Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West are divorcing, so naturally one of them needs to find a new place to live.
According to the latest rumors, West is looking east—way east. No, not to Wyoming, where he owns two huge ranches, or glitzy New York City. No, he’s reportedly set his sights on a tiny suburban town called Rye, NY.
Maybe West is drawn to the fact that Rye is a mere 40 minutes from the Big Apple. Or perhaps he’s drawn to the quaint vibes of the waterfront town.
Or maybe it’s something else.
“West has filed paperwork for ‘Rye’ to drop the ‘R’ from its name and rebrand to ‘Ye,’ permanently,” read a recent report in the local newspaper, the Rye Record.
For non–Kanye West fans out there, “Ye” is the rapper’s nickname, and the title of his 2018 album.
The same paper reported that West is willing to put his money where his mouth is, offering to cough up 10% of his net worth—which would be about $10,000,000—to wipe out Rye’s city and school debts.
The story is so ludicrous, many have taken to social media insisting it must be false. But so far, West’s camp hasn’t denied these claims. So we’ll run with it in the meantime, and talk logistics: How easy is it for a town to change its name, anyway? And if this odd event does actually come to pass, what would West’s arrival mean for the town and all who live there?
Rye to Ye: Is it possible to change a town’s name?
As strange as it sounds, there is precedent for towns taking on new names picked by people with deep pockets.
In 1998, the 250 residents of Granville, ND, agreed to change their town’s name to McGillicuddy City—essentially an advertisement for liquor purveyor Dr. McGillicuddy’s mint schnapps. In exchange for this dubious name switch, the bigwigs at Dr. McGillicuddy’s donated $100,000 to build a community center.
In that light, West’s $10 million would be a much better offer.
“There is some paperwork involved in changing a place’s name. But I get if the municipality is OK with it, then why not?” says Georges Benoliel, member of the Real Estate Board of New York with experience in Westchester County properties. “At the end of the day, money speaks! Paying down the debt of the city is like paying each [taxpayer].”
What Rye residents feel about living in Ye
People are usually pretty attached to where they live, so naturally, Rye residents and people in the surrounding county of Westchester have been embroiled in a lively debate about what to do.
For what it’s worth, Westchester Magazine is all for the name change:
@kanyewest if you’re thinking of moving to rYE, NY, we’d love to have you!
— Westchester Magazine (@WestchesterMag) March 11, 2021
Yet many locals are staunchly opposed to losing their town’s name, like this one longtime resident:
Rye is my hometown. Hard to imagine it becoming Ye town with Kanye West moving in…https://t.co/yHYUiwUpIg
— Laura H. Lee (@laurahoffmanlee) March 11, 2021
All in all, what’s clear is that a West-induced town rebranding comes with pros (i.e., 10 million buckaroos) and cons, and whether it’s a brilliant or terrible idea largely hinges on the town in question.
“If it was a place that needed a bit of a lift—perhaps it had been economically depressed or was a location that had some geographical challenges—they may benefit from someone like Kanye coming in and wanting to invest and develop in it,” says Cara Ameer, a broker who deals with high-end properties in Los Angeles and Florida. “Cities in search of a rebranding/image change may want to approach Kanye and other celebrity influencers and try to work out a sponsorship deal. For the right place and location, something like this may have a positive impact.”
However, Rye already has plenty of cachet without West’s help—and thus may have more to lose.
“If Kanye were successful in changing the name from Rye to Ye, I’m not sure that it would cause the values to go dramatically upward,” continues Ameer. “It may have an opposite effect. Communities like Rye have a certain ring to them, like a designer label. That’s in part why people pay a premium to live there.”
In short, an upscale town like Rye would be taking a risk rebranding itself in West’s image. But there is a middle ground.
“Incorporating Kanye’s name into a certain section or area may be a better way to blend an older tradition with new,” suggests Ameer. After all, she points out, “Professional sports stadiums are renamed whenever they get a new sponsor, and this could be something like that.”
Ye Stadium, Ye Port, Ye Park? We guess any of those could be a backup option in case Ye, NY, strikes out.
Which home might Kanye West buy?
The Rye Record also reported that West has been spotted house hunting with real estate professionals, checking out three properties in the area.
According to the paper, West plans to create a home that’s a “music studio/creative think tank,” and buy another property for a new church for his Sunday services. While we don’t know exactly what he has his eye on, we tracked down the top homes in the areas the rapper purportedly visited: Manursing Way, Forest Avenue, and Boston Post Road.
If Ye craves privacy
The six-bedroom, 4.5-bath home in Rye is surrounded by rare beech hedges, perfect for a private celebrity. The entry foyer leads to a sunken living room with a 22-foot cathedral ceiling and a floor-to-ceiling fireplace. Plus there’s an atrium overlooking a four-season hot tub.
If Ye wants to be steps from the water
For $9,980,000, West can snap up this custom-built, waterfront Georgian Colonial that features views of Long Island Sound. There’s a six-car garage underneath the house (West apparently has a thing for subterranean garages) and five bedrooms with water views in the home.
If Ye wants to be close to town
The seven-bedroom historic estate comes with 2 private acres in the heart of Rye (or, um, Ye). What sets this lavish home apart is the stunning swimming pool and formal gardens. And good news for West, he would be within walking distance of shops and restaurants in case he wants to meet the locals. After all, if a town was named after you, wouldn’t you want to get to know your neighbors?