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Ask HN: Remote developers with a spouse/kids, where do you live?
49 points by TbobbyZ 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 46 comments
I've just scored my first 100% remote developer job making $150k a year. My wife is a full-time parent. We have two kids that are under 4 and currently live in Los Angeles. I'm over the high cost of living, crowds, smog, and have a feeling that we should move to save money, but I'm not sure where.

What do you like/dislike about where you live?

Where would you live if you could? Why?




China, close to family and side business opertiunities. I got a night time support gig.

Even with kids, as we approach summer time, it's time to travel! None of this 2 week crap, take the full 2-3 months. Rent place via air-bnb and go live somewhere else, and see if you like it. I just always have a hotel for the first couple days when I arrive just in case of any SNAFU with airbnb, never go cheap on internet, and always have multiple ways of getting online.

Remember internet now isn't some 'nice to have' thing, if it's down you aren't billing, and if you aren't billing you are just throwing money out the window. I have 3 cell phones, each with a 4g+ chip from a different carrier, and I paid the extra cash to get a business grade internet hookup, because I want that 24x7x8 response SLA.

The best part, of course is the absolute freedom, the worst part can be the social isolation. I've found using shared office space from time to time being okay, or living somewhere more... bohemian than the typical urban environment a nice escape. My kids are 4 & 2, but they start kindergarden at 3 in China.

It's a big world, and a small world. Get passports, travel, see the world. If your wife is up to homeschooling then you can be free to go wherever you want to go, as long as they have iternet.


This is a great post. Seriously. I wish I had done this when my kids were young.

And I just went to China for a few months and I too had 2 cells and a portable personal router and don’t forget VPN service!


I use an office I rent in Hong Kong as a hop, as well with a few servers I rent in the USA, and Germany. Keep eyes peeled on sites like low-end box, and look for dedicated hosting. It costs more, but you do get better service.

As a plan B you can string together a bunch of VPS's if you want.

In China nothing works forever, so always have many. And the CCP tends not to mess with business lines & VPN's as they know that you are too busy making money to be all political.


Are you from China? I'm American, and doing this would be completely out of the norm for my culture.


My family floated around a bunch, so we really don't "belong" anywhere. I grew up a foreigner in my birth place.. actually I haven't been there in over 10 years as I don't have any ties to the place .. I speak the language, but don't have any real connection.

I'm surprised about travel and adventure being out of the norm for Americans thought. If anything the tiny villages where everyone has the same last name is all too common in China.


Might be the reason you should just do it regardless.


"...close to family..."

"Are you from China?"

Probably.


My family is from Europe. I've never been there. Grown up in America my whole life. Is it possible to have family living in a country you are not from? Yes..


Replying to your pre-edit comment ("Growing up in America my whole life, it would be nuts to move there.'):

I moved to China when I was 35. Before that I had always lived within 10km of where I was born (except for some years at university, which was 100km away). I am not ethnically Chinese. I had one acquaintance in Beijing. Whether or not my decision was 'nuts' is just a matter of perspective/mindset.

"Is it possible to have family living in a country you are not from? Yes.."

I didn't say it wasn't possible. But it's very very very rare for someone who is not Chinese to move to China to be near family. Why? Because 90% of foreigners who live in China don't know whether they'll be here 2 years from now. So it wouldn't make sense for their family members to move to China to be near them (except for a spouse/SO of course).


Yes the typical English teacher is here on some "exotic dumplings tour", or just made a mistake thinking that anime is from here...

But my family started going back and forth in the 1800's out here. The real shame is that of the land that is worth anything was sold for next to nothing long before my parents were born.

I know I'm not typical, but really anyone can do it.


Wow. I just looked at your submission history, and if I'm reading correctly, you got your first programming job just over 2 years ago, after studying part-time while supporting a family. And you increased your salary from 35k to 150k in about 2 years.

This would be impressive even for someone who is single. But even more impressive to do it with kids to take care of.

Wow!


Thanks! I think my first employer severely underpaid me, which is why I jumped so quickly. Also, having a wife and kids to support, that really puts a flame to your feet to work hard.


Does your work support dynamic timezones ? Or you may end up working 2nd/3rd shifts ?


It's all currently in one time zone thankfully.


So you're not very free to move ? Like only +-2 hours ?

My idea would be something like EU (GR,AL,ES) and live like a prince. You high wage will make it possible to buy time, like housekeeper etc.

Probably do the same in pricier EU countries.


wow ! if you ever blog about these experiences ( from $35k to $150k under 2 years ) i would read it eagerly.


Not OP, but similar situation.

Kids can really put a lot into perspective, and give you unwavering drive.


I work at a fully remote company and live with my spouse on Manhattan (the upper west side to be precise). I take walks through Central Park everyday and frequently work at a few of the different public libraries.

I love living in a place with so many people, great museums, and great restaurants. It’s very walkable and I love the subways. I meet many interesting people at coffee shops and in the park.

The taxes are a high but overall it is cheaper than I expected.


