Work in Finance? Here’s Where You Should Rent.

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ABODO’s Cost and Opportunity series has so far helped you weigh the best cities for jobs in tech, health care, education, and several other fields. This month, we turn our eye to the heart of the economy: jobs in business and finance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ business and finance category includes accountants, financial analysts, loan officers, fundraisers, and many other jobs.

In terms of sheer job concentration, two metro areas lead the pack by a wide margin. In the nation’s center of government (not to mention the home of the U.S. Treasury), Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, 102.7 out of every 1,000 jobs is in business and finance. In one of the nation’s centers of commerce — particularly e-commerce — San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA, that number is 97.1. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA (80.9 jobs per thousand); Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA (79.6); and Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO (79.5) round out the top five.

Interestingly enough, despite being the home of Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ, comes in at #14, with 67.2 jobs per thousand in business and finance.

As for salary? Silicon Valley takes the cake — and three of the top five spots. Workers in the business and finance category in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA, make a median salary of $90,370 per year, while workers in San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco come in at $87,480. Workers in the DC metro aren’t far behind, at $87,300. Then comes New York-Jersey City-White Plains ($81,720) and Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA ($80,280).

Access to job opportunities and high salaries are important factors to consider when you’re relocating for a career. But what about your rent? No matter where you move, you also need to balance your potential earnings with your potential housing costs. To make this easier, we’ve created our own formula to score 76 MSAs nationwide on a weighted balance of median one-bedroom rent, median legal salary, and job density. Job density accounts for 75% of the score, while income-to-rent ratio accounts for 25%. The highest score possible is a 20.

business and finance graph

Taking salary, concentration, and rent costs into account, Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, with a score of 7.8, remains in the top spot, its high median rent ($2,261) balanced out by an abundance of jobs and high salaries. At $3,269, the median rent is even higher in San Francisco-South San Francisco-Redwood City, but so is the median salary — that’s why the Golden City ranks #2, with a score of 6.9. High job concentrations and (relatively) more affordable rents allow Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade (6.03), Seattle-Bellevue-Everett (5.8), and Denver-Aurora-Lakewood (5.5) to fill out the top five.

All of the top five cities have scores over 5. The bottom three, on the other hand, don’t break 1.5. In Corpus Christi, TX, and Riverside-San Bernardino, CA, low job concentration numbers (34.3 and 34.1 jobs per thousand, respectively) and mediocre salaries (the median in both cities is just over $60,000) outweigh the promise of low rent. At the very bottom, New Orleans-Metairie, LA, has one of the lowest income-rent ratios on the entire list: 1.4.

For press inquiries, contact Sam Radbil.


We used 2015 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on employment per 1,000 jobs and median annual wages for all business and finance occupations by metropolitan statistical area and paired it with ABODO data on median one-bedroom rent prices. To calculate the income-to-rent ratio for each MSA, we divided the median annual wages by 12 to get a median monthly wage, then divided the result by the current median 1-bedroom rent price for the area. We then scaled both the employment per 1,000 jobs and the income-to-rent ratio to give each a relative value between 0 and 10. The final score is a weighted sum of the scaled values, with employment per 1,000 jobs carrying a 75% weight and income-to-rent ratio 25%.