Would you move to a 'tier-2' city?

Out of curiosity and thinking about my personal situation: would you move to a tier-2 city? I work in IBD at a BB and was recently given the opportunity to move to CLT...A few years ago it would be out of the question for me; I began my career in NYC. Thinking it over now, I would be saving at least $20k a year in income tax or more, a few % in sales tax which I think adds up, $24k+ in rent, and a better quality of life. Also, considering how much cheaper food/entertainment is, I think I would save ~$50k+ annually and that would only grow.

Has anyone here done it? I'm guessing there are people considering it given the current circumstances. I'm not one of these NYC is doomed types, but I think it would be foolish to think it is going to get back to normal anytime soon. There are serious fundamental issues there with budget shortfalls (read: higher taxes coming), quality of life and other things that I think will only worsen for the foreseeable future. Considering moving now more than ever.

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Comments (167)

Dec 10, 2020 - 10:35am

I don't have the right answer for you (a move is certainly very tempting), but I will point out that I had to look up what CLT even stood for...

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Dec 14, 2020 - 12:21pm


I mean I literally did.

I mean, I really don't get all the hate for Cross Laminated Timber.  It's not plywood, and seems pretty cool as a housing material.

I generally see somebody I know on TV on Bloomberg/CNBC etc. once or twice a week. This sounds cool, until I remind myself that I see somebody I know on ESPN five days a week.
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  • Incoming Analyst in IB-M&A
Dec 10, 2020 - 10:51am

From a fiscal view, yes you should absolutely move to charlotte. However, what are some of the things you love most about ny that you'd be giving up such as nightlife, unlimited dining options that just don't exist outside nyc i.e. having venezuelan one night then moroccan the next etc., your social circle, theatre, plays, and whatever else you do in your free time. Is the sum of everything you're giving up together worth more than 50k+ a year? Everyone's answer will be different

  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Equities
Dec 10, 2020 - 12:18pm

The thing is that is no longer a thing in NYC and I'm not sure it will be for quite some time. 80% or more of restaurants are 3+ months behind on rent, the math isn't pretty for how many will be left. I've lived in NYC my whole life and have been through a lot of ups and downs in general, but this one is unique for more reasons than we can list here. The $50k is right now at my current compensation, when I make VP/Director that number is going to jump substantially. Even MDs I know in NYC can't really live on their salary (prior to bonus) due to CoL, kids schools, lifestyle, etc. I think it is a reasonable assertion that I could save >$1mm over the course of my career and I think that is conservative. If you add my wife's income we would be looking at >$2mm and that is assuming we don't invest it. The current state of NYC and the outlook for what made it great (nightlife, whatever else) doesn't look promising. If they move forward with increasing taxes I think that things are going to get even worse. 

Dec 11, 2020 - 2:08am

next year everything will be back to normal. the vaccine is already starting being used in the world, it will unwrap in the U.S. this month most probably. give it another ~3 months and it will be available for anybody who wants to take it, and then there are no excuses for keeping social distancing.
there is also pent-up demand for all the restaurants and other businesses that were constrained this year, so next year can be very decent for them.

Dec 10, 2020 - 11:04am

Many are currently pondering this and if they're not, they should be (as their company is pondering it for them). Of course it's a personal decision but a mistake many make when pondering is they think it's binary. High COL with arts and culture and dining, etc. vs. low COL with drudgery. The reality is many T2 (and T3 for that matter) have lots to offer, just not in the quantity of NYC. Full disclosure: I've lived around many cities and have been to NYC many times.

As an example, I live in Tampa. No I'm not arguing Tampa is more fun than NYC. There is, however, plenty of good restaurants, museums, theater etc. Nowhere near the scale of NYC and it's not in your face. You have to go find it. But when you do, you say, "wow this is pretty good". My wife and I are big theater folks. We love live theater. Is Tampa like Broadway? No, not even close. But they are a major stop on the national Broadway tour circuit and get all the shows, are always sold out, etc. The tour loves Tampa. So we joined the Performing Arts Center Broadway series and have seen 6 or 7 shows per yr for aprox 20 yrs. Every major show you've ever heard of that's toured, we've seen. Again not arguing it's as ggod as Hamilton on Broadway. It isn't, but it's still great. We're thinking about making two trips per yr to NYC specifically to see shows. Rather do that and stay in the sun.

Summary: not binary. 

Dec 10, 2020 - 10:53pm

Is there any IB scene in Tampa, or is it mostly WM?


  • Intern in IB - DCM
Dec 11, 2020 - 8:51am

There's RJ across the bridge in St. Pete/Clearwater, Baird also has an office in downtown (I think industrials?), Stephens has a small one in St. Pete (FI S&T?). Other boutiques and PE shops are Crosstree, KLH, HealthEdge, LCG Advisors & Skyway Capital Market, Ballast Point Ventures. Also heard that Star Mountain Capital is considering adding an analyst/associate office in Tampa or South Florida. 

Dec 15, 2020 - 11:22am


The reality is many T2 (and T3 for that matter) have lots to offer, just not in the quantity of NYC

Summary: not binary.

Agree overall, but in some cases it is actually binary.  For instance, if you want top notch delivery at midnight, that actually isn't available at all in a good number of T2/T3 cities.  There's also a significant quality gap the further down the "variety" list you go - there may be excellent Italian and Mexican food in your T2 city, but if you're looking for West African you may have just 1 mediocre restaurant to work with (if at all).  I've also noticed that people's standards adjust to their location - there have been several times I've been out with a friend in a T2/3 city where they're telling me "this place is the BEST" and I'm sitting there thinking "this wouldn't stay open for a year in NYC".  

