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Compensation in 2019 – new grad tech offers (jonlu.ca)
204 points by jonluca 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 348 comments





I don't know why I ever bother reading things like this. On one hand, I'm not driven by money, so it doesn't motivate me. On the other, my perspective of having been in software for about 4-8 years depending on how you count, and struggling to get to net zero—an amount of only about 10k cad—is just sort of crushing when I realize someone fresh out of school can negotiate a 100k signing bonus and more yearly salary than I've ever been offered. It's just this sort of awful sinking feeling knowing that I'm sort of on the periphery of an industry in which most people are making more money than they know what to do with.

That said, I'm happy that people get paid well to do something they love, but that can often be very depressing. Not always certainly, but damn if you've never looked out from behind your screen at the sun shining and thought a little less of the React component or whatever saas thing you work on.

It's easy to forget that many of these articles, and particularly posts are Blind, are just just riddled with people posturing about the same thing.

Edit: I should add the emotional response I tend to have given my circumstance, I do think it's way better to have transparency than not.


> most people are making more money than they know what to do with

Well, if they are in SF (which many of them are), they know exactly what to do with all the money: pay the rent and share pizza with their 6 roommates.


The OP of this thread, who lives in SF, mentions he has about $11k left over every month after paying for rent and living expenses, and after spending $1200 a month in 'fun' expenses.

See: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20943699

Yes SF is expensive, but these salaries are absurd.


Apparently he's including equity in that figure, not just salary. With that in mind, those figures not super out of the ordinary for devs in SF.

Which he should, for liquid stock of a publicly traded company.

It's still not the same thing. I worked at a company whose stock price dropped by 40% in the span of a year. If someone is making $100k/$100k stock and equity, then that can easily become $100k/50k. It's even worse than that because you paid taxes on the stock at the vesting price and not the sell price (you can deduct this as a capital gains loss, but it's still money you're not getting).

That poster is definitely has good compensation, but TC needs to be broken into salary and equity.


This is one of the reasons why I like working for Netflix. My compensation is (almost) entirely base salary.

When I left Google, a substantial part of my salary was via stacked yearly vesting GSU (like RSU) stock grants with some bonus mixed in. That meant that my salary was heavily dependent on the whims of the market. It also meant that my cash flow was somewhat impacted by either doing a lot of extra withholding or doing quarterly estimated taxes, since the GSUs were taxed at 25% instead of my actual tax rate.

Just getting paid every two weeks is so much nicer, and so much simpler. And we don't have a Monday in January after annual bonuses are awarded when we spend all day talking about who quit after their bonus was paid.


>It's even worse than that because you paid taxes on the stock at the vesting price and not the sell price

How is this worse? You can always sell the stock as soon as it vests, with zero tax implication.


Not if you work in a private company. And even if you do sell stock immediately, if the stock price goes down so does your actual compensation. Equity compensation is less certain than salary compensation.

I suppose, but how many late-stage private companies (i.e. late enough that you're getting stocks instead of some kind of option or other you-aren't-technically-gaining-anything vehicle) are having wild downswings in stock price? I'm not aware of any, and while I could imagine there are some I would assume it's a relatively small number, but I could just not be in the loop.

Dropbox and Twitter both experienced drops in stock value of ~40%. Uber and Lyft both lost a third of their stock value since July. Washington is consistently taking about tougher regulations for tech companies. I would not assume that tech stocks are going to be stable in the near future.

The companies that I am aware of award stock units based on their monetary value. If the stock is worth $100/unit, and your TC is to get $100k in stocks, you get $100k in stocks. If the stock falls to be worth $50/unit, you still get $100k in stocks.

Your compensation has nothing to do with stock price. Your decision to sell or hold onto the stock is an investment decision made by you, but isn't really relevant to the discussion of "this is how much money was given to me by my company".


That's not how it worked at the companies I've been at. Your stock grants were determined at the time you join, and your refreshers are determined in January or February. You are granted $X worth of stock, so in that sense the stock units are based on monetary value.

But if you are granted $100k worth of stock in February, and the stock price drops by half in March you're only getting $50k worth of stock. Come next February, your stock grant will probably have a higher number of units to account for the drop in price, but you still earned less than $100k in stock the previous year.


They award stock units based on monetary value, but that calculation is done once sometime around when you join. So a drop pre-joining would be accounted for (maybe beneficial if you expect the stock to rise, but if it drops afterwards, you would have a loss.

Normally there is a vesting period before you can sell any equity.

Get $50k in equity ($100 per share), but you can only sell 1/3 each of the next 3 years. Stock price drops to $50 means you now have $25k of equity.

If it’s options it may mean you get $0.


This isn’t normal. They do often have a minimum compensation target but it’s going to be a lot less than your advertised comp. once your stock is granted the number of shares is locked in.

Is there a time period between being awarded stock and being able to sell it?

It can also become $100k/$150k. Such huge drops that you mention will be exceedingly rare (as will huge jumps that I mentioned), and are in any case capped by the vesting interval.

Really, anything but taking the value of stock as it is when discussing total compensation of well-established publicly traded companies is just noise.


Spreading equity across several weeks can be very misleading when you’re in the middle of a period where the stock price is shooting up.

When the stock price flattens, that extra $11k per month might turn into an extra $5k per month which isn’t exactly rolling in cash in SF.


>Spreading equity across several weeks can be very misleading when you’re in the middle of a period where the stock price is shooting up.

Shooting up? Dude works at Pinterest, and Pinterest stock has actually been falling recently.

>extra $5k per month which isn’t exactly rolling in cash in SF.

Five thousand dollars a month is rolling in cash for anywhere. This is the type of attitude I'm talking about in my other comment in this thread. There's an incredible loss of perception when it comes to SVers and what constitutes a lot of money and what doesn't. An extra $5k a month is more than the entire salary of the average American household. Hell, it's almost more than the average SF income!


Responding to sibling: Five years to save up for a down payment on a $1.5mm home is incredibly fast. You seem to not think it's a lot of money. Tidepod's main point in this post (and throughout the thread) is that SV tech people don't understand how much money they have relative to the average person, as reflected in how they speak and think about it. This is a perfect example of that.

Cool.

Save up 100k and move to the middle of where in India. You won’t be able to do your job, or talk to anyone but hey, you’ll be better off than most of the world.


It’s important to note I said “in SF”.

If you want to save up a $300k down payment on a single family home, $5k a month in savings will take you 5 years (assuming you ignore your retirement entirely).

Otherwise, I agree that $5k per month after taxes and expenses is a ton of money.


My point was that $5k a month is a lot of money, even in SF! $5,000 a month is more than the take-home income of the average worker in SF.

Yikes. Dig the name btw.

But you must also look at how much space belongs to that one individual for the rent they pay, vs elsewhere; not to mention, California's very high taxes. It's common for those with seemingly high salaries to have very little space or actually share it with many people, and if you lived like that in other places you'd also end up with more leftover each month, even with a lower salary.

ok sure, let's imagine that this specific individual decides to spend $2k more on rent to have a place just to himself, which would bring his net after all expenses to over $9k. Still a lot, so the housing costs don't make that much of a difference here.

But rent is just part of the picture, and 2k is a low estimate to match actual quality of life. What about the much higher taxes, much higher prices for other aspects of living?

He’s gonna need that extra $2k now that the SALT deductions are gone.

that's why I said "2k MORE", on top of how much he is already paying for rent by sharing a place with someone.

OP mentions he pays $2400 in rent, which would get you a pretty decent studio or half of a 2br apartment in some very nice places in SF. The $11k leftover is also after taxes (and also after 'fun' spending and utilites/food).

That's also easy to forget ;) 115k ain't going too far in that respect. The U.S is a different place as well, and even that 100k signing bonus won't go that far in replacing student debt. I was surprised that he's a USC grad with a .ca TLD.

Edit: At an 11k surplus every month, I take the above comment back.


My starting salary was $110k, and I couldn't sell any stock for my first 3 years. Living in SF was not very hard, I opted to live alone in a studio costing $1.8-1.9k. I could still save about half my post tax income.

How long ago was this? And do you own your own home now?

That was 4-5 years ago. No, I don't own my own home. The SF real estate market is inflated, IMO, and I could easily see housing prices drop once the populace has had enough of restrictive development policies. Salaries are high enough that I'm still saving good money while renting.

> and even that 100k signing bonus won't go that far in replacing student debt

Better than "zero" signing bonus. $100k takes how many years of saving money? This signing bonus is "free money" provided you stay with the company within the agreeable period.


> $100k takes how many years of saving money

According to one poster in this thread [1], it takes 1 (one) year for him to save up $100k without even trying.

1: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20943752


He's a unicorn. The rest won't be able to pay up $100k quickly.

Not according to levels.fyi

Which has mostly unicorns filling the data...

+1 to give parent commenter some perspective someone is looking at ~$1200USD a month just to share a bedroom with someone else, closer to double that just to have a private room in a shared home. Approaching $4k to have a place to yourself.

Most of my friends pay $1500-$1800 for a bedroom in an apartment. Those paying $2400 all have 1BD or studios.

Check Zillow for prices.

I am currently living in a gigantic 3BD for $5200.


It's context that I had, but is easily forgotten, especially with the .ca TLD. There's taxes and student debt to service as well—probably.

> That said, I'm happy that people get paid well to do something they love, but that can often be very depressing. Not always certainly,

The type of fresh-grads that chase FAANG for fame and money aren't necessary the type of developers that love their work and craft. These fresh-grads put career first and craft second. I'd say the majority, not all. There might be one or two pockets of small group of people who love to do these stuffs ... maybe...

