Cities with the Best Cost of Living / Work Life Balance in Finance

I've come to the conclusion NYC is not for me. More power to all of you whose dream is working on the street, it's just not for me. Cost of living is too high. Hours are too long. Taxes are too high. Where in the country is the best balance between high salary and low cost of living in finance? I'm saying potential to make $300k-$500k+, work hard but not insanity. Weekends free, good 50-60 hours a week max monday - friday. I'd much rather find that then make $1 million+ and give away half of it to Uncle Sam and Cuomo/ Blasio. Areas of interest of mine include corporate finance, private wealth management, PE or mutual fund Asset Management, or boutique/MM. I like Florida, Texas, and Nevada because of the warm weather and no state income tax.

Comments (152)

Aug 2, 2014

Charlotte, Atlanta, Dallas, Nashville

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Aug 9, 2014
rpc:

Charlotte, Atlanta, Dallas, Nashville

Best Response
Aug 2, 2014
thomas1282:

Where in the country is the best balance between high salary and low cost of living in finance? I'm saying potential to make $300k-$500k+, work hard but not insanity. Weekends free, good 50-60 hours a week max monday - friday.

Oh is that all you want?

Aug 2, 2014

I did say "potential." I'm not naive to think this won't entail hard work but these salaries do exist outside of NY without the 80+ a week hours. You may give up the 7 figure pay days but living in the right areas you won't need them.

Aug 2, 2014
thomas1282:

You may give up the 7 figure pay days but living in the right areas you won't need them.

It sounds like you view a 7 figure pay day as inevitable if you stayed in NYC. Almost like a stance of well I could make millions, but I'd gladly just take half for more free time. A Microsoft Partner Group Program Manager, a partner at EY or a CFO, make the 300-500k zone you want to hit. You need to be a rainmaker to pull that in and even so you won't be working those hours and let alone only 5 days a week. That is merely my impression from your post.

But to your point, Boston, Chicago, Charlotte and Atlanta are probably where you want to look. Best option is to probably build your resume at the epicenter of finance and then move somewhere else.

Dec 30, 2014

It is not like he is asking for much! Jeesh -- he only wants a 50 hour work week and $500,000 a year -- give the man a break!!! and only monday - friday! come on -- now THAT is hard work!

LA Bull

Aug 2, 2014

Chicago HFT is probably your best bet. Or maybe Seattle in tech.

Chicago=Flat 5% state tax, no city tax. Washington has no income tax.

Aug 2, 2014
IlliniProgrammer:

Chicago HFT is probably your best bet. Or maybe Seattle in tech.

Chicago=Flat 5% state tax, no city tax. Washington has no income tax.

True, but Seattle blows. For six months out of the year for every one full day of sun it averages 6 days of mostly cloudy or overcast. Not to mention the unreliable summers, it could be 80 degrees every day of the week and then starting Friday it's rainy and 55 through the weekend. I have friends there and during this past 4th of July they posted pictures in long sleeve pants and coats because it was 55, rainy and windy. That trend about 4th of July is pretty much tradition. Cold, wet, dark and rainy. Miserable existence.

Aug 4, 2014

ha 6 months out of the year? i wish. more like 8

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Aug 6, 2014

OP is right. NYC is terribly expensive, filthy, and socialistic. Probably the most overrated city in human history. Chicago has everything NYC offers but at half the price and hotter girls. And if you make $150K+ in Chicago as a single guy, you're a freaking badass. The only downside is that there aren't that many great finance gigs in Chicago.

Aug 14, 2014

Chicago also has the highest sales tax

Aug 2, 2014

Oh don't be silly Archer. Everyone makes 20x the average US income.

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Aug 2, 2014

Yeah, I don't think a lot of younger people realize how difficult it is to make $500k/year ever (or $300 or $200 before you're 35 or 40) anywhere outside of NYC (and that's not easy and nowhere near a given there unless you really kick ass). You can do it in NYC or in banking related, MBB consulting or big law in other cities but you're still going to work A LOT regardless of location. The problem is that outside of NYC those jobs are very far and few between. You can't have graduated from Harvard and decided to move to Denver and just get the same job as you can in NYC and think you can make that type of money. Or Charlotte. There are a ton of banking/finance jobs there but for the most part they're not IB jobs. You can live very well on far less but it's going to take you far longer to get to a few hundred grand per year.

I grew up in Philly and have many contacts there. Much less expensive than NYC and it's an hour and 5 to an hour 20 away by train and the burbs are gorgeous with awesome public schools (the Main Line is probably one of the best suburbs of a major city in the nation) and there's far more wealth than people think, but there are probably 10 PE, HF or VC firms each there of any size and maybe a few regional IB's where you can make that type if money. Like I said there's tons of wealth there but they're not 35 year old bankers/PE/HF guys, they're guys who started businesses or inherited them and have money, and they're 50+. It's relatively the same in other less expensive areas. SF, Boston and LA are all very expensive with less opportunity to make stupid money than NYC so you'd most likely have to be a rockstar, start a company or be an entertainment mogul to expect money there and also have worked extremely hard and gotten lucky along the way.

