City "Tiers"

Not meaning to turn this into another rankings thread, but earlier I saw a post where someone said they were in a Tier 4 city - wtf does that even mean?

I assume Tier 1 includes NY, SF, LA, Chicago, maybe a couple others (Houston for oil?). Then Tier 2 the other large cities that aren't as crucial to the financial sector - Boston, Atlanta, Seattle, Dallas, Miami, Philly... But beyond that though, what is a tier 3 and 4 and so on city?

Basically, give me some examples of what you guys consider different tiers of cities.

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (75)

Feb 10, 2021 - 5:42pm

Hey!  Some of us actually LIVE in those icky Tier IV - Tier VI cities, most of you seem to disdain.  I have lived in many of these places, covered clients in places that STILL may not show up on Google Maps.  Let me share with you some insight from the non-Elite Coastal Class. Please note that when I say Indianapolis, I am talking about living in the suburbs, not the city.

Palm Beach: Solid city, good for younger folks.   We needed designated drivers in our day, with Uber, it is 10x easier.  Solid mix of old and new money.  May 15th thru September 15th suck, but 8 months are paradise.

Columbus:  Another great town if you are young or a family guy.  The middle (24-30 y/o) sucks due to the demographics.  22 y/o analyst, the world is your oyster.  35 y/o family guy with three kids?   Fantastic.  Cost of living is stupidly low.  Taxes are a bit prickly. Top tier shopping (LV, Bose, etc.), restaurants (e.g. S&W) and activities (The Columbus Symphony Orchestra rocks...seriously).

Jacksonville:  Helllllllooooooooooo DB!  Welcome to your new home!  Live SOUTH of Jacksonville or at the FL/GA border and you will be fine.  Was a member of Sawgrass, the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club and my home course for many years.  Nightlife downtown is meh, but out on the Beaches, you will never want to leave.  Surprisingly, it is as far west as Pittsburgh, so it stays light real late.  Terrible driving town.

Indianapolis:  In my opinion, best of the bunch.  Low taxes, great population, nationwide a top 50 school system.  Cost of living is even lower than columbus  $85-90/sqft housing?  Dozen or so of F500 headquarters.  People are nice, conservative (not Republican), and actually give a damn.  Ring suburbs are all fantastic and 24to 32 year old vibe is strong and growing. Two of the four major sports leagues have teams here.

Lived for 10+ years in NYC/suburbs.  NEVER AGAIN.  EVER.

Partied and worked in Miami.  Great town, couldn't live there.

Austin is awesome, but starting to lose some of its shine.

D.C. is a viper pit of government excess and propped up home prices

What's my point?  Expand your horizons. Cover clients is such luxurious places as Doniphan, Nebraska and Napoleon, ND and realize that these folks are the heart of America.   It may not be the financial capital of the world, but when your horizons grow, your perspective changes and improves.



  • 4
  • 1
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Sep 2, 2020 - 5:25pm

Tier 1 - NYC, LA, SF

Tier 2 - Miami,Chicago, Atlanta, Houston,Washington,Boston, 

Tier 3 - Philly,Dallas,Austin,New Orleans,Minneapolis, Phoenix,Charlotte, Denver, San Diego

Tier 4 - Orlando, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Portland, Seattle,

Tier 5 -Jacksonville,Memphis, Kansas City

Tier 6 - Birmingham, San Antonio, Tallahassee

Tier 7 - Detroit, Baltimore

Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
Sep 3, 2020 - 12:51am

are you on meth? 

Tier 1 - LA as a Tier 1 city? In what? Traffic and homeless crackheads and annoying people? SF ain't much better either

Tier 2 - Atlanta - Tier 2? Really? Tier 2 in rappers maybe, I do love me some Young Thug

Tier 3 - Austin? Austin is the best city of its size in America (but going the way of SF), I'm going to drown you in Lady Bird Lake for saying that

Tier 4 - Cleveland and Seattle are on the same tier? What the fuck? 

