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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 11:11:28 AM

Title: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 11:11:28 AM
Hi all,

We had our first child in May and do not want to raise our children in the Brooklyn neighborhood we currently live in for many reasons. We bought our house here in 2011 and it has appreciated substantially since then (due to gentrification), but our priorities have changed. The poor schools, lack of diversity, and high density are not what we are looking for. We had been looking in the NYC area with the intent of moving before the kiddo is ready for kindergarten, but the astronomical property taxes are a major turnoff. We have also realized that this is a perfect opportunity to Get Rich With: Moving to a Better Place (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/28/get-rich-with-moving-to-a-better-place/).

So, my question is: where should we move?

Here are some pertinent facts:

And here's what we would like in the area we move to (roughly in order of importance):
[liGreat food scene (we are total foodies)[/li]
[li]Ease of international travel[/li]
[/list]

We've preliminarily identified the above cities as possibilities, acknowledging we will probably want to live in the suburbs of these locations, not the city proper. We would ideally rent in the area for a year to confirm that we want to live there, then buy our "forever" home.

Thanks so much and look forward to seeing your replies!
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: ender on July 09, 2015, 11:39:38 AM
Why are you limiting yourself to those cities?
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 11:41:02 AM
Why are you limiting yourself to those cities?
We're not limited to those cities, those are just ones we've identified in our searching so far. I'll make the poll clearer on that point.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: TheOldestYoungMan on July 09, 2015, 12:10:49 PM
Austin Texas has a good little tech sector I'm told.  It's got good schools, enough of a winter so your kids will get to have snowball fights but not so much of one that you ever have to go outside when it snows.

Texas doesn't have the best reputation regarding race issues but Austin is very much an exception.  Truly any of the big cities you won't have any issues, and most of the smaller ones too.  We've got some great little towns, but there's some backwoods cuntry goin' on too.

The tax situation is pretty decent, but if you get an expensive house it can still seem high.  The cost of living overall is very low.  I doubt very seriously if your wage would go down enough to result in a net lower take home pay once you no longer have a state income tax to pay.

International travel isn't super convenient, you may find you end up taking alot of 1 hour connector flights to the larger Houston/Dallas airports.

It's a google fiber town, so if you do end up down there definitely get a house covered by that.

I don't know what you mean by large lot, but in Texas you can actually get a couple hundred acres within an hour of town if you really want.  Coming from NYC you maybe just meant "a yard."

Oh, and Austin is bike friendly. 

Huge bat population = not nearly the mosquito problem the rest of the gulf coast has.

If you aren't one to watch a college football game on Saturdays, during the fall there's a 4 hour window where you can run errands and nobody else is out.  (The game will actually be on tv at the grocery store so the checkers will show up for work).

Downsides (and none of these are a big deal, just trying to point out for purposes of completeness): 

It's a major university town (several universities, probably over 150,000 people identifying as "college students" at any given time), so if you ever do find you need to cover yourself with some part time work, well, there's people with master's degrees running the checkout counter at the grocery store.

Housing prices can be a little wonky due to the massive turnover every year, it's an awesome town to run a rental home in though.  4 bedroom house with 8 tenants = $$.

College kids everywhere and traffic all the time 9 months out of the year.  Tumbleweeds blowing down the street in the summer (exaggeration).

Maybe bats aren't your thing?  You hardly ever notice 'em.

The city has been growing much faster than they planned, so there are some infrastructure issues.  Newer areas the power grid isn't what you'd call, reliable.  There's also roads that should've been built 5 years ago just now started in planning.  More people are using everything than it can really handle.  All that adds up to a slight annoyance that gets you a great deal on housing prices.

Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: DecD on July 09, 2015, 12:10:58 PM
It's not on your list and you've likely never considered it, but I can recommend Houston, specifically the Clear Lake area near NASA's Johnson Space Center.

You've got:
* Relatively good diversity and tolerance thanks to the scientific/engineering/international community here for JSC.  I say "Relatively" because we're talking Texas, not Brooklyn.  It is NOT Brooklyn-diverse here.
* Amazingly awesome public schools
* Very low COL (no income tax, low housing costs) paired with relatively high salaries (Oil Industry ratchets up the salary scale.  For example on the GS (govt) scale, salaries are higher in Houston than DC)
* Very large lots can be found, or you can find small ones, depending on your neighborhood.  But land is inexpensive.
* Avoiding brutal winters: check.  We're talking palm trees and orange trees.  Of course, that comes at a cost. (ahem Summer ahem.)
* You can fly anywhere from IAH.  Domestically, you can fly Southwest from Hobby, easy peasy.

Now there are downsides:
* It is hot and humid June-September.  No kidding.
* Property taxes are high thanks to no income tax.
* Property insurance is higher thanks to hurricanes.
* The sprawl of Houston is not beautiful.
* Traffic sucks if you commute on the freeways.
* Did I mention the summers?

However:
* Pockets of Houston are lovely.  In Clear Lake, you're next door to a nature preserve, you've got neighborhoods filled with mature, tall pine trees.
* Clear Lake is unique in that the space industry and the chemical industry are major employers right in town- bike commutes are absolutely doable.
* It's a quick drive to the beach.  Nobody will confuse it with Cancun but Galveston is still fun- sandcastles and ocean swimming.
* Swimming pools are common- most neighborhoods have a nice one, and many homes do as well.  Even the summer heat is fun when you spend every day swimming.
* Downtown Houston is nearby, and while it's not NYC, it has a lovely selection of museums, parks, sports, performances, festivals.
* Folks are friendly and welcoming. 