I'm 40'ish. I have friends who did the F500 route who are now making decent money, maybe $3/yr, probably less and they made far less for years in "lesser" places than NYC. A friend in my wedding party worked for P&G and went to Cincinnati on something like $120. Lived like a fucking king with his wife working for half that. He's now making more for Pepsi in CT but probably not a multiple and he's really successful in that field but he's not expecting to make $500/yr now. And he probably travels 250k miles per year. Not an easy life.

From what I can tell from @archeradvice Chicago is the best bet on finance jobs and COL. I still want to buy a place that was something like $1.5 and incredible and there's a very active finance scene there. But, OP, if you want to make the money you want you have to work non-stop anywhere in any industry.

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Aug 3, 2014

If you can land an IB gig at STRH in Atlanta, you will be paid street salary and live in a city where you can get a 700sq. ft. luxury condo for around 200k. That being said, Atlanta has many more opportunities in corporate finance, not IB.

Aug 3, 2014

Philly is awesome, but there is just too little finance to string a career together. I'd say Chicago. You have a robust financial sector (probably second to only NYC) and real estate is so cheap. Anywhere else and you might find a gig or two, but it will be tough to work for life without relocating.

Houston might be a decent option also.

Aug 3, 2014

Philly's lack of firms is the same issue with most cities outside of NYC, SF (but most if it is tech focused which is great, but if you're not in tech IB, VC, etc there's not much opportunity and it's as expensive if not worse than NYC, and the suburbs are ungodly expensive) Boston (lots of VC, PE and general AM but not a ton of banks and just slightly less expensive than NYC but by no means affordable) and Chicago (which actually seems like the only finance hub that's not too expensive, but it's freaking cold).

I think it's easier to start in one of the finance hubs and try to transition after you have a few years experience (that's for the OP).

Aug 3, 2014

Las Vegas. Low cost of living, no state income tax, amazing arrays of amenities and nightlife rivaled only by NYC, plus open container laws everywhere on the strip and downtown.
Not much finance jobs in the Sin City beside pawnshops/loan sharks etc. but you can make a good living as a
professional poker player or work in the show biz or, for that matter, get involved with one of the tech startups with the Downtown Project/Vegas Tech Fund.

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Aug 4, 2014

Lol. So true.

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Aug 3, 2014

It can be problematic landing a similar role if you get laid off in one of those other areas. Not necessarily a reason not to move but certainly worth taking into account. Finding even two jobs that are open and available that pay over 250k in somewhere like Ohio is going to be quite the chore, especially if it's in a market/economy that led to you being laid off in the first place. Getting that NYC finance resume should be high on your priority list if you are looking for Finance to pave your livelihood in other areas.

Aug 6, 2014

I second the above point. In '08 it was bad enough being in nyc trying to find a job after getting laid off. Many of the banks that laid off 50% of their RE and structured credit banking groups in ny, cut the entire business unit in places like Dallas and Chicago. Where you are in your career plan and current financial position really dictate how much risk you can take on trading out to an easier market.

Seperatly, the best trades out of NY i've seen have been guys with a few years (6-10+) in a given product or industry who manage to convice a family office or other monied institution to give them a seperate account to manage within some given parameters. You can then move to [insert college/beach/ski town here] and convice a few burnt out analysts/associates to do the same as a lifesyle trade. Best case, you get a few more accounts on board and own much of the upside. Worst case, you get a couple good years with an ok managment fee and a good story to tell in your nyc interviews when you go hat-in-hand back to your former coworkers/competitors.

thomas1282, where do you want to live? Find a couple markets you'd love to live in and figure out what people do there. If you'd really enjoy Dallas then get into energy, learn to hunt or whatever it is they do and connect with some managers down there. If you'd really enjoy Nebraska then lower your comp expectations. It's great that your thinking about this now because it can take some time to position.

My ideal job and location would be managing HNW asian money while living in Sydney or Auckland.

Aug 3, 2014

St. Louis wouldn't be a bad place to look at - super low COL, the suburbs are amazing, and there is a larger finance scene than what might be obvious. Not too many banks, but there are a lot of AM firms that do good work around here.

Aug 6, 2014
Stryfe:

St. Louis wouldn't be a bad place to look at - super low COL, the suburbs are amazing, and there is a larger finance scene than what might be obvious. Not too many banks, but there are a lot of AM firms that do good work around here.

Yah but then you have to be stuck in St. Louis.... ehh. CWE and Forrest Park are nice though, outside of that I don't think I'd want to be there. If you like low COL and the Midwest, midas well utilize Chicago in that area.