I live in WA state and really just get to WFH when I want to. Many of my team members are full time remote though and there are many wonderful things about WA.

Seattle (where I live) is pretty expensive now.

But living on one of the islands (Bainbridge, Vashon, etc.) could be wonderful (better cost of living, access to beautiful nature, good schools, small community vibe).

Bellingham is lovely and has a university in town and also in a really beautiful part of Washington with access to lakes, Puget Sound, mountains, and so on. It's also right by I5 and Canada is not far away.

If you noticed the running theme is if you love nature, water, and mountains and want to share that with your kids consider WA.

WA state doesn't have state income tax for now, and I've loved the 10 years I've spent here.

Oh yeah, and I guess Portland, OR is cool too. Also pretty, and a happy new more low key than Seattle.


Vancouver WA is also a good compromise, and if I can get a remote position I would strongly consider moving down there from Seattle. Still a WA resident so you pay no state income tax. Houses are quite affordable compared to Seattle. Close driving distance to Portland. Oregon has no sales tax. It's a bit flatter down there than Bellingham but still quite nice and lots to do within reasonable driving distance.


I work as a remote SRE from a town in Northern Greece. I would advise you to take a look at Crete (Greece).

Preferred place is Chania, but if you're going to cheap you can find cheaper right outside the old city center, especially if you're going to rent for a year.

The good things:

- Half a year is summertime - The food is superb - The canyons are amazing - Many seashores are amazing - You're close to the sea everywhere, very strong boost for your your family's immune system - You can live easily with less than ~40k/year - Ppl are accustomed to foreigners and very easy to befriend

You can find specific info about ppl working remotes all over the world here: https://nomadlist.com/?ref=remoteok (no affiliation)


I feel smaller cities in Greece strike a good balance in general. You don't feel too starved for options, you don't get the feeling that it's awfully crowded either and rents are generally super affordable.

I assume other Mediterranean countries are similar, but great weather and the general way of life it affords people and the culture it facilitates, all these have huge benefits to your day to day well being.

Personally, I'm currently stuck in Athens but I want to eventually move to central Greece when I land a remote gig.


I also work remote from a small northern Greece town and I would also totally recommend Crete. It is an island but it is pretty big and the weather is the best you can get in Greece. If you enjoy crowded places then you should look on Thessaloniki that has 1 million population and has the best night life in my opinion. There are also often flights to other parts of Greece and decent connection to most European cities. Also Chalkidiki is like 1 hour away by car and you can get the best beaches in Greece.


"You're close to the sea everywhere, very strong boost for your your family's immune system"

Why is that?


I think the parent meant overall benefits of the location: low polution on the island, iodine from sea around and fresh seafood and vitamin D boost with lots of sunny days.


I'm from Sydney, Australia. I am not remote, but I like the idea of grabbing a US salary ($150k a year = AU$200k a year, let assume AU$220-AU$240k contract rate with no benefits, then I can cover my superannuation too).

Compare that to a similar Sydney dev salary, for an experienced dev, AU$140k would be towards the high end. So a 50% salary increase AND work from home can be on the cards. All that is stopping me is that my current gig is giving me learning opportunities both technical and managerial that I might find hard to get in a remote job. But boy do I love working on code in a quiet room!

A good way to "beat the system" would be to live in Adelaide where the cost of an apartment near the city is about $300KAU ($225k USD). A 100% mortgage on an ocean view house, close to the city, for a family would be affordable on a US tech salary! I guess as long as you don't care about 'house as an investment' because demand is likely to be higher in the long term in the horrible overcrowded "big smoke" cities :-)


we also have brisbane with an expected decrease in apartment values... might be able to pick up a bargain...

its a shame that dev salaries top out so little here (i'm melbourne) makes you consider all these things...


I'm currently in the bay area, and I've always thought that in a scenario you describe, moving to Sacramento makes a lot of sense. (curious to see the thoughts of HN on this topic) You're still close enough away from the bay that you can visit fairly often (couple times a month) to keep in touch with friends there, but housing is significantly cheaper. Lifestyle is not incredibly different than what you would be used to in the bay (Sac and east bay are relatively similar) -- it's not like you'd be shoveling snow in the winter.

For you, coming from LA, I'm not sure if it makes a ton of sense, but I would probably look at smaller cities around southern california in a similar way.


We live in Chattanooga.

I love the outdoor culture, weather, low cost of living, focus on healthy eating, local restaurants, EPB fiber, small city vibe.

It has been compared to Austin and Boulder. The city schools suck because they don’t get enough funding. There are good private schools downtown and a good elementary.

The suburbs have some solid schools if you do your research. Suburbs like Ooltewah are growing and remain super family friendly. You’ll love the parks and town squares. Iron man has hosted here often. It’s 2 hours from Atlanta and Nashville.

It’s a very progressive city given the context of Tennessee and the south.

I could go on. If you’d like to know more, hit me up. I also work remotely.

We would consider moving to Colorado or Europe. That’s about it.


How is downtown Chattanooga for family living? I've seen some cool apartments.