And here's what we would like in the area we move to (roughly in order of importance):
  • Diversity and tolerance (we are an interracial couple)
  • Excellent public schools
  • Effect on time to FIRE (i.e. cost of living and income potential)
  • More space (homes with largish lots and privacy)
  • Avoiding brutal winters (we are sick of snow!)
  • Ease of international travel

We've preliminarily identified the above cities as possibilities, acknowledging we will probably want to live in the suburbs of these locations, not the city proper. We would ideally rent in the area for a year to confirm that we want to live there, then buy our "forever" home.

Thanks so much and look forward to seeing your replies!
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: Erica/NWEdible on July 09, 2015, 12:12:05 PM
I can give you some opinions on the greater Seattle area.

Interracial couples are normal here. Euro/Asian couples are very common. Mixed-race kids are common. It's a pretty liberal town so people will go out of their way to avoid looking like bigots. That said, there aren't that many black people here. Just 8.4% of Seattle's demographic is African-origin/black. My impression is that Seattle isn't as great for integration and diversity when it comes to African-Americans and Latino-Americans as it is for Asian-Americans.

The city's demographics:

(http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/cs/groups/pan/@pan/documents/web_informational/dpdd016849.png)

Varies hugely by district. Most of the suburban communities have pretty decent schools, but if you want excellent, you might want to look at Seattle's little sister city Bellevue, where schools are generally very good.

This is a HCOL area. Not NY COL, but this is not a place where I'd expect your dollar to really stretch. The neighborhoods with the best schools are desirable, and you'll have to pay to play. Salaries might be a touch less than you are getting in NY, but it's a good city to be a software developer, with many potential employers. We have no state income tax.
You'd have to be fairly far out in the suburbs to find largish lots and privacy. Real estate in Seattle is expensive. If you don't mind a commute, many of the outer communities still maintain a strong rural flavor and space - even acreage - can be had. This is particularly true if you home base on the East side of Lake Washington/Bellevue area.
Mild but cloudy and overcast most of the year. Summer makes up for this.
Seattle is well connected through SeaTac airport, and if you are going to East Asia or Australia, it's a great jumping off point.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: Mrs.LC on July 09, 2015, 12:17:08 PM
I vote for the Minneapolis area. Lots of Fortune 500 companies are located there. Good salaries, nice housing. Great metro area that is consistently voted one of the top biking and walking cities. Beautiful lakes, four season recreation. Schools are excellent as well. Would be my number one choice of cities to live in the US.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: CowboyAndIndian on July 09, 2015, 12:21:03 PM
...
His job: Software developer at large financial institution, salary $150K and last year's bonus $30K
...

You realize, you will not make this much money at any of the other locations?

It is very hard to escape from the golden handcuffs of the financial industry which we work in.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 12:27:50 PM
...
His job: Software developer at large financial institution, salary $150K and last year's bonus $30K
...

You realize, you will not make this much money at any of the other locations?

It is very hard to escape from the golden handcuffs of the financial industry which we work in.

This is exactly what I am struggling with. Especially considering all indications are that my 2016 total comp will be 200K+. From what I have seen, there is nowhere outside of the Bay Area I could make this much. Furthermore, we have done well at keeping our costs low and living well beneath our means despite living in NYC. If it weren't for the children we would hunker down in Brooklyn until the 'stache was done and FIRE to wherever we pleased. Having children has changed the equation as we definitely do not want to raise them in NYC proper, and the NYC suburbs we were looking at would represent a massive COL increase for us. Hence the desire to move out of the area.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: humbleMouse on July 09, 2015, 12:37:15 PM
...
His job: Software developer at large financial institution, salary $150K and last year's bonus $30K
...

You realize, you will not make this much money at any of the other locations?

It is very hard to escape from the golden handcuffs of the financial industry which we work in.

This is exactly what I am struggling with. Especially considering all indications are that my 2016 total comp will be 200K+. From what I have seen, there is nowhere outside of the Bay Area I could make this much. Furthermore, we have done well at keeping our costs low and living well beneath our means despite living in NYC. If it weren't for the children we would hunker down in Brooklyn until the 'stache was done and FIRE to wherever we pleased. Having children has changed the equation as we definitely do not want to raise them in NYC proper, and the NYC suburbs we were looking at would represent a massive COL increase for us. Hence the desire to move out of the area.


Have you tried looking at Redhook brooklyn?  It is a very nice little quiet slice of brooklyn that doesn't really feel like new york.  Not many people milling about, has the nice ocean smell/breeze and housing prices will continue to appreciate here for a long time!
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: Erica/NWEdible on July 09, 2015, 12:40:28 PM
Hey here's something else you might consider. What's your plan for childcare? Even if your wife stays as a SAHM, if you are thinking 3 kids, you will both want some time off. Grandparents nearby might be really great to have.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 12:43:46 PM
Austin Texas has a good little tech sector I'm told.  It's got good schools, enough of a winter so your kids will get to have snowball fights but not so much of one that you ever have to go outside when it snows.

It's not on your list and you've likely never considered it, but I can recommend Houston, specifically the Clear Lake area near NASA's Johnson Space Center.

The Mrs has (right or wrongly) already ruled out Texas as being too conservative and too unfriendly to people of color like her and our children.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 12:45:30 PM
I vote for the Minneapolis area. Lots of Fortune 500 companies are located there. Good salaries, nice housing. Great metro area that is consistently voted one of the top biking and walking cities. Beautiful lakes, four season recreation. Schools are excellent as well. Would be my number one choice of cities to live in the US.

We've ruled out anywhere with a worse winter than NYC... :-)
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 12:49:34 PM
Hey here's something else you might consider. What's your plan for childcare? Even if your wife stays as a SAHM, if you are thinking 3 kids, you will both want some time off. Grandparents nearby might be really great to have.