Aug 4, 2014

I wish Philly were a better finance city. If you can get into a good gig here it's awesome but it's a small and close-knit scene that can be hard to break into.

If I ever wanted to leave the northeast I'd probably do Charlotte / Atlanta for CoL/work-life. Maybe Minneapolis but I think the weather would get old quickly.

Aug 4, 2014
Hugh Myron:

I wish Philly were a better finance city. If you can get into a good gig here it's awesome but it's a small and close-knit scene that can be hard to break into.

If I ever wanted to leave the northeast I'd probably do Charlotte / Atlanta for CoL/work-life. Maybe Minneapolis but I think the weather would get old quickly.

Yeah, Philly has a lot of smaller, under the radar finance. You really live and die on your network here. The issue is if you find a good gig you better hope they treat and pay you well or else you have no where else to go. Maybe with banking you can jump ship once or twice, but you are really limited based on staffing. I mean Harris William has a small shop, Stifel has a small group, you have Janney and then you basically have a bunch of smaller, boutique places to go. Just really difficult to have that full career and move up the ladder at an appropriate clip without going outside the city.

Aug 4, 2014

It's a very bad call to live in a city like that, if you ever get laid off you can be screwed.

Aug 6, 2014
TNA:

Yeah, Philly has a lot of smaller, under the radar finance. You really live and die on your network here.

Agreed - learning this first-hand right now.

Aug 5, 2014

How about the Washington DC/Northern VA/South Bethesda area. Not big on IB, but a couple PE funds, DFIs, and AM funds over there. Jobs are generally stable in that area and social scene is not too bad in DC.

Aug 5, 2014

terrible cost of living

Aug 6, 2014
alreadyrich:

How about the Washington DC/Northern VA/South Bethesda area. Not big on IB, but a couple PE funds, DFIs, and AM funds over there. Jobs are generally stable in that area and social scene is not too bad in DC.

While not NYC or SF, DC's cost of living blows as well.

"Now go get your f'n shinebox!"

Aug 6, 2014

DC sucks. A few decent finance jobs, but it's overwhelmingly filled with lawyers and losers who work for the government. COL is really high for such a shitty city. Terrible gender ratio for guys and awful nightlife. And the summers are even worse than NYC.

Aug 5, 2014

I heard that private banking in Miami is pretty sweet.

Aug 5, 2014

microfinance in Costa Rica, will check all of the boxes.

in all seriousness, lower your expectations. the amount of people I know in my part of the South (great COL, work life, activities, weather, basically checking all of your boxes) that make the type of money you're talking about are big hitters in PWM, c-level execs, specialist docs (neuro, cardio, ortho), or partners at some of the big law firms (and even then, only the Managing Partners in an area like patent law or securities law). it is extremely difficult to make that kind of money even at the ages you're talking about and be able to live in the perfect city, otherwise NYC would lose at least 50% of its bankers. take Charleston for example, checks all of your boxes, but you could probably count the amount of people pulling in 3-500k a year on your fingers and toes, it's just not that kind of market. if those markets existed, people would be flocking to them in droves, driving COL up, and thus getting rid of the benefit. they're anomalies, there's no such thing as a free lunch. what you could do and what I'd suggest is give up on either COL or salary and you'll find a good place. I agree with other posters that Charlotte, Atlanta, Texas (for O&G), and Chicago are great bets (I've heard Chicago is actually quite expensive, but never visited so don't know), but none of those are going to be perfect, and you won't get to making that kind of money by working minimal hours.

Aug 5, 2014

I'd say Austin would have some opportunity for that. Seattle and Chicago are also good options. I wish there was more finance in places like San Diego or Portland or Montana (live like a fcking king on 20 acre ranch) but as of now that doesn't seem to be an option. Just steer clear of IB and you should be fine...

Aug 5, 2014

It seems like WSO doesn't really have a lot of respect for Chicago for finance. Why is that?

Aug 5, 2014
Blackhawks4:

It seems like WSO doesn't really have a lot of respect for Chicago for finance. Why is that?

I'm looking at Chicago condos right now. 100% relocating there long term.

Aug 6, 2014

Here is to wishing more finance moves from the bay to Tahoe.

Aug 6, 2014

This is a topic that is weighing HEAVILY on me as I embark on full-time MBA recruiting this fall. Given the insane amount of loans I took out for b-school, the cost of living issue is definitely something I'm thinking a lot about.

The one major pro of NYC for me is that aside from the breadth of finance opportunities, it seems to me that having a big NYC/CT financial firm on my resume will open a lot more doors and allow me to easily move to other cities if I so choose. As much as I love Chicago, there are only a few firms there that I'm interested in, and I'm worried that if I go there after b-school, I will be stuck in the midwest.