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Most Helpful
Dec 10, 2020 - 11:36am

Made this type of move a few years ago, I was extremely skeptical, but honestly could not be happier: 

People like to dismiss the cost savings outright "yeah there's a reason why things are cheaper" but those who haven't lived it don't quite get it. It accelerates your goal timeline, relieves anxiety, and gives you tons of flexibility. I was able to live where and how I wanted anywhere in the city. I can soon buy a nice house in one of the best neighborhoods with a top notch school district. My commute, and more importantly the quality of my commute was greatly improved. When I go to the park to play tennis, odds are there is a court open. On top of that, I can join a club with all the extra money I have. I have more money to travel, and the airport is 20 minutes away. I can get lower bowl tickets to sports games, or season tickets if I want (wish I had the time!).

If you list the activities you *actually* do on a weekly or monthly basis, I would guess that 95% or more can be done in any decent sized city (like CLT, or any other with sports teams, etc.)

I'm not here to shit on NYC, there is a reason many of us do a stint there, but all it will do is make you appreciate this move so much more.

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Dec 10, 2020 - 11:50am

Grew up in the southeast and worked in Charlotte. I would move back in a skinny minute but I have a family and both our families are in the southeast. In addition my tastes are definitely "suburban" aka kinda boring so I freely admit the benefits of Charlotte for me are not there for everyone. 

Cons of Charlotte include: it's kind of a generic city. There's not a ton to do. Restaurant scene is improving but nowhere near nyc or Boston. 

Pros: low cost of living and can make nyc money at least in IB. You don't have to "outearn" your cost of living like one has to do in NYC. Decent number of financial employers (Wells Fargo, satellite office for Jefferies, BofA,william Blair, Piper, blackarch and a few I'm forgetting. If you want to go down a tier citizens, suntrust and region, non blackarch). Important in that changing jobs doesn't necesitate a move. Ridgemont and falfurrias are also middle market pe in the city.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Dec 10, 2020 - 11:57am

Would a move to Houston be good? one of the better tier two cities imo. Almost every bank is there (I know people will say O&G doomed but that means rx focused banks will do well), two very good airports as well as almost all the facilities of a tier 1 city.

Dec 10, 2020 - 12:14pm

Love the O&G space but Houston would not be on my list if you're looking for a smaller city that's actually cheap the whole way up. It's cheap from the bottom rung but scales up quickly, i.e. if you want to buy a house in one of the "nice" neighborhoods it's going to be pretty pricey.

Yeah there's banking there but the IB outlook for O&G is awful right now. The industry isn't dead but the shale boom driving dealflow might be--didn't BMO just axe their entire team?

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  • Intern in IB-M&A
Dec 10, 2020 - 12:58pm

BMO axed its entire team but it was never a big player. Nevertheless, that's why I mentioned that you could potentially concentrate on RX (maybe join a generalist bank to work on both sides) and be protected from O&G decline.

interesting point about the scale, didn't know that. I will be joining a generalist bank that is amongst the best in Houston so I constantly debate internally as to whether I want to make the move out of Houston or be there, long-term.

  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Equities
Dec 10, 2020 - 12:14pm

Really appreciate the answers @all...Definetely a lot to think about, I have also lived in NYC my entire life and the nightlife scene is kind of worn out on me. We were running around with fake IDs at these places in high school. The napkin math of moving is becoming pretty significant. Yes, obviously the nightlife and restaurants are a draw, but I am becoming increasingly pessimistic that NYC is going to get back "there" any time soon. When do you think clubs and bars will be open at capacity? Kind of a rhetorical question but I don't see it anytime soon - it is the polar opposite of FL. I'm not even sure how many of these places are going to make it through winter and I can see NYC being harsh on them in the summer as well.

My wife is also a high income earner, she earns a little less than I do. The amount of taxes we are paying directly to NYS and to NYC are staggering. I'm sure you guys know this, but this is life-changing money over the course of a career. Reading what Cuomo said about take hikes yesterday is making me seriously consider the value proposition I am getting in NYC. If NYC wasn't being decimated it would be one thing, but to pay more in taxes at this point for what I am getting (quality of life, CoL) does not seem attractive. Some of my colleagues in other locations are driving nice cars, live in nice homes whether they are renting or purchased, saving money, have a pool/backayd. Maybe I'm just in my head a bit, but it is becoming increasingly harder to get smoked in taxes/rent for what I am currently getting. Not to mention I haven't really been in NYC for months for a number of reasons.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Dec 10, 2020 - 12:25pm

You're thinking about this the right way. My first few years out of undergrad I couldn't imagine NOT wanting to go out drinking/clubs/bars every weekend. Fast forward just a few years and that is not a huge draw anymore. If you have a serious significant other that feeling is even stronger.

Sounds like you're in a good spot with options, but the short version is that many of us have seen people make this move with good results, and can barely think of anybody who went back by choice.

Quick back of the envelope: Let's be more conservative and say lifestyle creep means you only save 35k per year over NYC, after 5 years at 7% that's another 215k.

  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Equities
Dec 10, 2020 - 12:33pm

Yeah, I've noticed the same about others who have made the move. The lifestyle creep is a variable that is hard to pin down, but the taxes alone (NYC is effectively 13% whereas CLT is 6%) are considerable. That is ~$20k for me and I haven't even made VP yet and another ~$20k for my wife. We are at $40k before CoL, I think we would conservatively save $24k on rent, and we can call lifestyle $20k+ at the absolute minimum between her and I. Obviously a ton of sensitivity you can do here, but I think it could be well above $60k in savings annually between the two of us. Once you factor in that 7% it's staggering. 

Edit: I think I've started to also become more in tune with what it looks like for a D or even MD living in NYC and trying to give your kids the best you can from an education/lifestyle perspective. If you are sole income and your kids are in private school growing up, some vacations, apartment, spending, I don't really think you're retiring comfortably anytime soon. As you know, bonuses will probably never go back to what they were. We are living under different circumstances from the people who were making significant money throughout their career. 