The grandparents have been helpful to have nearby so far, especially since I work relatively long hours and have a 1+ hour commute (only way to get reasonable housing prices). This is another reason we want to leave NYC: saner working hours and a shorter commute so I can spend more time with the kids. Our plan for childcare is for her to stay a SAHM until all the kids are in school, and then if necessary I would scale down working.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 12:52:28 PM
Have you tried looking at Redhook brooklyn?  It is a very nice little quiet slice of brooklyn that doesn't really feel like new york.  Not many people milling about, has the nice ocean smell/breeze and housing prices will continue to appreciate here for a long time!

We've spent a lot of time in Red Hook since we previously rented nearby in Park Slope before buying. It's a very nice and scenic area (we love the Fairway and IKEA!) but (1) a difficult commute, (2) not great schools (3) large NYCHA project (4) doesn't have the space we want.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: AZDude on July 09, 2015, 01:18:27 PM
I live in the Phoenix area, and have lived in San Diego, so I'll give a quick rundown of them.

Phoenix -
CoL is low here compared to NYC. You can get a 2000 sq ft home in a very good neighborhood for ~$300K. You can get a 1500 sq ft home in a good neighborhood for $200K. Schools here are OK, but only if you are in a handful of districts. Overall the state pretty much hates education, but the best schools are still high quality. Its the other 90% that are shitholes. I'm a software developer and there are thousands of good jobs here. That will not be an issue. Depending on experience, expect to make $50K(2yrs or less) to $100K(10 years). Obviously there is no snow here, but you will live indoors for three months in the summer time. If you are in an upscale neighborhood, then you probably will not have to worry about being an interracial couple(especially if your wife is hispanic, since this is relatively normal here), but make no mistake. We have rednecks here. Lots of them. Be prepared for lifted 4 wheel drive trucks with fake testicles and vulgar slogans written on the window being driven by tattooed white trash. Be OK with the guy hanging out with his daughter selling girl scout cookies outside Chick-Fil-A sporting a semi-automatic pistol and a shirt that says something along the lines of "look at my daughter and I'll kill you". Judging from your list, if you did come here I would suggest the north Scottsdale, Gilbert, or northwest Peoria suburbs.

Other things to think about. The crime rate here, especially the violent crime rate, is very low. Phoenix is one of the safest big cities in the US. Public transportation here is pretty much non-existent. You will need a car. During the summer, it can be hard to find things to do, especially for kids.

As for San Diego, the weather is ridiculous. No heat in the summer, no snow in the winter. It is relatively safe compared to other big cities. The culture is pretty awesome. The schools mostly suck. Jobs are hard to come by, although if you have 5 or more years of experience you should be able to find a job with a little bit of work. However, don't expect to show up and find a job the next day. It will take a few weeks, at least. Big thing I was not expecting when I moved there was the salary. I figured with the cost of living being so high, salaries would also be high. They were not. There is so much competition for jobs that wages get depressed, even for hot careers like software development. The pay will basically be in the same $50K to $100K range you find in Phoenix, despite it being twice as expensive. If you want a home with a nice yard, expect to pay $400K for a tiny home in a questionable neighborhood. Pay $600K and up if you want something in a nice area. If you choose this route, look at Poway, University City, and Carlsbad. Those are probably your best bets to find what you want. I loved it in San Diego, but it was too expensive on one income and my wife could not find a job. Also remember, San Diego and California as a whole is in extreme drought. If you buy a house, make sure you consider the fire danger. Also remember that water restrictions are in place, so having a nice green lawn might not be possible.

Hopefully this helps.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 01:32:42 PM
Phoenix -
CoL is low here compared to NYC. You can get a 2000 sq ft home in a very good neighborhood for ~$300K. You can get a 1500 sq ft home in a good neighborhood for $200K. Schools here are OK, but only if you are in a handful of districts. Overall the state pretty much hates education, but the best schools are still high quality. Its the other 90% that are shitholes. I'm a software developer and there are thousands of good jobs here. That will not be an issue. Depending on experience, expect to make $50K(2yrs or less) to $100K(10 years). Obviously there is no snow here, but you will live indoors for three months in the summer time. If you are in an upscale neighborhood, then you probably will not have to worry about being an interracial couple(especially if your wife is hispanic, since this is relatively normal here), but make no mistake. We have rednecks here. Lots of them. Be prepared for lifted 4 wheel drive trucks with fake testicles and vulgar slogans written on the window being driven by tattooed white trash. Be OK with the guy hanging out with his daughter selling girl scout cookies outside Chick-Fil-A sporting a semi-automatic pistol and a shirt that says something along the lines of "look at my daughter and I'll kill you". Judging from your list, if you did come here I would suggest the north Scottsdale, Gilbert, or northwest Peoria suburbs.

Other things to think about. The crime rate here, especially the violent crime rate, is very low. Phoenix is one of the safest big cities in the US. Public transportation here is pretty much non-existent. You will need a car. During the summer, it can be hard to find things to do, especially for kids.

Thanks, this helps a lot! My wife has been gunning for Phoenix, mostly because of the weather (she hates hates hates cold and rain). I've been trying to keep an open mind to everywhere but right now it's the top of our list by default. Good to hear there are some good schools in the area, I wasn't sure about that. And I had no idea there were rednecks there, but hopefully they'll be easy to ignore. Coming from NYC though, it will be strange to see people walking around with guns!

My main concerns with Phoenix are the much lower salaries (hard to save $90K on only $100K!) and the sustainability of living in a desert (the drought affects Arizona too, no?).

San Diego sounds like a no-go based on the job market and cost of housing.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 01:37:27 PM
One other question I had is that accurate salary info on sites like Glassdoor (http://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/index.htm) seems difficult to find. For example, my title is "Vice President", not "Software Engineer" or "Application Developer" or something like that. So to see if I'm paid fairly (I am) I need to search for this (http://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/new-york-city-vice-president-salary-SRCH_IL.0,13_IM615_KO14,28.htm), not this (http://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/new-york-city-software-engineer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,13_IM615_KO14,31.htm). How can I tell what top-notch software developers are actually paid in different cities?
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: seattlecyclone on July 09, 2015, 01:57:29 PM
...
His job: Software developer at large financial institution, salary $150K and last year's bonus $30K
...

