The cold, hard truth is if you don't earn at least that much, you either suck at your job or suck at negotiating. Your bosses and many of your peers earn twice as much as that.
Edit: IF you work in the corporate world. Clearly if you're a lifestyle-biz/consultant working over wifi at the beach in Thailand this doesn't apply at all. In fact, congratulations, if you're this guy, you probably win the game.
If you asked a lawyer, a CPA or a banker if they'd take $100k to work their ass off for a corporate master, they'd laugh in your face.
Edit: It's quite typical of HN when this topic comes up for someone to be downvoted by people who make very little money when they come out with the cold, hard facts. This place is full of millionaires and super-successful entrepreneurs who mostly stay quiet in threads like these. Wake up and smell the coffee.
This appears to be true of the Americans I know but this level of salary is.. uncommon amongst the Europeans (particularly the British) I know. I know you weren't speaking for other countries, but salaries are a lot 'flatter' over here.
Contractors will be earning at that level without too much difficulty but for a typical full-time employee to be earning $100K in London, say, they'd need to be an experienced manager or be into the 15+ year point of their career in my experience. It's night and day from the US experience.
This is part of the reason I work for myself. If I were in the US, I could earn $100K full-time pretty easily with my skillset. In the UK, it would be really hard work getting a similar position. Self employment wins for that here since I can just have American customers used to American prices anyway ;-)
All that said, the point is that £60k/$100k isn't a common salary for this sort of full-time worker outside of management or in an early stage of their career (<10 years). Clearly people are managing on a lot less because that's what people are earning. The most common solution for the older family types is to have multiple earners in the home which, again, splits the costs down. I can't think of any British family I know around my age where both partners aren't working except for me and my wife..
Once you count those, European 'salaries' come much closer to US equivalents (discounted for regional differences etc, of course). The 'US salary' is much more 'what it costs the employer' than the 'EU salary'.
Actually, I know plenty of lawyers who would GLADLY take 100k to work their ass off for a corporate master. You must be out of touch with the state of the legal job market. Top firms have cut summer programs or significantly scaled them back which has a trickle down effect--the top candidates usually took jobs at top firms. When these top firms stopped hiring 50-100 new associates straight out of law school the top candidates had to find other places to go--the places that the less desirable candidates would often count on (gov jobs, mid level/small firms, nonprofts, political work etc).
75-90k was considered a good wage for a person coming from a decent law school with decent grades. Now you have top candidates from decent/top schools clawing for these jobs. It's really a sad state of affairs right now. Many people I know are unemployed lawyers.
That's why everyone in America thinks they are 'middle class', whether they make 30k or 500k.
Lawyers and i-bankers are a different story, but you won't find any statistic to back up your claim that pedestrian engineers who just show up regularly make 100k+.
For example, I'd consider jobs like this to be "professional" --> http://www.indeed.com/salary?q1=electrical+engineer&l1=c... http://www.indeed.com/salary?q1=software+engineer&l1=sea...
Low-cost of living, "Senior" developers were making ~$80-$90,000 base upwards to $120,000 base (rare).
High cost of living areas the Senior developers were making $90,000 (probably poor negotiation or "title" based "Senior" vs skill level) to $160,000 base. In higher cost of living area's the benefits and "perks" were always higher, but tended towards a lower work-life balance. The work-life statement is generalized, since it is, of course, company dependent. In lower/mid level cost of living, "breaking" $100,000 was difficult to negotiate.
I've worked with several "senior" developers who had "decades" of experience but had no idea how to write good code.
Put in in perspective from a working student:
In my 2009 taxes, I filed for 13k. 2008, 12k, 2007 15k.
Average salary of my friends is probably somewhere around 40-60k, with educations varying from some college to a masters degree.
I work at a national lab, but I'm completely within the confines of the Office of Science. I make 30k more than the Research professors I worked for at the U.
On the other hand, I'm thinking of saving up to buy a house back there and just renting it out because there's no way I could buy one here unless I was making 150+.
As a professional what? Man this place can be a fucking drag sometimes.
So if you're making $100k, you're just making what everyone else is making :-)
However if you're skilled and/or educated, getting $100K shouldn't be a problem.
Now getting $500K/year is a much more serious problem. I'm failing to get to that level by just being professional (and good). It requires more of a business type of mindset (or lots of luck).
> Funny thing is that the common silent opinion in
> academia about those like her is that they are
According to a cost of living adjustment calculator I found online, 100K in Houston is equivalent to 186K in San Francisco.