  • NA in IB-M&A
Dec 10, 2020 - 1:04pm

Would you be paid the same salary and bonus in a T2 city? Don't T2 cities lack the number of opportunities and are also paid considerably less compared to the same roles in NYC especially as you progress further along in your career (MD in T2 city maybe ~500k all in vs NYC 1m+)? Also if you decide to work in a T2 city and want to transfer back to NYC does this make you a less competitive candidate?

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Ind
Dec 10, 2020 - 1:09pm

I think this is where I get stuck honestly. I'd love to be able to live in a lower CoL city, even a place like Chicago where you'd be able to afford a really high living standard compared to NYC as an analyst. Unfortunately, I think a lot of bank's top groups are in NYC, and exit opps from the Big Apple are in another tier as well. I'm not very interested in nightlife or restaurants, but I think if I'm using IB to jump into a career later on it makes sense to bite the bullet in NYC just to get exposure to more opportunities. Getting a bit dicey though as rent and CoL, including taxes, just continue to rise even more (600 sqft apartments for over 3k a month in the middle of a pandemic when rents are "low"... wtf?).

  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Equities
Dec 10, 2020 - 1:13pm

Well, you're an analyst and PE is an option so I hear you. I am an associate so it's kind of out of the cards, I'll either be a lifer or work in some other finance role. The low CoL certainly gives more flexibility there and I think it you're saving millions over your career and have a strong network you can even end up running your own money with friends. 

Dec 15, 2020 - 11:51pm

It is also all about perspective, In the example of 600 square foot apartment for 3,000 - this might get you 400 square feet in mid-levels here in Hong Kong. For a 600 square foot place you would be looking at closer to 4,000. Willing to live 20-25 minutes out you could get 760 square feed for that same 4,000 and 2 bedrooms (damned tiny bedrooms).

Bread here is 4.00 for a local made, white bread bag of shit.  Many known brands sell half-loaves for about 5.00. Milk is 5.00 per quart unless you want to drink the local Kowloon Dairy, how-did-they-make-it-taste-like-soap-and-water for about 3.00 per quart.

Don't want to eat produce from China due to heavy metals and human shit as fertilizer? Three tiny tomatoes are 7.00. Steak from Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the US is around 50.00 for a 14-16 ounce ribeye in the grocery store.

Want your children to get a decent education not taught in Cantonese? US2,200 per month.

I am ready to move back to NYC as a tier 2 relocation (left in 1999).

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Dec 10, 2020 - 2:44pm

With all due respect--this is simply false (if we're talking about things like IB).

HW in Richmond, Baird in MKE, Piper/Jeff/Wells/Blair + others in Charlotte all pay street. There isn't any discount based on location. I feel like what you just said is that "assumed" case but it's not actually true. The Wells MD in Charlotte is not making less (for location reasons) than the Wells MD in NY.

It's of course true that many opportunities will be in NYC and there are network effects, but that's a different argument.

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  • NA in IB-M&A
Dec 10, 2020 - 4:16pm

Are the bankers in those cities closing the same number and size of deals as bankers in NYC? If not then do they still make the same?

Or is this just solely base salaries that we are talking about?

Also do PE firms in T2/T3 pay the same as similarly size PE firms in NYC base and bonus wise?

  • Summer Associate in IB - Ind
Dec 10, 2020 - 3:34pm

Is this true? Pay at the associate level is the same, I can't see MDs only making $500k. 

  • Auditor in RE - Comm
Dec 10, 2020 - 3:53pm

Highly doubt this. Professional service compensation at the top has always been based on revenue and (perceived) profitability of one's engagements.

Dec 10, 2020 - 5:07pm

Do not fear--MDs (at reputable firms with deal flow) aren't taking haircuts based on location. And at some of the firms named on this threat, such as top MMs, pay will be street.

  • NA in IB-M&A
Dec 10, 2020 - 1:20pm

I am currently an analyst in NYC and am not a fan of the high COL and also not a fan of the "benefits" of being in the city. NYC does not appeal to me, but as I consider exit ops and am recruiting for PE roles, I feel limited to the number of opportunities there are outside of NYC. I'd love to work in TX or FL, but the PE opps outside a handful of names there just do not compare to what's available in NYC.

Also CA is worse than NYC

Dec 10, 2020 - 1:17pm

Yeah I think a place like NYC is fun when young for a little bit but just kind of a PITA once you have more responsibilities and the bills start hitting you. Historically you had to be there for work related reasons but finance has really spread out over the last 10 years or so and with COVID it looks like many companies are willing to leave NYC

  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Equities
Dec 10, 2020 - 1:20pm

It seems like high income earners aren't even wanted. Cuomo was discussing some kind of plans to get them back and DeBlasio followed that up with something along the lines of "we don't care if you leave, when you come back you will be taxed...need higher taxes etc etc." I mean with them openly telling you this then why oblige? 

Dec 10, 2020 - 1:40pm

Never. Only losers do that

Money can purchase freedom, if you have the guts to buy it

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  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Dec 10, 2020 - 2:03pm

I worked in a "tier 1" group in a "tier 2/3" city and lateraled to an EB in NY during COVID. To the outside it was the right career move I'm sure but I'm probably going back sometime soon. I think cities that aren't NY have a lot to offer. The argument for NY is that if you are a transplant working 80+ hours a week, it's the city that requires the least time investment to have a vibrant social life so it works with an IB schedule. The challenge with other cities I feel is their general acceptance to transplants and ability to meet people when you have no free time. Plain and simple most people don't work as much as you do in IB. However I'm from the city I came from so all my friends/family are back home. I think making a move to a tier 2 city requires some thought but WSO definitely exaggerates how much of a lifestyle hit you take moving to one. Especially if you are working like 60 hours a week.

