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Ask HN: Why are London devs paid so much less than SF/NY?
60 points by LondonEng on Mar 19, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 87 comments
London is supposed to be the next best market outside the US, yet from recent salary threads, developers are paid half or less of US salaries.

For example, with 5 years experience, I am on £75k ($110k) in a startup as a Senior Dev, and that is considered pretty good. I could get maybe another 10-20% if I had 10 years experience or was really exceptional. A Team Lead with 7-10 years experience can expect around £100k ($150k).

But my salary is only comparable to a fresh graduate at Google in SF. A Google dev with 1 year experience in SF will earn as much as a Team Lead in London with 10 years experience!

It's mirrored in how tech firms are valued.

In the valley, you can have a so-so idea, land a huge investment, sell the product to other businesses for crazy money, and pay staff high wages.

In the UK, technology is this weird nerdy flash in the pan that "serious businesspeople" want nothing to do with, and investment and customers who value tech are in similarly short supply.

I write this as the employer of 50 people who'd love to pay everyone more but can't because our end customers undervalue our product, and investors are non-existent.

We saw this first hand when one of our clients sold our "worthless technology" for over $100m - yet in the UK £10k was the best valuation we could find at the time.

I sit in meetings with prospective customers who honest to God think that this system they'll be using to drive their entire £50m business through should be free because "it's just software". Simultaneously they'll happily pay a lawyer £200k to argue about the contract they're going to spend £20k with you through, because lawyers are real actual people, and we nerds are just soulless computer child-people. SEO agencies need paying well too because they have a marketing background, and marketing is also real.

Tech is seen as a utility like water over here. The people who provide it are viewed like sewer technicians.

So - it's not that employers are stingier, it's rather more that there's a lot less money in the ecosystem.

Finally, you're comparing to Google, who are a company who think nothing of putting a liberal arts grad with no experience on $600k to lead the spin fight against taxation in the UK - they pay crazy money, particularly to well connected people.

Oh, and fwiw, I'm cto/co-founder and I earn considerably less than you, so count your blessings.

I might have a small chip on my shoulder regarding this.

Absolutely this, wrote a scheduling system a while back for an engineering firm, after three years they came back and said it was slow (in that time they'd filed two bugs, quadrupled in size).

I quoted them a 900 quid (solution is about 10 hours work, 10 hours testing).

"Why should we pay, we paid already?".

Lovely people, haven't got a clue.

As it stands they have 6 staff members using a scheduling system all day that has a couple of screens that take 10 seconds to load, one of which is the primary dash... For the sake of 900 quid.

Hold on... you built a system for a customer that takes 10 seconds to load for 6 users, and want to charge them more for fixing it? I can see their point.

Not wanting to pay £900 for something which is critical to the operation of your business is bloody daft in my mind. You'd pay this because the roof leaked - you wouldn't go after the tile maker while sitting under a dripping ceiling for ever more.

Love this place sometimes, they build a set of assumptions and then attack them :).

Yeah, but at that point you might want to pay someone else...

System beat every spec they set, they asked for it to manage a max of 40 unscheduled jobs, I designed it to handle 250, last time I looked it was sat at 5600 odd, given the nature of the system the interactions are vast.

I never claimed that they had to be rational, just pointed out that if the software didn't function as expected the customer might have lost confidence in you and felt that they'd be better served by putting their money elsewhere.

Way to give an opinion on a set of constraints you know nothing about.

I wrote a system for the constraints they supplied and it turned out what they asked for wasn't what they ended up doing, instead of 30-40 jobs unscheduled at any one time they have 4 to 6 thousand. Given that the original system was designed for 40 and I assumed a worst case of 250 they blew through that limit, also since you know nothing about the system I find your comment hilarious, there is a lot of difference between 6 users posting a tweet and 6 users using a system them polls out to dozens of services and has to do a large amount of processing for each task.

Well, your original comment was essentially "I built something for a small number of users which takes 10 seconds to load, the customer isn't happy and expects me to fix it for free".