The problem with these cost-of-living adjusters is that they don't consider which goods are location-dependent and which aren't. So yes, your rent will probably be double in SF what it is in Houston. However, if you make $100K, rent is only a small portion of your income. And a dollar of savings in SF is just as good as a dollar of savings in Houston.
The way COL-calculators should work is that they should take a basket of monthly expenses typical for someone in the given income bracket, index that to the given location, and then subtract that from your salary offer in the new area. It's not a straight linear sliding scale. I would much rather be making $186k in SF than $100K in Houston, because I'd only be spending about $40K in living expenses in SF vs. $25K in Houston, and $186k - $40K = $146k is much greater than $100K - $25K = $75k.
186000 SF Income
-46497 federal income tax
- 8170 FICA tax
- 2697 Medicare tax
-15473 California state income tax
-40000 Living expenses
100000 Houston income
-21709 Federal income tax
- 7650 FICA tax
- 1450 Medicare tax
-25000 Living expenses
SF still comes out on top, so I imagine the breakeven point is somewhere closer to 160K in SF.
So that car ends up being 20-30% more expensive in NY vs. a rural area, or even vs. say Los Angeles, where a parking space runs about $100 a month. This is why so few people living in Manhattan have cars - the net cost is well over $1,000 a month and you might as well just rent all the time.
Although I always assumed that living in NYC, I wouldn't have a car. Take the car insurance, gas, and depreciation costs of the car and put it towards rent and call it even.
*) Also, BMW's only cost you the same everywhere if you pay sticker for a new car. Used cars have significantly different prices in different zip codes.
With insurance, maintenance, and amortized vehicle cost, you're probably $1500/year/car minimum. More if you want a car that's a status symbol.
Your after-tax income in Houston on $100k salary is $73k. Your after-tax income in San Fran on $186k salary is $111k.
So taxes alone reduce the initial $86k difference to $38k.
A similarly nice apartment in San Fran will easily run you $2k/mo more than in Houston, reducing the difference to $14k.
The difference will be further reduced by other location dependent expenses: property and sales taxes, food, insurance, gas, entertainment, etc. A Big Mac in New York costs 50% more than a Big Mac in Miami.* Movie tickets in New York are about $12.50 versus $7.50 nationwide. A drink at a bar is about double in New York versus in Atlanta (where I used to live).
) http://research.stlouisfed.org/publications/review/03/11/pak..., p. 24.
I'm not sure what you are thinking here.
If you make 100K, your take home pay after taxes is ~$6,000. For any reasonable place to live in SF - your going to be between 1800 and 2500 for a two bedroom.
Thats not "a small portion of your income"
Additionally - you may have health care costs of as much as 750 per month if you have a spouse and child on your plan.
Figure as much as 400 to 600 per month for a car. 100 for cable, 150 for an unlimited family cell plan. School costs for your kid, and god-forbid you. like me, have child support to an ex.
1000 kids school/child support
250 other debts
That leaves 1050 for the remainder of the month. Which is ~260 each week for expenses such as food, gas, savings, a beer with friends, date night, a bottle of wine etc...
100k is literally the bare min in SF to live moderately comfortable.
Now assuming you didn't have the school/child support, you can replace that with savings, which is great. but for a lot of people it is a 1K expense not savings.
Additionally - this doesn't account for a lot of other potential monthly expenses that are common.
Here's a typical programmer bachelor situation.
I made about $6000K after tax and contributions to retirement account in SF and NYC.
car = $0
insurance = $0, paid for by employer
other debts = $0
iPhone = $80
rent = $1000 studio or share
utilities + wifi = $250
metro card/transit pass = $80
You can fudge those numbers a bit for a better apartment/room and maybe zip car or even your own beater car, and you're still usually under $2K. I didn't put food in there because that was highly variable, even for me. I saved $24,000 a year without thinking about it, and still experimented with motorcycles, snowboards, music gear, travel, etc.
You essentially have $4000 - $4500 a month to save or spend on food + whatever you want.
Uh huh. Now, do that when you're 35, with a wife and two kids.
I think it's easy to forget that people in other parts of the country do things like raise families. Also, most people don't generally want to live with roommates past their 20s. It gets old.
I know where you're coming from -- I live a fairly frugal lifestyle, and I'm doing fine while renting an apartment in SF with no wife and no kids. But I'm also in my 30s, and I think I'm on the extreme outer edge of tolerance for the kind of life I'm leading. My friends with children tease me all the time: they wouldn't dream of living the way that I do.
