Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
De-Location Package: Keep Your Career and Live Beyond the Bay Area (zapier.com)
327 points by bryanh 191 days ago | hide | past | web | 184 comments | favorite

Zapier CTO & co-founder here.

Much like Stripe's "hire a team" experiment - this is an experiment to pay people to "de-locate" from the Bay Area. Don't get us wrong, we absolutely love the Bay Area (I live here) but the cost of living is just outrageous for so many.

We're seeing a lot of candidates talking to Zapier (we're fully remote) about leaving the Bay Area to go "home" (some to start a family, some for other reasons) but want to stay in their tech career.

Happy to answer any questions, and I am sure there are a lot of Zapiens in the thread that could answer questions too.

I have to admin, I have a bit of a crush on how you guys go about doing business. Fully remote, good salaries, honest focus on life outside of work, sounds utopian. It's a crazy world out there and very few people are willing to take a stand for what's actually important. high-five

We're certainly not perfect - but we try very hard. Thanks for the kind words Kirill!

Are you thinking about adjusting the salaries as well?

I mean, it sounds like a win-win situation to me. If a family can save, say, $3,000 a month on rent, and the company can save, say, $1,500 on an engineers salary, both are actually better off.

I guess the risk of moving out of the Bay Area is that you somehow are betting your future on a single company. If you decide to get a new job, you might be too far away from a decent tech hub. Another issue for families is moving both working partners. If the partner works at a company that might not be as flexible or open, moving somewhere else is going to be a tough decision, as it's always going to be better to have 2 jobs in the Bay Area, than just one outside of it.

Other Zapier co-founder here.

Are we competitive with Google engineering salaries? Probably not. But most Bay Area startups can't complete with Google on comp anyway.

Are we competitive with other Bay Area startup salaries? Likely. Six-figure engineering salaries, healthcare, retirement package, etc is the norm.

We saw several great teammates move away from the Bay Area and thought there might be others. This experiment is primarily to find people who already want to leave (for good reasons) but feel stuck because they like working for growing tech companies.

So do you adjust the salaries when they move? Your response didn't answer the commenter's question.

We do not adjust salaries when employees move. We try to pay similarly regardless of location.

Fantastic to hear. I've never (as an employee) found it fair that I would be paid more or less for the same work just because I happened to chose somewhere else to live.

Unsolicited advice: remove the word "fair" from your understanding of economic transactions. Think in terms of incentives, bargaining power, and BATNA.

My guess is that with all the whining CEOs in the Bay Area do about "how hard it is to find talent", this is the start of a long-term trend. Rents in the Bay Area have gone up about 10%/year for the last five years running (anecdote: my room cost 850/month five years ago, I moved out when it hit 1300/month) and with the new "Affordable housing" mandates (which the SF electorate voted for) coming into play, pretty much all construction is going to stop, because the economics of cross-subsidizing 1/3 of units (the new requirement) with the other two is pushing the unsubsidized units out of reach for all but the highest income-earners.

This place is mortgaging its future, and people are right to want out.

Source: http://www.sfhac.org/real-numbers-behind-prop-c/

We have an "affordable housing" mandate here in Boulder as well. But they built in a loophole. Builders can choose a one-time cash payment to avoid providing affordable units. >90% of builders chose that option. Does SF have a similar clause?

Well in this scenario you _are_ being paid less just in case you happen to choose a place you really want to live, if cost of living is higher. Most cool places have a higher cost of living - if you're one of those people who loves it in a rural place that costs 50k to buy a great house and has nothing to do than you're golden. Otherwise you're going to get penalized going to a remote-only company because as a whole they just won't pay on that scale (and realistically, why should they?).

I think it may be a worthwhile question and I'm curious why you think this. Why shouldn't they? Is there a objective measurable reason remote employees shouldn't be paid the same?

I assume the point is that salaries aren't about fairness. So the objective measurable reason is that if you want to hire employees in high CoL areas, you'll need to pay more to be competitive.

To be clear, I have no issues with divorcing salary from location for a remote company. But it probably means you're paying generous salaries for people living in cheap locations and you'll have trouble hiring anyone who must must must live in SF for... reasons.

I know what you mean. At the same time I think it's less about what a company thinks is fair and more about what the market will bear. You can find more engineers willing to sell their labor at a lower price in lower cost locations.

Of course, for an all-remote company to adjust salaries by a five or ten thousand bucks based on location if someone moves, like some do, that just seems like they're trying to nickel and dime the person under the guise of being fair.

I agree.

I understand paying remote workers less than someone on site since there may be productivity gains that come from that. However, remote is remote. Once someone is a remote employee it should make no difference if they're in Manhattan or Milwaukee.

If you got such a deal to de-locate, would you continue to pay an inflated bay area price for services at the new place? If not, would it be fair to those people that you are not paying them a the bay area price just because of the location they choose to live?

Since they say they're a fully remote team already, then it sounds like the company doesn't derive any advantage from having an employee live in the Bay Area (the fact that they're willing to pay employees to leave makes this even more obvious).

What happens with subsequent comp adjustments then? Do your ramp their growth rate down to be more like their new area for future raises and promotions, or do you keep it based on Bay Area rates?

We try not to downscale raises/promotions based on location either.

For what it is worth - we're not out to benchmark against "Bay Area rates". We generally will lose in head-to-head compensation with any large, on-site technical organization in the Bay Area (Google, Facebook, Netflix, etc.) - but we try and be consistent and competitive (6 fig eng, health, retire, etc.) anywhere else in the world - no matter where you are (suburbs of Chicago, middle-of-nowhere-Kansas, metro Pittsburgh, Barcelona, etc.). Check out a few of our other comments for more details.

I'm very interested in this question from an academic perspective -- where will the remote vs. local market clear, if more companies start doing this.

