Say you move to a lower cost of living area, perhaps 6% cheaper, and your employer adjusts your wages down by the same amount as the change in COL.
Now all your expenses are 6% lower, but your money left after expenses is also 6% lower. That means that despite being no worse off in terms of quality of life, your savings went down 6%.
Strictly speaking, if you maintain the same relative ratio of costs to savings, it’s always rational to take the highest income, even if it’s in a higher COL area. This is because costs can be measured as a percentage of income, but savings ought to be measured as an absolute value.
The "fix" would be to somehow work out what workers spend, and only adjust that part of their salary by COL. That's invasive and gives an unfair COL-adjusted comp advantage to the highest earners who can save a bigger portion of their income.
I don't have an ideal solution. I guess there could be a standardized single remote COL adjustment (perhaps adjusted by country or something to account different legal frameworks and mandatory benefits), and the remote worker can live wherever without comp adjustments other than local tax.
If so, arguably the COL is being done incorrectly. It should be adjusting just literally the "costs of living", not total comp.
That said, having lived in a very high COL area and a normal area, my total take was higher in the former, but the risk/variance was also higher--a lot higher. It could easily have bankrupted me.
Thinking in risk/reward terms (or like a market investor), I'd actually prefer the lower variance at this point in my life, even if the mean is also lower.
I'd gladly take 120k over 300k as long as I don't need to live in SF. cost of living is just not worth it. Remote's best cause you can live anywhere including rural. I live in rural utah and work remotely doing freelance mostly, love it. We have 1GIG internet in most rural communities in Utah, though.
But for like 140-200k, I can get 5+ rooms in Utah, decent schools, near family, etc.... politics could be better, but that's just a personal beef. The same home would probably cost > 1 million in SF. I can't even imagine earning 1 mill, as a self-taught dev doing freelance who's aging (40).
Is it a scientific survey or just an online poll? The SFGate article links to Business Insider as the source but I’m merely seeing a paywall.
In any case, I’m sure some number of folks are happy to move to a lower COL area or due to family reasons. This article just feels very clickbaity to me. Show the data - there’s no substance here.
It seems like there is a real opportunity for near-remote - ala Fort Bragg, Santa Cruz, Sierras without this penalty.
Otherwise you offer no differentiation as a remote worker except for time zone, language, and legal or political nuance.
CA should really think super hard about incentivizing those leaving SF/Bay Area to settle elsewhere in CA. That will be a net benefit for California.
Moreover, many won't even consider hiring out of state workers, as that would expose them to additional labor laws they would need to comply with, making remote workers in other states almost as expensive as in state remote workers.
Edit: Source - done that before when relocating (and having the same employer, which has offices in both states)
Surveys (especially anonymous ones) don't tell you much – clicking an option in an app doesn't take any effort. Managing a move to a new city is a bit more difficult.
The bay is beautiful, but right now its best features are the weather and the fact that you can get to mountains, desert, snow, and beach in a day.
That's available elsewhere