Aug 6, 2014

same here in Asia...

Aug 6, 2014

austin.. duh

cheap big home, IB scene, cheap labor....

Aug 6, 2014
couchy:

austin.. duh

cheap big home, IB scene, cheap labor....

I never really saw a big IB scene in Austin. Maybe that's changed since school, but from the networking I did a couple of years ago it was primarily boutiques with some hedge funds and a lot of PWM. Consulting is growing. I know Deloitte has an S&O presence in town. GLG has a practice there, EY, Advisory Board, probably a few more.

But anyways, I'm moving from Boston to Austin this year and will be saving $300/month on rent, and that is going from having a bedroom in a house to living in a 1-BR apartment. Further, the absence of a state income tax will let me keep another few hundred extra each month. Add that to an overall cheaper cost for everything and you've got a pretty affordable existence.

Aug 6, 2014
couchy:

austin.. duh

cheap big home, IB scene, cheap labor....

Ok.

Aug 6, 2014

H-town. Second only to NYC for finance.

Aug 6, 2014
Colonial:

H-town. Second only to NYC for finance.

Great place for cost of living but 2nd only to NYC...I lol'd. Plus, it's Texas. Nuff said.

"Now go get your f'n shinebox!"

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Aug 6, 2014

This has to be a joke, right? Houston is great for oil&gas finance, but aside from that it's not on the map.

After NYC/CT, I would rank Boston second for finance due to the plethora of top AM, HF, and PE firms. Chicago is probably a distant third.

Aug 6, 2014

I had a similar thought process when I worked in NYC...here was my list:

Possible jobs - Target regional IB, management consulting, LMM/MM PE or Large AM. Corp Dev at F500 / Late-stage startup

West - Denver, Portland, Seattle
Any large city in Texas (read: Austin, Dallas, Houston)
Southeast - Charlotte, Atlanta, Richmond

Aug 6, 2014

this thread really put things into perspective as someone living in NYC. i always took the plethora of job opportunities and sheer volume of companies here for granted, but I see now that it just isn't the same anywhere else, at least for finance. also puts into perspective how few of those "dream jobs" we're all chasing there really are out there in the first place.

Aug 6, 2014

I think the idea that a non NYC location will carry a stigma is a little over blown. I'm in Philly and got recruited to interview in LA for a MM IB. If you have solid experience you can move around easily.

The real key is to just not have kids. All these cities are fine if you're making decent money. The issue is with kids and schools and increased apartment sizes. One you have a family you start looking at houses and schools which jack up your fixed costs.

Aug 6, 2014

Lol at "the key is to just not have kids".
I dont think Boston has been mentioned enough. Has few IB/PE firms in the city as well as smaller ones a bit further out. Also some consulting firms and the Big 4. There are also a lot of AM firms scattered all over the place, so its a bit easier to work at one and not have to live directly in the heart of the city and pay a premium on rent/food/etc. A lot of start-ups too mainly in tech and hc probably due to all the graduates staying in the area. You probably wont see really high paying jobs like some of you guys are mentioning here but after living there 4-5 years for school and originally being from nyc, I say Boston is a bit cheaper.

Aug 6, 2014
conyak:

Lol at "the key is to just not have kids".

I dont think Boston has been mentioned enough. Has few IB/PE firms in the city as well as smaller ones a bit further out. Also some consulting firms and the Big 4. There are also a lot of AM firms scattered all over the place, so its a bit easier to work at one and not have to live directly in the heart of the city and pay a premium on rent/food/etc. A lot of start-ups too mainly in tech and hc probably due to all the graduates staying in the area. You probably wont see really high paying jobs like some of you guys are mentioning here but after living there 4-5 years for school and originally being from nyc, I say Boston is a bit cheaper.

Boston is a definite step up from NYC and SF in terms of life style, but won't be for long IMO unless some interesting real estate opens up. Prices in general are soaring pretty quick, especially rents.

Plus you'll be surrounded by college students everywhere and the restaurants there are pretty mediocre.

Aug 6, 2014

Dallas, Austin, Houston, or even San Antonio are some of the coolest cities you could live in as a young professional. Super low COL, super low tax burden, plenty of ridiculously good looking women, & sold work/life balance. Austin is quickly becoming a tech hub, Dallas will always be a big financial center, & obviously Houston for Oil & Gas + F500. San Antonio has a river walk & the Spurs, so i guess that's a plus.

Aug 6, 2014

Austin is cool, but I wouldn't want to live there past age 25. I'm generally not a big fan of Texas so biased here. No state tax is obviously super sweet.

Aug 6, 2014

Seattle, Denver, Charlotte, and the major cities in Texas (Austin, Dallas, and Houston)

Aug 6, 2014

How has no one mentioned California? It's basically a different country.

