Best Cities in the USA

Have a question that I feel a lot of you could provide input on.

What city in the USA is the best aside from NYC?

I like the big downtown scene, the fast-paced NYC scene, the idea that I have a lot of opportunities to find a job in my city in the event I were to get canned mid career, but unfortunately I don’t see myself here long term. What cities are like NYC but a bit more practical in terms of life with a wife and kids? I like the idea of Chicago or Boston but I don’t know much about these areas. Any thoughts?

 

I spent a summer in San Diego for an internship and honestly, it was fantastic - seems to be LA without the crime, literally perfect weather, and no insane politics - you definitely have a decent number of bleeding hearts, but it's balanced out by all the servicemembers at camp Coronado/other bases.

Would give SD a 9/10 honestly.

 
Monkey_In_NYC

I spent a summer in San Diego for an internship and honestly, it was fantastic - seems to be LA without the crime, literally perfect weather, and no insane politics - you definitely have a decent number of bleeding hearts, but it's balanced out by all the servicemembers at camp Coronado/other bases.

Would give SD a 9/10 honestly.

Yeah def. I like North County SD, specifically Encinitas.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee
 

San Diego is legit (have a lot of family in La Jolla, it’s ridiculously beautiful and so relaxed there) my only concern would be number of opportunities available and cost of living. Can anyone speak to either one of those points?

 
goldmanballsachs

San Diego is legit (have a lot of family in La Jolla, it's ridiculously beautiful and so relaxed there) my only concern would be number of opportunities available and cost of living. Can anyone speak to either one of those points?

La Jolla is nice. The cost of living is generally lower than LA or SF.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee
 

It's a finance desert for the most part, though there has been a handful of new funds / offices moving here recently. I could see that trajectory continuing as the covid mobility helped further legitimize the professional scene here (more people with high end jobs here now than there would have been otherwise). It's one of the leaders in the life sciences space, has a healthy broader healthcare sector, and Apple just bought a massive campus to bring 5,000+ jobs.

Cost of living is higher than you'd expect - average rent is actually now higher than in SF. It's technically the least affordable city in the US based on the ratio of average home price to average income. People have historically moved here once they're already rich

 

I think Neos Partners is still hiring juniors. New fund started by two ex Oaktree guys - they just raised $800+ million. There's been a handful of these funds popping up here now - guys spinning off of large funds in bigger cities and setting up shop in San Diego. They've got a pretty nice recruiting pitch to attract experienced junior / mid level hires that are burned out by the NYC culture and want to be close to the beach. The finance / professional scene has "matured" a ton in the few years I've been here, largely due to covid making a place like San Diego a possibility for professionals who were otherwise tied to a specific city. I think it'll only continue to grow over the next couple of decades

 
Most Helpful

Seems to be an unpopular opinion on this app, but I’d say Houston. Quality of living for the amount of money you make, even at 22-23 years old, is pretty sweet. ~$1,400/month all-in for a 3BR townhouse (with roommates) in a great area. Nightlife isn’t on the same tier as NYC obviously, but it checks the box. Not like you’re going out 3+ times a week in this industry.

Great parks and outdoor activities. Wide range of food options. Generally friendly people who mind their business.

I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but seems like there’s some nice areas to raise a family if you’re thinking long-term (the Woodlands). You just have to be able to tolerate energy.

 

slattmx

Seems to be an unpopular opinion on this app, but I'd say Houston. Quality of living for the amount of money you make, even at 22-23 years old, is pretty sweet. ~$1,400/month all-in for a 3BR townhouse (with roommates) in a great area. Nightlife isn't on the same tier as NYC obviously, but it checks the box. Not like you're going out 3+ times a week in this industry.

Great parks and outdoor activities. Wide range of food options. Generally friendly people who mind their business.

I don't know how long I'll be here, but seems like there's some nice areas to raise a family if you're thinking long-term (the Woodlands). You just have to be able to tolerate energy.

Curious - what neighborhood is this in? Haven't lived in Houston since 2016. I know myself and others complain about the zoning a lot there but damn they can build a lot of stuff quickly. The amount of buildings that sprang up on San Felipe right inside the loop near the 610 freeway was wild. 

 

Orange County is nice as well.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee
 

it's a favorite on this forum, at least it was with older posters.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.
 

CA/NY are poop don't even count em. Nashville, Dallas, and Miami are all the tits. 

"The obedient always think of themselves as virtuous rather than cowardly" - Robert A. Wilson | "If you don't have any enemies in life you have never stood up for anything" - Winston Churchill | "It's a testament to the sheer belligerence of the profession that people would rather argue about the 'risk-adjusted returns' of using inferior tooth cleaning methods." - kellycriterion
 
ASAPCOIN

Charlotte and DC

Ew

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee
 

I wouldn't live in Charlotte but I went there for a work conference earlier this year and really liked it. DC is ok but it's getting progressively worse, I walked around eastern Capitol Hill with a friend who's actually from DC (very rare) and parts of it were sketchy to say the least, not like the western part. People jump over the metro turnstiles all the time (the DC equivalent of opening the door when leaving the NYC subway), and more frequent shootings and carjackings (someone tried to steal my car just before Christmas). Not as much fun anymore.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.
 
