The median one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is something like $3,500 a month now. To keep that at 30% of gross income (which is still pretty bad), you need to be earning $140k a year. And yet, these graphs suggest that only "senior" engineers make $140k. And they top out soon after that (the "lead" roles are only making ~$160k).
If a company is asking you to move to the bay area, demand a salary that will allow you to live here without having to take roommates or go into debt. If not, make sure you're making a calculated gamble, and be sure you're getting some other concrete value for the financial sacrifices you're making -- career experience and reputation, for example.
If you're starting a startup in San Francisco...well, don't do it. Unless your customer base is here, you should go somewhere cheaper.
A friend pointed out that the high costs reflect the opportunity and that it was all worthwhile. And he was absolutely right.
It's true that the long work hours and high costs in the Bay Area can mean delaying a family and other such things. And that's a tradeoff that should be made carefully, whichever direction you choose. It's important to acknowledge that both choices are perfectly legitimate and a matter of personal preference.
Whenever a recruiter calls and I (accidentally) answer and they proposition me with a job in SF I tell them I would need to be paid twice as much as I'm earning now (in Seattle) to consider it. And I'm compensated well. It's true, and as a side benefit it usually ends the conversation quickly.
Thus there are rows and rows of 3-4 story buildings instead of high rises full of apartments.
No, when tech people talk about "building up", they're almost universally talking about replacing tenement buildings in the Mission with high rises. This has the unique property of displacing extremely poor people, and allowing tech people to live in luxury buildings in a small neighborhood that has recently become trendy, but was historically desirable only to poor people.
The problem isn't permitting or NIMBYs...it's that a relatively entitled population of recent arrivals have lost their fucking minds, and expect to be able to cram into the same 20 blocks of SF and not have to pay for the privilege. When they don't get what they want, they blame the laws for not allowing them to get what they want.
The "real" solution is for the city to "incentivize" tech companies to locate elsewhere, but given that our local politicians have fallen in love with this bubble, I don't see that happening.
If you work at established companies, or late stage startups, the total equity package is going to be higher.
That is, I'm pretty sure that if you work for Uber, Twitter, FB, Netflix, etc, you will be making well north of 200k+ a year if you are senior+.
Google senior eng total comp is $252k annually: http://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Google-Senior-Software-Engin...
Google Staff engineer is $350k annually with base salary over $200k: http://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Google-Staff-Software-Engine...
Editing my curt response:
The original poster asserted that he/she was "pretty sure" that if you work for [established companies], you "will" be making well north of 200k+, as if it was a certainty or at least a high probability. I don't deny that some outlier companies have some outlier employees that make that much, I'm just questioning the claim that it's usual to make that in these companies.
Also, from what I know of (fairly experienced) friends and acquaintances working at larger companies in the bay area, the financial trade-off is still pretty sketchy. A salary of $250k a year will support you well in a decent single-guy lifestyle, but it won't go much further than that.
$250k / year will only support a "decent single-guy lifestyle"? That's just insane anywhere in the world (except maybe if your last name happens to be Al Saud).
For comparison, that is significantly above the average salary of a European prime minister. German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes slightly more than $250k / year.
That's a big deal. Stop looking at the top-line number and exaggerating the lifestyle in your head. The costs here are insane. Someone earning $250k here is probably doing about as well, financially, as an engineer earning market-rate in any other part of the country.
But hey, if your baseline for "fantastic" is the family in NYC that can barely afford housing, then have at it.
The top-end engineer salary of $160k doesn't go very far here, right now. I'm sure that the distance it goes feels like a lot when you're 23 and one foot out of the dorm room, but when you get older and start wanting to have an adult life (children, saving for retirement, maybe buying a place), it isn't even remotely enough.
$250k, in San Francisco, will rent you a market-rate, one-bedroom apartment ($4k, until they raise the rent next year), and let you live a pretty good lifestyle as a single person: you'll have something like $10k per month after taxes. If you're frugal, and don't go out much, you can get by on maybe $2k a month in expenses. That leaves $8k to save, invest, spend on children, etc.
We aren't talking about big, glamorous lifestyles here.
If your baseline for living includes owning two luxury cars that you store in a private garage, a brand new luxury apartment, shopping exclusively at Whole Foods, having maids clean your house and take care of your children, and sending your kids to elite private schools, then yeah 250k a year is basically poverty. Life as an engineer sure is hard.