Aug 6, 2014
PaloAltothBurn:

How has no one mentioned California? It's basically a different country.

How does California offer an attractive COL?

Aug 6, 2014

High quality of life. It's a bit funny how most surveys and articles point to Vermont or New Hampshire. They have beautiful countrysides but not really booming centers of commerce or earning potential.

Aug 6, 2014

Texas Tribune publishes salaries of every government employee. The list of investment professionals at the Texas Teachers Pension fund offer a good glimpse of jobs and salaries in Austin if you want to work 50 hours a week with no weekends. Not saying these salaries are market salaries, I know of finance people pulling 200-400k in Austin but they work 60-80 hours easy. Just because you leave NYC doesn't mean you are not competing with them, living in Texas doesn't make you magically more productive

http://www.texastribune.org/library/data/governmen...

Aug 6, 2014

Take a look at Dallas (or Austin). Good amount of buy-side, companies are moving there in droves. Personally, I'd also look at Denver. SF is bad...you get taken advantage of in finance by employer power, but high COL is driven by local tech economy.

Aug 6, 2014

@"Dingdong08"

I wanted to ask you this since you seem to be the most experienced person on "life issues."

What are some strategies that rich people who don't work for a living (i.e. living of savings/investments) do to lower their tax bill?

I have heard about paying capital gains tax - but I don't exactly understand how this works in practice? Could you please explain?

And also, I wanted to ask - can you live in NYC, but still pay taxes as a Texas resident to avoid state/city taxes by owning a second home in Texas and have all your mail go there.

Thanks

Aug 7, 2014

tons of things you can do to lower your taxes, depends on your state, asset location (ira, roth, trust, irrev trust, llc, etc.), and other income. capital gains tax is the tax you pay when you sell shares that have appreciated or when a mutual fund distributes embedded gains. short term gains are taxed at your marginal rate, long term is set by congress (15 or 20% depending on your overall bracket).

in order to establish residency, I believe you have to spend most of you time in the state in which you claim to be a resident. it depends on the state, but I know it's at least 183 days out of the year have to be spent living in your resident state.

you sound like you're younger, at this point in your life (assuming you have upward mobility) I'd concern yourself less with saving taxes and more on contributing to Roth accounts (hopefully your bank has a roth 401k), because the power of tax free compounding on early contributions is far greater in dollar terms than the tax dollars you'd save by deferring to a traditional 401k (assuming you didn't spend your tax return, which most people do).

Aug 7, 2014

@"thebrofessor"'s right. The best thing you can do to save on taxes is if you can get as much income into the long term capital gain bucket but the problem is you have to have money to invest in or hold assets (stocks/bonds, real estate, shares/membership interests in privately held entities, etc.) to get that tax treatment so it's not a box you can just tick on your IRS form and say I want my ordinary income to be treated as gains.

I know far more about offshore corporate tax structures than I do about personal taxes because I leave that to my accountants, but a few other good shields are owning income producing real estate because you can shield some of the taxable income with depreciation. Having a mortgage on your personal residence allows you to deduct a percentage (or all, can't rememeber) of the interest portion paid, which due to amortization schedules loads interest deductions up front. If you own a business or are a partner it's best to throw as many expenses (cars, I know a guy who threw a personal residence on but I'm not sure how) as possible onto the company because they reduce income and aren't paid after tax from your pocket. There's a ton of ways but like I said I don't really do that for myself. CPA's and google are your friend on that front. If you want to know how to shield corporate income by establishing entities in places like Mauritius, Cypress, the Isle of Man and Jersey, Cayman and similar places I can talk for a year about that.

Aug 7, 2014

Seems like Chicago is getting a lot of hate. I always thought it was one of the three big financial centers in the US -- NYC, Chicago, LA/SF. Are there so few opportunities in finance in Chicago that it's not worth trying?

Aug 7, 2014

I hope not, because that's where I plan on going. NYC/BB or bust mentality on here.

Aug 8, 2014

NYC. Was born and raised in Austin and I would never leave NYC. I pull in over $500k and am doing just fine in Manhattan. As far as I'm concerned, Chicago (gang-infested war zone), Denver, and especially Houston and Dallas are horrid. There is nothing there.

Aug 8, 2014

lol @Anonymous Monkeygang-infested war zone"

Aug 8, 2014
SLSAMG:

NYC. Was born and raised in Austin and I would never leave NYC. I pull in over $500k and am doing just fine in Manhattan. As far as I'm concerned, Chicago (gang-infested war zone), Denver, and especially Houston and Dallas are horrid. There is nothing there.

What's wrong with Denver? Location wise it's much better than NYC for outdoor activities. You are a stone's throw from the rocky mountains and the best skiing in the country.

Aug 12, 2014

Gang-infested war zone? I wasn't aware all of the good jobs in Chicago were located at 63rd and King.