It's another thing entirely from "I built something which worked perfectly for the given spec, they are using it outside that spec, and want me to make the necessary changes for free".

> after three years they came back and said it was slow

They paid and used it for 3 years, I think at that point it would be safe to assume that the system was in spec (well unless I'm Oracle, which I'm not).

Totally agree. I was chatting over drinks with a finance director at a firm I was working with and he couldn't understand 'why the IT cost so much', implying that he couldn't see any value in it. Similarly the sales guys at the firm were selling a solution to a large FTSE 100 company and they couldn't work out how to price it. They sold it for a fifth of what the customer later said they would have paid. If they are admitting to being willing to pay 5 times more, imagine how much they would have paid had the sales guys known the true value of the software. No wonder the finance director thought IT cost too much.

I've often tried to explain the utility vs strategically important nature of IT - it scares the shit out of some business people as they've been happily blundering along thinking IT is just a cost centre and serially underinvesting and seriously damaging their company's bottom line. </rant>

This raises the question: why don't more reasonable VCs move to London? If valuations really are that low, there's incredible money to be made.

The valuations are low because tech spending in the UK is comparatively low, so only if you can pivot a UK firm into the US market would you find yourself a bargain.

But based on what madaxe_again says, such VCs would not make their money back on sales, at least in the U.K. market.

Social security and taxes is one factor. Overall salary structure is another. In Scandinavia where salaries are even more flat, I as a developer will likely not make more than 3 times a cleaner or 2 times what a teacher makes, almost regardless of supply and demand. The overall structure of salaries, the taxes in high income etc will dictate the ceiling. Not just the supply and demand. High taxes (50-60 margin) also means cash comp becomes less attractive after a certain point. At $80k with 55% margin tax rate I'll happily take a sixth week of holiday over another raise.

Job security is another thing. I'd want better pay if I could be fired on the spot. UK is more flexible than Scandinavia (which in the case of Sweden is basically last-in-first-out even for high tech workers, with exceptions allowed after expensive negotiations, think a years salary in severance for ditching the underperformer with longer tenure). This is not the case in the UK, and obviously not at all the situation in the US.

Same thing with holidays: If I had to take an unpaid leave holiday to get a month of continuous holiday, then that's a cost I'd want reflected in my salary.

So to do my Scandinavian math which might partly apply to London (living expenses, supply/demand differs): I make $80k. If I had to pay anything of that for healthcare or daycare for kids, I'd want that money on top. If I didn't have 5-6w paid holiday I'd want that money on top. If I didn't have practically unlimited sick days and paid leave to care for sick kids, I'd want that money on top. It doesn't matter that none of that is paid by the employer, it still affects my salary requirement. If my total effective income tax rate was 20% instead of 35%, I'd need less. And so on.

You can earn north of $200,000 or even $300,000 a year in the London contract market.

Given that you apparently don't get resonable time off when earning the big bucks on SV, my Ltd would gross around $300,000 p/a if I billed for all 253 business days and I only work 9-5.

Basically, if you're actually good, become a contractor and move into a niche paying the higher rates.

Edit: Plus it's not really just about headline rates, it's what you're left with at the end. Let me break that down for you.

£700 p/d x 253 x 1.2 (vat) = £212520

- subtract 14.5% flat vat rate = 181704.6

- subtract 8k tax free income = 173704.6

- subtract 20% copr tax = 138963.68

- subtract 32k tax free divs = 106963.68

- subtract 6k expenses (laptop, travel, phone etc) = 10000.00

You now have paid yourself £40,000 to live on (and don't have to pay for travel yourself) and you have £100,000 ($144710) saved in your company to invest, etc. I'd be suprised to see a single male in SF living that lifestyle, but it's not uncommon in London.

How do you get the money out of your limited company without paying the higher rate? The only option is dissolving the company and claiming entrepreneurs relief, but then you are back to FTE or umbrella (or phoenix). Also my understanding of investing company profits was that you are taxed twice on profits, and it could change your company status if you want to claim ER in future.