Eating out at a restaurant that isn't a taqueria or in-n-out is about $20-$30 a person at the low end. A drink at a bar will set you back at least $6, and probably more like $12-$15. Getting your one-bedroom apartment cleaned once a month will cost you about $100-$150.
I don't have children, but not-rich friends who do have told me that unless you live in a "good" neighborhood and/or your kid can be bussed long distances, you really have to consider paying for private schools, and that's something like 20k a year, per child.
So one-bedroom, one car of parking (not counting maintenance or the cost of the car), eating out at a modest place once a week: $3500 + $200 + $320 + $120 = $4140/mo. That's frugal. Want a kid? Dramatically more.
While $250K is certainly a comfortable level for a single person, it is not as outrageous as it may seem to people outside of the really high-cost areas in the US.
To have a salary of $250k means that you are well off, in fact I seem to recall that being the cut-off for the 1% range.
Also, how does wanting to be paid well imply that he's out of touch with "humanity"? Are you comparing the engineering salary dilemma to those who lack food and shelter? That's a pretty silly comparison.
Sorry, when you said humanity, it read as being out of touch with all the trials and tribulations of man kind. My mistake if that's not what you meant.
NYC also has a functional transit infrastructure. My cousin makes around $250k, commutes a little less than an hour by train, and owns a home that is essentially a mini-estate.
SFO is a gold rush town, but the model isn't sustainable. A shit-ton of semiconductor research has moved to save $$$ to Albany, NY of all places.
$250k is easily enough for a family of 4 to live a reasonably affluent lifestyle.
Even paying 4k for a decent home still gives you 8k a month for other things. Thats fantastic.
Also, if you're a decent programmer in NYC, you'll make 20% more than your counterpart in SF. The downside is that NYC finance jobs don't involve equity packages. The upside is that there are bonuses (wildly variable) and there's much more of a career track. Finance companies care more about their peoples' careers than Bay Area tech companies, and that's a big part of why the techies end up answering to finance in the end.
Big companies don't want to tilt the market against them, either.
B) Anecdotally, many people do take roommate, especially junior engineers (early- to mid-twenties) at least to start with. The reality of living in an expensive city is that you will have to make certain accommodations to your lifestyle if you also want to enjoy the benefits of city living.
Living in the city isn't for everyone, but I think most people are aware that the tradeoff on commute is that you get a shorter one if you take a smaller house.
If you work for a tech company in SF and want to save money, live in the suburbs: that compromise has always existed. Or if living in SF isn't your thing, go live in Minnesota and take a $90k job, but spend $1,000 on rent. Nobody's saying living in SF is unilaterally better here, but I really don't understand why it's considered inadequate for a company not to peg its compensation to the price of a 1BR rental, regardless of market conditions!
Are there dev jobs paying, say, $150k in Chicago? If so, I don't see much advertising/discussion for them...
I'm not going to give my personal numbers, but that number is in line with senior compensation when I moved from VA in 2008. My gf recruited for SharePoint developers for the DC area - asking ran from 140K to north of 200K. This was a few years ago; I don't know the current market; I strive to stay far, far away from anything enterprise based.
Yes, there are. Not as many of them, but they exist.
My experience is that base salaries in Chicago are comparable to the Bay Area. It's probably harder to get a $75k+ per year RSU package, because the people who are at that level are more likely to be older and to work in finance for cash rather than RSUs of an illiquid company.
If you're in Chicago and look for good programming jobs, you should reach out to me (claes.bergryn at gmail) because I have some ideas.
Obviously, this ignore taxes but the increased salary can more than make up for extremely high rents.
And commuting is expensive. I have a 10 minute bike ride right now, there's no way I could afford to live close enough to SV to bike to work. It's almost enough to erase the rest of the cost difference. http://www.niallkennedy.com/blog/2006/03/silicon-valley-comm...
$100K/year - 35% - $1K/month = $53K/year
$100K/year - 35% - $2.4K/month = $36.2K/year
$130K/year - 35% - $2.4K/month = $55.7K/year
The guy living in the $1k apartment land has a better financial life. (Also, good luck finding a place for $2,400 in SF right now that matches what you can get for $1k in most other parts of the country.)