You realize, you will not make this much money at any of the other locations?

This is not necessarily true. For someone with several years of experience outside of college, Seattle has lots of software jobs that pay this much or more. For example, Glassdoor reports the median total comp for a Software Engineer III at Amazon at $181k, and $175k for a Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft. We also have no state/local income tax, and while housing costs are much higher than the national average they're lower than NYC.

As far as diversity is concerned, I can confirm what Erica posted about it being a very white city, with a lot of Asian people as well. Black people tend to be more concentrated in the neighborhoods south of downtown. Schools down that way don't tend to be ranked as favorably, but there are quite a few decent ones to be found.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: seattlecyclone on July 09, 2015, 02:03:45 PM
One other question I had is that accurate salary info on sites like Glassdoor (http://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/index.htm) seems difficult to find. For example, my title is "Vice President", not "Software Engineer" or "Application Developer" or something like that. So to see if I'm paid fairly (I am) I need to search for this (http://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/new-york-city-vice-president-salary-SRCH_IL.0,13_IM615_KO14,28.htm), not this (http://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/new-york-city-software-engineer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,13_IM615_KO14,31.htm). How can I tell what top-notch software developers are actually paid in different cities?

In a large software development company, a "Vice President" is usually someone with management responsibility over several hundred people. If you write code for a living, Vice President will almost certainly not be your title at one of these companies. A more typical title progression at one of these companies would be more like this:
* Software Engineer I -- new graduate
* Software Engineer II -- might get promoted to this level after 2-3 years of good work.
* Senior Software Engineer/Software Engineer III -- might get to this level after 6-8 years, with some experience serving as technical leadership for a small team.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: CowboyAndIndian on July 09, 2015, 02:13:38 PM
In a large software development company, a "Vice President" is usually someone with management responsibility over several hundred people. If you write code for a living, Vice President will almost certainly not be your title at one of these companies. A more typical title progression at one of these companies would be more like this:
* Software Engineer I -- new graduate
* Software Engineer II -- might get promoted to this level after 2-3 years of good work.
* Senior Software Engineer/Software Engineer III -- might get to this level after 6-8 years, with some experience serving as technical leadership for a small team.

Yup, that is Wall St. for you. The lowest managerial level is a VP.

So, the hierarchy in Wall St. is as follows (low to high)


So, an MD is the equivalent of a VP in a non-Financial firm.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: AZDude on July 09, 2015, 02:14:05 PM
Arizona is a desert, so its perpetually in a state of drought. That being said, we do a much better job of conserving water than either California or Las Vegas. Phoenix has not had any mandatory water restrictions that I can remember, but most houses have xeriscape(no/little watering) or other drought tolerant yards.

Salaries are lower, but look at CoL.

http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/

Based on this, $150K in Brooklyn is roughly equal to $85K here.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 02:15:46 PM
As far as diversity is concerned, I can confirm what Erica posted about it being a very white city, with a lot of Asian people as well. Black people tend to be more concentrated in the neighborhoods south of downtown. Schools down that way don't tend to be ranked as favorably, but there are quite a few decent ones to be found.

I am white and my wife is black, hopefully we wouldn't be too out of place in an affluent suburb? We can take staring or even the occasional comment but we are very concerned about our children being perceived as "outsiders" by their peers. Kids tend to find any reason to label someone as different and thus a target for bullying etc,
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 02:20:25 PM
In a large software development company, a "Vice President" is usually someone with management responsibility over several hundred people. If you write code for a living, Vice President will almost certainly not be your title at one of these companies. A more typical title progression at one of these companies would be more like this:
* Software Engineer I -- new graduate
* Software Engineer II -- might get promoted to this level after 2-3 years of good work.
* Senior Software Engineer/Software Engineer III -- might get to this level after 6-8 years, with some experience serving as technical leadership for a small team.

Yup, that is Wall St. for you. The lowest managerial level is a VP.

So, the hierarchy in Wall St. is as follows (low to high)

  • AVP (Asst VP, some companies do not have this level)
  • VP
  • Director
  • Executive Director (Some companies merge this with Director)
  • Managing Director

So, an MD is the equivalent of a VP in a non-Financial firm.

Yeah the titles in finance make absolutely no sense. My parents get a perverse kick out of telling anyone who will listen that their son is a VP at MegaBank. People outside the industry don't realize that it means nothing.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: CowboyAndIndian on July 09, 2015, 02:24:06 PM
...
Having children has changed the equation as we definitely do not want to raise them in NYC proper, and the NYC suburbs we were looking at would represent a massive COL increase for us. Hence the desire to move out of the area.
...

Ok, here is a suggestion which will not get you away from the snow, but will keep your salary the same and keep  the commute about the same with much better schools.

Move to Princeton Junction or Plainsboro in Central Jersey.

PM me if you want more information about the area.

Edit: NYC taxes, not NY.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: seattlecyclone on July 09, 2015, 02:29:28 PM
As far as diversity is concerned, I can confirm what Erica posted about it being a very white city, with a lot of Asian people as well. Black people tend to be more concentrated in the neighborhoods south of downtown. Schools down that way don't tend to be ranked as favorably, but there are quite a few decent ones to be found.