> but damn if you've never looked out from behind your screen at the sun shining and thought a little less of the React component or whatever saas thing you work on.

There's plenty of sun in California ;). Plus, they're doing what they love no? I'd say these folks know what they're getting themselves into (e.g.: still chasing Facebook despite known as cutthroat employer).


That is not true. Plenty of people who love their craft (systems for instance), join Google to work with and learn from experienced people. It's almost a kind of apprenticeship in design and architecture that most fledgling startups can't provide. Believe it or not, it is okay to love your craft and expect to be paid. It's not zero sum. In fact I'd say many startup new grads lose out on code reviews and architecture tips by senior people.

Your response feels "black OR white" to me while there are nuances.

> Believe it or not, it is okay to love your craft and expect to be paid. It's not zero sum

I do believe it. Just not the majority of today's fresh-grad that has the attitude.

FAANG these days demand you to go over rigorous Leetcode and System Design practices (mostly having to do with high-level scaling architecture and not CODE level which where most of the craft exist unless we changed the definition of craft). Some people have to spend months training themselves in Leetcode because they really really really want that high-paying job in top brand companies.

Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong but I'm associating "craft" with writing code, learning best practices, or building products regardless the environment/situation. Not grinding Leetcode HARD problems trapping water 3D: https://leetcode.com/problems/trapping-rain-water-ii/

Gone are the days where companies hire OSS contributors because they're good at a specific domain.

> In fact I'd say many startup new grads lose out on code reviews and architecture tips by senior people.

I think you might conclude that startups == mid-size companies like Airbnb and Dropbox? Feels like it's either FAANG or startups while there are middle ground of just about different size of companies with varying years of existence.


You are blaming the players instead of the game. It's not their fault that they have to do that. If that gets them a good life. That doesn't mean there aren't people who genuinely care about their craft and want to be better architects. I used to work on the Windows kernel, my manager said "no one ends up on this team by mistake ". That's why systems (infra / embedded etc ) have a higher rate of people who truly enjoy it joining. Because if you don't it's going to be a hard time.

I know what "craft" means.

That's kind of what I figure, though I didn't articulate that super well. My dream used to be working for Google, but it never really occured to me that it would pay substantially more than anywhere else. It was more that I'd met clever people at conferences that were also down to earth and working on products that had to scale, and consequently had interesting impact.

The salaries for the FAANG companies are dramatically higher than even other large Silicon Valley companies. Over four years ago my first job after graduating with a MS in computer science was at an old-school Silicon Valley giant. My offer was $100,000, roughly $2,500 of stock that vested over 3 years (with a one-year cliff), and I negotiated a signing bonus that was a little less than $4,000. While the salary was about at par with what FAANG companies offered at the time to those with similar credentials, the rest of my compensation was a far cry from the offers I've heard of from the FAANG companies.

Given the large differences in compensation (which makes a big difference when trying to save for a house in this area), I wonder how older Silicon Valley giants are able to compete with FAANG companies? Startups can justify lower compensation since there is the possibility the startup would be very successful. I wonder for giants if the difference largely boils down to interviewing processes? I do know that getting into a FAANG company is difficult and requires many months of grinding LeetCode, whereas not all Silicon Valley companies have difficult interviews.


They don’t compete. If someone has a FAANG offer we let them go. No company can match everyone’s best offer away. You just try to create an environment that keeps your best folks happy.

Btw, http://levels.fyi for FAANG salaries

Why would we trust voluntary self-reported data to be representative? There’s got to be massive sampling bias here. Wouldn’t human nature to brag and overstate bias these averages on the high side?

Just pegging to my own personal experience, the L4, L5, and L6 total comp amounts on levels.fyi are pretty low. I guess it is because they are blended from many different sites. Looking at just the ones from SF, MV, and Sunnyvale they are consistent with my own experience and the self-reported internal salary survey Googlers conducted amongst themselves.

it’s pretty accurate from my experience. Biased towards people who recently accepted an offer as opposed to those who have been at the same company for many years

$2500 of stock over three years? Seems like why even bother for that small amount, the overhead of the book-keeping (on both your and their side) would be a pain at that point.

There’s no need to compete. Talent identification is hard and most people are approximately the same.

I realize California is very expensive cost-of-living compared to the Midwest, but as a developer in Michigan I'm shaking my head at these salaries. The low end in Cali is high end here. Best I could hope for in Michigan even as senior is mid-100's. the highest number I've ever seen thrown around from recruiters was about $170k base, and pretty sure that was close to VP level. Can't complain about the low housing costs though.

Things have gotten crazy here but this information is useful even for experienced hires. A few years ago, I did not realize that new grads at companies were being paid more than I was! I switched companies to fix that.

Yes, most of my check still goes towards rent but at least I have a little bit more left over to plan for the future.


> A few years ago, I did not realize that new grads at companies were being paid more than I was! I switched companies to fix that.

To everyone chiming in with how wild the salaries are, this is really the point. If you're doing competent work for less than the local market average, you're paying your company for the "opportunity" to keep working with them. Sometimes that's the right call for both parties. Most times it's not, and OP's transparency helps workers protect themselves from exploitation.


The difference is whether your company produces software as a product or uses software for a product. In the later case, you are working in a typical IT department which is just supporting the main ship, important but only as essential as other non-IT departments and often strapped of budgets for cost savings. The main ship itself has a very different culture, typically not very ambitious growth or revenue expectations. So comps are not really comparable in these two worlds.

Definitely - I've always chosen companies where I would be working on the money-making product, not in a cost center. Cost-center software devs around here in enterprise-land are lucky to break $100k.

>was about $170k base, and pretty sure that was close to VP level

You have to keep in mind that these are salaries for the largest tech companies in the world, it's not just about being in California.

For comparison, being a VP at Google/Facebook equates to salaries with multi-million dollar bonuses and ridiculous equity packages.


$170k is top-end for base salary at most tech companies, though--past that point the increases in total comp are all from stocks and bonuses, which are tied to your performance review.

And yeah, a $200K house in Michigan is probably about a $2M house in the Bay Area.


No it's not. You're comparing State to City. A $2M house in Bay Area is a $700k house in Detroit Metro area.

I'm not sure where you're getting that notion? Maybe if you're comparing a $2M home in east bay?

In the peninsula, a $2M home just gets you a decent neighborhood. The home itself is meh. House I'm in has never been updated and is from the 1930's. It's about $1.7m. 1000sqft with 400sqft in-law unit. 4000sqft lot.

https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2833-Tramanto-Dr-San-Carl... (San Carlos - under the radar suburb in the bay area)

https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/811-Longfellow-St-Detroit... (Second most expensive home between 2k-2.7k square feet in detroit)


https://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/1683-Newco...

5 bed, 6 bath, 2900sq ft. $1.6 mil recently renovated, all around, with a private backyard. 1683 Newcomb Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124


It's a rental property. It was built up to maximize profitability in flipping.

It was burned down or something some years back. Previous owners probably took the cash from it going down, sold the rest, moved away, and then someone bought it, rebuilt it, and made a shit load. https://www.google.com/maps/place/1683+Newcomb+Ave,+San+Fran...

No one would own it to live in now. The neighborhood is not good and is why it's priced accordingly. It's an investment/rental property.


Also, Bay Area homes in expensive areas (PA, SF, Berkely, etc) tend to sell for far over their list price. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this particular listing went for $1MM over list.

I'd believe the parent, but have a different example. The difference between Toronto or Vancouver and Winnipeg. Vancouver you're looking at 1.5m at the low end and 300k in A Winnipeg for a nice one level. $600k in Van for a 1 bdr condo in the suburbs. Not to say I'd take the trade, but comparison is crazy

That is not the top end. Many senior engineers make north of 200k cash salary at non-FAANG corps in the bay area, and of course FAANG engineers are in that ballpark too.

I'm in Michigan, I didn't even know seniors can hit mid 100's? really? Where?

In Ann Arbor, this is definitely possible. I would be surprised if Senior Software Engineers at Duo were not making mid-100's.

pretty much all the recruiters that have hit me up for senior dev positions in SE Michigan have thrown out $125-175 or so, and the salary websites I've looked up have estimated similar amounts for > 5y experience at senior level. Above $140 or so you'll have to hustle a bit and negotiate though, most likely.

I more than tripled my total comp in three years by leaving Dallas for NYC.

Google and Amazon are in Austin and maybe Dallas, and pay pretty well.

Google wasn't in Austin when I left three years ago, and Amazon was fairly small. I can't comment on what the market in Dallas looks like now.

Google has had a pretty sizable office (three offices, actually) in Austin since 2012 at least.

When I was looking they had no software engineering to speak of in Austin. It was all sales and ops.

Ah yes that's true, it was (and still is AFAIK) a huge chunk of sales, admin staff, and now consultants.

You probably tripled your living costs and taxes too. I also moved from Dallas to NYC, so can't argue, but it's not apples to apples.

1. The living costs of NYC are not triple what they are in Dallas (obviously there is some choice to this), but triple is grossly exaggerating the difference.

2. Even if triple was correct, since the living expenses are not 100% of your pay in either case - you're still better off living in NYC in terms of savings - I hope you can do the math to see this.


For the same overall quality of living conditions and environment, the living costs of NYC are certainly over double and probably close to triple of Dallas. If you are comparing "nice Dallas" with "distant Queens" then maybe you are right, but that's not the comparison most are thinking of.

