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2 Out of 3 tech workers would leave SF permanently if they could work remotely (sfgate.com)
41 points by aritraghosh007 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 31 comments

I feel like there's an implied "and keep their comp". There are a decent number of remote jobs out there right now. They pay well, but certainly not SF TC.

Frankly, I think that implicit assumption by workers is totally fair! The way COL adjustments are done results in a strong incentive to live wherever costs the most. Some time ago I made a comment on this concept that I'll re-post here with minor edits:


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.

> Now all your expenses are 6% lower, but your money left after expenses is also 6% lower.

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.

This is true but its not linear. Even remote jobs are coalescing around a median salary. If you go from SF to Chang Mai, you probably aren't going to take a 85% pay cut, it will probably hit a local minimum for your role/experience/etc.. Your skillset still has a certain value regardless of location. Below a certain line, your savings rate will go back up again.

It's not 6 it's 60

yeah cause quality of life is so much better earning 200k and living w/ room-mates or a small apartment over owning your own home and earning 120k.

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.

You’d rather not make an additional $100,000 _post tax_? That’s about $9,000/mo, way more than the CoL difference, way. And $300k in the Bay Area isn’t even crazy, $400k is also reasonable. If you want to stay in Utah for family/life reasons that makes a ton of sense, but don’t make it about the comp, it doesn’t add up.

If I could afford to OWN a home for < 500k that has 5 bedrooms and I could earn 240k, maybe it'd be worth it.

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).

More or less this. If you're making the same take home comp in SF as you are in the mid west, why go to live somewhere where the climate isn't as pleasant year round?

It's a survey from blind. I trust basically nothing on that app.

> An anonymous survey of 4400 tech workers, conducted by Blind

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.

How do companies know you actually live in SF?

It seems like there is a real opportunity for near-remote - ala Fort Bragg, Santa Cruz, Sierras without this penalty.

But the reason why FB or any firm would be willing to pay you extra for living in SF is if you can actually show up to an office in SF.

Otherwise you offer no differentiation as a remote worker except for time zone, language, and legal or political nuance.

Well, coronavirus situation excepted, they know whether you show up in the office every day.

How much of its tax base will CA loose to other states/countries over the next 10 years if WFH does become a thing?

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.

Currently, I'm hiring for a remote US-based position, but may not consider candidates in CA. My HR department says that having a single remote employee in CA leads to tax claims on a company's overall revenue (and a lot of paperwork). Hopefully, most states will soon realize that having remote workers working for out-of-state employers is actually a very good deal for them (income from out of state, reduced road maintenance, etc.)

Your HR department is wrong. California lets companies choose how their income should be allocated to the state. Employees in state is just one of the options. You should speak to a tax lawyer or accounting firm.

Or just avoid California because it's not work the hassle.

CA companies won't pay CA level salaries to remote workers in other states.

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.

“ CA companies won't pay CA level salaries to remote workers in other states.” - this is True. However, in my experience the pay difference is smaller than CA income tax. And then there is cost of living

Probably none. They will sue saying you left to avoid taxes. The California courts will agree with the State. Now you get to pay taxes in both localities.

Nope, if I move to, say, Bellevue, WA permanently to avoid CA income tax, I will not pay any CA income tax on work done after I relocated permanently from CA.

Edit: Source - done that before when relocating (and having the same employer, which has offices in both states)

Only start counting once people start moving.

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.

I don’t live in SF but for all the angst ridden articles about it, the Bay Area seems to have been the most fertile source of business wealth creation in history. That can’t be purely accidental. I suppose coders can sort of live anywhere but there will always be agglomeration benefits for business creators to concentrate and cross pollinate in person.

Anecdotally it's more than that among non-tech workers.

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

FYI, this is a survey of 4400 Blind users. Which basically means this is a garbage survey.


Sounds like a plan. You can keep the street poo, though.

Exactly! And you won't have to fear homeless people (the horrors!) anymore. We'll keep all the beautiful and ugly things about this place.

Despite my joke, the homeless are not in my top 10 reasons not to live in SF. (And sadly, there are plenty where I live.)


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