Scenario A: More companies pay equally remote vs. local

Scenario B: cost-of-living adjustments mean companies pay the local prevailing wage of where the employee is located.

My prediction is that we'll get about 80% scenario A and 20% scenario B. Remotes might take a hit but it won't be large, and that's based on elasticity of demand -- I suspect companies have a less elastic demand for talent overall, vs. employee willingness to move.

I suspect you're right re: Scenario A. But I think it'll be at the detriment to engineers in high cost of living areas.

Manhattan and SV don't have a monopoly on great engineers for the vast majority of engineering roles.

Remotes won't take the hit. It's those who for some reason (family, prestige, other) are stuck in these centres.

The question was whether people should expect to be paid less if they de-locate than they would if they stayed in/near SF.

I think you misunderstood what I was asking, it wasn't to compare you with Google or anything. But I got my answer further down the thread, and it's amazing that you pay full salary to people who live outside of the Bay Area. Way to go!

What about other salaries for less in demand functions where employees typically have less leverage, like marketing?

I really love this idea! There are so many great places to live, if only you could find a good programming job there. I left Seattle for St. Louis to be close to family, and it was the best decision I ever made. Glad to see that Zapier is willing to try to innovate in this area! I hope it will spread.

First of all, I'd like to applaud this initiative. I worked remotely for 4 years (just switched to a local startup) and it was great for work-life balance (among other things). I wholeheartedly wish that it would be very successful.

This may not be something new for you guys, as you've been running remote agile teams, but how are you planning to deal with time differences? Are you reserving the right to ask remote employees to start their day at a particular time? Are you going to take time zones into consideration when building your teams?

We are already 100% remote and have been for the entire life of the company.

Time differences haven't been a big issue - it can be tricky to get everyone on a call when they need to be - but usually a little flexibility by all parties go a long way. Also, you can arbitrage time differences to knock down annoyance from on-call rotations and the like.

We ask employees to have their own "consistent" hours so that the rest of the team knows when they'll be available or not.

We do consider time zones when hiring - for example, we might explicitly hire Asian/Pacific for support scheduling reasons.

Also, you can arbitrage time differences to knock down annoyance from on-call rotations and the like.

I have no idea what that means.

If you have people all over the world, nobody (or at least fewer people, depending on how the distribution works out) has to be on-call in the middle of the night, you can hand off close to the end of your normal working day.

Doesn't this make it easier for you to retain people by restricting their options in the future? For example if someone moves back to central Missouri, they're probably not going to find a lot of similar jobs, especially at the level of pay I'm imaging Zapier provides.

I think that may be true and is worth consideration when making any career or geographical move. In central Missouri - you certainly won't find $2400 studio apartments either!

To be honest - I wish more companies were remote welcome. It is just better in so many ways.

You make it seem like that's a bad thing? It's a trade-off. You're getting location flexibility at the cost of employment mobility. For some this will be a fine trade-off.

In my experience, if you want to go back, job opportunities for senior people come with pretty cushy relocation packages, so, no: not really.

By the same token, moving to an area with a high CoL could be restricting if you lost your employment and had to scramble to find a new job.

It cuts both ways.

I wouldn't have moved to the Bay Area if there weren't as many jobs as there are. If you have the choice to relocate, you might as well go where the jobs are, right?

In today's economy it's usually easier to find a new job in a high CoL area.

Not in San Diego! High CoL area, relatively low wages, and tech jobs are relatively scarce. We moved to the Greater Salt Lake City area three months ago because CoL is much lower here, and there's a plethora of opportunity.

"Doesn't this make it easier for you to retain people by restricting their options in the future?"

In a way, yes. I am 100% remote and live in a very remote area. I doubt I could get a similar job anywhere in the state, but I did it anyway. Why? First, I love where I work and before moving away and I worked from home long enough to see that it was good. Am I stuck with this company? Yeah, pretty much. Chances of finding remote work are slim, but I accept that. My work/life balance and happiness living where I never thought I could is nearly priceless. It is a trade off, but one that I'm happy with. It may not be for everyone.

When I was younger I'd hop jobs every couple years, get a nice raise, learn something new and move one. Now I just don't care. I found a place I can see my self working at for many more years. When there is a mess in the "office" microwave, I know who to blame and you can't put a price on that.

This would be my primary worry too. When I moved to the Bay Area I took a massive quality-of-life hit. Went from a place where a big two-story 2000+ sq ft home cost $100K or so and a 15 minute commute to here, where a mud hut costs $500K and your commute is 2 hours. But I was willing to do it because it's less risky employment-wise. If things go bad at one employer here, you're looking at maybe a 1-3 month job search that you can limit to a 50 mile radius. If things go bad in Nowheresville, USA, you're looking at a 3-9 month job search that will likely involve moving out of state.

Your post makes it sound like the only place for tech jobs is the Bay Area...which I find is not true as an east coast remote.

I mean, yeah if you move to rural South Dakota you won't find much, but there are plenty of growing tech centers like Raleigh, Boulder, Austin, etc. that have much lower cost of living, but still a lot of availability in local tech jobs.

Also to note, the 3-9 month job search should be much more sustainable in Nowheresville, whereas in SF you are going to be screwed if your job search is extended.

So, honest question (not trying to troll) - what jobs are available in Raleigh/Boulder/Austin/etc?

Because where I'm sitting, facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple, which are 5 of the top 6 most valuable US companies, are HQ'd in the Bay Area or Seattle. So if you want that caliber of job, with the opportunities and pay ($200-300k+ for mid-level people), you really do have to live in SF/Seattle.

I don't work a BigCo job for other reasons but the reasoning does seem sound.

Amazon & Microsoft both have a significant software presence in Phoenix. I don't know if they still do, but at one point Google had some stuff here as well.