ASAP Kong

Why do you say Seattle?

IMO, one thing that strongly contributes to my positive perception of a city is the availability/accessibility of a variety of natural beauty. It's not the only criteria, but access to natural beauty is something that seattle has in spades. It's an extremely green city too (as in, lots of foliage/flora/fauna) because the people there understand that more greenery leads to a happier existence / more desire to keep your neighborhood looking nice. 

Seattle also has an insanely good variety of restaurants thanks to its diversity of residents, and the weather benefits from being on the coast.

 

Unfortunately the homeless problem has gotten pretty bad in Denver. Apparently some of the shelters got bought up for real estate development. Most of what denver offers isn’t really in Denver but it is a good city

I think I did this right
 

I was recently in Annapolis, MD and I was blown away with how nice it is. The real estate--19th century and first half of 20th century--is spectacular. And it's super clean (no trash, no weeds, buildings are all in wonderful repair) and right on the water--just terrific views. It's really vibrant. I was there on Saturday morning and then on Saturday night and it was very vibrant--tons of beautiful young women out having fun. I was genuinely surprised with how impressed I was with the town. I live about an hour away in another really nice small town (the name which I won't give out lest it gets overrun) and I found myself a bit jealous. Issue is, I can't afford the $2 million houses in downtown, and if I can't live downtown in an historic townhouse then there's basically no point. 

 
GregMadeMeDoIt

I was recently in Annapolis, MD and I was blown away with how nice it is. The real estate--19th century and first half of 20th century--is spectacular. And it's super clean (no trash, no weeds, buildings are all in wonderful repair) and right on the water--just terrific views. It's really vibrant. I was there on Saturday morning and then on Saturday night and it was very vibrant--tons of beautiful young women out having fun. I was genuinely surprised with how impressed I was with the town. I live about an hour away in another really nice small town (the name which I won't give out lest it gets overrun) and I found myself a bit jealous. Issue is, I can't afford the $2 million houses in downtown, and if I can't live downtown in an historic townhouse then there's basically no point. 

I also recently discovered annapolis for the first time (stayed at the graduate) and found it extremely charming. When OP said best "cities" though i was imagining big cities not smaller towns, otherwise I'd have a ton of other ones to add haha.

 
philbegas
GregMadeMeDoIt

I was recently in Annapolis, MD and I was blown away with how nice it is. The real estate--19th century and first half of 20th century--is spectacular. And it's super clean (no trash, no weeds, buildings are all in wonderful repair) and right on the water--just terrific views. It's really vibrant. I was there on Saturday morning and then on Saturday night and it was very vibrant--tons of beautiful young women out having fun. I was genuinely surprised with how impressed I was with the town. I live about an hour away in another really nice small town (the name which I won't give out lest it gets overrun) and I found myself a bit jealous. Issue is, I can't afford the $2 million houses in downtown, and if I can't live downtown in an historic townhouse then there's basically no point. 

I also recently discovered annapolis for the first time (stayed at the graduate) and found it extremely charming. When OP said best "cities" though i was imagining big cities not smaller towns, otherwise I'd have a ton of other ones to add haha.

I'm actually curious what your thoughts are on some of the better small towns. 

 

Annapolis is very nice, yes, but the old part of it is pretty small and the rest of the town isn't all that great, regular suburbia. The only difference is that it has some nice real estate on the water.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.
 

I would recommend Chicago - I lived there for ~4 years.  The weather is managable, especially if you're in a high rise in the city and not dealing with a driveway to shovel out of.  The summers are incredible.  ~10MM people in the metro area, solid public transit and job opportunities at WB, Baird, Eastdil, etc.  Definitely not the same number and scope of opportunities as NYC but much more affordable with a good nightlife, cultural and food scene.  

 

Santa Barbara, Austin, Arlington / Nova, Seattle are great cities. I remember all the evergreen trees in the PNW from when I was a kid. Hiking in Olympic National park was great. Just an amazing region and the city has a lot of cool stuff.

Also just went to Boston for the first time last month and it’s way better than I expected. It’s like one small section of lower Manhattan with suburbs around it. Pretty clean and I loved the garden and esplanade.

 

In terms of living and affordability, Philadelphia has got to be up there...at least some of the financial districts outside (greater West Chester & Consohocken areas) of Philadelphia. You're about a 1.5-hour train ride from NYC and DC. Also, commuting and or reverse commuting to and from the city is easy whether you decide to live downtown or not. 

I wouldn't consider it a LCOL city but you're getting the best bang for your buck in terms of being on the east coast, being in a major city, having a decent nightlife, and having great professional sports teams in which everyone vicariously lives through. 

Obviously not going to find top shops there but there is a decent LMM PE presence (LLR Partners, Graham Partners, etc.) and other regional banks.  