As an aside, in my ~1.5 years in IB in a "tier 2/3" city, I have saved effectively $90k incl. 401k, and that's after spending on literally everything I could spend on (New car, new phone, new watch, new coat, new PC). And I really like my city. Someday I know ill move away to somewhere bigger but just something to think about.

Dec 10, 2020 - 2:18pm

I've lived in NYC, Chicago and Dallas. Give me Dallas all day. The kind of place you can get here for the price is incredible. And most firms, including mine, do not adjust comp for COL. Plenty of great restaurants, pro sports, etc for what I need.

Dec 11, 2020 - 2:24am

You can get even better place for the same money somewhere in Mississippi / Alabama or even better place in some 3rd world country. In the 3rd world country you could even hire your own chef who would cook you meals all day every day for like $20/day.

Dec 10, 2020 - 3:01pm

I'm not going to rank cities by tiers, but I think the general idea of this thread is moving to a city like Charlotte/Minneapolis.

Essentially it is not a top population center for the country but still a substantial city, has major sports teams, etc.

Dec 10, 2020 - 3:18pm

Analyst 1 in S&T - Equities

Out of curiosity and thinking about my personal situation: would you move to a tier-2 city? I work in IBD at a BB and was recently given the opportunity to move to CLT...A few years ago it would be out of the question for me, I began my career in NYC. Thinking it over now, I would be saving at least $20k a year in income tax or more, a few % in sales tax which I think adds up, $24k+ in rent, and a better quality of life. Also considering how much cheaper food/entertainment is I think I would be saving ~$50k+ annually and that would only grow.

Has anyone here done it? I'm guessing there are people considering it given the current circumstances. I'm not one of these NYC is doomed types, but I think it would be foolish to think it is going to get back to normal anytime soon. There are serious fundamental issues there with budget shortfalls (read: higher taxes coming), quality of life and other things that I think will only worsen for the foreseeable future. Considering moving now more than ever.

In this current situation and for practicality, yes I would definitely consider moving now.

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Dec 10, 2020 - 4:16pm

I'd rather have optionality to change jobs/careers. That's especially valuable if the market turns south. I'm willing to pay extra in taxes / COL to get that. And if my salary goes up and cancels out taxes / COL, then I am essentially getting career optionality for free. After all, during the financial crisis, it was far easier finding a job in big cities than small cities.

Dec 10, 2020 - 5:31pm

Everything that has been said above is pretty much my exact rationale for staying put in my hometown, what would be classified on WSO as a T2 city. I took a nontraditional path through college and am a little older, and I just found it more appealing to build a reputation and a career in the city I'm from while still making the same amount of money that my peers in NY will be making. I know I won't get the NY experience, and I'm okay with that. The point of a job and career to me is to establish myself and make a living to provide for my future family - and I can do that much more effectively in a city where CoL is lower. I was lucky to end up at a bank that has a solid operation in my city and I will be in a group that provides opportunities for the business eco-system in the surrounding area. Seemed like a no-brainer to me but to each their own.

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Dec 10, 2020 - 6:56pm

Any idea on how buyside comp at low COL areas compare to NYC? I know that IB doesn't see much difference, but wondering the cases for PE/GE/VC

  • Incoming Analyst in IB-M&A
Dec 10, 2020 - 8:47pm

depends on fund size and specific city. gotta be more specific.

  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Equities
Dec 10, 2020 - 9:45pm

Seems like you're enjoying it...can you give any more context, are there any not so obvious benefits you've come across? If you needed to go back to NYC (at another firm) do you think it would be relatively easy? 

  • Incoming Analyst in IB-M&A
Dec 11, 2020 - 6:23pm

Live in metro detroit and went to michigan. In terms of finance there isn't much which is the reason i'm moving for ft. A couple small regional mm banks (angle, cascade, quarton which is now cowen, amherst, finnea) and some lmm pe firms. If you have any specific questions ask away.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Dec 12, 2020 - 6:00pm

Would echo some of the above, unlikely to find finance roles that pay "street" but as a city it's showing signs of coming back slowly. COL dirt cheap.

If you're interested in the midwest/bang for your buck in an extremely underrated city I'd suggest looking at Milwaukee. Obviously Baird is the target there. Like the nice Michigan burbs on the water (Grosse Pointe, etc.) you'll have options like Whitefish Bay and Fox Point. I've spent a lot of time in both and would say Milwaukee was never hollowed out the way Detroit was, so much more filled in and cohesive.

Minneapolis is decent, but I'd prefer being on Lake Michigan. Of course Chicago is an option but still deal with some big city headaches.

  • Analyst 1 in Consulting
Dec 11, 2020 - 12:06am

I'm assuming Tier 1 cities are NY, SF, Chicago, and Boston.

For banking to be honest, I would recommend going to anywhere outside those. I could see an argument if your passion is oil/gas and you want to go to Texas or anything, but barring that there's a pretty steep decline. 

For banking specifically, anything outside of NY (other than a few tech offices in SF) is already generally a step down from the flagship office. Consulting is where it's ok to think of Tier 1 as NY, SF, Chicago, and Boston. 

Dec 11, 2020 - 2:01am

Depends on what matters to you. For example, for me the dating scene is of the main importance, thus I stay in big cities because the hook-up culture is way more developed in NYC than, for example, in Charlotte, and at the end of the day it's a numbers game, especially for men, so you want to be in a big city. So I wouldn't trade NYC for Charlotte for an additional $50k cause I would feel miserable and bored in Charlotte, but it can be different for you.

  • Intern in IB - DCM
Dec 11, 2020 - 8:56am

Yes, look at one of the first comments on this thread. 

Dec 11, 2020 - 9:05am

Just starting out my career WFH and we have the option to relocate to where we would like until end of Q2 21, so more of a S-T play. Would you move back? Is it also short term?