The rent might triple but almost everything else is either the same cost or only moderately more expensive. If you want to buy a Tesla or an iPhone or pop over to Prague on vacation that’s not going to be cheaper in Dallas. Some stuff like eating out will be more expensive, but not 3x more. Your total living expenses won’t go up 3x.

Luckily the gains from tripling compensation usually far outstrip the losses from tripling living costs and taxes.

Yeah... there's so many obvious counterpoints to everyone's knee-jerk "well you also upped your living costs!" reaction.

Number 1 is relevant for many many people: Any pre-existing loan. Student loans, car loans, etc. It won't change, and you'll have more money to pay it off.

On the same thought train, while cars sell for different prices in different places, they do not double or triple. Not even close.


As a native Dallas-ite, who moved to Denver.... there is much more to compare for getting the heck out of concrete-strip-mall-culture-void Dallas than cash. Denver? Pay is ok'ish, but the mountain biking is amazing!

Edit: However, the people in Dallas are the nicest I've met. Really miss southern hospitality compared to here, where everyone thinks I'm hitting on them for being so outgoing...


Not really. I live in New Jersey, and just bought a house of comparable size to the one we had in Dallas for about 2x what we sold the Dallas house for. Other cost changes were, on average, flat if restricted to NJ. Doing things in Manhattan is certainly more expensive, but also not a daily occurrence.

As far as taxes are concerned, they're higher, but in both places state and local taxes were a pretty small percentage of our outlay anyway. It's a bit hard to compare because the state income tax and higher property taxes are offset by lower sales tax (with broader exemptions) and less direct-billed government services.


And if your living costs are 100% of your net income then you’re doing something wrong. For most people, this move will still result in 3x savings which means either earlier retirement or more money in retirement.

> You probably tripled your living costs and taxes too.

Even if entirely true (which is not immediately clear - does the car or phone or laptop cost triple in NYC?), that is by itself a great deal.


170k base is high. Ive seen 3/4 million salaries with bases that didn't get over 200.

Stock and signing/perf bonus accounts for anything over 130 or so for a new grad.


Amazon has an office in Detroit with 100s of SDEs.

In Finland the highest you can hope for as an employed software developer is around 90,000 EUR a year, but average is less than 60k. Signing bonuses I've never heard of and if you get stock options, you usually need to cut your salary expectations a lot. Being freelancer you can get to around 150k-200k though. Of course at these higher figures the effective tax rate increases to around 50%

I'm from Norway, and we do have salaries in the same ballpark - a tad higher.

Even though it's expensive to live here, we're not anywhere near San Francisco, in terms of say housing prices. And there are many other things I also never have to worry about, without getting too political about the issues.


In Ireland starting is about EUR 40K, Senior would be about 55-60K, about 10-20K more in Dublin but you would spend that on rent alone

side note: above 33K tax is 50%+ on each and every euro, about 20% below

How does one relocate to the US, sigh


Google has an office Dublin with SRE and SWE

I’m surprised there aren’t more startups in EU countries since the opportunity cost of lost corporate salary is lower. Or maybe there are, and we just don’t hear about them?

The EU (Europe more widely) does have a fair share of small start-ups. There are two primary problems however.

First is the lack of venture capital. Major economies like Germany and France are still only typically seeing $3 or $4 billion per year in venture capital investment (an improvement over five years ago granted). The US has averaged around $85 billion per year over the prior six years, or over half a trillion dollars in that time. With interest rates & yields heading permanently lower in the US, it's likely we'll see $100+ billion routinely in annual VC in the coming decade (outside of down blips in recessions), as capital desperately chases returns.

The EU has typically been closer to $15 billion per year, with a few higher years more recently. You can't compete at those levels. Countries like Finland, Poland, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Austria, etc. are regularly seeing only $100-$300 million per year in VC. Spain is a major economy and they struggle to consistently attract $750m-$1b per year. Europe needs to pump up its VC figures considerably; more start-ups, more funding, pay engineers higher wages to retain & attract more talent (SV has been pillaging Europe for talent for decades).

The VC funding per capita in the US - 330m people - is around $250 give or take. For Italy it's about $3. That's obscene, Italy has a $2 trillion economy and $34k GDP per capita. Something needs to be done to dramatically increase such figures, probably both at the local level and the EU level.

Second is the difficulty in going from a small start-up with a small amount of venture capital, to try to scale out rapidly across the EU, much less the world. It's extremely difficult, versus the springboard US start-ups get to launch from, starting with far more capital, in a richer, larger, homogeneous economy. Canada would be the fifth largest economy in Europe, and US start-ups get that market for basically free (so to speak; low cultural barriers, relatively easy market access, very close geographic proximity).

Then finally to make the situation worse, large US tech companies routinely eat the European start-ups before they grow up. That interrupts the potential for larger exits & spread-the-wealth effects that roll/compound over decades (helping to build sustainable funding ecosystems), like you've seen over time in California. For US companies it's a great source of talent acquisition.


I don’t know about US and Finland, but many EU countries have a “gross salary” (60-100k) and also a “gross gross salary” which is the actual cost to the company, which is another 10-20% on top of the “gross salary”. It’s things like social contribution. (In addition, the “net salary” is much lower in EU than in the US for equivalent “gross salary”.)

What are hourly rates like in Finland for freelance devs and product design folk?

Curious how they compare to Germany. Since Finland has a much smaller economy, is it difficult to stay employed the whole year on a freelance basis? And do you have to go through a contracting company?


I've been freelancing now for two years and have been in projects 37.5 hours/week without pause except for vacations. There is a lot of demand here. The hourly rate depends. I've been getting 90€/hour except with one client I managed 110 €/hour. I've always made direct contracts with customers, no contracting company in between. But there's a lot of those companies around who would happily help you find projects and sell your time through them so they also get a cut.

It honestly makes me feel a bit queasy when I read posts like this. 22 and 23 year olds making $200k+ a year? For doing what, exactly? Contributing 0.001% of the codebase to an app that sells advertisements? Meanwhile teachers, researchers, nurses etc (of which many also live in SF, by the way) are making pennies and some literally starving to survive.

It makes it even worse to see the casualness that people in this thread are talking about $200-300k+ salaries, as if they have no appreciation for the fact that a $300k salary is unheard of even for most people in their 50s, let alone a kid in his early 20s. This is the type of attitude that I fear really makes Silicon Valley outsiders have a good amount of disdain for SVers.


These salaries don't come from thin air, they're constrained by the market rate at which engineers can be hired and retained. It's unfairly reductive to say that the engineers aren't contributing value since they work in ads. We work in all sorts of fields from the frivolous, like consumer electronics, to the decidedly less so like self-driving.

If the discrepancy between engineering salaries and research/teaching/nursing salaries is bothersome then perhaps the blame should be placed on the economic environment that has produced this result, not the twenty-somethings that are accepting great compensation.


It doesn't appear to me that the parent implied that these salaries come from thin air. It seems much more obvious that this person is pointing out just how disproportionate it is compared to other very crucial professions, with no obvious labor differences for why this is.

Chalking it up to it being the "market rate" sort of ignores how the market has failed for these other professions. They have to deal with the cost of living just like people in tech. The issue with the new grads, as the parent pointed out, is the attitude. Most could care less about this. That deserves critique.

I should also add that this dynamic does play out in other parts of the country. In other states in the US with much lower costs of living, nurses and teachers for example still have an average salary that is much lower than that of those in the tech industry, especially software development.


> with no obvious labor differences for why this is

One difference that stands out to me is that the supply of people who can perform the job is constrained.

Other professions may be crucial - indeed, the truck drivers who deliver supplies to all stores from which we purchase daily goods are crucial - but that job in particular can be performed by almost anyone with minimal training.

Words like "crucial" don't have much meaning as far as determining job compensation: it's a supply/demand interaction. If the supply of people who can perform the job is not constrained, because the job is relatively easy to get into, then that will suppress the compensation.

It's difficult to obtain a computer science degree and perform at the level required to solicit job offers from the kind of companies that pay new graduates $200k. Imagine for the sake of argument that these jobs require an IQ of 125 or higher: then only about 5% of the population will be capable of performing at that level. (This is just an example. I'm not saying that I think programming has a particular IQ requirement.)


This is also reductive. If market value was the sole driver for selection of profession, we would suffer a critical lack of specialists in a variety of fields.

...as we do... E.g., K12 and University CS professors.

tbf, I think far more people can do jobs where they talk to people and teach (teachers) and take care of people and nurture (nurses), than jobs where you look at a screen all day, do abstract symbol manipulation and spend most of your focus inside your head building structures of code and programs.

I showed my relatives how you 'follow the line of execution' in a program running down all the instructions. They sat back in shock, thinking how alien that job would be and how so few people are probably able to do that, and that i should be lucky (?) to have the skills to think that way.


As someone who has done both professionally, I think you're severely underestimating how hard teaching is. I think it's much harder to teach well than to code well.

Don't forget, too, that good teachers are experts in the subjects they teach. Teaching computer science or math well requires the same facility with "abstract symbol manipulation" that working as a software engineer does.


But it isn't really required that teachers teach well. If I were to try and give an honest assessment of the teachers (specifically primary school both public and private) I've had I would say maybe 5% were good teachers, 5% were genuinely bad and the rest just kind of coasted by having students do rote memorization.

I didn’t mean to single out teachers specifically — as parent was using them as example — but I meant that in general , professions where you have more human interaction is more desired by the majority of the human population .

If you have done both professionally, then by definition, you can code. I think your parent poster's point is that too few people can. They are not saying that teaching is easy.

Not only that, here we are talking about software engineers who are the best of the best, probably less than 1% of all applicants.