In fact, pretty much everything you'll spend money on as a normal adult is more expensive here. I actually can't think of anything that wouldn't be more expensive, unless it's something that's already an obscene luxury good, like a Ferrari.
Your only argument here seems to be that you can make a calculated bet to pay off student loans, because 78% of $130k ($101k) is larger than 88% of 100k ($88k). Maybe, but good luck with that: I think you'll find that the cost of living easily consumes the difference.
$2000 student loan payment + $1000 rent, at $70,000 salary would be tough.
$2000 student loan payment + $2500 rent, at $140,000 salary is do-able.
I agree about the smaller "cost of living" items though.
You can do a little better in the east bay, but rents for anything convenient to BART are going up faster than rents in SF. Basically, the bay area is an efficient market for housing, modulo the cost of commuting to the major job centers.
Yes, it's not in the city. Noted. But, you know, life is full of trade-offs.
Using Oakland as an example (2 hours of commute daily * 20 days), that's ~$2000 less in monthly rent compared to a comparable place in MountainView. Which is about right...
[Assuming you moved into areas that weren't themselves local hotbeds such as SF, PaloAlto, or Atherton.]
Add in the cost of a car (which you need if you're living over there) and a daily BART commute, and you've easily added on $500-$1000 a month in transportation expenses. Again, housing around here is an efficient market, modulo the cost of commuting.
Plenty of people -- most people? -- in SF have a car too, and no, you don't actually need $500/month for a car. And hey, it's eminently possible to live in Oakland without a car if you really feel that's a priority.
I agree with you: the market is efficient. It's efficient and filled with people who put a big premium on being near the hip areas of SF. If you have less money than those people, you can get more monetarily efficient by being willing to be farther from the hip areas of SF. If you have identical preferences to a bunch of other people making $100,000-$150,000 in an area averse to adding housing density, then... well, you're going to be bidding a lot for a limited supply of housing.
My point is that if a company wants you to work in SF, you should be demanding a salary commensurate with the costs of that lifestyle. Making an excuse for the company not to pay you is silly. Making a daily BART commute and living in Oakland is fine, if that's what you want to do, but you shouldn't be doing it because a tech startup won't pay you enough to afford housing near where you work.
It would help if more than ~20 blocks of San Francisco were conveniently accessible by subway. BART, MUNI, and Caltrain are woefully inadequate.
This is not comparable.
SF is unique among other "tech-heavy" environments around the US in that we reward employees with significant pre-liquidity equity here, and the chances are significantly above zero that those shares are worth something in many cases. When you factor that in, compensation comes out to ~$300-500k/yr.
In other areas of the US, even where you have a density of tech startups, the culture is entirely different -- compensation is attractive to a more conservative profile. Likewise, the companies that inhabit those economies are not targeting the same kind of aggressive growth that companies in SF+SV.
So to say that there is a choice between working in SF and, say, the research triangle, disregards crucial differences.
I don't see why the percentage is what matters. I'd rather pay 50% of $140 than 10% of $70. Of course, taxes change the numbers, but that still doesn't make "percentage of income" be what matters...
The money is in SF, though. And the money has shown no interest in moving.
Anyway, here's a startup protip: make a business that is growing revenue like crazy, and investors will give you money no matter where your offices are. Move to SF without a business that is growing revenue like crazy, and they probably won't give you money.
...but you'll be able to take a zipcar to Sand Hill Road for the rejection. That's worth something, right?
...so your protip basically amounts to "make money to make money"?
Thanks, underpants gnomes.
"Anyway, here's a startup protip: make a business that is growing revenue like crazy"
Really? That's all? And I'm sure that to make my product better, all I have to do is write code with less bugs!
The unnecessary theme makes the chart extremely difficult to read regardless, especially when you try to use lines of differing directions to differentiate categories for a stacked column chart. Also, unlabeled charts because minimalism.
And then unlabeled pie charts using lines of differing directions to differentiate category.
This infographic is the definition of chart junk.
Blueprint also, makes for a nice theme in old fashioned text editors.
Maybe the title should read "2015 Bay Area Software Engineering Salaries Reviewed."
While the last infographic implies the Bay Area it's not documented as a certainty.
The companies have even been proven to collude to suppress wages. Software engineers are in desperate need of unions