Amazon recruiters have also been pinging me for jobs they have in SoCal, although I wouldn't say that LA is significantly cheaper than the Bay Area or Seattle.

Google is in Boulder. But from what I've heard of the area in general (not specific to Google), they have Bay Area housing prices with Colorado comp, so overall you are taking home less and getting less for your money.

i'm near enough to boulder that google's boulder location would be a <15 minute commute, and <$500k buys you a 2000 sqft house in a quiet neighborhood and enough of a yard you can't see through your neighbor's window. pretty sure that's rather drastically cheaper than sf. if you're ok with a 30 minute commute, you can shave $100k off that. 60 minute commute would shave another $100k off.

while i'm commenting, i'll note that i don't feel boulder really competes with NC's research triangle, or austin. boulder county population is 310k, and a sizable chunk of that is tied up in and around the university and government research facilities that i feel don't impact local tech industry that much.

Can you share some links to real estate listings like you are mentioning, and what towns or parts of Boulder they are in? There are cheap homes in places like Longmont, but there is no real downtown to speak of. Are these cheap houses you mention suburban subdevelopment sprawl? Or are they urban homes on the edge of the city?

Would you mind unpacking "NC research triangle"? North Carolina? Three research heavy universities?

The Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill combined metro area in North Carolina.

Home to UNC, Duke, and the somewhat famous Research Triangle Park, a suburban campus containing R&D for Red Hat, IBM, and several big pharmaceutical companies.

The Palo Alto of the South.

I guess your last point depends on one's savings. I think for most people's savings a 3-9 month job search is a pants-on-fire emergency, regardless of where in the country you are.

I used to live in South Florida, and I bet I could exhaust the search space of "tech jobs south of Orlando" in about two weeks of interviewing. After that, you're looking at a move. It's not like the same companies will interview you over and over until you pass.

There are some in between towns that offer a better balance. I've lived in Seattle and Boston and I think the job mobility still high but with a reduced cost of living. Not cheap by any national standard but 20-30% is a big difference in cost of living.

I've never ever lived in the Bay Area and I've never looked longer than a month for a job. In fact I've never been out of work and it's very easy to change jobs when the need arises. I think your information is very misinformed.

Congratulations on the good fortune but I think your experience is either really recent or atypical. I've been through two major tech job downturns now (2000-2002 and 2007-2009--there have been others before that) and I can tell you things can change very quickly.

I've been working in the field for 20 years. I've seen the same down turns as you. I lived in the heart of the rust belt most of my life. Numerous of my friends have ha the same experience as me, I don't believe it's actually atypical at all.

Would an employee not have the same flexibility to stay in the Bay Area and work remotely from there to preserve their "options in the future"?

Remote work is still an option, as is moving back or wherever (since this specific worry is predicated on moving to start with, arguments that moving is 'not always possible' seem weak).

Do you pay people less if they decide to leave the expensive area?

There is a response here:


> We do not adjust salaries when employees move. We try to pay similarly regardless of location.

Cool idea! I hope the experiment produces positive results. A few random thoughts:

- offering a perk to some employees that you don't offer to other employees could get you in trouble

- say all delocated employees are from SF are young white males, and an older black woman want a delocation bonus to move from a non-SF city to somewhere else (hint: I bet your lawyer is gonna say you need to cancel the perk, or offer it to everyone​, and I would agree with that lawyer)

- as an new employee eligible for your delocation reimbursement, I'd rather it just be a bonus, as I don't wanna have to explain to the company exactly what I spent the money on (why is it any of your business that I spent $8,000 at Kink Movers to relocate my 50 Shades Of Grey Inspired BDSM Dungeon?)

Qualifying relocation expenses can be reimbursed tax free. A bonus is subject to income taxes.

As a perk, you'd only get $4-5k back (30% marginal federal income tax, 9% marginal CA income tax, 6.5% Medicare and social security tax).

My company gave me a relocation bonus and used a third party service to handle it. I got all of the money upfront, and had to sign a document saying I'd pay back a prorated amount if I left the company within a year. I was asked to submit reimbursements directly to the third party, so I didn't have to give the receipts for my fictional BDSM dungeon to the company directly. The taxable portion was the total bonus minus any moving expenses. I liked this model.

I think this is a pretty prescient move. I am having a harder time every year having a normal life in the Bay Area.

One thing I wish is that {insert current employer} would do the same thing and then subsidize Fiber in the new area to ensure high quality VC.

Does the employee's chosen "de-location" need to be approved? E.g. would Zapier prefer Pittsburgh to Moab?

We haven't fleshed out all the nitty gritty details - but no - we wouldn't prefer Pittsburgh to Moab.

This is an interesting experiment. How about de-location outside US? Say Toronto or Waterloo, Canada? There is obviously a good tech scene there. So I like many others are curious how salaries are adjusted to COL? Would someone who de-located be making similar Bay Area salaries or would it be similar to what's offered by the local tech companies there?

I don't think we'd be against that at all - but we probably could not help with the visa situation.

Btw American citizens can work in Canada without a visa - see TN status. Just need a job offer and relevant university degree.

Are you big enough that you have employees in most states now? The reason I ask is because some states have a pretty high bar for the first employee, since it comes with a lot of associated costs that aren't based on salary.

We consider this as just part of running a remote business - eventually it'll plateau as we are present in all the locations. For example, we have way more employees in Texas alone than in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, etc. combined.

I really like this idea! No one else mentioned it on the comments (and I saw this post too late for too many others to notice), but if we got more companies to do this, then it could have an impact on bringing more tech jobs to red states to "share the wealth" and change the electoral map, as well! It could help red state folks and blue state folks spend more time together and understand each other a little better. I would be very pleased if you could mention this aspect in your blog post and also try to convince other companies to do the same. This is so awesome!

I think this is a very creative program. It would be better if it was a blanket relocation package that wasn't tied to moving away from the bay area. You are 100% remote, so why not move from anywhere to anywhere?