It's almost as if it didn't matter how crucial the work you do is, and instead what you make is determined by how much leverage you have and perhaps in part by how close to the money you are.

Thank you for elegantly saying what I was trying to say. You were able to put a much finer perspective on it that appears to be more digestable than my comment.

I don't believe you'll find anywhere in my post above that I placed the blame on anyone. Why so defensive?

22 and 23 year olds making $200k+ a year? For doing what, exactly? Contributing 0.001% of the codebase to an app that sells advertisements?

It may not have been your intent, but your comment has (at least on my read) an accusatory tone. You ask a number of rhetorical questions which indicate that you have low-regard for the work of the engineers in question.

You appear to be doubling down on this with your recent comment.

Why so defensive

Calling someone defensive because they disagree with you is uncivil and a great way to start an argument. In the most literal sense of the word, my comment offers some justification for these salaries because yours appears to discredit them.


>It may not have been your intent, but your comment has (at least on my read) an accusatory tone. You ask a number of rhetorical questions which indicate that you have low-regard for the work of the engineers in question.

I do have low regard for the engineers in question (low regard in terms of their ability and worthiness of salary, obviously not low regard in terms of their person). The majority of engineers in SV are working on products that primarily exist to serve advertisements to customers. They don't deserve $200k+ for that, and it makes me sad that society has decided these are the people that are paid this much while teachers and nurses are actually starving.

You say that self-driving car engineers deserve it? Really? Show me the 22 year olds that have contributed meaningfully to self-driving technology. But you can't. Because the people making the meaningful contributions (read: worthy of being paid $200k+) are much more experienced, have been working in the field much longer, and are much older. They are not 22 year old new grads.

>Calling someone defensive because they disagree with you is uncivil and a great way to start an argument. In the most literal sense of the word, my comment offers some justification for these salaries because yours appears to discredit them.

And claiming that someone is accusing blame (when they haven't) is also uncivil and a great way to start an argument.


Just curious, did you have the same feeling towards the many decades when law and finance new grads were making $200K-300K (and many still do)? Is writing reports about financial statements of a company or proofreading legal text a more worthy endeavor than making apps/websites that attract users? Are those new grads making meaningful contributions to society?

>Just curious, did you have the same feeling towards the many decades when law and finance new grads were making $200K-300K (and many still do)?

Yes. The difference (aside from the fact that this particular post is specifically about SV, not about law and finance) is that I have never seen lawyers, doctors, or even investment bankers (although yes I have seen Wolf of Wall Street) be so casual about the fact that their salaries are so high. In another comment in this thread, someone suggested that having an extra $5,000 disposable per month was not a lot of money. That is absurd to me, and I have never experienced any of my doctor or lawyer friends have that same attitude.


Maybe doctors and lawyers just know better than to talk finances with outsiders.

Do you think having extra $50 disposable per month is a lot of money? There was a time when it would be hugely important for me, and now it is not.

What "lot of money" means is entirely relative to how much money you have because for most people it means "would it translate to large difference in lifestyle".

Also, if we are talking about the comment by refurb, it said "rolling in cash" which does not carry the same connotations as "lot of money".


>What "lot of money" means is entirely relative to how much money you have because for most people it means "would it translate to large difference in lifestyle".

Yes, and my entire point (or at least, the one started by the original top level comment) is that SV has strayed really far from the typical level of "relative" that most of the rest of the country operates on.


thank you for responding so elegantly in a 7+ depth argument to multiple posters each with their own critiques. This is what i read HN for. The parent node comment having to provide a rebuttal for every child lol

I see.

I saw somewhere else in the thread that you yourself are a new grad, so I'll chalk this up to lack of experience but on sufficiently large products it is trivial to make incremental changes that will produce more value then your salary. In my own career I saved a big tech company 250k in reoccurring costs with a 9 month project I completed as a junior. Yes, that number is a rounding error for a large company but the value is clear.

Additionally, perhaps you have never built a team before, but the value of a potential employee extends beyond their year-to-year output. If, for example, I have great confidence that a currently junior hire will output ~$1M of value over a four year period than I am willing to overpay that first year as they grow and develop.

This isn't going anywhere interesting and I am uninterested in continuing the conversation further. Have a nice day :)

(There is a certain irony to me about this back and forth. A large portion of my personal time is spent volunteering in an organization that agitates for unions and other forms of direct action aimed at tackling the gross inequity of this society head-on. You're clearly keyed in to a real and present problem, but rather than suggest any solutions you've decided to whinge ineffectively about... developer salaries?)


[flagged]


edit: and for the record, I'm one of those "new grads" making a self-admittedly absurd amount of money for what honestly amounts to a relatively meaningless contribution to society. Yea, I take the salary (and try to donate a good bit of it), but it still makes me feel uneasy that I'm being paid this much in the first place.

I'm sorry, how was I supposed to read that? If someone tells you that they lack experience, it is entirely within the pale to comment on or draw conclusions from their lack of experience.

And no, I do not want to measure your genitalia. That doesn't have any place on Hacker News.


I;m going to interpret your comment nicely and assume you read my comment before the edit, but I was a new grad. I made that edit (the one you quoted) to emphasize the fact that I am familiar with the high salaries and personally receive one. However, it would have been more accurate to say that I was a new grad years ago, but am not anymore.

Regardless, even if I was a new grad, it would not have been justification for your reductive and dismissiveness. That is not good faith discussion.

>And no, I do not want to measure your genitalia. That doesn't have any place on Hacker News.

Then why did you bring it up? Genuinely asking.


For the companies in question, the senior engineers making bigger contributions are earning $400k+.

Some day, the money people will figure out that there are lots of experienced talent outside the SV bubble.

>teachers and nurses are actually starving

Citation needed.

tidepod12 9 days ago [flagged]

Do you really need a citation for the common knowledge fact that teachers are one of the most low paid professions in America? Do you not know that many of them have to take up second jobs in order to pay their bills? You can read about that here, or by doing a Google search:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2018/06/...

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education-k-12/repor...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/02/21/why-oakl...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2018/04/...

Did you miss the entire #ClearTheList campaign last month for when teachers started up school again? If so, the tl;dr is that teachers were having to ask their friends and family to buy school supplies for their classrooms because the teachers could not afford to do so themselves.

Amazon, ironically, created an entire section of their site for such lists. Does it not seem even a little bit of a problem to you that Amazon, one of the richest companies in the world, with some of the richest employees in the world, rather than using some of that wealth to help the teachers, actually created a service where Amazon actually profited off of the fact that these teachers needed assistance buying school supplies?

pb7 9 days ago [flagged]

None of those links support your claim that teachers and nurses are starving. Having a relatively low income (according to polls!) does not mean you are dying on the streets due to malnutrition. Taking a second job does not mean the alternative is peril. I could take a second job to afford a better Ferrari but that does not mean I can't afford a car. Try again.
tidepod12 9 days ago [flagged]

The third link literally has 'starving' in the title, referring to the schools and teachers that work there. It is common parlance to use the term 'starving' to refer to more than just 'dying on the streets due to malnutrition'. You know this, but you chose to nitpick the word instead of interpreting my comment the way you knew I meant it. Please do not do that, it is against the HN guidelines.

>Taking a second job does not mean the alternative is peril. I could take a second job to afford a better Ferrari but that does not mean I can't afford a car. Try again.

We aren't talking about teachers taking a second job so that they can afford niceties or a new car. We're talking about teachers taking a second job just so they can afford rent. Many of them are on federal subsidy programs just so they can afford food.

pb7 9 days ago [flagged]

What was that you said about it being VERY important that we agree on the usage of words? Apparently “blame” only has one definition but it’s okay to say a person is actually starving (your exact words) and really mean that their organization is short on resources. I’m glad you searched “teachers starving” and copy and pasted the first 4 links you saw that had the words in the headline but they don’t support your argument. In fact, no one here has supported your argument because it is nothing more than virtue signaling coming from the very person you hate.

You broke the site guidelines repeatedly in this thread. We ban accounts that do that, and I don't want to ban you, so please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and stick to the rules in the future—no matter how wrong or annoying another commenter is or you feel they are.
tidepod12 9 days ago [flagged]

"Place blame" has one definition. It is not used in the manner in which you earlier tried to accuse me of "placing blame". "Starve" on the other hand, is used in multiple ways, one of those actual definitions is to be deprived of resources. It does not always mean "dying of malnutrition".

I showed you multiple links that show evidence of teachers being deprived of resources, aka starving. If you can't accept that, then you are not arguing in good faith and I'm through trying to have a discussion with you. Please try to abide by HN guidelines in further discussions.


Please don't do flamewars like this on HN. When people descend to arguing about what they said or didn't say, or how unfairly other commenters are treating them, the discussion stopped being interesting a long time ago.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Are you sure? Because it sure sounds like you disagree that these people deserve to be making large sums of money and then also not be appreciative of it. I would call that placing blame.

[flagged]


> Saying that these grads don't deserve that much money

Of course they deserve it - the money belongs to their employer and they decided to part with it in exchange for the services of those grads.

Whatever it is that you're trying to say hinges entirely on what you think the concept of "to deserve something" means. And you really haven't elaborated much on that (if at all, as far as I can see).


When I say "deserve" I mean it in a broader sense that considers more aspects of our society than just "a company is willing to pay that much".

Sure, Facebook is probably willing to pay a mediocre engineer much more than they are willing to pay the best teacher in the world. That makes sense, because Facebook doesn't hire teachers and has no reason to pay a teacher a lot of money. In this sense, the teacher doesn't "deserve" a lot of money from Facebook, while the engineer might.