That said, I'd also be going nuts if I lived like I did when I was 25. YMMV, but probably not by much.
Anyway, my parents raised my sister and I on a single teacher's salary that was a lot less than $100K. Yes, kids do cost more than being a bachelor. However, a lot of the expenses I see batted around as justification for why you need $100K just to live today are utterly ridiculous. 90% of American households get by with much less than that.
Yes, they do. In other parts of the country.
What your parents did 20+ years ago has very little bearing on the cost of raising a family in San Francisco, today. It takes more than one spouse with a sub-$100k job. Again, $100k just isn't that much money in a place where rent on a decent one-bedroom starts at $2,000 a month.
Sure, when? 15+ years ago?
Also, why would you assume that my SO also makes 100K? She doesnt, as a hair stylist - she makes very little comparatively.
What egregious expenses did I have in my post if anything? The ONLY luxury items I had in my list were a beer with friends and a bottle of wine.
The problem I think we are seeing here is that everyone who thinks that 100K is a lot of money is:
Not/has not been Married
Has no kids
Is under 35
Also, @JasonKester: "wearing monogrammed blazers to school"
You fail to understand that simply having a kid is going to cost you ~1500 in childcare expenses, assuming you dont have a stay at home SO to watch after the child.
Its not a status statement -- try looking up what freaking baby sitters/nannies cost for an infant, whom you cannot slap a monogrammed badge on their blazer and dump them off on the corner.
This is a common problem with YC/HN -- there are a lot of <30-somethings thinking they have it all figured out.
Dear god. >_<
If you were willing to downgrade your lifestyle, you could surely find an apartment for $1,500/month, DSL for $20/month (and no cable tv), a prepaid phone that runs you more like $20/month (but doesn't let you throw birds at pigs), a car that costs you less than $200/month to run (and sits in your driveway instead of commuting you to work), and no other debts whatsoever.
That still leaves you with your expensive health insurance and kids wearing monogrammed blazers to school. And an extra grand for beer money.
all that's required to earn that much is show up on time and be good at your job.
I liked the "all thats required" bit, because as it were, I am fully employed remotely, and while I don't make $100k, I seriously wake up at noon, code at 3am when I damned well feel like it, and overwhelmingly love managing myself. (oh yeah, zero commute).
So I guess you'd be right, "all you have to do is show up", ehhhh I'd much rather not show up!
I'd imagine a lot of people's idea of success involves a whole lot of Freedom so I'd hesitate to be so overly critical of people not making your "baseline" figure of $100k and then assuming it has to be because they suck.
I don't have an opinion one way or the other, just my two cents.
$100k is still the minimum professional salary for someone who has a highly skilled, technical job like sr. engineer, architect, investment banker, CPA, attorney, etc.
The income distribution tables from the last US census can be found at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032010/perinc/new11...
Where else can you convince people to pay you well into six figures to sit at home in your boxers and solve puzzles?
Of those industries, how many of them not only allow, but encourage you to work short contracts at your whim, allowing as much free time in between as you'd like to spend that massive overpayment.
A good developer can produce so much value in such a short time that companies can afford to pay you pretty much any number you can say with a straight face. And if they balk, the bad/cheap developer they hire in your place will teach them such a lesson that when they finally come back you can double your figure again and they'll probably take it.
I tell ya, I used to bag groceries for a living. It was nowhere as good as this.
While I don't disagree with the sentiment, I think you miss a couple things. First, the question wasn't geared toward defining success; rather, what was the key to your success in obtaining $100k+. Sure, the person's perception of success is defined by an arbitrary number, but that's beside the point, and meaningless in context.
Granted, strictly defining success based on income is silly (which I'm not saying you are). As you said, it depends on your lifestyle and chosen profession. Outside the context of the original discussion, successful people aren't strictly defined by just their job. For example, numerous people mentioned other professions where the standard pay is lower. Take 5th grade teachers for example. Basing success strictly on their salary as a teacher is ignorant (same for anyone, really). Successful teachers will achieve more than their base salary.
Basically, success is more than just salary, but salary usually follows success.
> It's quite typical of HN when this topic comes up for someone to be downvoted by people who make very little money
Leave the karma discussion on reddit.
Success and meaning can be found at levels other than the dude settling for $20/hr because he gets good free time to really 'discover' life and find 'meaning.'
Maybe you're hanging out with the wrong people.