I am white and my wife is black, hopefully we wouldn't be too out of place in an affluent suburb? We can take staring or even the occasional comment but we are very concerned about our children being perceived as "outsiders" by their peers. Kids tend to find any reason to label someone as different and thus a target for bullying etc,

I can't really speak to the suburbs as I don't spend much time there. I live in a pretty affluent neighborhood in the northern half of Seattle. I volunteer a few hours per week teaching computer science at the public high school in my neighborhood. I have had a few black and mixed-race students. They seem to get along just fine with the other students in a classroom setting, choosing project groups across racial lines and everything. Of course we all know that there's so much that goes on with kids outside of classrooms that the adults don't necessarily see, and I can't comment on how it might be here compared to elsewhere.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 02:35:21 PM
Arizona is a desert, so its perpetually in a state of drought. That being said, we do a much better job of conserving water than either California or Las Vegas. Phoenix has not had any mandatory water restrictions that I can remember, but most houses have xeriscape(no/little watering) or other drought tolerant yards.

Salaries are lower, but look at CoL.

http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/

Based on this, $150K in Brooklyn is roughly equal to $85K here.

That's good to hear re: the water situation. Is it sustainable as the city continues to boom though?

As far as COL, those numbers are helpful but misleading for Mustachians. Such calculators assume that you spend every dollar you make. I don't need to adjust my income by COL, I need to adjust my spending by COL. Salary will presumably adjust by some different amount (as we all know, income and COL have some correlation but are not linearly dependent). We are looking to maximize savings which is a bit involved. Is the below line of reasoning correct?

Our annual cash expenses are somewhere around $60K in NYC, so this would be $34K in Phoenix. After-tax comp (salary+bonus) would go from $180K - $44K = $136K to (just ballparking salary and taxes in AZ) $110K - $25K = $85K. Savings (ex home equity) would then go from $136K - $60K = $76K to $85K - $34K = $51K, a loss of $25K after-tax savings per year.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 02:38:47 PM
...
Having children has changed the equation as we definitely do not want to raise them in NYC proper, and the NYC suburbs we were looking at would represent a massive COL increase for us. Hence the desire to move out of the area.
...

Ok, here is a suggestion which will not get you away from the snow, but will keep your salary the same and keep  the commute about the same with much better schools.

Move to Princeton Junction or Plainsboro in Central Jersey.
  • Top rated schools
  • Very multicultural.
  • 50 minutes by train from Princeton Junction Station to NY Penn (or 35 mins to Newark and 20 mins to WTC)
  • taxes may be a wash, you do not pay NY tax, but your RE tax will be higher(it pays for the school)

PM me if you want more information about the area.

Our NY suburbs of choice were going to be Fairfield County CT because of the still-top schools and lower RE taxes than NJ/LI/Westchester. Plus the proximity to hedge funds and banks in Stamford/Greenwich increases the possiblity of losing the NYC commute and NYS taxes. How does central NJ comapre to that?
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: Erica/NWEdible on July 09, 2015, 02:49:12 PM
As far as diversity is concerned, I can confirm what Erica posted about it being a very white city, with a lot of Asian people as well. Black people tend to be more concentrated in the neighborhoods south of downtown. Schools down that way don't tend to be ranked as favorably, but there are quite a few decent ones to be found.

I am white and my wife is black, hopefully we wouldn't be too out of place in an affluent suburb? We can take staring or even the occasional comment but we are very concerned about our children being perceived as "outsiders" by their peers. Kids tend to find any reason to label someone as different and thus a target for bullying etc,

I can't really speak to the suburbs as I don't spend much time there. I live in a pretty affluent neighborhood in the northern half of Seattle. I volunteer a few hours per week teaching computer science at the public high school in my neighborhood. I have had a few black and mixed-race students. They seem to get along just fine with the other students in a classroom setting, choosing project groups across racial lines and everything. Of course we all know that there's so much that goes on with kids outside of classrooms that the adults don't necessarily see, and I can't comment on how it might be here compared to elsewhere.

I think your kids would be fine. I know two women fairly well who are my age (mid-30s) who are half-black, half-white and I think the worst they get is stuff like "you're so exotic, what are you?" type comments, which are obnoxious but not mean-spirited. They're both gorgeous, too, so that might be part of it. My school age daughter has many, many kids in her class who are biracial. I don't think our kids generation even thinks about it, honestly.

In Seattle and surrounding areas, you'd probably have people going out of their way to try and make sure you didn't think they were racist. I'm sure we have a fair number of bigots here, but the cultural ethos is very P.C. However, from a purely comfort-zone perspective, I'd bet money that in those affluent suburbs your wife will have experiences where she's the only black person in the room.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: AZDude on July 09, 2015, 02:50:43 PM
Quick question, can you work remotely and stay at the same job with same salary? When I moved from Phx to SD, for example, I kept the same job(while hoping to land a higher paying one... did not happen) and worked remotely. Is this a possibility?

As far as water sustainability, that is a tough one. Arizona is in a better position than Nevada or California, but its still precarious. Most water usage still comes from agriculture, not residential use, so I think the city itself will be fine.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 02:53:30 PM
Quick question, can you work remotely and stay at the same job with same salary? When I moved from Phx to SD, for example, I kept the same job(while hoping to land a higher paying one... did not happen) and worked remotely. Is this a possibility?

I work on a trading desk which means I need to be physically here to support trading activity. I do work from home occasionally but it's very rare to see purely remote workers on Wall Street. All the tech jobs which don't require business knowledge or a physical presence were outsourced a long time ago... :-)
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: expectopatronum on July 09, 2015, 02:54:11 PM
I'm seconding Austin and Houston, and would throw in Dallas/Ft. Worth (though price of living I think is a bit higher there than the former two, and I find it "snootier" than H/A).

Austin has a reputation for being more interesting, maybe, but Houston is incredible to live in too. The inner loop and downtown have a ton of interesting stuff, there's great restaurants everywhere, there are great schools (especially if you live & work in the suburbs).