But speaking in a broader sense, do you think that a mediocre 22 year old engineer "deserves" more money and a better lifestyle than the best teacher in the world?


> But speaking in a broader sense, do you think that a mediocre 22 year old engineer "deserves" more money and a better lifestyle than the best teacher in the world?

Well, first of all, it is very unlikely that the "best teacher in the world" simply works in school. And if they do - then it is by choice.

Second, it would of course not matter if said mediocre engineer is 22 or 66 years old - maybe you just included it for the sake of illustration but it does give some ageism vibes.

Anyway, since you have still not elaborated on what "to deserve" means to you, I will tell you how I think about it. When I think "someone doesn't deserve something" it implies "this should not be so". Now we have a question - can we and should we do something about it? Either on a personal level, or on collective governmental level.

In this particular case - it would depend on having a way to objectively determine teacher's skill level and whether disproportionately high skill level would translate to similarly disproportional effects in their teaching (both in the individual pupil results and the number of pupils they are able to reach). All of that is required because they are paid by public money - private tutors can get paid whatever their clients are willing to pay.

If we are able to do that, I might say such a great teacher deserves to be paid lot of money, comparable to what Facebook pays it's engineers. Otherwise, I would not presume to say that any particular teacher should (which is the same as "deserves" for me) command a salary based on what few big tech companies are willing to pay fresh grads.


>In this particular case - it would depend on having a way to objectively determine teacher's skill level

This might be putting the cart before the horse. You may not find very "high skill level" teachers, but that's not a justifiable reason to not pay them. The way to get high skill level teachers is likely to attract people with high skill with a higher pay.

How do we make pay for teachers higher? I don't know exactly, and I don't want to start a political debate, but one idea might be to collect taxes from the giant FAANG companies and use those taxes to pay teachers more, rather than just letting the FAANGs frivolously throw the money around. I think that would be a better use of the money rather than letting billions (or in the case of a commenter here, $11k/month) sit in a bank account doing nothing.

>When I think "someone doesn't deserve something" it implies "this should not be so"

This is what I'm saying, too, but I think I'm applying it differently. I'm not looking narrowly at a CS grad's salary and saying "this should not be so". I'm looking at CS grad salaries in relation to salaries of other crucial-to-society professions like teachers, and saying that the disparity "should not be so".


You have already started a political debate with your first comment, whether you wanted to or not.

But I just want to notice that you seem very willing to command other people's money based on the most casual of observations and lot of emotion. That will not lead to a good place, policy wise.

tidepod12 9 days ago [flagged]

Wait, what? Pointing out that CS grads make more money than teacher is political?

This reminds me of a HN post a few weeks ago about how SFers have the tendency to take a discussion about anything and see it as political.

>But I just want to notice that you seem very willing to command other people's money

At no point other than the comment that was written in response to your question asking how I would allocate money have I suggested "commanding" anyone else's money. It's very disingenuous of you to ask me a question, and then use the fact that I responded to that question as means to bash me.


> 22 and 23 year olds making $200k+ a year? For doing what, exactly? > Meanwhile teachers, researchers, nurses etc (of which many also live in SF, by the way) are making pennies and some literally starving to survive.

That is political. It's not an insult, it's just that it's literally about the policies of how we pay teachers, nurses and researchers and how we constrain (or not) large tech salaries.

And I'm not from SF, not even from US.

> At no point other than the comment that was written in response to your question asking how I would allocate money have I suggested "commanding" anyone else's money. It's very disingenuous of you to ask me a question, and then use the fact that I responded to that question as means to bash me.

I never asked you how you would allocate money, I just asked what you mean by "deserve". And BTW, this: "collect taxes from the giant FAANG companies and use those taxes to pay teachers more, rather than just letting the FAANGs frivolously throw the money around" is commanding other peoples money.

Also, I don't believe I bashed you, but there would be nothing disingenuous in asking you a question and then bashing you based on the answer. It would just not be nice or appropriate for HN.


>That is political.

It isn't political. Nothing in my comment at all talks about the policies of how we pay anyone. If you read my words and then your mind took the leap to thinking about those policies, then you apparently have a tendency to politicize things, but that doesn't make my comment political.

Regardless, your original statement was that it "started a political debate", and I'll concede that it did apparently do that.

>I never asked you how you would allocate money, I just asked what you mean by "deserve".

You asked what we could "do about it", referencing teacher pay and allocation of funds for that pay.

>Also, I don't believe I bashed you, but there would be nothing disingenuous in asking you a question and then bashing you based on the answer. It would just not be nice or appropriate for HN.

You didn't bash me based on the answer, you bashed me for even accepting the premise of the question, a question that you asked.


Okay, let's agree to disagree on the terminology. What exact solution do you propose? Do people stop accepting this money? Do they thank their cashiers extra generously because they make 10x more? What is the actionable step here that would make it all okay in your eyes?

>Okay, let's agree to disagree on the terminology.

No, let's not. If we're going to have a discussion, we're at least going to agree on the actual meaning of words, otherwise attempting to discuss them is going to be fruitless.

To blame means to assign responsibility for a fault or wrong. At no point in my comment above did I assign responsibility to anyone for any fault or wrong. In this case, the "fault or wrong" would be being paid too high. Again, nowhere in my comment did I say, or even imply that the new grads are responsible for their high pay. That fault would (obviously) lie with the people willing to give them such high pay.

Based on this, you can now see why the rest of your comment doesn't make sense. The new grads aren't responsible for doing anything (they don't have to not accept the money or whatever) because it isn't their fault in the first place.


At this point it is clear that you are not engaging in discussion in good faith.

Envy followed by anger is a common human emotion and every person has to find their own path to come to terms with it.

pb7 9 days ago [flagged]

From the fact that you took a dump on the steps of this thread and have repeatedly refused to back up or explain your points both to me and others who responded to you by arguing over semantics and side stepping questions, I'm just going to assume you are acting in bad faith.

I know that saying "now you're just arguing semantics" is a smug way to get out of having to participate in an actual discussion, but it's silly to do that here. You brought up the claim of blame, and now you're backpedaling when it's revealed that you used the word incorrectly. It's not arguing semantics when your entire point rests on the meaning of the word.

If you aren't willing to abide by the actual meaning of words when you attempt to use them, you're the bad faith actor, and a discussion is going to get us nowhere.


Raise taxes in a fairly progressive way.

Use that money to fund education, healthcare, public parks, infrastructure, basic research, etc, including by paying the people doing that work a bit more.


> This is the type of attitude that I fear really makes Silicon Valley outsiders have a good amount of disdain for SVers.

If you are experiencing disdain because of this, you need to look inside yourself and see what needs to be fixed in your own thinking. Envy of new grads is not their problem, it is yours.

I have seen Americans casually discuss what cars they own and what cars they would like to buy. I have never once chastised them and asked them to think about the homeless and poor kids in Africa before casually discussing cars like an everyday thing. For ref, my family was too poor to own a car growing up.


>I have seen Americans casually discuss what cars they own and what cars they would like to buy. I have never once chastised them and asked them to think about the homeless and poor kids in Africa before casually discussing cars like an everyday thing.

And why do you say that as if it's a good thing? Perhaps its this exact attitude of extravagance and wastefulness (especially when taken to extremes like in SV) that has led us to the exact income disparity issue that so many people (many of which are in SF) decry.

Of course I'm not saying it has to be top of your mind all the time, but when we're in a post that is explicitly created for the purpose of discussing how high salaries are in SV, it is disingenuous to try to shut down discussion about how they might be too high.


> And why do you say that as if it's a good thing? Perhaps its this exact attitude of extravagance and wastefulness (especially when taken to extremes like in SV) that has led us to the exact income disparity issue

So you are recommending Americans should stop buying/discussing cars and SV new grads should stop accepting/discussing high salaries because it is "wasteful and extravagant". I am trying to look for some element of logic in your reasoning but I can't find any. Now is a good time to start a discussion on envy.


>So you are recommending Americans should stop buying/discussing cars and SV new grads should stop accepting/discussing high salaries because it is "wasteful and extravagant".

At no point in my comment, or any other comment, have I said, suggested, or implied that anyone should stop buying/discussing cars or that SV new grads should stop accepting/discussing high salaries. In fact, the entire point (as stated in my previous comment) is that this is a discussion about high salaries, and I am simply discussing the fact that the salaries are high.

Your interpretation of my comments is clearly in bad faith.


> At no point in my comment, or any other comment, have I said, suggested, or implied that anyone should stop buying/discussing cars or that SV new grads should stop accepting/discussing high salaries.

> It makes it even worse to see the casualness that people in this thread are talking about $200-300k+ salaries,

> This is the type of attitude that I fear really makes Silicon Valley outsiders have a good amount of disdain for SVers.

>>I have seen Americans casually discuss what cars they own and what cars they would like to buy. I have never once chastised them and asked them to think about the homeless and poor kids in Africa before casually discussing cars like an everyday thing. > And why do you say that as if it's a good thing? Perhaps its this exact attitude of extravagance and wastefulness


Thanks for your comment. Can you please point out, anywhere in it, where it is suggested, implied, or stated that people should stop talking about/buying cars, or discussing/taking high salaries?

If not, I'm going to stop this discussion because it's probably just going to devolve into incivility from here.


It is important to understand that those salaries aren't normal.

300k for a new grad is not something I've heard of, that's a tad high even for phds. For an undergrad, that would be something approaching an acquihire. That person is being hired for a specific and rare skill, not as a back bencher. A lot to live up to.