EDIT: My question is why it is hinged on moving away from a city. I think it is a legitimate question. Someone living in NYC or Seattle might have similar issues with the cost of housing.

Definitely a legitimate question - we often see people moving from various locations (I think like 60% of Zapiens have moved during their tenure, or something like that).

As an experiment, we wanted to start with the obvious high cost of living center - the Bay Area. In the future, we may open it up to more cities, maybe even a blanket package as you describe.

I find it extremely interesting for this to be viewed as an "experiement". If the experiment fails, how would you recover? Move all your talent back to the bay area? Not trying to be a dick here, but genuinely interested on what your mitigation strategy is.

We're fully remote - always have been and plan on staying that way.

If the experiment "fails" - we'll just stop offering this for new employees.

Has there been any response from Bay Area local governments? I would imagine it might not be their favorite idea that businesses are trying to incentivize employees to leave. If this sort of idea takes off, would local gov try to counter these incentives to leave in some way?

Not a chance.

This is one of the richest areas in the US and the overwhelming sentiment is, "we need people to stop moving here". You can actually get votes here by making it harder for companies to hire, on the theory that traffic, pollution, etc. won't be that bad.

It's unlike any other place in the US. Truly one-of-a-kind.

Seattle, and to some extent Portland, are trending in the same direction.

Getting tech workers to leave (or at least stemming the flow) is an explicit policy goal of the progressives controlling SF.

They might want the jobs if they were going to the local poor. Not jobs that outsiders move in for.

The small cities in the Bay Area actually work against each other for a worse outcome for the whole.

See Kim-Mai Cutler's brilliant article. https://techcrunch.com/2014/04/14/sf-housing/

If they try to counter these incentives by letting more housing get built, that would be a positive outcome, no?

We've certainly not heard of any.

There are also a lot of people who've never located to the Bay Area for lifestyle reasons and may be interested.

Hey Bryan, I'd like to meet you over coffee and tell you a bit about something that could be very helpful for Zapier. Can't share too much here. Please ping me at simone.brunozzi @ gmail

It benefits them to have you leave the bay area, because they know it will be much more difficult for you to find your next job. They are paying $10k now to minimize future raises and equity grants.

I can think of less risky ways to squeeze $10k out of a new employer.

I left the Bay Area in 2011 because I was tired of the endless suburban hellscape, the high cost of housing, and the poor cultural offerings (yeah SFO is great but that's a long way off).

I was worried it'd be tough to move jobs or careers and that getting new jobs would be harder.

It hasn't been. I've been steadily moving up and into new positions at new companies every 2 years just like I was in the Bay Area. My salary is 2.7x higher than it was when I left the Bay Area, and I now have a 5,000 sqft home in a great city that I paid about 1/10th as much for as I would have in the Bay Area.

> tired of the ... poor cultural offerings

Can you expand on this? Where are you located now that is richer culturally?

Just about everywhere else I've lived is culturally richer, DC, Chicago, Miami, London, Houston, all had better cultural and art scenes.

I'm big in theater, ballet, and art. San Francisco is way too expensive for artists to live in anymore and the art scene there is very limited, inorganic, and a bit stale. Further the distance to San Francisco means it's a chore (and a drive) to get there from the South Bay where all the jobs are.

Now I can take public transit to cultural institutions, and walk to a lot too. We have organic arts districts with real artists in residency, regular gallery showings and art walks, and some amazing local musicians.

You might get that in Oakland these days, but even Oakland is getting prohibitively expensive.

As a denizen of Houston and a very interested party in salary discussions I'm glad to see you mention us. Most people don't think of Houston beyond "Houston, we have a problem" and stereotypes of pickup trucks with gun racks in the window. However Houston is now more ethnically diverse than NYC [1], has a thriving arts scene [2] and as Wikipedia puts it "... is one of only five cities in the United States with permanent professional resident companies in all of the major performing arts disciplines: opera (Houston Grand Opera), ballet (Houston Ballet), music (Houston Symphony Orchestra), and theatre (Alley Theatre)."

Are there downsides to living here? Undeniably. The biggest being sprawl and traffic. However next to Austin's city council actively fighting growth and traffic management investment we're in better shape despite an unfortunate anti-rail mentality.

[1] https://kinder.rice.edu/uploadedFiles/Urban_Research_Center/... [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_Houston#Arts_and_th...

> Are there downsides to living here? Undeniably. The biggest being sprawl and traffic.

I think you missed the two biggest that will never change: The weather (105F and 90% humidity for 3 months out of the year, hurricanes) and the politics (Lege doesn't like what you're up to? Prepare to be stomped in the Capitol building like Denton was).

I'm a native Texan who grew up in Dallas with all of the baggage that entails--including an innate dislike of Houston because "rivalry"--so I know where I'm coming from. Ever since moving to Seattle years ago, I've become a lot more of an outdoor person because going outside doesn't physically hurt for six months out of the year. My first job was pushing grocery carts on a blacktop parking lot for Sack 'n' Save and the temperatures haven't gotten any better since. And the politics...oh, the politics. I really love living in a state that doesn't do things to cause it to be openly mocked by the rest of the country.

I love my home state, I visit quite often, and I'm genuinely proud to be a Texan but it truly escapes me how any one can say "hey, y'all come on down, the legislature and the sun won't hurt you that much" because they both really do.

Yeah, I have to say while Texas is a pretty nice state, the politics and some of the people I met are not my cup of tea. When it comes to people its better than Cali, but politics are worse than the west coast.

Hopefully the city council here in Seattle can get out of its own way and dezone the city so that it may densify. Height caps and parking minimums are forcing suburban hellscape style infill in Seattle, which is very destructive and guts the neighborhood of its classic charm. Large buildings clustered around transit would be much more productive for our city versus tearing down 100 old homes to replace them with 200 odd 2800sqft boxes on postage stamp size parcels.

