PhotoA lot of considerations go into choosing a locale in which to live. There's employment opportunities, of course, along with climate and amenities.

But for those serious about building wealth, some cities are more helpful than others. In some cities, the high cost of living makes it hard to get ahead. Conversely, other cities offer a higher standard of living with a lower price tag.

Researchers at Bankrate.com recently crunched the numbers to determine the best place to live if you want to build your net worth. After looking at all the factors, they determined that the Houston metro is the best for your bank account.

The factors

To reach that conclusion, the researchers considered how strong of an environment each metro area provides for making and saving money. The formula includes after-tax, savable income; the job market; residents' debt; human capital; access to financial services; and the local housing market.

The top 10 metros are below:

  1. Houston
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. Cleveland

  4. Detroit

  5. New York City

  6. Dallas-Fort Worth

  7. Baltimore

  8. Miami

  9. Minneapolis-St. Paul

  10. Chicago

Admittedly, there are a few surprises on the list. Baltimore is not exactly known for creating millionaires and Detroit just recently emerged from bankruptcy.

“Many of the cities that ranked high in the study may not be synonymous with wealth in the public mind, but they do a better overall job of creating an environment for typical households to get ahead financially,” said Bankrate.com banking analyst, Claes Bell. “For instance, living in a killer job market is great, but if you're spending half your income on rent, it's going to be hard to save and invest. You have to look at the whole picture.”

At the bottom

At the bottom of the list is San Diego, which many people consider a fabulous place to live. And it is, says Bell, if you've already accumulated a nice nest egg.

But it comes in last using the Bankrate formula because of its residents’ low savable income after taxes, relatively high unemployment, and the average debt burden. Other seemingly desirable locals join San Diego in the bottom tier, including San Francisco, Boston, and Seattle.

“Just because a city ranks at the bottom doesn’t mean it’s a bad place to live, or that you can't make a good living there,” said Bell. “The best city for a particular person to build wealth is going to depend a lot on their walk of life, occupation, education and a whole host of other factors.”


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