Dec 11, 2020 - 1:27pm

I moved out of NYC to another of the largest cities in the country (not LA / SF).  I would ask yourself the following questions, in order of priority:

1.  DELIVERY FOOD.  You have no idea how good you have it right now.  Your delivery options at 4am on a Tuesday are better than my options at 6pm on a Saturday.  The biggest disappointment to moving out of NYC was the fact that delivery options plummeted.  Also, top tip, when looking for an apartment, check the delivery options at all hours of the week; you might laugh but this will annoy you if they suck and you only find out after moving in.

2.  RESTAURANTS.  Piggy-backing on the first point, your dining options will be much more limited post-COVID, and this is even before half of them go belly up.

3.  DATING.  (Speaking from the perspective of men dating women) If you're single, this is huge.  Your options are going to severely decline in quality.  When I say severely, I mean severely.  Just think about how fewer professional jobs there are in CLT than NYC.  You're no longer located in the center of finance / luxury retail / consumer goods / fashion / modeling.  Every swipe on Bumble isn't going to be a brand manager at P&G, or an ad person at LVMH, or an IBD VP.  There's probably a few large companies headquartered there besides WF, and then the rest will be working middle class jobs.  Probably a lot of hairstylists, and probably a lot of people that live in the boonies that you want nothing to do with.  You will also see that the average prospect is going to be much less in shape than in NYC, and much less fashionable.

4.  COST OF LIVING.  Sure, important.  I decided to pay the same rent as what I was paying for my pretty lame 1-br in Brooklyn, and was able to get a luxury apartment in a building that has a pool / gym / rooftop deck / indoor golf simulator / etc. within walking distance to work.  I've stayed in the same place so have benefitted from operating leverage as my income has increased.  Once you've got rent dialed in, everything else is generally cheaper too, so you just have way more freedom with your money.  Looking back on my time in NYC, it felt like I was constantly trying to scrape by; now I'm putting a lot in the bank.  I don't think I could live in NYC again unless I was at VP level or above.  You also might need a car in CLT, so something else to consider.

5.  ABILITY TO BUY.  You can actually buy a home if you want.  I imagine you could get decent places in CLT for $150-200k if you wanted.  No idea what the property tax situation is but having this option is frankly just great.

5.  NEED FOR RELOCATION.  What if you lose your job?  What if you don't like it and want a new one?  Chances are you'll have to move again, likely back to NY.  This has the added disadvantage of making your life in CLT feel somewhat transitory, given that you know you'll have to move eventually anyways as it's pretty unlikely you'll stay at the same bank your whole career.  In NY your living situation is much more established, because if you have to leave one bank every single other one is within a couple blocks radius for the most part.

6.  TRAVEL.  No idea what the situation is but definitely something to look into.  NYC is a global travel hub.  It'll likely be more arduous to go to Europe and other destinations due to this.

7.  LIFESTYLE.  Everything is going to be smaller, slower and quieter.  It may feel relatively deserted to you after being used to the liveliness of NY.  Some people like this, some people don't.  You also will not have the benefit of being at a cultural hub.  You won't be able to go see the greatest Broadway plays.  Pretty much every single performer goes to NY; this won't be the case for CLT.  Significant cultural happenings will no longer be a subway ride away.  You will be stuck with local theater / orchestra / ballet / shows / etc.  No more sample sales or meaningful fashion-related events.  If you're into those sorts of things it's definitely something to think about.

Dec 11, 2020 - 3:16pm

Food-related items making up 2/7 of this list a bit much. I like going out to eat at great restaurants, I like preparing my own quality food, I like trying new things, but come on, it's just stuff we put in our body to keep us going.

Also look at the country you are in: there's good food everywhere. You're gonna be well fed in every major city you go to just by putting in the minimal effort. 

You're also not gonna eat late at night more than a handful of times a year once you reach a certain age. 

Food should honestly be one of the last reasons to live somewhere, especially once your metro area reaches critical mass. 

  • 1
Dec 11, 2020 - 6:40pm

I think one of the issues with a large portion of this country is that outside the major cities there is little diversity of culture and food. You aren't going to be able to get authentic indian, cantonese, sichuanese, korean, iranian, japanese and mexican, etc, etc, etc food all in one city other than 6-7 metro areas in this country. By extension you also won't be able to interact with people from those cultures. You'll be living in some suburb where the highlight of your week will be the HOA meeting. This lifestyle may be exciting for people aged 40+ but it just isn't that great for younger people, especially millennials & gen z.

I don't count eating at chili's or applebee's to be a decent meal which is unfortunately "fancy" in flyover country.

Dec 16, 2020 - 11:01am


Food-related items making up 2/7 of this list a bit much. I like going out to eat at great restaurants, I like preparing my own quality food, I like trying new things, but come on, it's just stuff we put in our body to keep us going.

Also look at the country you are in: there's good food everywhere. You're gonna be well fed in every major city you go to just by putting in the minimal effort. 

You're also not gonna eat late at night more than a handful of times a year once you reach a certain age. 

Food should honestly be one of the last reasons to live somewhere, especially once your metro area reaches critical mass. 

It's all about your personal preferences.  To me, eating great food is one of my favorite things and brings me a lot of joy.   Also, as someone who cooks occasionally but basically does meat/fish+veg with salt+pepper, having top-notch delivery/takeout is hugely important.  I've lived in places that don't have it, and it's something I definitely miss. 

EDIT: this could be the most WSO MS I've ever seen - MS for saying "I like food and it's something I care about".  Wish we had more adults on this board...

  • 1
Dec 11, 2020 - 4:41pm

Analyst --

The response you are looking for is an age-dependent, marital status, lifestyle and money situation which only YOU can answer correctly.