> I really love living in a state that doesn't do things to cause it to be openly mocked by the rest of the country.

Not sure what you're referring to. Living in WA, I'd be asked non-stop by others how the pot was.

We loved Houston and since going back to visit the area has only improved. Neither of us had ventured south of the Mason-Dixon before moving there.

I lived in Houston about 30 years ago, and you had to either love driving in bumper to bumper traffic or live inside the loop to have easy access to the arts for people with normal working hours. Walking to anything would make me want to take a shower by the time I got to my destination.

> My salary is 2.7x higher

The original salary must have been low, no hate.

Different strokes for different folks. If you're working at a company that already pays well and you're not in the Bay Area, then your options for switching are either exciting but very risky startups (< $1 billion) or small satellite offices of big corps that have limited team options and little political influence (bad for advancement in senior positions). These would typically be lateral movements at best.

> The original salary must have been low, no hate.

My new salary is just much higher, I've had several major steps up. I've found salaries in major metro areas to be pretty much the same as a competitive offer in the Bay Area.

> Different strokes for different folks. If you're working at a company that already pays well and you're not in the Bay Area, then your options for switching are either exciting but very risky startups (< $1 billion) or small satellite offices of big corps that have limited team options and little political influence (bad for advancement in senior positions). These would typically be lateral movements at best.

The Bay Area isn't the only place with a tech sector, and there are plenty of companies whose main offices aren't in the Bay Area. Washington DC, Chicago, Austin, Denver, all have tremendous tech industries. I've even had job offers at great places that are further out there.

My "one that got away" was a job offer in Portland I still think about. It was a great opportunity and a fantastic city, but I ultimately went elsewhere primarily based on the desire to bring some of my projects with me.

> My new salary is just much higher

Let's just talk numbers for a moment, were you earning at least $200k?

I find it very difficult to believe any other metros, especially small cities, could afford to pay a non-senior engineer over $200k in total comp.

I'm in a "senior" position now. But I'm not talking numbers on the internet.

Right now I'm head of R&D.

I can tell you starting engineers on my team make about 10% more than their Bay Area counterparts. That's a deliberate decision backed by our Board.

> I'm not talking numbers on the internet.

I can respect that.

It sounds like you actually were promoted a couple of times since relocating and now you're in a leadership/director position. I'm not surprised your salary increased.

But honestly, I find it hard to believe you can match a senior level salary here in the Bay Area at a larger company.

A standard offer for someone that is not really "gifted" is $160-$190k base + $100-$150k/yr RSUs.

You're really able to pay people over $250k?

And I'm not even including 401k matching, ESPP, healthcare, discretionary bonuses and annual incentive bonuses.

The promotions are the reason to job hop, aren't they?

That's always why I moved in SFO. Wisdom I always received was every 2-3 years it's time to move out and up. It's served me well. I think now I'm "career" as we like where we live and I want to build something in my division.

And yes, we easily offer that. Why is this a surprise? Our costs are lower and our clients are largely the same as they would be in the Bay Area. Our major markets are national and international. We don't discount our enterprise level systems and new tech for having been developed in fly over country, and we have a MUCH lower cost of doing business. Physical plant is CHEAP here as are our taxes. This results in more capital available for HR, and we consider human capital our single most important investment.

Our entire strategy is built on innovation and we do that by hiring the top talent we can. That means offering top tier compensations.

Like dkfmn said, it's surprising because most companies just adjust salaries to cost of living and try to get away with paying the least they can.

I applaud your approach and would love to one day work for your company as it sounds like a great place to work since you actually appreciate your human capital.

I also agree on the 2-3 years hopping, it's a great strategy.

It's probably surprising because most companies design compensation programs that are normalized on [talent and geography] rather than talent alone. Sounds like your company has a more holistic approach and that's likely a strategic advantage for hiring.

Side note: SFO is the airport, SF is the city.

I'm used to calling metro areas by their major airport callsign, then again I fly 2-3 times a month, minimum.

Fair enough, as long as you don't tag us SQL :)

(SQL is the IATA and FAA identifier for San Carlos Airport, near the Oracle headquarters half way between San Francisco International (SFO) and Palo Alto (PAO))

Correct... but there was also a bad joke in there.

Oh, good joke, just wanted to make sure everyone got the double entendre (I assume everyone here knows Structured Query Language, but San Carlos is a fairly small airport, isn't it)

Yes, completely tiny, but great if you'd like to rent a Cessna for a few hours. I'm sure the extra detail helped a few people :)

Do you mind sharing where the company you work for advertises open positions? You could just share 5+ such sites to avoid revealing anything if you are concerned. I'm at the tail end of interviewing and have some great options however finding open remote positions at remote-friendly companies can be difficult.

I've been looking at sites like weworkremotely.com and remoteok.io.

I tend to do my recruiting two ways:

1) From people I know well who make a solid recommendation.

2) At major tech conferences.

Hiring is a very risky and high stakes proposition. A new hire easily costs us a million or more if it doesn't work out. We are very cautious, and I take our hiring process very seriously.

Junior positions we typically recruit from Univerisities in the region with top CS and ECE programs since they are less likely to be skeptics of fly over country.

DC, Chicago, Austin, and Denver absolutely have booming tech industries. And rising costs of living to match.

It should not surprise anyone that wages in other top-tier cities match the Bay Area.

Austin still beats everything else for salary proportional to cost of living.


I'm now living in a much smaller city, and the salaries here are even higher.

Good tech companies know they have to make nationally competitive offers.

Which city, if you don't mind me asking?

Sorry. I try not to give too much info.