Tier 5-6 meh no one cares anyways

Tier 7 - yes

I have been to every city on this list besides Kansas City, and I have to say, you are on crack. Plz fix

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 2, 2020 - 5:28pm

Tier 1: Cities that have deep markets across all industries - NY, London, Hong Kong (HK will lose this status in / before 2047 but these are the only ones in this tier for now)

Tier 2: Cities that offer comparable life style but are more siloed: SF, Chicago, HTX, Singapore, Frankfurt, Shanghai etc.

Tier 3: maybe they have some speciality, but don't carry the weight of the above: LA, Dallas, Charlotte, Madrid, Amsterdam, Shenzhen, Tokyo

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Sep 2, 2020 - 5:30pm

T1: NYC, London

T2: SF, Chicago, Charlotte, Boston,

T3: Other cities

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Sep 2, 2020 - 5:42pm

I think this depends on your industry coverage. If you're interested in tech, you're doing yourself a disservice by working in NY over SF. If you're interested in O&G, you should be in Houston, not London. If we're talking generalist, then yes NY is higher tier than SF. 

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Sep 2, 2020 - 7:45pm

SF is essentially tech banking and some healthcare. I'd have Chicago as a tier 1 before SF, it's a lot of industrials and consumer but all the big players have a presence with more than just a regional focus.

Most Helpful
Sep 2, 2020 - 8:35pm

I think that you are mostly on the right track. Remember that this is a subjective approach, so it's open to interpretation.

I tend to think of them based on size and how business-oriented they are (in no particular order):

Tier 1: NYC, San Fran, Chicago, LA

Tier 2: Houston (some may push them into Tier 1, which is fine), Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, Boston, Miami, Philly, D.C.

Tier 3: Denver, Minneapolis, Charlotte, Nashville, Austin, Phoenix, Detroit, Cleveland, Tampa, SLC, Vegas (several could easily be a tier lower in some minds)

Tier 4: Portland, San Diego, Indy, Orlando, Columbus, Cincy, New Orleans, Milwaukee, St. Louis, KC

Sep 2, 2020 - 8:55pm

Bump. Interesting. 

"Full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes." -U.S. Navy General Farragut
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Sep 2, 2020 - 8:55pm

Can't believe how many people feel the need to rank cities lmfao

Have any of you seen how fucked up NYC is now? People are getting the fuck out of there in record numbers. Yeah it's got Wall Street but we are all working from home so what's the point of paying $$$$ to be there??

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Sep 2, 2020 - 10:13pm

People in Houston have a huge chip on their shoulder about their city 

Sep 2, 2020 - 10:21pm

Tier 1: The "four corners" of the United States: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston. Plus San Francisco and DC.  

Tier 2: Cities that are respectable, but the best go to Tier 1 cities for the higher income. Atlanta, Denver, Philadelphia, Boston, Cleveland, Seattle, Dallas, Miami, Charlotte, Nashville, San Diego, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Portland, Phoenix, and Minneapolis. 

Tier 3: Cities that are nice, friendly, you can easily pull six figures and have a nice work-life balance after you are established. Cincinnati, Louisville, Des Moines, Orlando, Little Rock, Boise, Austin,Indianapolis, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Kansas City. 

Tier 4:  Once great but high crime and corruption have ruined them. New Orleans, Detroit, Baltimore, Memphis, Las Vegas, Newark, and El Paso. 

You get the idea. 

Dec 29, 2021 - 3:36pm

Just want to point out that North Las Vegas, the high crime area of Vegas is a separate city from Vegas proper. 


Dec 30, 2021 - 5:47pm

Devils Advocate

Is there anything you weirdos don't rank?

Username checks out

"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

Sep 2, 2020 - 11:24pm

I'd rather be in Africa being hunted by Hyenas than be @ a tier 4

"Full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes." -U.S. Navy General Farragut
Feb 10, 2021 - 5:07pm


Tier 1: NYC

Tier II: London, Paris, Los Angles, Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing

Agree, but the 1 and II really get to me.

"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

  • 1
  • Prospect in Other
Sep 3, 2020 - 3:03am

The Global and World Cities Research Network compiles a list of cities ranked by their relative globalization. If you agree that globalization leads to opportunity which leads to money/power/importance/abundance of resources, it can be used as a proxy for ranking cities

For 2020, top rankings are:

Alpha ++: NYC, London

Alpha+: Beijing, Dubai, Hong Kong, Paris, Tokyo, Singapore

Alpha: Amsterdam, Brussels, Chicago, Frankfurt, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, Madrid, Mexico City, Milan, Moscow, Mumbai, Sao Paolo, Sydney, Toronto

I am not going to write out the complete rest of the listings, but other cities of note in certain tiers:

Alpha-:Boston, SF, Munich, Dublin, Vienna, Johannesburg, Buenos Aires

Beta+: Atlanta, Barcelona, Berlin, Cairo, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Rome, Vancouver, Washington DC

Beta: Athens, Casablanca, Denver, Helsinki, Ho Chi Minh City, Philadelphia, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, Seattle

Beta-: Austin, Belgrade, Calgary, Caracas, Detroit, Dhaka, Geneva, Guatemala City, Hyderabad, Lagos, Kuwait City, Minneapolis, St. Petersburg (Russia), San Diego, Tampa

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Sep 3, 2020 - 10:15am

I understand the concept and appreciate the contribution, but I laughed at Ho Chi Minh City being next to Philadelphia

Dec 30, 2021 - 5:48pm

Where is Shanghai my friend?

It's south of Beijing on the coast. 

"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

Jan 11, 2021 - 5:38pm


Tier 1: New York, London, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo, Zurich

Tier 2: Singapore, Hong Kong, Boston, Philadelphia, Frankfurt, Milan, Toronto

Tier 3: Montreal, Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, Sydney, West Berlin, Helsinki, Amsterdam, Miami

"Work ethic, work ethic" - Vince Vaughn

  • 1
Feb 11, 2021 - 12:23am

First: NYC

Last: London

"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

Dec 30, 2021 - 5:15pm

Deserunt quam rerum et et aspernatur qui reprehenderit. Ex voluptas quas facere et animi molestias sit at. Asperiores eius voluptatem qui quam ut. Et et sequi sed cupiditate perspiciatis aspernatur libero. Accusamus aut quo ut quis minus. Odit ipsa et et deserunt.

Nostrum ut facilis maxime voluptatum omnis exercitationem autem. Enim soluta officia ut voluptate possimus. Dolorum quo molestias iusto rerum eius dolorum. Est in at dolorem illo deleniti maiores sequi. Doloribus ab sint perferendis impedit et. Quis aut qui saepe aut iusto exercitationem blanditiis.

Totam et vero quo vel sed. Soluta omnis aut nihil ipsum expedita ut. Iure qui sed eligendi magni. Perferendis a non dicta optio est.

Vitae dolor occaecati alias doloremque. Autem vitae sit veniam voluptatem.

Jan 9, 2022 - 6:27pm

Autem laboriosam incidunt voluptatem dolore. Dolor consequuntur consequatur sapiente impedit ipsum. Mollitia quia aut animi odio eius assumenda et.

Non eaque aut saepe eveniet voluptatem quibusdam consequatur in. Qui omnis debitis nisi perferendis et animi voluptas. Commodi sunt tenetur blanditiis et voluptatibus magni necessitatibus laboriosam. Est quia porro necessitatibus mollitia officia placeat molestiae. Ullam eius et qui. Fugit sit qui id sapiente perspiciatis sed.

Quae consectetur enim quia iste itaque et sint eius. Consequatur quia aspernatur consequuntur reprehenderit enim culpa enim inventore. Temporibus sed labore sit dolores.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

January 2022 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (5) $604
  • Vice President (21) $384
  • Associates (144) $238
  • 2nd Year Analyst (84) $153
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (15) $150
  • 1st Year Analyst (295) $142
  • Intern/Summer Associate (63) $143
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (225) $90