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.

Comments (51)

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Sep 2, 2020 - 5:13pm

Do you really care enough about a "Tier 4" city that you had to create a meaningless thread?



  • 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


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 - Ind
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. 

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Sep 2, 2020 - 7:23pm

I love how every response is shat on.

I personally have seen tier one in America as just NY and SF for finance. 

Most Helpful
  • 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.

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 - Ind
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??

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. 

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
  • 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

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