You wouldn't guess it if I gave you 20 questions is my bet. When I got the offer for an interview the wife and I almost passed entirely on the opportunity (I didn't apply for it they recruited me) because we thought "We don't want to live there" and I had a solid offer in Seattle and Portland, where we thought we wanted to move.

I flew out anyway as a courtesy to the VP who reached out to me because we had a long history and he told me I needed to come see what they had to offer.

Flew my wife out the next day, she was super skeptical "I'm not going to like it!" (She is also in tech). She fell in love. We bought her dream house a month later. Still in our honeymoon period with this new city, but we have never been in love with a city like this before.

> You wouldn't guess it if I gave you 20 questions is my bet.

I'd take that bet. ;)

There's only 50 states and we probably can rule out the 15-20 coastal ones and Hawaii and Alaska. If the maize in your name has any relation to your job, we can quickly use five guesses on Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana.

Guessing about your wonderful city aside, one concern I and many here would have about relocating are the job opportunities. In smaller areas, you may be living in company towns, and if you ever want to change jobs, it would involve moving across the state. Of course if you're being paid a handsome amount, you're in a position to negotiate a generous relocation package.

I think its odd that you keeping referring to an abstract "here" as a an alternative and standard of comparison to the Bay Area but won't say where that is. This whole discussion is about geography as it relates to career.

I guess the big thing we've learned from this person's posts is that it is possible to like a city that is not SF.

And you get better offers when you're poached by a VP you are acquainted with.

It shouldn't take long to confuse your salary in these circumstances with the salaries of people working for and around you. Your immediate reference is probably that VP who is also VP :D

And that you can make 2.7 times a Bay Area salary and own a 5,000 square foot home in a city with mass transit that is much more culturally rich than S.F. It really sounds magical.

Somewhere in Iowa.

If it's in his comment history I figure it's fair game to state it here.

Just about everywhere else I've lived is culturally richer, DC, Chicago, Miami, London, Houston, all had better cultural and art scenes.

I'm big in theater, ballet, and art. San Francisco is way too expensive for artists to live in anymore and the art scene there is very limited, inorganic, and a bit stale. Further the distance to San Francisco means it's a chore (and a drive) to get there from the South Bay where all the jobs are.

Now I can take public transit to cultural institutions, and walk to a lot too. We have organic arts districts with real artists in residency, regular gallery showings and art walks, and some amazing local musicians.

You might get that in Oakland these days, but even Oakland is getting prohibitively expensive.

Do you have any tips for that? I've found it harder and harder to get the attention of distributed companies, to the point where I'm fairly sure I'll be relocating to an A or B tier city in the near future.

I don't work for a distributed company. I'm in R&D these days and head up the main science section of my company. I used my network to find jobs, applied for every opportunity and stayed on the ball.

Earlier in my career I'd send 150+ applications. The last move I only looked at three positions and got offers from all three.

Please tell us more! What city did you end up in?

I've lived in Miami, Chicago, London, DC, Boston (briefly), and Houston.

I'm now somewhere else entirely, and while I don't want to say, I'll just say you'd find it surprising, because I certainly did. We like it, though, and there is a strong science-based economy with big growth in cloud and data, low crime, a highly educated population, and an amazing metro area.

Heh .. and I thought I was the only one. I'm 38 (a research scientist) and lived in so many different cities! Because of the PhD and post-doc, the house purchase was delayed. We had a baby recently and I really feel like I need to give her stability.

Where we are, house prices have doubled since 2008. We are also trying to think out of the box in terms of where to live. Cheers!

"endless suburban hellscape"

hilariously accurate

Can I ask where you moved to?

It isn't really a way to get $10k out of an employer at all. The point is that some people genuinely don't want to live in the Bay Area and this offer could give them an opportunity/incentive to leave. There are plenty of non-Bay Area markets that have thriving software scenes and even places that offer you more disposable income once housing costs are factored in.

My cynical view on it is that it's more of a marketing ploy. Lots of non-Bay Area folk will be reading this and might make a decision to apply. I don't think they're trying to trap people. They're already a remote company. It's not like they're a major company employing 5,000 SWEs in the Bay Area and offering to relocate them to Northern Michigan where they're setting up a new office, but there won't be other companies around. While you might have more options in San Francisco than Seattle, I think the amount of leverage that more companies give you in your career is probably logarithmically increasing. That is to say, Seattle would have more than enough other companies around that the company couldn't forego raises and equity grants because you don't have other options.

And I think it would be a good thing for our industry to spread out a bit more. Some people have families in certain areas they wish to be close to, some people enjoy the local culture and amenities of certain areas more than others. Having people feel "forced" to live in locations that aren't their cup of tea for economic opportunity isn't really helping anything. The people who do want to live there face increased housing prices and congestion. The people who would rather live somewhere else make a choice for their career that doesn't match what they'd choose for their life. Tying economic opportunity to location isn't a wonderful thing.

> There are plenty of non-Bay Area markets that have thriving software scenes

This is true, there are other tech hubs in the United States, but they are facing many of the problems that the Bay Area is facing now, with a tightening housing market, increasing cost of living, and long commutes. Places outside of those tech hubs generally have a terrible IT industry, and generally only accept people with a bachelor's degree plus 2+ years experience to get into even a junior role.

I genuinely don't want to live in the Bay Area. I am also genuinely disappointed in all the companies that feel like they must be physically located there to achieve success. So bravo and kudos for anyone out there actually trying to bribe people to not be in SV, not just Zapier.

Some of the other comments in this thread are a bit insulting, actually--painting outside-the-valley as some kind of hopeless, jobless wasteland.

I've lived in these places. I wouldn't call them "hopeless, jobless wasteland[s]," but they generally have much poorer metrics. I made a living outside the Bay Area the first 6 years of my career after leaving academia. My view is the quality of the jobs is poorer, the treatment of IT workers is worse (it's bad enough having second-class status even in the Bay Area but it's much worse, generally, elsewhere), the salaries are lower even taking into account cost of living, and the quantity of available jobs at any given skill level above the tech equivalent of "semi-skilled labor" is generally lower per capita.

