URGENT: Pittsburgh or DC

Need to make this decision in the next few days for an SA role. Opportunities are equivalent in both cities. 

Appreciate all the help.

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Comments (52)

Feb 2, 2021 - 3:10pm

Choose the city that has a Michelin guide for it.

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

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  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Feb 2, 2021 - 3:24pm

DC. The opportunities aren't equivalent in both cities.

I have to choose one of the cities. I'm not sure what you mean. 

Feb 2, 2021 - 3:26pm

Obviously this depends heavily on what you want out of life. Ceteris paribus I would absolutely push you towards DC though, and for me it isn't close. DC is a major city with international presence and a lot more options if you need to look for another opportunity, not to mention a fantastic restaurant and bar scene and tons of young people. I'd also point to growth dynamics - the DC area grew 11% between 2010-2019 (one of the fastest-growing major metros), while the Pittsburgh MSA lost population over the same period (never a good sign)

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Feb 2, 2021 - 5:27pm

Not OP but I was raised in DC. At least a few years ago, Tysons and Foggy Bottom were starting to pop. I'm sure parts of Arlington are doing well too.

Feb 2, 2021 - 5:39pm

Tysons is improving, but still feels more like an office park / commercial district than a neighborhood to me. Fine if your office is there, but your commute into the city will be hell (or would have been; I don't have a sense for how COVID has impacted traffic)

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Feb 2, 2021 - 6:18pm

Tysons is an office park. 

Cool areas for young peeps: Dupont Circle, Navy Yard, Logan Circle / 14th Street, U Street, NoMa, Shaw

I'm partial to Logan Circle / 14th Street / Shaw areas. I lived there and all of my dates had to come to me bc that's where all the cool restaurants and bars are. 

Feb 2, 2021 - 6:26pm

I'm partial to Logan Circle / 14th Street / Shaw areas. I lived there and all of my dates had to come to me bc that's where all the cool restaurants and bars are. 

Would recommend these specifically as well.

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

Feb 2, 2021 - 5:35pm

Georgetown and Foggy Bottom are both university areas with a decent number of recent grads and plenty of restaurants and nightlife, with Georgetown being the more expensive of the two. I'd also recommend Adams Morgan, or, if you want to spend a little more Dupont Circle / Logan Circle area is super high-energy with tons of people and things to do.

If you don't mind the crowd being slightly older (mid-late 20s) but the neighborhood being (slightly) cheaper, Alexandria and Arlington are both really nice and have Metro access into the city (though Alexandria's is a bit more of a pain). Fair warning though - if you aren't near the Metro and drive in from VA, it's a bitch of a commute. Unfortunately I don't know enough about the MD side to make any recommendations there, but overall I'd highly recommend living in the city for SA / Analyst years

Feb 2, 2021 - 6:20pm

Ballston or Clarendon in Arlington. Navy Yard, 14th Street/U St/Logan Circle in DC. Maybe Foggy/Georgetown or NoMa too. Not Tysons


Feb 2, 2021 - 3:41pm

Dude DC is 1000% times better, its not even close. I was born in pennsylvania and I love pennsylvania, lived in Pitt, Altoona, and Scranton. All things considered PA sucks donkey balls compared to DMV. 

DC actually has sun (pitt weather is dogshit), DC actually has food thats not polish or eastern european. DC actually has a really favorable dating ratio (especially if you like black women you can meet some absolutely gorgeous girls). 

DC is ofc more expensive, but is infinitely manageable on 60,000+. Plus the DC suburbs are amazing, lots to do within Nova, PG, and MOCO. 

The only benefit I see from Pittsburgh is cost of living and sports, and the sports gap will fast become a thing of the past if DC can do something with their football team. 

  • 4
Feb 2, 2021 - 4:13pm

I love pierogis with all my heart, and even I wouldn't choose pitt

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

  • 1
Feb 2, 2021 - 5:57pm

We've talked about this before for sure but need to reiterate how with you I am on the love of pierogis

  • 1
Feb 3, 2021 - 7:38am

Pitt weather is shitty compared to DC - mainly because Pitt always ranks in the top of US cities for clouds / overcast / least sunny days. It is downright oppressive living there long term if you like the sun. 

Add in the average colder temperature because you are nestled in the Alleghenies and you may have a rough time. 

DC weather isn't particularly great, but its far sunnier and warmer than Pittsburgh. 

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Most Helpful
Feb 2, 2021 - 4:11pm

Raised in Pittsburgh, but have spent significant time in DC as well. Decision depends on your preferences all else equal (team, culture, company fit). Cost of living, slower pace, and fanatic sports town important to you? Pittsburgh. If you care more about career growth potential, better city amenities (walkability, public transportation, etc.), and overall more to do? DC. As great as Pittsburgh is as a city, its a regional city, albeit a damn good one, and there isnt anything wrong with that. DC is an international city with great restaurants, better nightlife, and a diverse population. Biggest thing for me is the career growth potential. Pittsburgh is a tech, healthcare, and education city. Finance jobs are limited outside of those sectors, PNC and BNY are the only games in town. DC has way more finance opportunities and a wider range of opportunities in general outside of finance. Most people would say DC and its not close, and I am one of those people, but it all depends on what you are looking for.