 

the historical suburbs of Philly are very nice, the city itself outside of a few pockets sucks ass.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.
 

Living in Atlanta is pretty nice

  • Cost of living is relatively low, but getting higher
  • Economy is growing like crazy
  • Because of the above, lots of jobs in finance and consulting. PE is relatively small though firms like AKKR are starting to build more of a presence
  • One decent public schools, lots of pretty good private ones
  • A lot of stuff is new due to investment dollars flowing in. Still a lot of cool local stuff. Gentrification is definitely happening
  • We are finally getting Michelin rated so I guess our food is decent
  • Pretty diverse
  • Doesn’t really get cold, but definitely gets hot as balls
  • Easy to fly to most places
  • Actually don’t come here, traffic is bad enough and we don’t need more people
 

NYC is its own beast - no comparison but not for everyone.

Chicago is a great alternative.  Atlanta or Dallas if prefer more commute/suburb oriented big cities.  

I'm partial to the SW so will always recommend Phoenix.  Vegas is good if you work remote.  Tampa is nice as well.

I'm not a big fan of many commonly recommended cities (e.g. Philly, Boston, DC, Charlotte, Miami).  

If the above are too big, hot, or expensive for your tastes, I'd recommend as Cincinnati, Milwaukee, or Kansas City as underrated fly over cities.

 

My favorites are:

  • Boston
  • Charleston (really only hurt by lack of opportunities and weather)
  • Century City, CA (Surprised don't see this one come up more often. Decent concentration of jobs, much cleaner than LA/SF, close to the beach, and top notch weather.)
  • Portland, ME (like Charleston, hurt by lack of job opportunities)
  • Coconut Grove and Coral Gables, FL. I prefer these two along with Tampa over Miami
 

San Francisco, if you:

  • Come with your own gf/wife so you don’t have to mess with the dating scene
  • Live in the suburb-y part of town (Twin Peaks, Inner Sunset, Inner Richmond, Pac Heights) and hardly deal with the homeless issues, which are concentrated elsewhere 
  • Bought a starter house for $1.2MM (which there are houses for sale at that price - compare that to Hollywood/LA, actually decent)
  • Need to drive on a freeway only once or twice a month because you mainly stay in the City - I hate driving in traffic as a commute
  • Have an incredible network (Berkeley/Stanford or any other affinity group) that you meet people doing interesting things serendipitously 
  • Your kids attend one of the better public schools
  • When the average summer high temperature is 68 degrees while the rest of the West is in a record heat wave
  • and you work in finance which SF is still the Finance Capital of the West; the industry is deep
  • it was great for partying when I was in my 20’s (2005-2010) and it’s shifted with my demographic and is a great place to live as a 40 year old married family person
  • SF always seems to reinvent itself (hippies 60’s/70’s, finance 80’s, tech 1.0-3.0, what’s next?)
  • I’ve travelled extensively in the West, and SF is a bigger Seattle; SF is less pretentious than West LA; I like dense cities with good public transportation.  I thought I loved warm weather (I’m from Hawaii) but find cool weather good for work productivity.  
  • Still the center of gravity for future trends 
  • Non-stops to Hawaii; convenient home to catch Hawaii football road games in the Western US
  • Pay tends to be higher
  • There are ways to save money (ie Asian grocery stores)
  • Great parks and natural surroundings.  The Bay is beautiful.  Used to watch 49er games on tv and see a stunning view of the Bay.  
Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life. Check out my blog at MemoryVideo.com
 
Funniest

Imagine needing to meet all those criteria to enjoy San Francisco. Sign of a terrible city.

"Yeah bro you can enjoy Flint Michigan if you have all your friends and family there, bring a hot wife from NYC, buy a $2mm dollar house, never need to commute, live in the nicest neighborhoods with access to clean water, send your kids to the best school" 

Sorry for the facetious comment this place has traumatized me.

 
Ladd

Imagine needing to meet all those criteria to enjoy San Francisco. Sign of a terrible city.

"Yeah bro you can enjoy Flint Michigan if you have all your friends and family there, bring a hot wife from NYC, buy a $2mm dollar house, never need to commute, live in the nicest neighborhoods with access to clean water, send your kids to the best school" 

Sorry for the facetious comment this place has traumatized me.

I won’t say you need all, but it helps.  Just giving you my observations how to improve your experience.  
 

Like you said, living in Flint wouldn’t be all bad.  But you provide nothing of value with your wise comment.  I gave specifics, where to try to live after say a couple years renting in Nob Hill.  If you have a significant other, you can ignore all the doom and gloom about the dating scene. 
 

I think the under appreciated facts for this career message board are the job market is pretty deep in a lot of industries (banking, tech, real estate, health care, consulting) and the City has managed to reinvent itself in the past (Gold Rush town to other iterations). 

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life. Check out my blog at MemoryVideo.com
 
Chimp711

Chicago has to be in the running. Major city, on the water, things to do, and not terribly expensive. 

Not terribly expensive, yet terrible. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee
 

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I think I did this right
 

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