> How do you get the money out of your limited company without paying the higher rate?

You don't, that's your retirement/rainy day fund.

> The only option is dissolving the company and claiming entrepreneurs relief, but then you are back to FTE or umbrella (or phoenix).

You'd only really do this if you don't intend on contracting anymore. Hopefully by that time it's enough to not work anymore. Alternativly, just keep paying yourself a small salary and dividens.

> Also my understanding of investing company profits was that you are taxed twice on profits, and it could change your company status if you want to claim ER in future.

You won't get taxed twice but if you investing starts bringing in a lot more than contracting then you company could be reclassified. That said, you can also roll up an investment entity and pay that tax there. You'd be paying 28% on profits but you'd have more money in the pot making money.

Obviously you can also pay yourself more and pay the high rates of tax, or you can put it into a pension, a SIPP is arguably the best long term option.

I'd be suprised to see a single male in SF living that lifestyle, but it's not uncommon in London.

£700k/day is not uncommon? For experienced specialists in the right niches, it's certainly possible, but "average developers" aren't going to command that kind of rate even in London.

Just wanted to chime in that 700/day is not typical, esp for a 6 month+ contract. Typically you'll see 500-600 for Java/Ruby/Python, and that's for experienced people (5+ years). Finance gigs can pay 550-650 usually over the long term. Boutique / specialised consultancies can charge 700-1000+ a day but it's usually short contracts and they take a big cut off of the contractors rate. I know of "architect" roles that have paid into the 800s but it is atypical. Certainly not as common as new grads making over 200k USD in SV bigcos.

Not eveyone will earn at the higher end of the market in SV either but £600 to £700 a day isn't terribly difficult to achieve in London.

Basically we're talking about being a semi good and modern Java, Node or Python developer. Alternativly a system administrator who's not afraid of automation.

You'll probably need to work in Government or Finance, but like I said, it's not uncommon.

You'll probably need to work in Government or Finance

That's the kicker, and what I meant by "the right niches" before.

I know plenty of people doing contract software work in and around London who aren't getting close to that, and surely would be if the general market was that high. These are pretty well qualified (often PhD) and experienced (10+ years) people who know what they're doing and have decent track records, they just don't enjoy working in intense environments like trading.

I'm curious about where you think the Government gigs at that rate are found, if all they need is being semi-good with one of the popular languages. I can think of quite a few people who'd be interested in that kind of opportunity, but if any of my close network are doing it right now then they've not mentioned it.

That'd be the kicker if it was extremely difficult to get into either Government or Finance but it's not.

Either way, places that'll pay this in Government are The Home Office, DWP, DVLA, MOJ & GDS. Pretty much every arm of central Government pays decent rates.

But rather than me just talk crap, why don't you just look:-

https://www.jobserve.com/gb/en/JobSearch.aspx?shid=E3A30197F... https://www.jobserve.com/gb/en/JobSearch.aspx?shid=E3A30197F... https://www.jobserve.com/gb/en/JobSearch.aspx?shid=6E57F8DA8...

Sorry, I'm not sure what you meant to link to there, but I suspect what you actually linked to wasn't it.

In any case, based on people in my network, it doesn't appear to be guaranteed that people working for civil service departments such as those you mentioned will routinely attract the kind of rate you're talking about even at high levels.

The link seems to lost the settings, but either way, jobserve, contracts, select by rate and search the programming languages.

Anyways those rates aren't guaranteed but the money is out there. However, you won't get them by not asking for them. Why would you? :)

I won't get those rates anyway, as my career has taken a slightly more entrepreneurial path recently. :-)

However, I'm half interested on behalf of various friends and former colleagues who are still 100% contract/freelance, and half interested from the point of view of not giving an overly optimistic view to anyone reading this who isn't familiar with the contracting market.

As it happens, I did check several sites including the one you mentioned when I first posted, and based on that it looks like it's still fair to say that £700+/day rates are achievable particularly in London and in the right niches, but they aren't (yet?) the norm even for quite good developers.

