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US salaries are on a whole new level when it comes to senior programmers. $200K+ base is normal, if you're good. $150/hr for consulting gigs is also normal if you're good.

So your $5K after taxes wouldn't even register on my radar.

This is relative.

5000€ is $5623. You can maintain a "normal" life standard around here for about $800 (renting a studio / two room flat in the city centre + all the expenses, no car but I never needed one - the subway takes me to the furthest parts of town in 25 minutes, walking to work is not unusual). So you're saving more or less 5000$ every month.

How much do you have to earn in SV to rent a place for your own next to your office and still save 5 grand a month? :)

Anyway I get your point and in general yeah, US salaries are of course on a whole new level and I won't even argue with that.

I'm not trying to say Warsaw is better for programmers than SV because it never was and never will be - yet we still managed, within last 5 years or so, managed to do something you somehow can't do - we trained HRs, agencies, recruiters etc. And they willingly act as we please. Because there's an incredibly high demand for programmers and no one has time for games like US companies play. And I still can't wrap my mind around this - if company Y or X is so desperately seeking for employees and pays them bazillions of dollars - why they even consider burning so much time on the process of hiring? Hiring is hard, I get that, but it's much easier if you disclose the salary. And in Poland right now hiring is impossible if the salary is unknown. And it's not even required by law (though it is supposed to be).

> And I still can't wrap my mind around this - if company Y or X is so desperately seeking for employees and pays them bazillions of dollars - why they even consider burning so much time on the process of hiring?

It's a leverage thing. Companies in high cost of living locations can just wait for someone else and they will. That doesn't work in a low cost of living locations, since their isn't much urgency from the perspective of the applicant.

First of all, who cares about base, what matters is total compensation. In Silicon Valley, I would say it takes about 5 years of experience, for good engineers, to rent a nice place close to work, if they want to. See actual data here: https://thestartupconference.com/2018/09/21/about-that-silic...

After 10 years of experience, you are looking into buying a house. Granted, the price of the house is exhorbitant compared to its size, but that's the market.

I'm a bit dubious of that site. A decent studio can be had for 2000-3000k even I'm SF. A good 2 bedroom apartment with 2 parking spaces and a patio close to Google that I was looking at was only 2.7k.

The salaries are also low in my opinion. At just under 4 years experience I'm making 225k yearly in TC, over 170k of that is salary.

Bargaining doesn't seem to work at scale (countries with bargaining habits don't do good economically) and it rapidly becomes a big waste of time for everybody.

As someone who always disliked visiting markets where bargaining is expected, this intrigues me. Can you recommend a book or documentary about this, or maybe explain a bit of the theorized causal connection?

Seconding nitrogen's request – I'm very interested in any pointers to further reading.

A potential cause for this effect might be that widespread bargaining reduces a market's efficiency, since prices are less transparent for buyers and sellers.

> How much do you have to earn in SV to rent a place for your own next to your office and still save 5 grand a month? :)

If you want a nice 1BR apartment ($3000) + a very generous budget for monthly expenses ($3000), you need to earn $11000 after tax to save 5 grand a month - i.e $132k a year.

A total compensation of $200k as a single person gets you that much after tax: https://smartasset.com/taxes/california-tax-calculator#BKf2k...

Take a look at these sources to see what top companies are paying software engineers in SV (spoiler: it's more than 200k, and you can add ~60% of each dollar above that to your savings): https://www.levels.fyi/ https://www.paysa.com/salaries

These are not normal base salaries even for senior programmers in the bay area. The 60th percentile for senior software engineers is around $180k per year in the Bay Area. Total compensation is commonly $200k or more, easily, but not base. Outside of the Bay Area, even in NY, Chicago, etc., base salaries are lower. In most places they're much lower--below $100k.

In large companies, there's another factor to consider, which is that if you're a few years into the company, the stock grants that you received a few years back and that are still vesting now are now possibly worth a lot more... your total yearly comp increases quite a bit if your company stock did well for the few years you've been with them.

Those are not nett salaries are they? So keep in mind in Europe it can be 5k times 2 times 12=120k.

(How to use asterisks here?)

A 50th percentile base salary for a senior engineer in the Bay Area is around $150k-$160k per year. Most companies offer a cash bonus (10%-15% of base); including this puts a typical cash compensation total for a 50th percentile senior engineer is between $165k and $184k per year. Most companies offer stock, but the grant and value of these varies wildly. Public companies' stock is actually worth something but you have your places like Google where RSU grants are a huge portion of salary and other places where it's closer to the cash bonus portion of salary.

This is all gross, pre-deduction salary; not salary net of taxes, deductions, etc.

Base salary is a ruse. Median total compensation for qualified experts in the bay is currently $450-750k at reputable firms. Everyone knows this. Any company offering less is simply not in the running and is staffed by absolute morons and won't make it. So sad to be them.

What's your bar for "qualified expert" in this context?

Their linkedin profile says so.