Even 200k is very high for new grads. Think "strong student at MIT/Stanford/CMU with proven track record of performing very well during internships, maybe some research publications, and multiple internal stakeholders vouching for them". In other words, perceived as "potential deadly weapon to a competitor and/or a possible founder", not "model employee". That is why they're being paid well.

Below 200, keep in mind that 150% of 80 is 120. SF sucks. NYC isn't much better.

Teachers are underpaid. Not sure how that's relevant to whether some other group of people is overpaid. It's not zero sum.

As for researchers, in CS they do well for themselves. Don't worry.

I think you are conflating what is possible with what is normal, and in the process under-estimate the amount of time and effort some people choose to invest into themselves during their 4 years of access to the best and brightest minds in their field. Speaking of, MIT gets disturbingly close to 6 figures all in these days...


> 300k for a new grad is not something I've heard of, that's a tad high even for phds.

300K-ish total comp is a typical starting package at the big tech companies now. 150-160K base salary, 30K bonus target, and 100K stock grant maturing per year gets you to that ballpark.


At which company? I work at one of the big companies and undergrads come in at around 150k and phds around 250k. Facebook will give 100k signing bonuses to their top interns but that's a 1 time bonus so it shouldn't be factored into your yearly total compensation.

Well, a lot changed in the couple of years since I've helped students with the process.

Good for those kids.

FWIW it's still fair to say these aren't normal. Plenty of students from top schools don't get offers from the top cos.


I always find it funny when people refer to age of employees -> there is this ageist idea that your salary should increase as you get older, and senior positions are reserved for older people. We also say that we believe in meritocracy, that is the most capable person gets the job, and market decides their salary. The two ideas are in conflict. Markets can be cruel, but the ageist idea is mostly prejudice.

Surely the problem is that those companies are earning absurd amounts of money while contributing very little to society. They've got billions stashed offshore that they literally don't know where to invest. Even after paying this much to grads.


I don't think it's that much in conflict. If a 22 year old legitimately brings enough value to the table to justify a $200k salary, then sure, give it to them. But the reason we usually associate salaries getting bigger with age is because older people, on average, do have more experience and are able to bring more value to the table.

There's some truth in what you say. Very few new CS grads are making substantial contributions commiserate to their salaries. They probably do hit that level in a few years so maybe that balances out. But the companies/shareholders seem to be happy paying those salaries, and we might believe that they probably know what they're doing.

What is defined as "valuable" to you? People and companies have different definitions, and as your age into the workforce, how you contribute to your work changes.

As a 22 year old dev, "valuable" can be defined as writing code and building products while working 60+ hrs a week, which is what many do in SV. As you age, you write less code and contribute to building products in different ways like architecting the platform and thinking about the business more than the product itself. This is what experience gets you as you age.

I think you're saying that the later deserves more compensation and no 22 year old is worth $200k. I don't think that's true. And most of SV doesn't think that's true. SV likes people that can build and make things, and will pay someone handsomely to build a product and iterate.


I'm a late twenties software engineer. Years ago I worked on a tiny team that was integrating an upstart financial product from a well known legacy company. Billions of dollars have flowed through the system integration. My company got a nice high six-figure "implementation" bonus for implementating it along with a small percentage of the money flowing throughout.

My team of a designer, product manager and two software engineers built this. We created millions of dollars in new revenue for our company.

Prior to this another off-shore team had tried to integrate something similar from our partner's competitor. They failed to complete the integration.

This is why good software engineers are paid so much.


20s year olds are burning out 80h per week until their health allows and until they are replaced by another batch of 20s after ~10 years. Meanwhile, teachers and researchers enjoy their relaxed and stable lifestyle for the rest of their lifes. In fact, there are lots of candidates fighting for such relaxed permanent positions in academia, which is ruled by nepotism and protectionism, unfortunately.

I get your point, but teachers hardly "enjoy their relaxed and stable lifestyle". Professorships at universities may be different, but elementary/middle/high school teachers often work long, long hours, suffer from burnout, make low money (low as in ~$30-40k/year), and more recently, there is a trend that a lot of them are ending up in therapy to cope with the teaching conditions.

The path to tenure is publish or perish. I don't know specific hour commitments, but at an R1 university, you're looking at 4-7 years of long hours with a risk that you won't get tenure. And unless you bring in BIG money or work in a super HCOL area, you probably won't ever make 200k/year.

4-7 for the PhD alone, plus a few more years as a postdoc, plus the run-up to tenure (another 4-5 years).

None of these are particularly stable or relaxing.


> researchers enjoy their relaxed and stable lifestyle

A few faculty with tenured, hard-money jobs might be able to kick back and relax, but those positions are the unicorns of academia.

Everyone else is scrapping to bring in money, just so they can keep their jobs. A lot of places, especially medical schools, expect faculty to cover most of their salary from external grants (~15% of which get funded). I would bet a lot more grad students are burning the midnight oil than FAANG engineers too.


What are these fresh grad supposed to do? Getting paid less while the companies printing money? Where should the money goes?

Having said that, I do understand your point in this statement:

> as if they have no appreciation for the fact that a $300k salary is unheard of even for most people in their 50s, let alone a kid in his early 20s.

I noticed an increasing number of fresh-grad that feels entitled for a big salary. Their attitude is off the chart...


If they are able to consistently get job offers and perform well at companies which pay that well, why would they expect any less? Just because they are young they shouldn’t know what the market rate for their labor is?

Honesty a lot of this just sounds like sour grapes


I don't know your environment but these fresh grads around me their attitude is unlike the attitude of the fresh-grad in my time thanks to these crazy salaries.

So while you can say that sounds like "sour grapes", I do have to say that there is an increasing sour grapes among the fresh grads.

pb7 9 days ago [flagged]

It sounds like it bothers you that people know their value in a given market and are capitalizing on it like you could not and maybe still cannot. Sour grapes sounds about right.

Please don't cross into personal attack in HN comments.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


It's not just "Hey I should be making $X". There are other baggage that comes along with it: Company X pays more than company Y therefore programmer in Company X is better than Company Y. (X=Facebook, Y=Amazon).

Or things like "your TC is low, you must be suck".


I don't blame the grads themselves (other than the lack of appreciation for what is a large salary), it's more commentary on SV culture (and society as a whole) that so much absurd amount of money is just being thrown around to people in the bay area, meanwhile throughout America our healthcare system is in shambles, teachers have to take second jobs to pay bills, etc...

edit: and for the record, I'm one of those "new grads" making a self-admittedly absurd amount of money for what honestly amounts to a relatively meaningless contribution to society. Yea, I take the salary (and try to donate a good bit of it), but it still makes me feel uneasy that I'm being paid this much in the first place.


If you are any kind of software professional in US (hell, even teacher, researcher or nurse) I assure you that whatever you are currently making looks equally absurdly large for majority of human population.

I know. It’s like these people forgot about how “regular culture” routinely shits on the rest of the world for profit.

Another way of looking at it is: “wealth is being redistributed”.

Obviously there’s still disparity but it looks like a new middle class is forming and we want that, no? Also keep in mind that anything less than 200k means you can’t even buy a decent sized house where you work.


When companies like Facebook make several million dollars in revenue per employee shouldn’t you be glad that the grunts writing code are getting a respectable share of the profits? Would you rather the engineers get paid 50k/year while Zuckerberg becomes a trillionaire?

But you have to remember one thing: These types of (junior) salaries are largely confined to very few places on earth, which is also reflected by the cost of living in those areas.

Basically, if you want to continue earning at those levels, without sacrificing your life to work, you're locked to living in a few select places. In SF, you need to earn almost $180k to afford a mortgage.


I mean, when I was 22-23 I was writing/leading whole products, some that make tens of millions of dollars now. I was making less than 130k when I was doing that, just to give a range.

If these guys are contributing 0.1% maybe I was underpaid ;)


Do you feel the same about lawyers and other highly paid jobs? Is being a lawyer any more intellectually challenging that being an engineer.... (honest question, as lawyers at big firms start at around 150k+ as first year associates)

It’s not more intellectually challenging but it’s a hell of a lot more work. You need to get accepted into a top-5 law school, study like crazy for three years and rack up a couple hundred grand in debt, then you need to grind out 70+ hour weeks as an associate. I have friends who work at top 5 law firms, and friends at fb and google, and the lawyers are working WAY harder. For less money too. But I guess the one upside is that if you make partner, your peak earning potential is higher.

Tech jobs are probably the best combination of pay/lifestyle balance at the moment.


Are these actually "salaries"? Because I know a few SV types who also include one time signing bonuses, discretionary bonuses, restricted shares, and a host of other stuff that isn't salary in their stated salaries. It makes it hard to conduct comparisons.

The way that the majority of these numbers work out is that no, they aren't strictly 'salary', but they are given out in a way such that the employee does get $200k-300k (minus taxes) cash in their bank account if they so choose. FAANG companies don't operate or consider compensation based on your salary, it's all done based on total compensation which includes bonuses, RSUs, etc.

I see a lot of this "well it's not actually money, it's just $150k worth of stocks" reasoning to hand-wave away the absurdity of the high numbers, but it's silly to me. $300k is 300k, even if you have to submit an extra form once a month to convert the stocks to cash.


Right, and that's fine (not sure why I'm being downvoted), but why not just say "I make X base salary, Y% target annual bonus, and I got a signing bonus of Z plus RSUs" like everyone in every other industry instead of adding it all up and calling it salary? There's a difference between guaranteed comp and variable comp, just like there's a difference between annual recurring comp and one time comp like a signing bonus.