I used to live downtown with my kids. The apartment was gorgeous. Southside is currently going through gentrification, that's where I lived, and is the younger area. The North Shore is where you'll find the most wealth and private schools. Lots of young families are buying homes in Highland Park and St. Elmo because they're less expensive. Again, you have to do your research.

Living downtown allows you to walk to most events - CFC (soccer team), the downtown market, block parties, restaurants, etc. The public transit isn't very good but Ubers and Lyfts are cheap. We enjoyed living downtown except for grocery shopping. It's a bit more expensive and a drive from Southside. It's not far, but you have stoplights and all of that.

All in all, I'd say 7/10. I come from a more rural, less dense area, but coming from the Bay, you'll probably feel like it's easy as pie to get around.


With small kids, I suggest the following:

Look for a place with good schools. A good place to start is small towns with land grant universities, like Manhattan, KS which was an awesome experience years ago when I lived there.

I also like being reasonably close to a good airport.

Make a list of stores, eateries and similar that you like. A town doesn't necessarily need all your favorites, but you should check that it has enough to be comfortable for you.

For a time, I very much wanted to live in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It is 90 minutes from Denver, one of the busiest airports in North America. I never made it there and happy with where I'm at, but I think it's got a lot going for it.


Miami, we're latino and the kids love it! Great weather and tons of corporate-y work in the healthcare industry here. Lots of startups cropping up as well recently.

We also have a great 1GB fiber internet connection, great for remote work.


Spokane, WA is a lovely place to live if you can tolerate snow. You could own a very, very nice home on that salary, have access to a lot of amenities, and a place than increasingly feels like Seattle and Portland used to. I lived in and miss LA, but the soul can only handle so much souplantation.


I live near my parents in the suburbs of nyc. Reasonable price but there are much cheaper places.

I would move to Ithaca in upstate ny if not for family reasons. College towns are a nice mix of rural cheap housing and stuff to do.


We're in Buffalo, NY, and love it. We moved here from Orlando, FL for similar reasons (kids, starting out) in 1998, albeit in our case we were starting our own software company.

Were you born in LA, or are you from somewhere else ?

For more information:

https://www.buffalorising.com/

If you decide to check out this area, our contact information is available via our web site (www.elevatesoft.com). Feel free to send us an email and we'll be happy to show you around or answer any questions you may have.


We moved close to the Bruce Peninsula, Ontario, and we love it so far.

Pros: - Cheaper than most places in Ontario. We live in a great house that would cost at least 3x more in any GTA suburb. - Lots of nature and places to explore all around us. - Peaceful and quiet. - Good balance between country living and convenience - high speed internet, natural gas, amazon delivery, big box stores.

Cons: - More snow in the winter (which can be good if you're into winter sports) - Limited number of ethnic restaurants. - 2 hours away from an international airport.


Been working remote in Vermont for a decade now. Love it here and now that we have kids I'm not even considering moving anywhere. Nature, plenty of space, cheap (at least by major city standards), good food and beer scene, people are friendly, good schools if you pick the right town.

My only complaints would be slow Internet (though fiber is more common these days) and the ticks. And it gets cold sometimes, some people don't like that.


Charleston, SC.

Moved here to escape the Washington D.C. rat race after 9/11.

It's great here, but word has gotten out and prices have gone up significantly (nothing like LA) over the last few years.

I love it here, but it's scary moving somewhere where there are only a handful of non-remote jobs, especially as a divorced father of two (I can not move if I want to be near my kids)


Pick up a place that has no state income tax. You'll instantly get a %10 pay raise. Definitely move away from California because the public schools are just horrible. Florida, Washington or Texas. These 3 states have really good schools.


Malaysia is nice as long as you don't pick Kuala Lumpur.

Good weather, good food, beautiful people, fast internet, easy to travel to other places, very pro startup/tech attitude, nice currency conversion rate for remote workers.


Why not Kuala Lumpur? I've only been there once, on work, some years ago. Was there for a month or so. Didn't get to see a whole lot (except restaurants, malls and night markets), but liked what I saw back then. Food was varied and good (liked the food courts, where you can get many varieties of cuisines under one roof), friendly people, good Internet (for then), etc. Of course it is a big city, so some may not like that. But it did have a lot of parks and trees, IIRC.

Plus the Multimedia Super Corridor was just starting up then, and while I've not followed its progress closely, I did read now and then, that many startups have been set up there and such.


Traffic can be terrible and hostile, and some people are not so nice either. It can be rather expensive and it takes far too long to do something like buy lunch or groceries. There are some networking effects, but they are very poor compared to other cities.

It's much nicer outside the fringes of KL, places like Shah Alam, Cyberjaya, Putrajaya, Bangi. Internet is just as good, travel to KL is not bad.


Interesting, thanks for the info. IIRC, MSC was in or around Cyberjaya.


Chico is really beautiful and has cheap housing plus lots of live music.


I live in the Portland area. Love the city, but it's expensive too. (albeit not California expensive!)




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