I currently live in what those on WSO would consider a "third tier" US city (7 Fortune 500's) in the Midwest and couldn't be happier. 

College in Northeast, 3 years slumming it in NYC at the "Dorm" with 2 room mates being single.  Awesome time.  Lived in Juno Beach, Columbus, OH, 10 years back in NY (NJ residence) and now in this great place.

Basically, I get paid 75% of NYC wages at 50% of the cost.  Top 5 school system.  Commuting is 30 minutes or less.  No train, subway, bridge / tunnel.  5500 sqft house $475,000.  Neighbors are fantastic.  Low / Capped Taxes.

Oh did I mention I have 5 kids and married 20+ years and three of the kids choose/chose in state schools?

My point?  My choices will not reflect yours or anybody else.  They are YOUR choices.  I left a BB and went back to a different one 10 years later.  Didn't affect me at all.

Your results may vary.





  • 3
Dec 12, 2020 - 8:51am

When you look at this dichotomy, there's always going to be a trade-off between time and money.

The two cities where you're most likely to be able to have your cake and eat it too are Chicago and Houston. Ie) have some sort of shot at making Director/MD (and the money that comes with it), while still enjoying vastly superior cost and quality of living.

What are you giving up for it? Hours are likely to be just as bad, if not worse, and there's much less banker-worship in these two cities than there is in NYC, so you'll be better off economically, not better off socially. They're better cities to have families in, worse cities to be single. 

Which really makes this, at best, a trilemma between earnings, bang-for-the-buck, and social life. Choose two. 

The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
  • 1
Dec 12, 2020 - 11:15am

You really think anyone gives a shit that you're a banker in NYC (or anywhere else for that matter)?

#1 Banking/finance is so stereotypical of NYC that people probably assume the subway bum is an associate at DB. NYC is the worst place to stand out if you're a banker. 

#2 The financial industry's reputation never fully recovered from the GFC, so bankers' social standing isn't what it once used to be, regardless of location, but especially in NYC.

#3 Even considering your "social standing" in a city is just stupid. Perhaps if you're a celebrity, it may make a difference. Celebrities have a presence in LA, but most live elsewhere. So do what's right for YOU, your family, career, finances, future, etc. If you're tall, dark, handsome, rich, successful, and well-educated, it doesn't matter one bit if you're a banker, tech person, business owner, or whatever else that's legal. But you do need to have a sociable personality to top it off.

  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Equities
Dec 12, 2020 - 11:28am

Thanks for writing out my exact thoughts. You should see how ppl view bankers in CA if you don't already know lol. 

Dec 12, 2020 - 9:39pm

Meh. I've lived in more cities and countries than the vast majority of people on this site (which I've been on for over a decade), and on Wall St, so I know a thing or two about the topic. Bankers are in force in NYC. Bankers are often mistaken with tellers in "regular" cities. 

Edited out because below:

The bigger picture here is that your life in CLT will change in many more ways than simply stretching your money further. Think it over. 

The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
  • 1
  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Equities
Dec 12, 2020 - 11:32am

I originally didn't buy into how bad things were going to be in NYC when people were discussing it in ~June, but I'm a firm believer now. After nearly every restaurant/bar/club goes out of business, what is left exactly? People are going to be seriously hurting, so many people in NYC work in the service industry. I think there are dark times ahead, look at the budget shortfall which will only widen with new lockdowns. If you think things will turn around in a year, really not sure about that.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Dec 12, 2020 - 11:36am

My favorite comments on this thread are by ignorant undergrads/analysts who can't seem to distinguish between a top 30 city and idk, Gary, Indiana.

You've either never lived outside of a major city (beyond college maybe) or have such a deeply held romantic version of the life you lead in NY/LA that you can't seem to grasp reality. You seem to believe that people outside of NYC want to be you and live out the make believe movie script that plays in your head, but I assure you nothing could be further from the truth.

  • Incoming Analyst in IB-M&A
Dec 12, 2020 - 5:52pm

if you can't get with hot girls outside of nyc, you have no game whatsoever. Plenty of talent in the other 98% of the country

Dec 13, 2020 - 4:44pm

Anonymous Monkey

aight boys, let's address the real question. can you meet hot girls outside of new york or nah?

Southern girls hit different. Way more blondes. Snobby city chicks from CT that benchmark me to their hedge fund fathers are my least favorite humans.

Dec 13, 2020 - 11:37pm


Anonymous Monkey

aight boys, let's address the real question. can you meet hot girls outside of new york or nah?

Southern girls hit different. Way more blondes. Snobby city chicks from CT that benchmark me to their hedge fund fathers are my least favorite humans.

As someone from the Southwest, don't be fooled. Southern girls are snobby in a different "bless your heart" kind of way.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Dec 16, 2020 - 2:26am

Lol as someone from the South, I've never gotten the obsession with southern girls on this site. There's good/hot girls everywhere (south, midwest, NE, etc.), and if you can't find the good girls in NYC or wherever you are currently, then you probably won't find them in tx, nashville, clt, etc.

  • VP in S&T - FI
Dec 12, 2020 - 6:18pm

Considering your situation (Married/IB Associate) it really comes down to 3 things.  I'm ignoring COVID, b/c 3-5 years from now it won't really be a factor.    

1. Social-  Since you are married, the whole nightlife/dating scene is not a big deal but their are other social aspects to think about.  Do you have friends in CLT?  You said you grew up in NYC and I would imagine most of your friends are there, are you willing to leave that?  It can be hard to break into social circles down there if you are not from there, so you are going to be spending a lot of time with people from work and other transplant bankers.  Are you ok with that?  Also is your wife going to have to quit her job to move there with you?  Its great that you will most likely be able to afford a very nice life with only one income but if your wife is upset about uprooting her career you are going to be miserable.  