The title says compensation, not salary. People usually say compensation or TC when referring to the total number.

> There's a difference between guaranteed comp and variable comp

All comp is variable since you can be fired or laid off at any time.


No idea why you're being downvoted.

I imagine the reasoning is because at the end of the day, in most discussions, it hardly matters the technical aspect of if the money came from a signing bonus or a stock option. $300k is $300k.


i don't know what part of the country you live in, but this 200k to 300k is barely scraping by with a middle class living in the bay area, especially if you just moved here. CA and the bay area's high cost of living means most people here with less than 200k/year are going to be really poor unless they bought a house over 20 years ago. Your not going to be able to attract talent to move to the bay area with sub 200K salaries. And since, Google and facebook have money to burn, they'd rather pay those high salaries than move to a more cost effective area.

This is incredibly out of touch. I moved to the Bay Area on a $120k household income, lived in Menlo Park and did fine. We were never going to be able to buy a house, but I wouldn’t describe our situation as “barely scraping by”

I see this comment a lot, but it's just not true. If $300k was "barely scraping by", then it would be impossible for people making less than $100k to even live at all in the bay area, and yet the average income in SF is indeed $75k.

In other parts of this thread, an SFer mentions that with a salary of $300k, he saves $100,000 a year after paying for his 'expensive hobbies' without even trying . Another commenter says they have ~$13,000 per month in disposable income (after rent in a nice apartment, utilities, and food). Thats certainly not "scraping by" to me.


It's different if you already live here. If you already live here probably you have some arrangement: maybe you're in a rent protected home (75% of SF is like that), or maybe you live with 5 other roommates or maybe live with parents, etc.

It's different, if you're moving to here from another area you're not going to be able to get one of those rent protected rentals.


I just went shopping online for apartments in SF. If I were to move there now, a 1 BR in a very nice luxury tower in Nob Hill will run me about $3,700/mo. And let's throw in, say, $200/mo for utilities and expenses? And let's give a very generous $1000/mo for food expenses?

According to a tax calculator, a $200k salary in SF is about $130k/year take home, or about $11k/month.

After rent and expenses, that's still $5,100 in disposable take-home pay every month. That's not scraping by.


Nah. I started out w/ $65k and lived 40mins from the valley. I would't have considered myself poor (car, motorcycle, computers...)

Nurses do okay. Teachers and researchers don't actually provide that much value. It's a market. The money flows where it provides most value + discounted future value. Just because you have a soft spot for teachers doesn't mean we should command economy the whole thing. This is right. It is fair.

EDIT: Can't respond to below, but private school teacher salaries are lower than SF USD salaries (when you include health, pension, housing).


The market does not even set a teacher's salary, as most schools are state funded.

Academic researchers (other than profs) basically have a command-economy salary already: it's hard to get a postdoc that's pretty far off the NIH pay scale.

Apologies if this wasn't clear but these are California-centric offers (and can probably be extended to include Seattle and New York). They are not across the US, or across all software jobs.

I thought you were possibly Canadian because your domain name is jonlu.ca. Then again, CA could also be interpreted as California...

Nope, just another one of those people that accepts higher TLD risk by locating it internationally in exchange for a cool domain. I'm actually Italian!

And, indeed, from a region renowned for its cat recipes!

>Then again, CA could also be interpreted as California...

Same way how .io is not exclusively the British Indian Ocean Territory ?


One thing you might want to think of adding to this post is 401k vesting. As an immigrant, I wasn't aware of that and I was very unpleasantly surprised that it was possible to lose a substantial part of my retirement fund contributions, taken out of my salary, after quitting.

> I was very unpleasantly surprised that it was possible to lose a substantial part of my retirement fund contributions, taken out of my salary, after quitting.

To be clear, anything you directly contributed from your paycheck is yours and isn't subject to vesting. That's always your money. The part that may have vesting rules is the employer contribution.


Thanks for clarifying that. It turns out I misunderstood the concept. I still think it's a good idea to mention it, because I find it all depressingly confusing and usually part of the fine print that rarely gets pointed out.

I'll look into it! I wasn't sure how in depth I wanted to go (especially since the Halloway guide that has been posted here on hackernews before is way more comprehensive) but I'll add a note in the 401k section. Thanks!

I'm fascinated by the phenomenon of the signing bonus, which in many other countries Doesn't exist.

Do people really get a lump of money just for agreeing to come work there - while they could just leave on day 2 (or day 1) and pocket the thing? Or - is it like a higher first salary? Also, if the position is highly sought-after - isn't it a bit weird that a signing bonus is offered?


Signing bonuses often have a requirement to stay for a certain amount of time (or you have to return it).

Some signing bonuses help compensate for losing bonuses or unvested stock at a company you're leaving.

Signing bonuses are also great from a company's perspective, because they're a one-time payment that may get you to accept a lower salary. From the employee's perspective, they may be good or bad depending on your needs; consider carefully if you'd rather negotiate for a higher salary instead.


You need to divide a signing bonus by three to average it over your average time at the company.

You have to pay it back if you don't stay for at least 6 months or a 1 year, so there's not an issue of people leaving day 1.

It's also been most common for new grads I think. Presumably, to help them get a jump start on student loans and get set up comfortably coming out of college, which is of course a bigger problem in the US than anywhere else.

But it seems to be becoming more common for mid-level and senior engineers as well, in these cases I think it's basically a loophole to make up for the fact that bay area engineering positions are continuing to get more competitive to fill, and for whatever reason companies don't fully want to acknowledge this and increase their official pay bands faster.


In addition to the things already mentioned, signing bonuses you receive immediately are great for people coming right out of school, or from low pay from academic research jobs or their own scrappy startup.

It helps with any incidental debt that was accruing (separate from student loans), as well as immediate expenses related to the lifestyle bump (e.g., move to an apartment that would pass inspection). Which also benefits the organization, by unburdening the hire of some of those distractions from work.

I suppose a requirement that the employee pay back the bonus if they leave within a certain period is additional incentive for the employee to be genuinely interested and committed, not intending to job-hop for the next slightly-better salary or more promising lottery ticket.


This kind of bonus is like the piece of cheese in the cage if it prevents you from leaving for a full year...

Also, academic research jobs should be high-pay! It's just that the unionization levels are too low.


At least at the companies I've worked at and had offers from, the signing bonus is essentially to make up for the annual bonus you don't get the first year.

E.g. in the oil industry, a significant chunk of your compensation is usually a cash bonus. Equity is reserved for C-level.

The typical starting salary for a new grad PhD or MS in geoscience at the majors is around $110k/year. That usually comes with ~$15-20k signing bonus, that you have to pay back if you leave within two years. However, you don't get an annual bonus your first year. The bonus is ~15% at that level, so it works out to be the same as if you'd gotten your annual bonus your first year.


Often the money will be given with some agreement to pay it back if the employee leaves before a certain date(and other variations on that theme). It usually compensates for giving up a yearly bonus or the expenses of switching jobs.

> Also, if the position is highly sought-after - isn't it a bit weird that a signing bonus is offered?

In today's job market, in software engineering, it's the applicants that are highly sought after. So the signing bonus is used to make the offer more appealing in order to compete better for talent.

In a weaker market, signing bonuses could also be used as a consolation for a lower salary offer.


A signing bonus generally has a clause that it has to be repaid if leaving within a short time frame, like within a year.

Make sure you understand the (at least in the US) tax implications an offer might entail. For example, when your stock vests, you owe income tax on the value of the stock on its vesting day, even if you don’t sell it. (Tax when you sell is capital gains.) You will probably find yourself paying estimated taxes as a result.

(Not an accountant, just someone who’s spent time trying to guess what the stock in my husband’s company might be worth at vesting for the coming year in order to figure out what we might have to pay in estimated taxes, and to figure out where that money might come from as you might be in a position where you can’t sell it to cover the taxes!)


Lest anyone leave confused, this only applies for privately-held companies.

If you are entertaining an offer from Google, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, etc., when your shares vest, the default option is usually "sell to cover", which means they will automatically sell shares to use as a tax withholding. Everything will be on your W-2, no estimated taxes needed.


This is dangerous advice, and I wouldn't recommend that anyone assume that everything is 'just handled' when it involves taxes and anything more complex than regular salary.

RSUs, bonuses, etc. will likely be withheld at the IRS supplemental rate of 22% (37% once employees receive >$1mm of it in a year), whereas your marginal rate could easily reach above that depending on how much equity and bonus compensation you're getting.

In your first windfall year, the IRS has rules that will prevent people from being hit with overwitholding penalties. After that, if you don't pay at least 90% of your calculated end of year taxes, you're going to see a penalty.

My advice to _anyone_ starting off is to just talk to a professional when equity and bonuses are involved. It is going to cost you money, but it is going to save you money in the long run.


I don't understand the situation you are concerned about where you don't end up paying the minimum of 90% of your current year's tax or 110% of the previous year's tax (these are the numbers to avoid a penalty).

Can you explain this situation?

As I see it, even in the wild case where your company's stock explodes, if your brokerage is "selling to cover", you will more than hit 110% of your previous year's tax bill (since you are paying 22% tax on those shares). Yes, you will get a whopper of a tax bill, but you won't pay penalties on it.

Btw, I don't know why you quoted "just handled" when I didn't use those words. I wanted people to recognize what "sell to cover" means, since usually when you start with a company you have to create a brokerage account and they will ask how you want your taxes handled.


