The Wall Street of the West
Pop quiz: Where does New York banking giant Goldman Sachs have its second-largest U.S. office? Not in Los Angeles, Chicago, or Miami, but here at 4,300 feet above sea level in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains. And it's not just Goldman, which employs 2,200 people here: Large divisions of Wells Fargo, Fidelity, and RBS Securities have also set up shop in Salt Lake City, making it one of the country's least likely financial centers, a surprisingly sophisticated yet affordable alternative for those who are as ambitious in the boardroom as they are on the slopes. Technology is also booming, which has led some to refer to the area as Silicon Slopes. "There are misperceptions about Utah, but we bring people here and they get over them really fast," says Jeff Weber, who handles HR for Instructure, a digital-education company. Case in point: Last November, an out-of-the-closet lesbian, Jackie Biskupski, was elected mayor. There are concert venues, bars, a ballet, a symphony, and the Utah Jazz. "I don't think you could ask for a more rewarding work-life balance," says Matt Belkin, a tech exec and recent transplant. "When I worked in Silicon Valley, it was go, go, go, grind, grind, grind," he says. "There was no balance. I worked 120-hour weeks. And here, it's just the opposite."
My Town: Danny Mitchell, 36, controller at Goldman Sachs
"I've worked at Goldman Sachs for 10 years, the first six in New York. I'm a huge outdoor enthusiast, so every weekend we were leaving Brooklyn to go skiing or hiking or camping, battling traffic to get out of the city. We would drive to Vermont, spending seven hours in a car on Friday night for mediocre skiing.
"About four years ago, I transferred to Salt Lake City to help build the finance team. Now we have season passes to four different mountains, which we can get to in as little as 35 minutes. We live in a five-bedroom house that we bought for about $600,000. A similar place in Brooklyn would be $3 million. Our neighborhood, Sugar House, actually feels a little like Brooklyn. It's one of the more diverse neighborhoods, and you can walk to restaurants and bars and shops.
"I still work hard — because of the time difference, I get in to the office at 6 a.m. But l can leave at 5, which I couldn't do in New York. And in the summer, it doesn't get dark until almost 10. You have five hours after work to do outdoor activities. I can play 18 holes or I can mountain bike for a couple of hours after work. And I haven't had to sacrifice professionally to do it."
By the numbers:
- Population: 186,740
- Median Home Price: $263,100
- Unemployment Rate: 2.8%
- Cost of Living (relative to U.S. Median): +15%
- Median Income: $44,510
- # of State or National Parks Within a 4-Hour Drive: 36