The downsides of Houston compared to Austin -
- fewer vegan/vegetarian places to eat
- fewer outdoor activities (Houston has some green space, but Austin has Barton Springs and such)
- less bike friendly (though I do ride my bike in the Inner Loop)
- less college football (Texas A&M is 1.5hrs from Houston whereas UT is in Austin proper)
- fewer music festivals (Houston has Free Press Summer Fest, but Austin has ACL and SXSW). Whether or not that's a con depends on who you are. Personally, I like that Houston doesn't host festivals all the time. I'm not into them so the crowds just annoy me.

The upsides-
- I'm not sure if traffic is really worse in Austin, but I HATE driving in Austin.
- Great airport access. We have family all over, and I love that IAH and HOU offer such a wide variety of flights, many of which are nonstop. 
- Lots of pro sports to follow. Houston has the Rockets, Astros, Dynamo, Dash, Texans...
- Houston isn't as college-y. There's Rice University, but I feel the identity of Houston isn't tied nearly as closely as Austin is to UT.
- Great museums (Natural Science & Kids' in particular)
- Amazing medical center
- More racially diverse. Yep, even more so than New York and LA! Houston has a big Hispanic community, lots of Viets, Indians, Brits, and French people, and honestly people from all over - those are the ones I notice most though.

Both have mild winters, have good schools, TONS of local eats, and are tolerant IMO. (We are also an interracial couple.)
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 02:56:32 PM
In Seattle and surrounding areas, you'd probably have people going out of their way to try and make sure you didn't think they were racist. I'm sure we have a fair number of bigots here, but the cultural ethos is very P.C. However, from a purely comfort-zone perspective, I'd bet money that in those affluent suburbs your wife will have experiences where she's the only black person in the room.

That's great to hear! My wife and I are both very used to only-person-of-my-ethnicity-in-the-room. Seattle is sounding better and better from a salary-vs-COL perspective. Now if you guys could only do something about getting some more sunshine and less rain! :-P
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: seattlecyclone on July 09, 2015, 02:58:27 PM
In Seattle and surrounding areas, you'd probably have people going out of their way to try and make sure you didn't think they were racist. I'm sure we have a fair number of bigots here, but the cultural ethos is very P.C. However, from a purely comfort-zone perspective, I'd bet money that in those affluent suburbs your wife will have experiences where she's the only black person in the room.

That's great to hear! My wife and I are both very used to only-person-of-my-ethnicity-in-the-room. Seattle is sounding better and better from a salary-vs-COL perspective. Now if you guys could only do something about getting some more sunshine and less rain! :-P

We're working on it! (http://www.komonews.com/weather/blogs/scott/Seattle-warm-stretch-to-last-into-September2016-308229991.html)
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: expectopatronum on July 09, 2015, 03:01:26 PM
I think your kids would be fine. I know two women fairly well who are my age (mid-30s) who are half-black, half-white and I think the worst they get is stuff like "you're so exotic, what are you?" type comments, which are obnoxious but not mean-spirited. They're both gorgeous, too, so that might be part of it. My school age daughter has many, many kids in her class who are biracial. I don't think our kids generation even thinks about it, honestly.

Not to derail the thread, but IMO - this happens almost ANYWHERE that I go. It was not a thing maybe when I was in DC, because people are rarely from there, maybe? These comments are always obnoxious and sometimes extremely disrespectful. Mean-spirited...not usually, but I won't dissect why they make me feel incredibly annoyed and angry, even when it's a "compliment" of "you're so exotic". Most of the major metro areas would be fine. I'm glad I wasn't raised in a super-white small town though.

And I'd agree with the notion that it will be less of a thing for each generation after ours. Texas's anti-miscegenation laws didn't get repealed until 1967, which sounds...like a long time ago, but that's about when my parents were graduating high school. My dad went out with an Indian girl for awhile while he was in school in Tennessee in the early 70's, and it was a big thing. I only recently got married. It makes sense to me that my kids' generation will be way more mixed.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: Erica/NWEdible on July 09, 2015, 03:15:02 PM
Texas's anti-miscegenation laws didn't get repealed until 1967, which sounds...like a long time ago, but that's about when my parents were graduating high school. My dad went out with an Indian girl for awhile while he was in school in Tennessee in the early 70's, and it was a big thing. I only recently got married. It makes sense to me that my kids' generation will be way more mixed.

TIL there's a word for dating people with slightly different skin pigmentation. And the state had laws about it! Just wow. I knew there were social stigmas for a long time (and I guess there still are) but I honestly did not know "anti-mixing" was codified to that degree in this country.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: AZDude on July 09, 2015, 03:37:59 PM
So I was just curiously wondering if you could work in NYC until FIRE and then move to Phoenix, since that would be the fastest way to FIRE.

Currently saving $90K per year. I looked at my own, somewhat ridiculous budget, and see ~$25K a year in expenses, minus housing. So you would need $25,000 * 25 = $625,000 + $200,000 for a home, $825,000.  That would take ~7 years, assuming you have 0 in savings(unlikely I imagine).

Moving here, you still need the same $825,000, but you would make ~$85,000(about $60K after taxes, estimated). $60K - $37K(expenses per year, $25K plus $1K/month housing) = $23K. In this scenario, you need about 15 years to FIRE.

Anyway, something to think about.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: mr_orange on July 09, 2015, 03:48:03 PM
A third vote for Austin here.  The city is booming and has a lot of cool stuff to do.  The one major downside that was already mentioned above is that the infrastructure hasn't kept pace with the growth.  The city proper also has a bunch of yahoos running the town and the building code is ridiculous.  Aside from that the city is a great place to live for software developers.  I work in the tech industry in Austin and the pay is great and the jobs have a lot of flexibility built into them. 
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: CowboyAndIndian on July 09, 2015, 04:20:29 PM
...
Having children has changed the equation as we definitely do not want to raise them in NYC proper, and the NYC suburbs we were looking at would represent a massive COL increase for us. Hence the desire to move out of the area.
...