I would agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

Aug 8, 2014

Chicago is by far the best choice of them all. Robust finance sector, great schools, large downtown and awesome sports. It's cold, but the summer makes up for it. NYC is amazing, but we're talking value here.

You just pay so much in taxes and real estate in NYC. I mean Chicago is 5% all in at the state level. NYC has a progressive 8% plus roughly 4% city tax. That's about 35k in extra taxes using the above 500k. Then figure at least a $1,500 premium in rent costs per month. That's a lot of money for NYC. Godforbid you have a family and that number just goes up and up.

Aug 8, 2014

Dallas 100%. Quite a lot of finance jobs, big corporations, good weather, and people who care about quality of life.

and 0% personal state income tax

Aug 9, 2014
tech_pe:

Dallas 100%. Quite a lot of finance jobs, big corporations, good weather, and people who care about quality of life.

and 0% personal state income tax

Ooooooo gonna have to disagree with you on the people. This says everything haha. Speaking as a Houstonian...

http://frontburner.dmagazine.com/2014/07/03/castin...

and this:

http://www.dallasobserver.com/2007-11-29/news/douc...

Aug 13, 2014

how does this go against what I said? it actually backs me up. I said "people who care about quality of life" and you reference people who don't make a lot of money but spend like they do.

Aug 9, 2014

What is OPs background, hopefully this isnt one of those "Im a sophomore in college, dont know what I want to do but I want to make a lot of money without actually working so I want WSO to pick my major and career path."

In spirit of the robust discussion we are having, Ill chime in with my 2cents:

First of all you are not going to make 300-500k until you hit at least the VP level in F500 corporate finance. Obviously depends on industry but the director level in retail is about ~200k all in....not to mention its quite competitive with few VP openings and many never rise to that level. PE forgot about 50-60 hours a week starting off and also forgot about PE unless you went the IBD route first (yes, there are other paths into PE but IBD is the most common) where you will need to work double the hours you've listed. Also to mention there is a difference between making a career out of PE ( many get cut along the way) vs. working in the industry for a few years.

Good cities would be the southeast (ATL/Charlotte) and Texas as you can be well compensated in finance but COL is quite low compared to the northeast.

For industries I would look into corporate finance and commercial banking. In terms of AM jobs you would need to hit the pavement building a book of business and if you succeed it will only be in your latter years where you can coast.

The theme here is you are really compensated based on what you put in. If you aren't willing to work hard and put in the hours don't expect to make the big bucks. I think a much more realistic figure for you is 200k in a low COL city in your 40s with the hours you've described.

Aug 9, 2014

Raleigh-Durham, has some IB, decent VC scene, strong consulting scene and great in healthcare and tech. Very low COL, I had a nice apartment near Duke approx. 900 sq ft, gated community, pool, gym, clubhouse, etc. for about $900 a month plus utilities. In most of the nice suburban towns e.g. Cary, Morrisville, you can get a luxury one bedroom for under 1000 a month.

Aug 10, 2014

I tried to get a banking job in Raleigh and completely struck out. I think there are two boutiques with one analyst each. No idea about other finance jobs though.

Aug 9, 2014

Atlanta is awesome. A bit more expensive than some have led on to be but otherwise there's a good amount of things to do for whatever your tastes are. The traffic is absolutely horrendous however. The city is growing faster than new roads can be built making it absolutely nuts commuting at normal times. Unless you like being stuck in parking lots for hours on end make sure you live as close to work as possible. Also, Delta is out of ATL which means you can more or less get anywhere on one connection.

One I'm surprised I haven't read yet is Milwaukee. It has everything you'd want from a big city besides the traffic. Great nightlife, Wisconsin beer, tons of microbreweries, beaches, an MLB and NBA team, and a solid airport. . There's a few companies with big Milwaukee presence: BMO Harris, Baird, and Northwestern Mutual, EY, GE, CAT, Joy Global, and Miller. I never lived outside the city but I would imagine the burbs are great as well.

Aug 10, 2014

I used to live in Atlanta until recently, the restaurant scene over there is great ( compared to southeast, can't compare to NYC/Chi/La, etc). Also traffic is definitely terrible but the easy solution is to not live in the burbs. The financial jobs will all be located in Buckhead/Midtown with the exception of UPS/Coke. Easy solution is to get a place right in midtown/buckhead or very close to Marta and you wont need to deal with commuting. My main issue with ATL is that the high finance scene is almost nonexistent down there. You have one large regional IB (SunTrust) and a decent-sized PE shop (Roarke Capital) other than that there isnt much going on. You will have some satellite ER offices and commercial banking but thats about it. ATL is much better for corporate finance, consulting, big4 than IB or corp banking. There is a lot of risk in regards to taking a job at a boutique ibank or SunTrust, what are you going to do after if you arent treated well or there is weak deal flow? In a place like Charlotte (if you want to stay in southeast) you can easily hop between various finance opportunities (this is multiplied 10 fold if you live in Chicago)

Aug 10, 2014

Yeah, all of these cities are awesome if you come down as a VP or higher and go into a boutique bank or PE shop and basically are looking for a lifestyle while already having a solid rolodex. Trying to start and build a career in these smaller markets is really tough.