I can't say I've seen people talk about their net salary in Europe, but we do typically galk about monthly salary. (Even if they did say net salary, paying an effective income tax of 50% would be quite exceptional; I would need to make a bit over $300 000 for that in Sweden, which is insanely high.)

"How to use asterisks here?"

There is a Unicode small asterisk: ﹡

And some other variations: ∗ *


If you surround an asterisk by spaces it works fine: a * b * c * d


$600/hr is the equivalent of about $1.2M/year salary. That's exceptionally rare. Unless you're being cheeky with "should be", I think you have beliefs that are misaligned with reality.

Hourly billing rate has to cover all the hours you can't bill for, PTO, health care, everything..

Most contractors I know don’t work 40hrs day, every week. Also if you look around at advice you’ll find that you shouldn’t quote an hourly rate, you should quote “for the job”. If you’re good and the work you’re doing is even mildly specialized you can get a job done quickly enough that the effective hourly rate is pretty absurd.

What counts as "independent expert in specialized field"? Because as an independent backend contractor (java/spring/scala/akka) that straddles the line between architectural consulting and staff augmentation (usually long-term contracts), I see real resistance to going above $200/hr since even in the bay area you can hire full teams from vendors at around that price point for man hours.

8*600 is $4800 per day. What kind of expert in what specialized field do you have to be to make that much? Can you give a specific example?

Seems below average for law firm partners [1], and there's a lot of them out there, so it doesn't surprise me at all that technical consultants with genuinely rare skills could command hourly rates like that.

[1] https://www.mlaglobal.com/en/knowledge-library/research/2018...

Has anybody ever seen such a thing in reality? I have seen quite a few consultants and nobody ever got even close.

Don't forget it's 200k a year whereas the EU salary is 5k per month - still way below, but as op said: once you factor in the cost of living, it starts to make more sense :)

The salary he mentioned is 5k/month _after_ taxes, so 60k/year. Which according to a Polish income tax calculator I found would be about 85k/year EUR before taxes. With current rates that's about 95k USD.

According to Numbeo living in SF is about 2 (groceries) to 5 (rent) times more expensive compared to Warsaw: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?cou...

Not to mention we get free health care and decent holidays with that.

A 7 weeks holiday allowance has more than a monetary allowance.

> Not to mention we get free health care

The (many) issues with US health care do not affect upper/middle class professionals.

From a "patient perspective", as long as you are employed as a software engineer in SV, health care is not a concern at all (insurance is covered by the employer). If anything, it is superior to anything I experienced in Europe.

I've experienced American healthcare and European healthcare. I'll take European any day of the week, over the Silicon valley version (and seriously if that's the best, god help the rest. I'm actually lucky I survived the US system.)

The issue in America is essentially that the system is paid by piecework. So the entire system optimises for the number of tests/procedures/operations etc. that can be performed. And that might not be so bad in and of itself, if 21st century medicine was reliable. But it's not, and the sad truth of the US system is that many of the (very expensive) procedures it performs have worst outcomes than leaving the patient alone.

That's interesting, because I had a different experience. What Europe are you talking about here?

In the Netherlands, a patient should not expect from a doctor to conduct any tests at all. I had no experience with the Dutch healthcare myself, but I've heard horrendous stories about it, for example how Irish expat went to a doctor with a problem of pain while swallowing, received nothing more than an advice "well, swallow less, then" (like in a bad joke about doctors), went home to Ireland a got diagnosed with a throat cancer there.

Except when you really need an efficient health insurrance system, like cancer level efficiency. At least it's what I learnd from following US politics these last 3 years on reddit.

I mean, I have cancer and my health insurance in the US is about as good as can be expected, which unfortunately means almost nothing because we're terrible at cancer we can't cut out of the body. If I didn't have this healthcare I'd probably be dead already and leaving a mountain of debt for my family. The costs to my insurance company are insane for treatment. I'm easily costing over 100k/mo for basic treatment.

Having a lot of money is really the sole area where US health care actually is the best in the world. Efficiency is somebody else’s problem.

Though the costs are invisible to you, our model raises prices and essentially gentrifies care, making it more difficult for those lower on the ladder to afford care (bringing along the associated public health issues) and robbing other priorities (like medical research) of cash.

This is because a sr programmer with experience and likely a family needs to think about saving for healthcare, retirement, education costs for children, housing costs that may also be more inefficient or expensive in the US than other nations

What does that have to do with anything he said?

That's SV/NYC numbers. Plenty of great programmers in other parts of the country don't make that.

Even in Silicon Valley there aren’t that many companies other than FAANG offering $200k base salary. $200k total compensation, including stock and bonuses, is a different matter.


why not a million

It's not based on how much they make, but about their abilities.

You literally described their abilities in terms of how much they make.

I described their abilities with the word great. And said they all make over a certain amount. They didn't always make this much. One used to make 140k working in gaming just 3 years ago. He was still great, just getting paid a fraction of what he could make. But that's gaming for you.

It is really difficult to have a meaningful discussion without any objective measurement of great. I am impressed that you are still trying.

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