Is someone making $80,000 for doing 60 hours a week of highly-skilled, highly-profit-bearing work "overpaid". In my opinion, that's underpaid.
If anything, we've seen recent evidence that SV salaries are "deflated" compared to other industries and areas of the country, due to collusion, frequent targeted hiring of very young, often naive grad, inflated time at work, etc.
I don't work in SV, for the reasons I outlined above, so this isn't some kind of self-justification.
Edit: To be clear, I don't disapprove of people working there, I know it's beautiful and a nice place to live. I'm actually defending SV engineers from accusations of "inflated" salaries. It's just not a good place to go to get rich as an engineer with a family.
When I put everything on a spreadsheet, the lower housing costs in other parts of the country didn't sufficiently make up for the drastically lower salaries. YMMV, but I encourage everyone to very carefully do the math before making these kinds of decisions.
(I do think that SF may be a special case, since it's SO expensive, but even then it's worth doing the math.)
That said, adding in those factors often makes Silicon Valley come out even worse. I've visited it quite a bit and it is not nicer enough to account for cost-of-living difference, unless you simply can not stand to live somewhere with less than perfect weather. But I think that's special to the Valley.
It's interesting that you bring this up. In the case of food, at least, lower COL areas (which are typically more rural) have access to something far better than any store - farmer's markets and actual farms.
There's a "cheap basics" grocery store in a 5 minute walk, a farmer's market in a 10 minute walk, and a Whole Foods in a 15 minute drive.
I don't really care about organic produce, but that flash pasteurized OJ at Whole Foods is really worth the extra $2.
It's a nice area for certain, but it makes me wonder about myself when I'm wearing a parka and everybody else is walking around with a scarf or light jacket.
Parking is a big difference though. You can rent an apartment in the Midwest for what it takes to park a car in some major cities. Not to mention higher gas and insurance.
I live in Cincinnati with one of the most top 10 most expensive airports in the country (CVG). I also spend a lot of time traveling and searching for flights.
One strategy I've used to avoid this is booking Kayak-style "hacker fare" for a domestic ticket to a hub like LAX/ATL/etc. with an international flight out from the hub, then a return ticket from destination to home (with connections of course).
It doesn't sound like it'd be that significant, but it made a recent trip to New Zealand & Australia about 40% cheaper, though it does take some extra effort.
Maybe I'm just not writing my queries just right but it's my major pain point with Wolfram Alpha.
I find that very hard to believe. If you make $12,000 a month in SF and spend $3,000 a month on rent (which is pretty generous for one person), you still have more leftover money per month than your entire paycheck at an $80,000 annual salary.
That is kind of true, but it's also not realistic to just compare identical housing arrangements in very different regions. It makes more sense to compare not just median costs of two regions, but also median housing size/type. But of course, if spacious housing is very important to someone, that's perfectly fine, and it's a perfectly good reason to live somewhere else.
It's expensive to live here. That doesn't mean I don't like it though :)
Glad to be proven wrong here. I'd go back and entertain offers I've had if I knew I was wrong.
The median sales price of a Santa Clara County 3 bedroom house is $820,000. This is $3,877/mo, plus $850/mo property taxes, for a housing cost of $4,727/mo
That $140,000/yr is taxed at $48,922 in the state of California, leaving $91,078, or $7,589/ mo income.
CA Income ($7,589) - CA Housing Costs ($4,727) = $2,682 leftover.
The median sales price of a Cobb County 3 bedroom house is $173,000. This is $818/mo, plus $140/mo property taxes, for a housing cost of $958/mo
That $80,000/yr is taxed at $23,600 in the state of Georgia, leaving $56,400, or $4,700/ mo income.
GA Income ($4,700) - GA Housing Costs ($958) = $3,742 leftover.
I'm not saying my numbers are valid for every person's situation, only that this is an example of a situation where the numbers work in Atlanta's favor.
L4 is ~215k. L5 (Senior) is ~265k.
Factor in free breakfast/lunch/dinner, free gym, free laundry, generous 401k matching, other perks and discounts, and the gap widens even more.
Throwing those out as typical is disingenuous.
Of course, this is just "a couple minutes of google research"--I am not a subject matter expert, as someone on HN kindly pointed out last time I posted these here. Also, they are based on self-reported surveys and don't include sellable equity, so take it with a grain of salt. I don't know where better data would be published. I'm intuitively not too surprised by these figures--I think the HN demographic is probably pretty skewed towards the higher end, judging by all those threads where people toss around $150K and $200K salaries as "normal".
On net you get an extra ~2,600/month after taxes.
Conversely, they're also being propped up by the massive amount of VC money at play there, which is driving an arms race for programming talent not seen elsewhere around the country. I'm not saying you're wrong about your point about collusion, but there are multiple factors at play there.
You're ignoring equity here, which after a couple years will be more than your base salary anyway.
With a total comp of $300k+, a lot SV workers don't mind paying $30k/year more in rent to live in the Bay Area. As many others have noted, it really is beautiful here...
What other place is like this? I mean a lively, diverse city where everyone is from everywhere, mountains nearby, and 3000 hours of sunshine a year?
Boy that's diverse.
The area basically vacuums everyone who fits the exact same mold from anywhere in the world – that does not make the area more diverse.
By the way, many here assuming I'm in Atlanta. I am not (and don't wish to be, because of the crazy traffic).
SF is too expensive though. I like Seattle just fine.