If you can get a solid banking gig in a market like this I would take it and enjoy yourself, but always realize you'll probably have to relocate sooner rather than later.

IMO, I'm all about the non NYC scene, but am fully prepared to jump to Chicago after my time here is done. Flexibility really is key. It's easy for me as I am single, but if you plan on having a wife and family things get really tricky.

Aug 11, 2014

If you are dead set on not working in NYC, come to Chicago. 2nd biggest finance hub in the country, the best summer in the country, gorgeous girls, and COL is about 60% of NYC (based on what my friends who have lived in both cities tell me).

I would agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

Aug 12, 2014

Best summer in the country minus the fact there are thunderstorms every day of August and for 3/4 of the year your flight is almost guaranteed to be delayed.

Aug 12, 2014

Can someone tell me something about Chicago... With it being as cold as everyone says, does this effect the ability of people to enjoy the walking aspect of the city? For example, do people tend to stay close to the blocks they live near just because it's painfully cold to walk an extra 10 blocks to goto a different restaurant or bar or something?

I'm genuinely wondering how the cold impacts your quality of life inside the loop.

Aug 12, 2014

If I'm going more than 4-5 blocks and it's cooler than 20-30 degrees I just take a $3 UberX. Anything over 30 though I walk. I'm a bit of an outlier though; I don't get cold very easily (my overcoat doesn't come out unless weather is below freezing).

And @CorpFinanceGuy... the rain hasn't been too bad this summer, and in 6+ years here I have never had a flight delayed, although I'm sure I'm just extremely lucky in that respect.

I would agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

Aug 14, 2014

Ok, for all you high-schoolers and college students on this site, stop posting about things you do not have direct experience with.

Having worked for 2 years in BB IBD in NYC and 2 years in BB IBD in Houston (O&G group, obviously) I can tell you this:

Working in BB IBD in Houston means making the same money as your NYC collegues, with Houston cost of living. That means very low housing costs / rents and no taxes. This is an undisputable FACT.

Analysts here buy 3-bedroom townhouses and condos. Senior associates and VPs buy extremely nice houses in pretty exclusive places or they go a bit out to the suburbs and buy freakin' mansions.

It is rediculous.

Charlotte is the same, but the only real 'elite' group there is BAML Lev Fin.

Not sure why this forum went on for so many pages as the answer is pretty straightforward...

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Aug 14, 2014

Chicago sales tax is a joke, but you can largely avoid it if you want. I'll take a sales tax over income tax any day.

Aug 14, 2014

What's it like moving to a new city where you don't know anyone? I'll probably live in Boston next year with some friends from HS, but at the same time it seems like a much better experience to go somewhere new and see what I can make of myself.

Aug 14, 2014

Chicago sales tax is 9%. Aside from clothing this is no worse than NYC. Also IL exempts tax on services (EG gyms, labor at mechanic)

Aug 16, 2014

Some thoughts from someone who has worked in Boston + Chicago as well as a couple other smaller markets:

Boston is not a large city. It is actually quite small square mileage wise. It doesn't get a ton of attention on these boards because the IB scene is tiny. None of the BBs has a presence in the city and there are only a handful of reputable MM banks (Harris Williams, BB&T). That said, the alternative investments scene is unbelievable. There are dozens of PE and asset management firms. Most of them don't hire directly out of undergrad so people aren't familiar with the opportunities until after they've left college. Real estate used to be cheap but has gone out of control over the last few years.

Chicago was fairly accurately represented in this thread. The Cost of Living is insanely low compared to any US city that is even close in size or opportunities. The reason is because the ground underneath Chicago is made of bedrock enabling developers to construct incredibly tall buildings. There are 50+ story residential towers all over downtown Chicago. The abundance of supply keeps prices low. Yes the weather sucks during the winter. Crime is really only in the outskirts of the city --- I have no fear walking through the city drunk at 3am. Restaurants are great. People are friendly. The city is clean and public transit is good. Really the best city that I've lived in so far.

I'll also hit on something said earlier in this thread. You DO NOT need to work in NYC to set yourself up for a career in other markets. As TNA mentioned, you can easily move to other cities without ever having worked in NYC. I've interviewed or had conversations with PE shops in Boston, Chicago, Texas, San Francisco, Florida, D.C., and a whole bunch of others without having set foot in NYC. NYC definitely has the most opportunity given the abundance of firms, but it is not viewed as a "training grounds" for the rest of the country. Note: The NYC folks seem to have a tendency to prefer candidates that are already in NYC. That's a different issue.