But it is possible (obviously) for software developers to earn a salary doing a job there.

> There are plenty of non-Bay Area markets that have thriving software scenes and even places that offer you more disposable income once housing costs are factored in.

This is technically true but elides tons of context. "Thriving software scene" does not touch on the quality of the "scene" in question. Places that have software industries with similar perks (e.g. flex time, flexible or absent dress standards, etc.) generally have the same housing and CoL issues that the Bay Area has, relative to the salaries they pay. Places without these perks also have a much higher ratio of employers who tend to offer significantly lower salaries and benefits and have jobs that are of a poorer quality (job titles like "programmer/analyst"). They also generally don't have a sufficiently large employer base to allow the movement we see in SF, Chicago, Austin, etc. Job security in these places is a thing and almost always not in the employees' favor.

Economic opportunity is tied to location. Those are the facts on the ground.

A $10k signing bonus in exchange for putting yourself in a more vulnerable position will not change those (unfortunate) facts.

To a large extent that's on the employee. If you choose to move to an area with no industrial foundation, then you are stuck with the horse you rode in on.

(It's also -- knowing the Zapier history of being aggressive on the employee-friendliness front, and having interacted with them in their earlier days -- somewhat uncharitable as a default position.)

Eh, iono. There are plenty of places with tech work outside of the bay area. And having a proven "works well remotely" on the resume seems likely to help find _other_ remote gigs down the road.

100% remote gigs are intrinsically riskier and lower paying. You compete with every worldwide Tom, Dick, or Harry who is capable of remaining awake during business hours. Low visibility in a mixed office makes you the first fired and last promoted.

Limiting your job search to 100% remote is a great way to unexpectedly find yourself earning eastern European wages while paying midwestern U.S. living costs. Or, worse, being forced to change geography when the work dries up.

We all know "that guy" who moved his family cross-country, put the kids into new schools etc only to come back to the city a couple years later, when the "perfect" remote gig ended, or the single employer in Nowhere, KS eliminated their local technology group.

Literally none of this has been our experience.

> eastern European wages

The caricatures of Middle America really never top, do they? Good developers in St. Louis, where I'm from, make six figures.

The GDP per capita in Romania (to pick a totally random example (it's literally just the first place I thought to check)) is $9,499. In Missouri it's $42,984.

There's this weird perception that the Midwest is like a third-world country, a perception that's plainly ignorant.

> 100% remote gigs are intrinsically riskier and lower paying. You compete with every worldwide Tom, Dick, or Harry who is capable of remaining awake during business hours.

How does that claim not apply equally to moving to a city with a large employee pool like the Bay Area?

You are competing with other people in the Bay Area, who have similar costs of living and, consequently, similar wage demands.

There is no guarantee that your competitors on a global market will face the same cost structure. Quite to the contrary -- they are very likely to have lower costs of living.

This experiment is primarily to find others who already want to leave the bay area for reason like family, partners, housing, or cost. We noticed several Zapier teammates do this, and thought there might be more.

If you're only after a $10k bonus, you're right, there are more effective ways to get that.

I got to interview the team about this decision, so here are more details if you're curious: http://www.inc.com/sonya-mann/zapier-remote-work-de-location...

No offense, but how could you avoid addressing the elephant in the room?

"Will my salary be COL adjusted?"

They offer you the job before they know if you're going to move or not, so it wouldn't make sense for that to affect the salary, unless you mentioned upfront that you planned to abscond to Iowa or wherever.

I am probably in the minority, but I hate remote teams. I have worked with remote teams in various timezones all my life and it has pretty much destroyed any semblance of love of work that I had. Calls in the mornings, calls in the evenings, lack of white boarding capabilities, not able to quickly tap on the shoulder and ask a question, not able to have team outings or in promptu happy hours etc. has exhausted me. I am now looking for a job with a 100% local team.

It's all about the timezone.

You can take 4-5 hour difference top, that leaves you an afternoon to work together and talk when you need to.

Any link with >8 hour difference is doomed to failure, you can't communicate at all.

On top of that, you need to all be extremely experienced and autonomous, and you need to have regular trips to meet in person.

I'm on a remote dev team in three states, but luckily the same time zone. To me, the timezone issue is much bigger than remote or not. Whiteboard - that is one thing I miss, but I lost that while I was in the office!

The grass is always greener..

Obvious question, do they get to keep their Bay Area salary?

I did, in fact I've vastly improved my salary by leaving the Bay Area.

I can tell you my team just hired a bunch of new engineers and we mad offers 10% above Bay Area offers very much on purpose.

Or, were they paid one to begin with? I've hired people locally whose last gig was working remote for companies not based in SFBA and not making SFBA level wages.

Which I think is fine, imo salary is most of cost of living adjustments.

I wish more companies did this, not just Bay Area companies.

I'm in Texas and looking to relocate to SoCal (specifically Torrance) in the second half of this year, and while I'm hoping my employer will let me either go remote or relocate me to their LA office, I'm terrified that they won't and I'll have to find a new job (I really like my employer, so I'll only leave if I absolutely have to).

There are lots of jobs around Torrance in tech.

Sounds like a neat way for Zapier to take advantage of Bay Area talent without paying Bay Area salaries. This isn't really for me, because I don't like remote work and I like living in the Bay Area, but I think this is a brilliant move. However, I'd want to know what the pay scale was like before making this kind of move.

If pay were the only factor I'd take a 20%-30% pay cut to be able to move closer to my wife's family and we as a family would end up being able to save more while actually owning a huge home.

Yeah, if cost of were the only factor, I could buy 2 or 3 houses in my home town for what I pay in rent. :/

Zapier has stated elsewhere in the comments that they don't adjust salaries.


