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If you bring it down to numbers, the pay is definitely higher in the US. For instance, an average software engineer out of school can expect a starting salary between 25 and 35k euros on average in France. In SF, it's more $70-90k at the very least.

But then you have to account for the higher cost of living, transportation (even if you don't drive, French employers pay for a part of your public transportation tickets), and all the other perks that are inherent to your job (insurance, subsidized lunches,...) and inherent to the country (better public education, etc.).

So I think it's hard to say empirically that engineers are better off in one country rather than the other- although I'd be tempted to say that very high end engineers are better off in the US rather than Europe, and the average engineer is better off in Europe rather than the US.

You have it backwards - the cost of living is considerably higher in France than in the US. What costs $1 in the US costs $1.20 in France [1].

...better public education...

Um, no. Better students, but a considerably worse public education system.


The cheese, however, is considerably better in France, as are the women (fatties over here drag our average down).

[1] Since I'm too lazy to switch to windows and open up the Penn Table in Excel, I backed the numbers out of GDP tables: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nomin...

[edit: Hi downmodders, sorry for providing facts. I'll try to avoid that in the future.]

Interesting data, thanks for looking it up+linking it!

Based on my very subjective experience living in both countries (France growing up + undergrad, US as a graduate student+working), I would say much depends on the size of the city where you live.

Living in San Francisco definitely costs much more than living in Lyon (2nd largest city in France) for me- if you look at the apartment alone, I'd have to shell out $2k+ for something I'd easily have in France for under a thousand euros in terms of size + proximity to businesses.

But then for the food + basic expenses (clothing, etc.) I feel like I spend about the same, although some things are more expensive in the US (public transportation, cell phone plans,...).

When I lived in Grenoble I lived a comfortable student life on 1000 euros a month- this would be nowhere sufficient to live comfortably with in SF. But of course the cities are of different sizes, so again this is very shaky grounds for accurate comparison.

I don't want to end up posting a novel here, but it's definitely an interesting topic on which I'd love to hear more insights from european expatriates in the US (or the opposite).

As for the cheese, you are completely right– and regarding the women, I don't want to belittle my fellow French women, but I would be lying if I said I hadn't found delightful ladies in SF :)

Providing facts does not excuse acting like a jackass.

Why do you feel I acted like a jackass?

The "fatties" remark was pretty crass.

I don't think general PPP and GDP comparisons really make sense on the specific scale offered there. The cost of living in the Bay area and NYC are much much higher then the cost of living in say Alabama. I wouldn't be surprised if $2000 in rent went a lot farther in France (even Paris) then it does in say Manhattan or SF.

A lot of SF employers of engineers serve all three meals, or at least lunch, pay health insurance and provide public transportation subsidization too, so on that basis they're about equal. Health insurance while unemployed isn't so nice although. Owning a motor vehicle on gas cost alone is almost double so I hear.

I recently last sentence is social democracy in a. nutshell.

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