Ok, here is a suggestion which will not get you away from the snow, but will keep your salary the same and keep  the commute about the same with much better schools.

Move to Princeton Junction or Plainsboro in Central Jersey.
  • Top rated schools
  • Very multicultural.
  • 50 minutes by train from Princeton Junction Station to NY Penn (or 35 mins to Newark and 20 mins to WTC)
  • taxes may be a wash, you do not pay NY tax, but your RE tax will be higher(it pays for the school)

PM me if you want more information about the area.

Our NY suburbs of choice were going to be Fairfield County CT because of the still-top schools and lower RE taxes than NJ/LI/Westchester. Plus the proximity to hedge funds and banks in Stamford/Greenwich increases the possiblity of losing the NYC commute and NYS taxes. How does central NJ comapre to that?

Central NJ has high RE taxes, but if you do not buy a McMansion, it will not be awful. RE tax is approx $16k for a $750k house (3000sqft, 0.5 acre lot). A town house will be a lot lower (maybe 6k?).

You will also have many opportunities in Jersey City (if you are tech, your company is probably going to move you here). In this case also you will loose NYS and NYC taxes. I believe that NYS/NJ taxes are comparable. Not sure about CT, but it probably is the same.
Also, the Princeton area is halfway between NYC and Philly.

In my opinion, Fairfield is not as multicultural as Central NJ (Please correct me if I am wrong, I am basing it on living in Westchester about 20 years ago). It does not matter if you are White/Brown/Black/Yellow or Green. Being Indian, I have never felt excluded here.

The areas I mentioned (Princeton Junction aka West Windsor and Plainsboro) are right next to Princeton. Lots of cultural stuff.

I also think NJ Transit is far superior to Metro North.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: CowboyAndIndian on July 09, 2015, 04:33:39 PM
I work on a trading desk which means I need to be physically here to support trading activity.

Sorry for raining on your parade, but the job you mention has no equivalent in a non-financial tech job. Would you be able to find a software job?

All the stuff I did out side of Wall St. , software process, methodology, QA etc. were thrown out of the window when I switched.

Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 05:33:11 PM
So I was just curiously wondering if you could work in NYC until FIRE and then move to Phoenix, since that would be the fastest way to FIRE.

Currently saving $90K per year. I looked at my own, somewhat ridiculous budget, and see ~$25K a year in expenses, minus housing. So you would need $25,000 * 25 = $625,000 + $200,000 for a home, $825,000.  That would take ~7 years, assuming you have 0 in savings(unlikely I imagine).

Moving here, you still need the same $825,000, but you would make ~$85,000(about $60K after taxes, estimated). $60K - $37K(expenses per year, $25K plus $1K/month housing) = $23K. In this scenario, you need about 15 years to FIRE.

Anyway, something to think about.

That $90K per year is assuming our currently Mustachian-for-NYC housing. Moving to a suburb with good schools will certainly lower that. But it also comes with further potential upside in my career in the financial industry here. Now I am thinking maybe we stick it out until FIRE and pull the trigger based on a low COL place of our choosing.

For the record we have a ~250K 'stache plus some home equity and student loans which approximately cancel each other
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: Krnten on July 09, 2015, 05:39:14 PM
Yeah I'd vote for staying where you are for another few years.  Your equity will only grow, you won't get that salary anywhere else, it seems.  City taxes are high but property taxes here are low.  My DH is in software here and staying till we FIRE is our plan too, then leave and move somewhere cheaper and a bit closer to family.  NYC is amazing with young kids in my opinion.  There's an endless amount of free/cheap stuff to do, which is partly paid for by our high income taxes.

Before you need a reliable school district, I think it makes sense for you to stay.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 08:43:36 PM
A third vote for Austin here.

Three votes for Austin! There's a lot of love for it on the forum. I'll add a poll option.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: AccidentalMiser on July 09, 2015, 08:45:45 PM
Chattanooga, TN.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 08:47:04 PM
Before you need a reliable school district, I think it makes sense for you to stay.

Yup that's the plan! We will be in Brooklyn for maybe three more years, then rent in our target city for a year to get the lay of the land and take our time selling the house and finding jobs. So our boy will just be getting ready for kindergarten when we buy and settle in.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 08:47:50 PM
Chattanooga, TN.

Care to elaborate? :-)
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: Ricky on July 09, 2015, 09:02:02 PM
Chattanooga, TN.

Care to elaborate? :-)

http://www.thegigtank.com/gig-city

Definitely much cheaper than Austin - but it's still in the "up and coming" stage, so I doubt salaries are the same.

I will fourth Austin. I visited a few months ago and it was pretty much everything I thought it'd be. Very friendly people, great food, great tech scene. I never stumbled upon a truly bad neighborhood. Crime is extremely low. Of course it's pretty sprawly and car-dependent, and traffic is a nightmare.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 09:13:42 PM
I work on a trading desk which means I need to be physically here to support trading activity.

Sorry for raining on your parade, but the job you mention has no equivalent in a non-financial tech job. Would you be able to find a software job?

All the stuff I did out side of Wall St. , software process, methodology, QA etc. were thrown out of the window when I switched.

I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying the skills gained working in the front office at an investment bank don't translate to a tech firm? I can see that being a possibility, we tend to use outdated and/or custom technologies...
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 09, 2015, 09:24:59 PM
Chattanooga, TN.

Care to elaborate? :-)

http://www.thegigtank.com/gig-city

Definitely much cheaper than Austin - but it's still in the "up and coming" stage, so I doubt salaries are the same.