We won't be able to compete purely on compensation with Google no matter where you are located.

However, you can expect an experienced engineer in St. Louis proper to be paid similarly well (6 figures, healthcare, retirement) -- equivalent for us to an engineer in small-town-Kansas, Chicago-area, etc.

The Bay Area needs to re-think traffic. Perhaps the hyperloop isn't so much needed between two already congested cities, but between lots of rural areas that can feed into congested cities. Live 5 hours (by car) from the BA and get there by hyperloop in 25 minutes.

Aside from the "hyperloop" part, the idea that an important consideration of transit planning is connecting urban centers with surrounding suburban and rural areas to support commuting, exchange of goods, etc., is hardly novel; it's fairly central to transit planning everywhere, including the Bay Area (and including projects like California High Speed Rail, whose initial operating segment will link Central Valley communities to Silicon Valley.)

Cost and congestion are driven by the commuting time to job centers.

If Bakersfield becomes a bedroom community for San Francisco with a 25 minute commute, you can count on Bakersfield housing prices converging on Bay Area costs.

This is probably a net win for the community of Bakersfield, but it may not change things very much for you as a pre-existing worker in San Francisco.

Increasing the effective commute radius into the Bay Area such that property ownership and rental prices were driven up in the new commuter towns would also reduce the upward pressure on prices in the Bay Area and it's existing commuter towns.

Good point. Convergence of prices is a big win if it means the "center" stops rising so quickly.

How much time have you spent in Bakersfield?

the point is that if you open up the bay area to enough transportation options, the prices should go down / stop rising

> Live 5 hours (by car) from the BA and get there by hyperloop in 25 minutes.

And after n years, the place where you start your voyage within the hyperloop is becoming another huge city of its own.

Sounds great, we can have lots of popular, busy, prosperous, well connected cities?

Analyzing this announcement critically, I work through the following:

1. Why would Zapier publicize a new policy for existing employees? Cynically, that appears to be a PR opportunity.

2. The new policy is an "experiment" that pays existing employees $10,000 to cover relocation costs to move outside the Bay Area.

3. I assume that the employees' salaries are then adjusted for COL (this is the crux). This presents an arbitrage between the $10k and salary adjustment.

4. Zapier is facilitating a process that, in effect, acquires employees from one location for a cheaper price than competitors, as long as those employees are willing to move outside of the Bay Area.

I don't have a comment on whether I agree or disagree; I guess it's good to support employees living where they want to. But I'd be interested in knowing 1) if employees do have their salaries adjusted for cost of living when they move and 2) where many employees ultimately end up moving to.

There is a face value lens that I can read this announcement through, but there is another lens related to the price of talent in the Bay Area. If I don't take this at face value, it's interesting to me if this carries any signal about real estate or tech salary outlook.

EDIT - Nevermind, salaries aren't adjusted for cost of living.

I read it as applying to new hires, not necessarily existing employees, so it makes sense that they'd publicize it.

If it only applies to new hires then that may make salary adjustment easier (if that's part of this).

> 3. I assume that the employees' salaries are then adjusted for COL (this is the crux). This presents an arbitrage between the $10k and salary adjustment.

The bryanh has said they don't adjust salaries post-move, theough I imagine future raises/bonuses might not be as competitive as elsewhere in the bay area e.g. another you might might have taken to stay in the bay area.

What a refreshing idea. I'd love to hear the results after a year of this experiment.

I think the idea can apply to many cities, even outside the US. Some European cities are in the midst of a housing (availability) crisis forcing rent prices up and leaving young families to live in small apartments to be within a commutable distance to work.

You should really expand this to Seattle folks as well. I've decided to stay for now, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't wistfully start looking at the housing prices in Miami after this awful winter...

We're considering other places with outrageous cost of living as well - but as an experiment - we wanted to start with the Bay Area only.

Also in Seattle - housing prices have exploded to the point where many 100k+ engineers would struggle to get a 30yr mortgage on a 1 bedroom. 400k+ for a nice 1bd here (within 10 miles), not yet Silicon Valley but still quite bad.

I don't track the Seattle market closly but several people have mentioned this. Is this just the city core or all the suburbs too? How much does a 3 bedroom go for? 4 years ago, I heard it could be had for 500K. Has it doubled?

I think this is a great start. More and more companies should start doing this. That way people will get convinced to take these packages and move to smaller cities where they can have better life.

It doesn't make sense to cram your family in a 700 sq. ft apartment and still pay $3500 rent for it. I like other people was very excited about bay area but after coming here I often wonder whether it is worth it. Also, 30s is where you start saving more for future. giving that money as rent makes my heart cry.

I'd just like to commend the zapier folks for promoting a remote first company like this. We're distributed across 6 timezones and have built up like this for years. I always try to hire engineers where they live. This causes some complications but it's been worth it for us. We've found you have to have the right culture for it though. It's harder to "bolt on" remote.

Would love to know how fundraising has been impacted by being a remote first company. Did you get resistance? Are there certain investors who are fundamentally for or against?

I think there is a bit of hesitation for some VC's in backing a remote first company - but some are all for it. Investors aren't as much a hivemind as one might think - they all have different theses that impact how they interpret remote first companies.

We did raise some money in the early days (when it was much more faith than evidence) but I don't recall any concern about our remote intentions from our investors. Since then - we've reached profitability.

Another bullet point for you: We're distributed in 6 time zones and haven't had problems with funding.

Interesting. Does one salary stay the same with this agreement?

This is my dream, and this is why I switched industries to become a programmer. One day, I will achieve the apex - beach cafe in Vietnam, tethered net connection, happily tapping away code for my full time job.


More like this, please, from everyone. God bless you for doing this.

Applications are open for YC Winter 2018

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact