Any editor at MONEY will give you the same advice: Start saving for retirement the moment you start your first job. But they’ll likely also sympathize with how hard that can be—in the Big Apple, for example, stashing away extra cash each month is no small feat on a starting salary.
As a new study from Bankrate.com makes clear, some cities are better than others if you’re looking to build a nest egg. And no surprises here: The further you get from the $30 dinners and $40 Soul Cycle sessions of cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the better you’ll do.
Taking into account the average savable income (after taxes and housing expenses), level of debt, quality of the labor and housing markets, and accessibility of efficient financial services of the 18 largest metro areas in the U.S., Bankrate.com’s ranking put Houston at number one for building wealth. Debt is low, savable income is high, and the job market is buoyant.
Washington, D.C., ranked second, despite a high level of consumer debt. The capital’s average after-tax income is the highest of any metro area on the list, and its job market the most promising.
The Rust Belt also made a decent showing, with Cleveland and Detroit sliding in third and fourth.
As for last on the list? San Diego, Phoenix, and Los Angeles were in the bottom three, and San Francisco, even given the stratospheric salaries of the tech boom, came in at #13.
Before you jump ship for Houston or Cleveland, it’s worth remembering that these rankings rely on averages across huge swaths of people—from a city’s billionaires to folks struggling to stay afloat. Washington, D.C., and New York City have some of the largest income inequality in the country, for example. Job prospects, of course, are far from uniform across different industries. And there are other factors to weigh as well if you’re a millennial, rich and single, or if it’s not all about wealth-building, for example.
Here’s a look at the full list:
2. Washington, D.C.
5. New York City
6. Dallas-Fort Worth
9. Minneapolis-St. Paul
13. San Francisco
16. Los Angeles
18. San Diego
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