2. Job Liquidity- If you lose or decide to leave your job you are going to have a harder time finding another comparable job.  Right now there are not as many "good" finance jobs in CLT, not saying you won't be able to find another gig but its much harder than if you were in NYC.  Also you are going to be missing out on the networking opportunities that come from a city like NYC where everyone is on top of each other and more connected. 

3. Business Development- I work in S&T so I am not too sure how bankers develop business but in S&T there is a big social aspect of the job.  Being able to easily see clients without having to make a "plan" to do it helps a ton.  Can't tell you how many times in my career I have been discussing a what I am doing this weekend with a client and it turns out they have plans in the same area and we end up meeting up.  That is not going to happen if most of the clients are not located where you are.  If you are going to have to be traveling more that is going to take it toll not just on you but on your family.  Another thing to think about here is that you lose some visibility to senior management here, which becomes more and more important as you move up.              

Dec 12, 2020 - 6:27pm

If you asked me a year ago, I would have never really considered it. With COVID proving that most finance jobs don't require everyone in the office 5 days a week and 52 weeks a year, I think NYC is going to see an acceleration of already existing trends. High earners were leaving the city pre-pandemic, which I would at least partially attribute to the loss of the SALT deduction. Now, the city and state face a deep budget shortfall, declining population, potential permanent loss of jobs (especially high-paying ones), likely a semi-permanent reduction in real estate value (assuming WFH is real and here to stay to some extent), and you have a democratic super-majority in the state legislature that's absolutely going to raise taxes. In my opinion, the outlook for the city is bleak. Will it ever recover? Yeah most likely but it's going to take significantly more competent local leadership (consider me skeptical), probably a significant federal bailout (50 / 50 probably), and a fair bit of luck. 

If you're a high earner with newfound work flexibility, what are you really getting for your ~13% in taxes? The subway is fucked, the schools are shit (save for the magnets), the quality of life is deteriorating, the culture and general, idk, ambience of the city is resilient but it's hard to imagine some of the things that make this city great will survive the winter, if they were even strong enough to survive the last 9 months. 

This post ended up longer, rantier, and less relevant to the topic at hand than anticipated, but short answer is yeah I'd consider moving to a tier 2 city whereas I definitely wouldn't if you asked me a year ago. 

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Dec 13, 2020 - 1:15am

The entire premise of this thread is that he/she would be making the same pay--staying in IB

Dec 13, 2020 - 4:42pm

In my 20s? Nah. If I'm 30 and ready to settle down, 100%. Incredible the real estate a decent salary gets you in a place like Charlotte. You could get a house built on the lake, with a dock and boat for a mortgage payment less than a 2 bedroom in UES rents. My only problem with places like CLT/ATL is that outside of the actual city and immediate surrounding there is absolutely nothing of interest. NY/LA have much more connectivity to other attractions.

Dec 14, 2020 - 4:05pm

Nothing of interest? You have quite a few great weekend trips within driving distance of both of those cities - I would rather take quick trips to Charleston, Savannah, Asheville, 30A, etc. than visit another city in the NE. 

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Dec 13, 2020 - 8:24pm

Surprised that Denver isn't in the discussion here. Maybe because not much in Denver in the way of finance, but plenty of start ups and tech starting to grow there as well. Have heard of many senior high finance professionals retiring there. Recreation being almost exclusively outdoors is undoubtedly a 180 from typical recreation in NY, but isn't that something our generation is trending towards?

  • Intern in HF - Other
Dec 13, 2020 - 8:47pm

Completely agree with you. From LA originally and would love to live in Denver if I could find a solid job in finance. 

Even though it's outside Denver my friends parents have a place in Breckenridge and its probably the most beautiful place I've seen in the US. Would absolutely commute during the Spring-Fall from Keystone/Breckenridge to Denver if I could. 

Dec 13, 2020 - 10:01pm

Partners Group has an office in Broomfield, wherever that is. Office looks really nice. That would be a dream job for sure.

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

Dec 13, 2020 - 9:59pm

Maybe not Charlotte but something like Dallas, Philly, or Denver, guess those would be upper tier 2 though.

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

  • VP in IB - Ind
Dec 14, 2020 - 12:44pm

Having lived in two Tier 1 cities and now living in a Tier 2, here are some thoughts (historically thinking, not trying to anticipate COVID impact):


  • Lower COL/better value
  • Less traffic
  • Easier/cheaper parking
  • Uber/Lyft eliminated transportation issues
  • Nicer people
  • "Feels safer"
  • Typically, though not always, better tax environments
  • Improving food scenes


  • Can be harder to fly direct, particularly internationally or if you aren't a "hub" (less options)
  • Less nightlife relative to Tier 1s
  • Lack of "hustle and bustle" that some, including myself, like
  • Lack of lateral or other opportunities
  • Not always at the forefront of new technology rollouts
  • Less transplants than Tier 1 cities
  • Lack of cultural diversity, particularly when it comes to restaurants
  • Director in S&T - Comm
Dec 14, 2020 - 1:43pm

I moved to Houston from NY about 7-15 years ago - spent my analyst and early associate years in NY.

A lot of these are specific to Houston, but I think there are some analogous things to Charlotte/Nashville type places as well.  In my experience, I would say the following:


1. CoL - I went from paying $1600 for a 2 bed flex 3 in Midtown to $1400 for a top tier 1000+ sq ft single apartment in the same building as some NBA players you've heard of.  Or another one that always comes up: I only started going to bars in NY, so I'm primed to think that beers are at least $10 and cocktails at least $15.  Even though I've been in Texas for a while, it's still amazing to see $4 beers as the norm.  