I never said they were the norm, just that they're uncommon. That said, if you want solid advice for your mates, it's simply this.

Be resonably competent, pass a technical interview that's mainly talking based, get your foot in the door at £600 a day, ask for more after you establish yourself.

If you actually deliver your network will be completely different and you'll be able to command those higher rates for quite some time.

More importantly, don't bottle negotiations. Your competition isn't amazing, they're just guys who know the framework de jure and make sure they're buzzword compliant.

You don't need to be in trading/front-end software, 600 pounds p/d is just for regular positions if you know the frameworks that are currently in demand.

Question - why ltd and not self employed?

You can't really get a contract via an intermediary (an agency) as self-employed, as they're liable if you don't pay tax.

Having a Ltd also allows you to defer paying higher rates of taxes, avoid paying NIC (both employers and employees), and I'd say it's simpler being two entities.

Lack of respect. In the UK software developers are just considered "techies", nerdy and replaceable for a dime a dozen. Anyone with serious skills and ambition goes into banking, finanance or maybe a founder.

Software developers in sf/sv are considered highly talented respectable people which companies will fight over.

I'd argue reverse causality in your argument.

In SV, software guys were disrespected, considered replaceable until they became the company breadwinners. Good finance guys are in the same situation in other places, like London perhaps.

The respect follows the money, not the other way around.

What do Googlers in London make vs those in Mountain View / SF? If you're comparing a cohort to Googlers, the only applicable cohort for comparison is other Googlers (or FB). This is because even in SF/SV, they make significantly more than your average VC backed hot startup dev, factoring in total comp and liquidity considerations for equity packages.

If you're at a VC backed startup in London, then you should compare your compensation to other VC backed startup devs in SF/SV. I'm not familiar with NYC salaries, but $110k base is definitely much more than "half" of what your typical startup senior dev is making in SF.

Contracting pays far better in the UK than salary. I remember being offered £1k/day just to travel round the country installing servers. I didn't take it, as I work on the data science side of things, but was still very tempted to just chuck it in for that sort of cash...

Contracting doesn't seem to be that well-paid throughout. From time to time I get enquiries for contracting work in London (mostly for the financial industry) with a 'maximum budget' of 450 quid / day.

Compared to market prices in metropolitan regions in Germany that's on the lower end of the range and by and large those though prosperous are much less affluent than London.

I started contracting two years and was earning £500/day as a 'senior developer' writing Rails remotely for a company based in London. If I was onsite I would have asked for more.

To get higher rates for contracting you need to have the right contacts, by the time it ends up at a recruiter you need to end up paying their cut which can be substantial (10% - 35%, it's not bad for just sending a few emails :D).

> To get higher rates for contracting you need to have the right contacts

That's what it comes down to regardless of location. If you're willing to share some of your London / UK contacts, that'd be much appreciated (contact info's in my profile).

If you're a decent dev in London you can quite easily land a ‎£400/day contract.

Congrats you are now making ~£90k or $130k / year!

(This is where it starts. £400/day is aiming low)

The problem with contracting is nobody is paying into your pension, you have no paid leave and because of the (real or perceived) lack of security it is extremely difficult to get a mortgage and harder to even rent.

    > The problem with contracting is nobody is paying
    > into your pension
You can take up to £40k out of your Ltd company tax-free in to your pension.

    > you have no paid leave
220 days is the magic number to use to value your contracts. Public holidays, some leave, weekends, etc. 400 * 220 = £88,000. Plus flat-rate VAT bonus. Plus you pay yourself in dividends. Plus you claim some sensible expenses, and shirk your NIC obligations, and your take-home is about £6,000, which is actually equivalent to earning £112,000. With four weeks of leave included.

Things are getting better. Five years ago startups were not paying £75k to developers.

