For example, it is quite possible to have a high standard of living with little money in Manhattan.
This is because:
* the subway runs 24 hours
* there are numerous inexpensive restaurants
* there are many free cultural and social activities
* if you seek it out, there are many opportunities to have liquor brands pour free alcohol into your glass. (NYC is considered a city of taste-makers.)
This, of course, assumes that you enjoy the tradeoffs you make. Some people enjoy a large-city no-car lifestyle, whereas some think that's less valuable.
So you might find that you enjoy SF on your salary more than Nashville on your salary. Chacun a son gout
Not quite sure what to say about the assertion that a little free booze == good life.
But I'm biased, because New York City is not for me ... there are so many ads you feel like there was some NASCAR pileup they never got to. They even put ads on the stairs in the subway stations (!)
I haven't found this to be the case at all. Most of the cheap good food in the city is ethnic food. I don't think there is anything particularly unhealthy about the grilled chicken skewers I get at the local halal cart.
That being said, for a little more, you can find some really good eats, but that goes for most cities. http://mandoobarnyc.com/ is terrific. It's gotten worse over the years but their kimchi mandoo is still great.
Having said that, if you are spending money on beer or wine (or anything else, really), and it is not improving your quality of living, maybe you should stop spending money on beer and wine and instead spend it on something that will improve your quality of living. If you, for some reason, can't (then maybe you have a problem that needs to be addressed, but otherwise...) then a "perk" of getting these things for free does mean you have more money available for things that will increase your quality of living (perhaps by freeing up other resources like time that can be more directly invested in quality of living, however you experience that).
While people living at home or in the midwest are raking it in with six-fig's savings. Man, I wish I was smarter and moved back in with my parents; would do wonders for my dating life. You know what's sexy? Big savings and high credit score.
A large part of the reason that California and NYC are so desirable despite the high cost of living is the intangibles that you can't get in other locations like Dallas or Cleveland.
People are the same as in California as in Cleveland as in China as in Uganda, insecure and selfish. Marketers use that fear of missing out (FOMO) to market the "urban" lifestyle.
The median salary from the chart is $90,000, so I suspect the calculation they did was along the lines of 90000 * 9.3/100 * 5 = $41,850. (Perhaps they used a different average than the chart.)
So, I don't think they know how marginal tax works either.
Imagine if this was applied to fuel economy. "For any mph over 60 mph the car will increase it's consumption by X percent". Totally useless.
After all, on a marginal-rate basis, the U.S. has the highest corporate income tax rate in the world. On an effective-rate basis, the U.S. is competitive with nations which do not have a corporate income tax rate. Many large U.S. corporations have effective rates in the low single digits and in some cases have negative effective rates.
At first I thought they meant average total compensation, but 180k seems too high.
But we can only speculate where they arrived at their numbers, and how they define upper crust.
Spend less time coming up with catchy titles, and try including at least the bare minimum of relevant description.
Another point to take into consideration is that most designers on the rise end up managing art and/or marketing departments in which case they stop being graphic designers and end up with titles such as Creative Director, Brand Manager, etc... while a whole lot of developers on the rise keep being developers, albeit of the Senior Developer, X Specialty Dev/Architect/Programmer, et al. This last point will probably skew the charts a little bit unless you take into consideration the carrer paths of typical top end graphical designers.
I'd be interested in viewing both figures, but the median is far more interesting, especially in an industry like SV. They choose to go with the average in most instances, however.
Here in NYC, your food costs alone can vary dramatically - you can live in a neighborhood without a grocery store and rely on the massively overpriced Gristedes, and all the restaurants around you are high-end. Or, you can live right next to a Fairway and all of the restaurants around you are <$10 for dinner.
Ditto rent - what is the equivalent neighborhood to the Mission in SF in NYC? What is the equivalent neighborhood of Capitol Hill in Seattle in SF? Drawing equivalencies is really hard, and simply calculating the mean or median of the entire housing market is not even close to the heart of the matter.
With all the moving around I've ever done, I've completely stopped looking at cost of living calculators. Inevitably they never bear any real semblance on reality.
I'd be interested in seeing the actual curve.