2. Ease of Travel - Obviously, you need to factor in the cost of having a car vs the $100/month for a metrocard, but having a car for me has been great.  It means that I can control my schedule instead of trying to time the trains for paying a ton to cross state lines.  It also gives me easier access to stuff like Austin and Dallas and the Hill Country if I want to do some outdoors stuff.  Obviously, flying to Europe is a tad harder, but I don't think spending an extra 1-2 hours in an airplane/airport periodically outweighs this. Additionally, this might be Houston-specific but there are a lot of reasonably priced surburban style houses that are in the city center and close to the major commercial areas.  This means my commute is under 20 mins door to door each way, and you avoid a lot of its infamous traffic hell. The last piece on travel is that if I want to, it's very easy to do weekends in other US cities to see friends or explore.  Even if I'm spending $500/weekend on this, its not prohibitive and a good way to see people I probably wouldn't if I was in NY (and they weren't).

3. Food - I think Houston specifically has grown quite a bit in its food scene.  Obviously, you're not getting 3-star quality places here, but you get a lot of great restaurants in the sort of steakhouse-tier pricing (call it $100/person with booze).  It's also trivial to walk into these places on any given night without a reservation and get a seat.  Whenever we have brokers from NY and London, there are certainly some places they adore that would be 3x the price in NY, but can't be priced that high because there aren't enough jobs paying enough to keep that afloat.  There is also a decent amount of fast-casual ethnic food that's good, but not in the same tier of accessibility as NY.  

4. Earning Ratio - The ratio of your earnings vs the 95th percentile is massively higher.  This might sound stupid, but if you're making like 400k/year as a senior associate/VP, you're making roughly 1.5x the 95th percentile household income in Manhattan.  Or put another way, you're maybe a little above the average earnings of your same-age yuppie friends/people you associate with.  In Texas, there aren't that many finance jobs, and you're realistically making like 4x the 95th percentile income, and at least 2x of your non-finance friends.  This sort of factors into CoL, but basically there is almost nothing you can't access or buy other than some sorts of insane houses.  Pretty much everything is available to you.

5. Quality of Life - Maybe this is part of S+T, but the hours are incredible.  I'm usually free most afternoons to enjoy life.  I can get in 9-18 holes in the summer without an issue, or play a few hours of tennis.  Because markets tend to close sooner here, we typically can beat the 4pm+ rush hour as well.  I get in a little earlier than in NY, but even with the same office hours (even though I think NY and LDN work more), I also save on commute, and get to enjoy a bit more of things that don't involved an office or a restaurant.


1. Locational optionality - I'm in energy S+T so a lot of the industry is down here anyways.  In case I needed to stay in the industry and move it would most likely be to NY, London, Singapore, or Geneva.  For IBD I could definitely see an argument for staying in NY for a bit, because the exit opps are better.  The only thing is that if you exit to somewhere else in the tri-state area, you still need to clear a higher comp hurdle to keep the same quality of life.  

2. Dating - This was probably the worst for me.  I moved as a single person, and I'm not really into the casual dating scene.  That said, there is much less long-term quality here.  Basically, anyone with decent earning potential and/or highly motivated is going to be in medical, law, or engineering since finance isn't as big.  You get a lot worse long-term options, and fewer people know what being in IB or S+T means in terms of roughly how much money you're making, how competitive it is...etc.  It's not all bad because sometimes you end up dating people who like you for reasons outside your job and money, but it's a lot harder finding that type of talent and getting your foot in the door.  Also this might be a more southern thing, but a lot more women feel pressured to settle down a lot sooner, so your dating pool options for ages 26-30 are significantly worse than in NY even after adjusting for the population.

3. Friends - There is a certain amount of camaraderie when a lot of your roommates, coworkers, and friends of friends are going through the analyst process.  You all are making similar money doing similar tasks, working similar hours, and have similar sorts of backgrounds.  Uprooting that can be hard, and it takes a lot of time to transition to living somewhere else, especially when the average "successful" person is probably not going to be as anal/motivated/work as hard.  Of the people I know who started as analysts here, there is a lot of FOMO about not having had a real stint in a tier 1 city, so I think there is some of that as well.

For me, I really like my job, and I like making as much money as possible, but I'm also not living paycheck to paycheck.  I usually don't ball out on weekends, but every once in a while I do something nice, or take an impromptu trip, or something like that.  I think for my personality, the Tier 2 city has been a better trade, but you need to weigh it against your personal goals, and what you want to get out of your career and personal life.  I don't have the desire to have a bank account with 20mm+ in it - I'm happy with a smaller walkaway with an easier life leading up to that point.  Some people aren't and that's ok as well.

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Dec 14, 2020 - 2:29pm

Can speak to CLT specifically (although this is a few years dated).  Super cheap city (that at the time was way overbuilt in terms of high-end apartments), decent amount of restaurants/bars, and enough things to do (NFL/NBA teams, tons of breweries, lake/boating scene).

If you're starting a family anytime soon, would recommend.  That being said, I got bored fast.  Super transient city with most young people being finance bros (awful dating scene if you're a single dude).  Culture is pretty bland just given how new the city is, and it's pretty insular if you're not from the area.  Bad homeless issue in the downtown area too.  Vast majority of my buddies got out. 

Also, COVID has hit CLT pretty hard.  Nowhere near NYC but CLT has had to reckon with the massive amount of new restaurants/bars that opened over the past ~10 years as the city has rapidly built itself up.  

  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Equities
Dec 14, 2020 - 2:42pm

Thanks for the post. Where are you located now if you don't mind me asking? Do you think the location makes it hard to get gigs in other cities?

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Dec 14, 2020 - 3:42pm

Moved to NYC.

I can't speak to S&T recruiting but from where I sit, you will have an edge interviewing for roles within your current city/region.  Logistically it's just easier and you're way less of a flight risk (unless you have ties to the area).

  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Equities
Dec 16, 2020 - 2:29am

I work in IBD now as an assoc...wondering if it would be hard to return. Feel like I have a pretty solid network at this point. 

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