The big US tech companies now have an increased presence here and are raising salaries across the city. Your estimates of the max you can earn are pessimistic: I work at one of these companies at the level below Senior and make about the same as you do as a base salary and about 1.5x the amount in total comp. Finance also pays developers well in London.

Many of my colleagues have been hired out of startups, who have to pay more to find replacements than before. My friends at companies trying to offer £40-50k to experienced developers simply can't hire anyone with the skills they want, whereas a few years ago they used to have no problem finding people who would take £35-40k.

There are plenty of companies that treat development as an "IT" cost; the stereotype of the awful British version of Initrode and Initech. I have worked at one of these before and it is horrible working at a place that everyone is desperately trying to leave. It is up to you to try and politely avoid these places, and if you have to take one of these jobs, work incredibly hard (https://blog.stackoverflow.com/2015/09/how-to-be-awesome/) to expand the options available to you.

I recently wrote an article comparing London to San Francisco from a tech standpoint: http://jh47.com/2016/03/01/london-vs-san-francisco/

I currently work as a contractor based in London for a company in SV, but I totally agree with what's said here in that it's a matter of differing viewpoints. There's an inherent stinginess here on the whole, a disparagingly utilitarian viewpoint that software engineers are just "IT guys" - technicians who maintain the digital plumbing. There was a lot of pressure coming out of university to go into finance.

But on the other hand - there is a lot of hot air and shaky foundations out in SV, a lot of money changing hands that is likely to dissipate when confidence is lost in the ecosystem. One could argue that while devs here are paid too little, devs there are paid too much - relatively speaking.

Contracting is pretty popular in London. Is contracting as popular in SF? I don't hear much about it. In London a decent mid-level developer can earn £500 a day, the shortage of developers at the moment, it's a no brainer for me. Obviously it's not for everybody. Any idea what a Senior/Team Lead earns contracting?

Any idea how to go about getting those contracts? Is it all about connections or do you go through recruiters? Also how long do they usually last before you have to find a new one?

.net is my day job, there is quite a lot of work in this space. Google .net contracts north west and find the recruitment consultants that get contract work and you're away. Once you've got few of them you'll be inundated with emails. They usually last between 3 months and 2 years really, any longer and there a few tax issues, but still possible. Always good to have a couple of clients on to help protect you from the IR35 Police. I'm not based in London but Manchester is catching up :)

Honestly a good recruiter can get you good contracts. Then you build up contacts via the contracts you've taken.

Eventually you won't need a recruiter

In 5 years of contracting, I was never out of work involuntarily.

15 years "senior" developer here. £900/day at a bank with little stress, and 9-5 hours. I've been a contractor for ten years and built up a lot of contacts, but some of my gigs I have gotten through recruiters and I'd recommend just applying for contracting positions. The hardest part when starting out contracting is getting past the recruiter (who just want to match your skills to the letter of the job specification).

Software devs in Banking are paid slightly more, but again compared to a baking software dev in the likes of NY it's still low. I work in a front-office team (so effectively on the investment side) at a bank as a quant dev VP, 3 years experience and earn £105k (that's including my bonus).

Is there a rule that in every country in the world the salary levels should be the same? Also whats the cost of living in SF? London is expensive, but apparently SF is more expensive...


Maybe it's an artifact of currency exchange drop in 2008/2009 where 1 gbp ~ 2 usd dropped to 1 gbp ~ 1 usd.

I ask myself this question also. And to my eyes I agree your salary is pretty good for London.

I'm on ~£60k in London as a development lead with about 6 years experience. Mostly PHP though and php roles seem consistently lower paid than other languages, even though it shouldn't matter.

The answer is very simple: supply and demand.

Silicon valley has a demand for talented developers and a limited supply, so developer wages are high.

This is also the generation that is least likely to be willing to move for work, here in the Western world. This makes imbalances in wages between cities worse.

London's supply better meets it's demand, and so wages are lower. Companies like Google will pay more in London than usual for the city because employees at different offices will compare salaries- but I'll bet you they still pay less in London than they do in California.