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  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Feb 2, 2021 - 4:19pm

How dramatic is the COL difference between the two? What sort of salary would be needed to have a decent life in DC? For Pittsburgh, which neighborhood would you say is the best for young professionals? Same question for DC. Thanks for the help

Feb 2, 2021 - 4:42pm

If you can afford it, DC for sure. The weather is really nice for 75% of the year, although if you can't stand humidity, that might be a potential deal breaker: DC is extremely humid in the summer, but spring and fall are gorgeous and winter is usually pretty mild compared to PA (grew up in Philly myself). Excluding the past year, there's so much to do as far as fun stuff; lots of interesting museums, art galleries, theaters, great places to ride bikes (both in the city and along the river into MD/VA), great hiking is not too far away. Restaurant and bar scene is head and shoulders above most other major cities, save NYC (but they're at 8 million people and DC's at 750k so that's expected). Also, being the capital means the city is usually kept very clean, especially compared to NYC, Philly, SF, etc.

Personally, the only major deal breakers are costs and potentially crime. DC is without a doubt one of the most expensive places to live in the country. A 1-bedroom apartment in a safe part of the city can easily run over $2,000 a month, where equally nice apartments outside of the big three (DC, NYC, SF) can be found for half that. If you can afford it, then COL is not a problem, but should always be evaluated both in absolute and relative terms. The other major drawback is crime. DC's notorious for being one of the most violent cities in the country. This is usually confined to the low income areas, which you can spend several years never setting foot in (especially if you're on an decent salary, let's not kid ourselves here), but even the safe, well off areas probably have more crime, homelessness and mental illness than you'd expect if you've never lived in a major city before.

Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.

  • 3
Feb 2, 2021 - 5:54pm

I do fucking love Pittsburgh as a city and think it is definitely one of the most underrated in the country, but not sure if its "there" yet for a finance career. It's revitalization kind of reminds me of Boston's back in the 90s, just theyre a little bit behind. Might get there one day tho.

  • 1
Feb 2, 2021 - 7:01pm

I feel like I've asked you this (or maybe it was about Philly), but do you think Pittsburgh has good prospects in the future? I took a regional economics class in college and our professor said how Pittsburgh is one of those cities that has done a good job of revitalizing itself through modernizing its economic base (shifting from steel to more high tech production, robotics). I know metro Philly is big in health sciences, I had looked at retrofitting some buildings to lease to health science firms.

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

  • 2
Feb 2, 2021 - 7:27pm

Yeah, I really do. I think they will shape up well in the medtech and medical devices space and are already home to some good companies in the healthcare industry and UPMC. And even though heavy industry is declining, I don't see USS or Alcoa disappearing. I think the area has an entrepreneurial vibe and good schools, which also contributes. Not as familiar with the tech space over there, but I know google has a presence and Carnegie Mellon is the spot to be for programming. Plus the city is all around a good place to live in my opinion. Smaller city that is easier to fully take in, good nature surrounding it, fun bars, good food, plenty of sports. It reminds me a lot of Boston (my home). 

  • 4
Feb 2, 2021 - 6:28pm

DC or Arlington 

"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

Feb 2, 2021 - 7:46pm

I currently live in Pittsburgh and while it's a good city, I'd lean DC. However, assuming your SA choice of city would be your full-time location next year, that raises some additional considerations. The company you mentioned this role is with is based in Pittsburgh and once everyone is back in the office, you can get some really good facetime and exposure if you're based in Pittsburgh that you would miss out on being in DC. That being said, DC is probably all-around a better city to be in except for cost of living considerations. If you want to save some good money, move to Pittsburgh. 

I've found the people in DC to be much more interesting than those in Pittsburgh and the food scene, bar scene, activity scene, fitness scene, etc. is much better in DC. You're also much closer to major east coast cities, the coast, the south, etc. whereas Pittsburgh is pretty geographically isolated. 

Feb 2, 2021 - 10:29pm

I have no knowledge of Pittsburgh. 

DC for your age bracket (assuming 20-28) isn't great. A third of your peers will be wannabe congressmen who work on the Hill or have a niche "save the undocumented Tahitian whales with HIV" cause. An other third will be third string consultants for back office federal govt functions; they will be from flyover state schools and fun people, it'll get old if you're not already part of that (WSO posters trends away from that). The final third grew up in DC, they are exceptionally insular as a whole compared to say NY or Chicago or LA natives. Of all three groups described, the overwhelming majority will be yuppies and not of the aspiring corporate hotshot variety. 

as others noted, DC is a hotbed of violent crime. It is not contained to east DC. Nice neighborhoods like Georgetown have problems too. If you know an area block by block, it is largely avoidable, although it can get in your face out of nowhere. It is a concern you would not have in Manhattan by any means. Finally, the food is awful for a city with that international and talented a community.  

Feb 2, 2021 - 11:27pm

One downside that I have to state with DC is that people talk about politics all the time. It is standard bar talk. I went into a bar in Arlington one night and this girl approached me and asked me a political question. I was so turned off that I took my drink and went elsewhere. Some people don't mind politics, but I find it offensive. Out of every city I have been in the world (I've been to 23 countries), DC seems to be the one place where talking politics is ok, and I absolutely despise that. I was in DC for a year (NoVa), then moved to NYC

"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

  • 3
  • 2
Feb 3, 2021 - 10:16am

This is correct. The role of politics there is bigger than Hollywood in LA or finance in NY. Most educated 20-somethings you interact with are part of it somehow. This is bad if it's your job because you have no escape, and bad if it's not your job because if you were that interested it'd be your career. 

Feb 3, 2021 - 2:38pm

Lol yeah the MS is confusing, this is very accurate. Its hard to avoid here, one of the very few turnoffs for me along with HCOL and traffic. There are a couple other industries that have a good presence here, so my advice would be surround yourself with them.


  • 1
Feb 3, 2021 - 11:24am

Pittsburgh is cool for a small city, but I would take DC every time. 

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  • 1
  • Analyst 1 in CorpDev
Feb 3, 2021 - 7:12pm

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  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Feb 3, 2021 - 8:27pm

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