If you're vesting enough equity, your brokerage is only holding on to 22% and you don't have enough of your salary withheld, it's very possible to end up with a marginal rate that is in the high 20s or low 30s, and not enough tax paid.

This can happen without triggering the 110% of previous year portion if you're regularly vesting a lot of equity - the more you vest, the farther 22% is going to be from your actual marginal tax rate.

I used single quotes instead of double quotes around "just handled" to quote the idea and summary of what you were saying - that it would be handled automatically by the brokerage - and not as a direct quote


Google let's you choose supplemental withholding rate. This isn't an issue anymore.

The other option is to pay 110% of your prior year taxes. As long as you're on track to do that, then you also don't get hit with penalties.

Not necessarily. My husband’s company that I was referring to was publicly traded, although much smaller than Google or Facebook. They took care of payroll taxes due on the value of the vested stock; we paid the income tax to the IRS quarterly. The value of the stock was included in his W2, however if we waited until we filed our taxes we would have incurred penalties, on top of a hefty tax bill.

Companies like Google may handle things differently, and companies that deal in RSUs may as well. My point still stands that you need to understand the tax implications of your offer.


Fair enough. I'm only familiar with the big tech companies and a few of the smaller ones. Although I'm surprised your husband's brokerage did not have this option for you.

My husband’s unvested shares were held by a transfer agent, where they remained once they vested, until we requested they be transferred to a broker. (Not that I’ve ever had a broker withhold taxes, but those would be capital gains anyway.)

Taxes incurred upon vesting are income taxes. Even if it’s not cash in your pocket, Uncle Sam wants his cut!


They can't. withholding amounts are fixed by the IRS, at 22% below 1 million dollars, 37% above

Typically this withholding is not sufficient, as it's done at bonus rates, which is less than your marginal. You can always elect to withhold more base salary though.

A lot of larger private companies pay in RSUs, which only vest after a liquidity event happens (ex. IPO, acquisition etc.), so you don't pay tax until the stock is liquid, and you are able to sell it.

It varies significantly depending on the type of equity. Options are taxed when you exercise them, not when they vest.

Any more context on the $275,000 offer? Did the returning intern have a PhD in a specialized field, did their name rhyme with Midas?

As Tyler said that's first year TC only (although with average SWE tenure reaching ~18 months, it's not unrealistic to hop around and integrate a signing bonus into your comp every other year - also depends what stage company you like working at and how comfortable you are with accepting risk). After that it's "only" around $200k, without any raises, bonuses, or stock refreshers.

I understand that it's a one-time bonus and TC drops off after that. I'm still curious what the circumstances were for that specific candidate and whether they had unusual circumstances that gave them more leverage than the usual bachelor degree new grad.

B.Sc. from a top 20 university, 10+ competing offers from FLAAG and various unicorns, and no doesn't rhyme with Midas

$275,000 first year total compensation because of the large signing bonus. The per-year TC drops a fair bit afterwards:

$115 + $60 + 15% of salary bonus = ~$192. Numbers in thousands.


Normally you don’t actually add signing bonus to your TC. I have heard of similar offers at FB for returning interns with competing offers.

There are new grads making even more at Jane Street, Two Sigma, and Citadel


I should really stop reading these posts, but perhaps the worst part is people denying these people exist.

Once someone at my undergrad didn't believe my very average new grad TC... the information gap is insane.


It’s funny because these salaries aren’t even that unreasonable just that most other wages have remained stagnant for 20 years in the us

Salaries at FAANGs are hard. I received an offer (New England based) for an L6 position from one this week and was shocked at the package. After getting off the phone and doing more research, I realized there's a chance I'm being lowballed, and I should negotiate for more if I choose to go to said company. I've done pretty well in my career so far, but even taking the initial offer would almost double my salary.

But Boston is ultra expensive. Like a mini NYC.

One counter intuitive case where quarterly vest is actually better than monthly: tax harvesting in usa.

I am no tax expert, but my read of the IRS rules put restrictions around when you can buy or vest the next batch after doing a harvest. This comes in very handy if the company goes through a rough patch.


The main pain is more paperwork, some of the time. It won't have an appreciable effect on your taxes, unless you

* Sold X shares are massively underwater, and

* Within the same period, vested Y shares, where Y is a large fraction of X


Exploding offers (offers that expire 5 business days or less from the day you receive them) are unfortunate but they exist, and not just from companies that are not ideal places to work. There’s not much that can be done in these cases besides ask for an extension, and if you don’t receive one, spend some time figuring out whether your expected value increase from more recruiting will be worth turning it down.

This is a pretty good summary, IMO. I hate exploding offers as a candidate, and also dislike them as a hiring manager. Unfortunately you do get some candidates that hum and haw, drag their feet, or shop your offer around for something better. Which is their prerogative, but it wastes your time and delays your hiring process.

I think honest and open communication is key here. Don’t go silent on the offer, or be vague - tell them you have another interview, and you want to wait to see if you get an offer. If they don’t want to give you an extension and try to strong-arm you it’s a pretty good sign that they know they’re under-offering (and, also, gives you some insight into the nature of the people involved).

Still, it’s not a clear-cut signal to walk away, and I like that this section captures that nuance.


Of course this will vary widely, but how much can people living in the bay area, working for FAANGS expect to save every month?

Can somebody share an estimated figure?


I can outline my rough budget. Rent is roughly $2400, recurring charges and utilities is roughly $200, and then other expenses and "fun" is about $1200. Luckily all 3 meals are paid for from my employer 5 days a week.

Once all is said and done (all stock accounted for and distributed on a weekly basis rather than on the vesting cycle) and the expenses above are taken out, there's ~11k left over a month. This is post tax.


You have more leftover than I make as a senior software engineer at a unicorn startup in Palo Alto.

lol FML...


I cut my total comp in half to move to a startup. That's just the price you pay. If you've worked in both environments, you know what you prefer. I don't think I'd go back to the other one.

The only thing I miss is that there's a lot of diversity in bigger companies you don't find in startups. Here, everyone is like me :D


I wasn't taking an option. I just never got an offer from a public tech company. Not from a lack of trying - mind you!

I'm pretty confident if I was making 2-3x what I am now - I would stay with that. As it stands - I cannot afford to continue living in silicon valley on this current salary.


How many square feet do you get to yourself for that rent, and how many roommates to share with?

For that rent and utilities - I presume he lives alone unless he's in a luxury apartment. There are studios and 1-bedrooms for that price even in SF.

I save $100k annually on a $300k salary without trying too hard (e.g. I have expensive hobbies). The key is to bank everything except salary and not go insane buying dumb toys or luxury living space

Depends on rent. I know people who decide to “splurge” on rent getting a 1 or 2 bed for just themselves in a decent spot. I also know people with multiple roommates and about an hour commute. And of course how much you eat out, buy expensive stuff, etc is a factor.

For me I only spend about $3-3.5k/mo including rent, all bills, flights home and vacations, and other crap. So my savings rate is relatively high


No car and living with roommates? I can imagine that lifestyle in SF. But not in the rest of the bay.

If you live with roommates there are some luxury apartments nearish to Caltrain where you can get by fine. Usually lots of shopping around there

I guess if you're not going anywhere but along caltrain (and within caltrains hours) then sure. Otherwise, if you have an active nightlife or like to explore further away from caltrain (Or have to pay for caltrain and aren't getting it for free through work) then you'll quickly run up lyft/uber fares into car ownership territory.

The luxury apartments are so expensive too! Renting one bedroom in a two bedroom is comparable to having a non-luxury one bedroom.


I suppose you’re right about being limited but it doesn’t bother me.

Wrt to luxury apartments the optimal strat is definitely to live in larger units (3+ bedrooms) and preferably a couple or two as well. You can get your rent down pretty low while maintaining a pretty high standard of living


I can't imagine doing it at my stage of life. I have plenty of peers who have done that. I've lived in a 5 bedroom 2 bath house (only 900sqft tho) with 4 strangers as well.

Solitude and your own space comes at an outrageously high price here, sadly. But I pay it cause I can't live any other way sanely.


If you are renting you can expect to save exactly nothing because landlords simply raise rents to whatever level the market will bear. OTOH if you can control your housing cost inflation then you might be able to save.

Note also that "savings" are often strongly tied to share price performance. If you were a mid-career senior engineer who signed a standard $600k/4yr RSU deal at Nvidia in 2014 then by 2018 you were sitting on potentially $8 million.


Disagreed. Even with post-tax earnings of $15k/mo and paying $4k for housing in SF (which is more than what literally anyone I know living there pays for their housing), you are still getting $11k left over. Sure, let's subtract another $3k from that number for various little expenses and a bit of fun money, and you have $8k/mo saved up. That's a far cry from "nothing".

The median 2br rent in SF stood at $4,630 earlier this year. $4k is the all-in price for a $550k mortgage + property taxes + insurance if you buy a house. Of course, you can't buy a house at that price. If literally nobody you know pays $4k/mo for housing that says more about the population of your friends than it does about the economy of the Bay Area.

That's the marginal median 2 br rent. Very few people living here for the last 3 years or longer pay that much. The true median 2 br rent is much lower. I'd venture to say even maybe a third lower.

EDIT: I can't respond to the comment below, so here's the other thing: rent control guarantees no rent changes, but you don't need it. Personal landlords don't change rent that much, often they prefer keeping tenants and handling cost pass-throughs rather than raising rent to maximize revenue. I live 4.5 years on a $1.5k rent / 1 br in Portola that terminated only because I moved away from the Bay (back now).


Most jurisdictions in the Bay Area don’t have rent control. Nothing about tenure protects tenants from inflation.

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