This is also a key point in the American immigration debate- you can indeed hire as many people as you need in SF, but only if you'll pay enough money. Immigration increases supply, lowering the price.

Which is weird because we're constantly told there's a massive shortage of developers in london

There is a shortage of GOOD developers, because many people only enroll to CS universities tempted by higher than average salary, not because they really like programming.

Also, UK is a part of European Union, which makes London based developers compete with immigrants from countries like Poland, Hungary, Romania, who will be happy with much lower salaries.

who will be happy with much lower salaries.

You'd think that but you'd be wrong. It's true that fresh immigrants might have a low salary ask, but folks wise up pretty quickly to their worth in the UK - which is just as well, as otherwise it'd lead to exploitation and would drag overall salaries down.

No, the supply and demand bit doesn't hold true - it's cultural. We undervalue technical skill here, severely, and have for several generations. It's seen as somehow dirty.

You are spot on: it's cultural.

The British class society has inbuilt superiority for some, regardless of economic contribution. It is a monarchy after all, what should we expect.

Reminds me of facepalm moments in Bracknell a while back. Maybe things have improved since then, I wouldn't know: I left that country.

I know plenty of programmers from those countries in the UK, and they will be happy with a lower salary in their first year, but as soon as they realise that everyone else is being paid much more they leave and demand the same salaries.

If there were, you'd see wages going up. You'd have people telling you to switch jobs every year or two to keep increasing your pay.

Toronto (where I am) is similar to London. There are some jobs that pay well, but the average and median are far lower than I could get if I had stayed out west.

If they wanted to attract good developers, surerly the price would go up as well?

Good software developers are probably already employed in good positions so you need to raise the price to get them to apply.

This is not just technology. Salaries in general are paid less across the board in the UK than in the US. If you think you have it bad, take a look at the average salary of a GP, who went through 10+ years of education, just so they could earn £45k per annum.

So why does a Macbook cost more in the UK than in the US ?

20% VAT and high import taxes.

There's just way more capital per capita for developers in SF. You might want to consider why bankers in SF are paid so poorly relative to London.

I've often seen contract rates well and above salaries rates in London, more so than to make up for the potentially unstable nature of the work.

For the last 5 years or so I've been fully employed in devops roles, primarily containerization and deployment. I have been thinking a lot about turning to contracting, but have zero idea how I would start.

With 3-5 years experience (was at the job for 2 years) I was making £46k, so it could be worse. ;) I was getting 20 vacation days a year, plus public holidays, plus some number of sick days.

I talked to my friends at FB and Google in London and they all said they were paid less than if they were working in SV.

46k in london is bad. 46k outside of London is respectable.

I'm elsewhere in the southeast, studied comp sci 15 years ago at a moderately well-regarded (though possibly not for CS) university, and most people I know from university or from previous jobs are on 30-45k AFAIK.

Of course, we may be too old, and earn less than those with 5 years' experience who have better knowledge of this week's single-page JS framework...

(my sample group includes some pretty dedicated, smart people as well as barely-adequate slackers like myself)

But we do all get decent holidays and sick days, which is a definite bonus.

There's certainly an element of having the right buzzwords for a lot of the most lucrative contract work, at least for the gigs that get advertised on the serious forums or filled through recruiters.

Cloud plus Agile still seems to be the flavour of the month. There are always opportunities in serious back office/infrastructure programming (Java, C#, C++) in fields like banking, too, but those positions often require relevant experience of their field as well as the programming skills, or at least say they do in the ads.

Whether a 15-year vet would do a better job picking up this week's buzzwords on the go than a 3-year newbie who has never known anything else is a different question, of course.

It's better than in The Netherlands, where Leads earn 60-80k EUR with a higher effective tax rate than the UK/US.

It doesn't really make sense to work for an employer anymore, contracts pay better and if you can build your own business it's better again.

I must be doing something wrong. I'm near 60k with five years of experience, and done two lead roles. Contracting, so lots of variety, but the boss takes the biggest chunk. Small dev contracting company, 30-ish people. I haven't started on my own business, because I don't know how to find contracts.