Jan 6, 2015

Any verdict on the situation in Europe?

Jan 6, 2015

BUMP

Jan 6, 2015

charlotte. good climate like houston but less traffic, you can play golf year round practically.

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Jan 6, 2015

Yeah that's what I had thought. Where I live right now golf is year-round since it never snows. Might have to wait a couple morning hours for a "freeze-delay" for the greens in January but that's about it.

Jan 6, 2015

I'm a very big fan of Philadelphia. Only drawback is that the amount of finance jobs is fairly limited but if you can land one they're generally sweet gigs. CoL is comparable to Chicago but you're still on the northeast corridor. Good amount of golf courses around, excellent restaurant scene, always something going on.

Jan 6, 2015

idk why Charleston, SC doesn't get respect, but that's the ticket. If people could make real finance money there, those other cities wouldn't stand a chance.

Jan 6, 2015

PHILLY RULES!!!

But yeah everyone I talk to who's working in Charlotte loves it. Never been there personally.

Jan 6, 2015

-Atlanta (Barclays, Blackstone, Raymond James, Stephens)
-Charlotte (some BAML, BlackArch [now owned by Regions], Deloitte M&A, Lazard MM, Piper Jaffray, WF)
-Houston (most BBs, most EBs, several top oil & gas boutiques)
-Chicago (most BBs, most EBs, Lincoln International, Raymond James, RW Baird, Williams Blair)
-Minneapolis (Lazard MM, Piper Jaffray)

I'm probably missing some banks, but all those cities are great. Just don't expect NYC.

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Jan 6, 2015

To build on this a bit

I'd add STRH to Atlanta and Charlotte
Cleveland Ohio has KeyBank
Dallas has HL, Stephens, JPM MM, and Deloitte M&A
Littlerock Arkansas is Stephens HQ (although who in their right mind wants to live in little rock)
Richmond is Harris Williams HQ
DC has HL (ADG & FIG groups)
Denver has KPMG "IB" which is the former St. Charles and Headwaters MB

If we can get a few more knowledgeable guys maybe we can turn this into a decent resource for those looking to do IB outside of a major market (NYC/LA). @Bullet-Tooth Tony Got any to add to the list?

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Jan 6, 2015

Philly! Close to Boston, NYC, DC, etc.

Greed is Good!

Jan 6, 2015

I'm from the Chicago area, so I'm partial to that. I've lived in Houston though, so I will admit that your money will go farther in Dallas/Houston as compared to most major cities.

Jan 6, 2015

I may as well make a Philly list. Only name most people will probably recognize is Stifel - the rest are boutiques/lower-middle-market but most generally have a niche that they do pretty well in. This is for investment banking:

City proper:
Janney Montgomery Scott
Stifel
Mufson Howe Hunter
Baker Tilly Capital
MidMarket Capital Advisors

Suburbs (most are easy reverse commutes):
Fairmount Partners
Boenning & Scattergood
SSG Capital Advisors
Bryant Park Capital
Delancey Street Partners
Marks Baughan & Co
Falcon Capital Partners
Griffin Financial Group
Capstone Partners

Probably missing one or two but this gives a decent overview.

Jan 6, 2015

Alright @Human Capital" time to pay it forward and assemble the consolidated list into a well formatted presentation for others.

Jan 6, 2015

Let's just wait in case anything else is mentioned. I can imagine this thread getting really comprehensive. Maybe someone can just copy and paste the comments with info?

Jan 6, 2015

Another variant of the best city thread. Here we go..

Jan 6, 2015

I'll add on for Seattle: Cascadia Capital

Jan 6, 2015

I love Seattle as a city but other than a few smaller IB's and PE firms it's a pretty small finance scene out there. There's a decent close knit startup scene and some VC and Vulcan would be cool to work for. Did you look out there?

Jan 6, 2015

As mentioned Charlotte is a good one. Wells has their entire IBD division (Wells Fargo Securities) based out of Charlotte with a huge high-tech office in the Duke Energy Building. Probably is hard to get into it though if you aren't Duke/UNC/UVA/Emory as I know a ton of kids go there from each.

Charlotte is really still a hidden gem imo. It is undergoing a huge boom right now with cranes everywhere building up new skyscrapers. I think Babson Capital is strongly (read very likely) considering moving their HQ to Charlotte in a new building that will be done in 2018. They already have a sizable office here.

I really think Charlotte could use some sort of BB office though, comparable to that of Atlanta. Maybe with the new buildings going up. I know there are rumors GS is financing a big development project in Uptown, so maybe they have interest in the long term development.

Jan 6, 2015
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Jan 6, 2015