Not really, 5 years experience isn't much. I've been coding for 25 years, working for 15 years and leading teams for about 5 years.

I'll be switching to contracting soon because it lets me double my salary & have a chance on actually working on something difficult again :)

I'm a bit of an outlier of course, there are very few people who can match both my depth and breadth in development as the best tend to bail at 30 for management positions (which I very nearly did).

Do you have a comparison/breakdown of contractor vs. perm earnings?

Of course, because I'm hiring both.

Perm: 30k-80k depending on experience for Java/C# & good Javascript devs Contract: 50-80 EUR / hour depending on experience.

I'm a Tech Lead / Architect so can demand more as a contractor, although for the higher paid (perm) jobs I have to travel.

At the higher end you need to be really good: i.e. know more than just web development - being able to knock together CRUD apps with Rails/PHP won't cut it.

Pay and rates for PHP/Ruby are much lower - the talent pool is also less capable. Strangely enough C++ has the same issue - it has been explained to me that the best C++ devs have jumped ship already so what's left isn't that good. Whilst that can be the case it's more likely to be a question of demand: Europe doesn't build systems-level software in the way America does..


I wonder what's the cost of the extra bureaucracy around contracting more or less


40 work weeks are workable 15% fee for agency 200 eur / month insurances 8k/year pension Slightly more favorable tax

The 40 weeks is 6 weeks holiday, 6 weeks downtime/sick. Insurance covers longer-term sickness (thus the cost).

When you consider that the best developers tend to go contracting the rates actually start to look low.

Oh, and for anyone considering it: the dutch have a special tax break for foreign skill: you get a tax credit worth 50% of your pay.

So if you earn 4k EUR / month you will actually pocket 4k after tax. Compared to a dutch native who pockets ~2.5k. You can rent a nice place in or close to Amsterdam for 1.5k / month.

Your employer must arrange this (mine refused too so I never benefited from this) and then it lasts for ~5 years.

It's a nice place to live (lots of pretty girls for the guys, lots of tall blond guys for the girls).

People in the Valley could probably walk into Uber or Message Bird and get a job in Amsterdam for a few years, they both have a big presence there (and work on interesting problems, I guess).

If you want to see first hand the image Londoners have of techies, watch the hilarious sitcom The IT Crowd.

What about social security and taxes?

Property tax is around £800-1600 per year, depending on area, for the whole home. A large house could be up to around £2500 in some areas.

Someone earning £75k will take home £51k after tax (which includes healthcare and social security tax).

You can stick numbers into http://listentotaxman.com/ if you'd like to experiment. "National Insurance" means healthcare and social security.

OK I get it. We do the numbers differently in Spain, hence my confussion. Thanks!

You're comparing your salary in a startup with Google. Great thinking is great!

Reading these threads, I can only assume that I am a terrible interviewee, or a bad developer. I have 1.5 years Rails / JS experience and currently earn £25k.

What do I have to do to get into the £35-40k bracket? I've had numerous interviews and a couple of offers, but none will move out of the £28-32k range.

That's low, it's what I earned straight out of university when I worked for a charity 8 years ago. (I thought of the charity work as a good donation to society and an opportunity to learn; it was but perhaps I stuck with it for too long.)

But I don't think it's that unusual for a new graduate position in a non-software company. Also, compare with any friends from university in science etc and you'll hopefully feel better about it.

At least make sure you're learning new things. Testing? CI? Agile? Configuration management? Cloud deployments? That's the things I pursued, but there are many possibilities. Hopefully you have done freedom to explore on work time. Identify what's needed most and looks good, get it done. If it doesn't get you a promotion at your current job, you'll at least be able to talk about it with confidence at the next interview.

If ldn means London, you're severely underpaid. A 12mo internship in a London bank as a CS student pays in the 35-40k bracket. I don't know where you're applying but they're not touching market rates for anyone with experience.

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