I will fourth Austin. I visited a few months ago and it was pretty much everything I thought it'd be. Very friendly people, great food, great tech scene. I never stumbled upon a truly bad neighborhood. Crime is extremely low. Of course it's pretty sprawly and car-dependent, and traffic is a nightmare.

Hmm interesting, I'll have to look into Chattanooga!
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: urbanista on July 09, 2015, 10:31:27 PM
I vote for the Minneapolis area. Lots of Fortune 500 companies are located there. Good salaries, nice housing. Great metro area that is consistently voted one of the top biking and walking cities. Beautiful lakes, four season recreation. Schools are excellent as well. Would be my number one choice of cities to live in the US.

We've ruled out anywhere with a worse winter than NYC... :-)

You need Sydney. Seriously.

1. Very race tolerant.
2. Excellent free public schools.
3. No winter. Just none.
4. Summer is much milder then Texas.
5. 200K+ is very achievable for finance software developers.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: expectopatronum on July 09, 2015, 11:11:29 PM
It's not on your list and you've likely never considered it, but I can recommend Houston, specifically the Clear Lake area near NASA's Johnson Space Center.

You've got:
* Relatively good diversity and tolerance thanks to the scientific/engineering/international community here for JSC.  I say "Relatively" because we're talking Texas, not Brooklyn.  It is NOT Brooklyn-diverse here.

Actually, Houston has been named the most ethnically diverse city in the US. Like anywhere, it has its pockets where certain ethnicity are concentrated, but I just want to dispel the myth that Houston = Texas in terms of diversity.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 10, 2015, 05:06:26 AM
You need Sydney. Seriously.

1. Very race tolerant.
2. Excellent free public schools.
3. No winter. Just none.
4. Summer is much milder then Texas.
5. 200K+ is very achievable for finance software developers.

We hadn't considered leaving the county, but we are certainly open to it! I have two concerns though. First, I remember reading once that Sydney had a higher COL then even NYC. Second, what is it like getting residency? I know for the US it is a huge uncertain pain even with advanced degrees and employer sponsorship.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 10, 2015, 05:07:29 AM
It's not on your list and you've likely never considered it, but I can recommend Houston, specifically the Clear Lake area near NASA's Johnson Space Center.

You've got:
* Relatively good diversity and tolerance thanks to the scientific/engineering/international community here for JSC.  I say "Relatively" because we're talking Texas, not Brooklyn.  It is NOT Brooklyn-diverse here.

Actually, Houston has been named the most ethnically diverse city in the US. Like anywhere, it has its pockets where certain ethnicity are concentrated, but I just want to dispel the myth that Houston = Texas in terms of diversity.

Much love for Houston! I've added it to the poll.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on July 10, 2015, 05:32:26 AM
I think you'd have to get pretty rural to have interracial couples and kids be unusual. I feel like sometimes people in NYC think that only New York has X (where X is tolerance, ethnic food, walkable neighborhoods, whatever) and that simply isn't true. I live at the eastern edge of the Rust Belt (and we're living here in Allentown...) and a big chunk of the kids coming to my door at Halloween had parents with them of different races.

I'm surprised Philadelphia isn't on your list, though I personally prefer Texas to the Northeast. It wouldn't be much of a cultural or lifestyle change from New York, but the cost of living is much lower if you do it right. You can take a fairly quick train ride to New York to see friends and family.

As for politics...there's a difference between conservative and racist. I've see more confederate flags around me and in western New York state where I went to college than I did growing up in Dallas. I will say that Dallas's local politics had a lot more racial "charge" to them than Houston's did, but that's anecdotal. My sister is raising mixed-race kids in Dallas and hasn't had any problems that I've heard of. (Once she lost her phone at work and when she found it again somebody said "You have pictures of Chinese kids on your phone." "Those are my kids.")
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 10, 2015, 06:56:34 AM
I think you'd have to get pretty rural to have interracial couples and kids be unusual. I feel like sometimes people in NYC think that only New York has X (where X is tolerance, ethnic food, walkable neighborhoods, whatever) and that simply isn't true. I live at the eastern edge of the Rust Belt (and we're living here in Allentown...) and a big chunk of the kids coming to my door at Halloween had parents with them of different races.

I suspected this was the case. Maybe not 40 years ago but now the rest of the country is more tolerant? Lifelong New Yorkers like us tend to take a pessimistic view of "flyover states". It's our own form of prejudice I guess! We're trying to work through it, but it's very culturally ingrained here.

I'm surprised Philadelphia isn't on your list, though I personally prefer Texas to the Northeast. It wouldn't be much of a cultural or lifestyle change from New York, but the cost of living is much lower if you do it right. You can take a fairly quick train ride to New York to see friends and family.

I went to school in Philly so I'm pretty familiar with the area. The Main Line is really quite nice and there are plently of financial firms in the area (including Vanguard!). It certainly hits a lot of the things we're looking for except weather.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: TheOldestYoungMan on July 10, 2015, 07:18:32 AM
When I lived in Maryland I was honestly surprised so many people stayed on the east coast.  It's just as hot and humid as Texas, winters are worse, you still get tropical storms and hurricanes, and the people are just nasty, rude, mean.

After being there awhile I realized that what I perceived as nasty, rude, mean was really just a different set of manners.  In Texas, the polite thing to do is hold the door open.  In New York City, the polite thing to do is pretend you don't see anybody else.

In Texas if you need to have a little breakdown, an on-your-knees screaming fit, you can just go to your house and do that.  In New York City, you'll disturb your neighbors doing that, so you need to go find a nice public street to have your episode.  Filled with strangers who will politely ignore you.

But overall, there is far more in common between New York and any other large city in the states than there is different.  We are all Americans.

What you see on TV or read online is a narrative of the societal differences by region that are largely cosmetic, and certainly exaggerated by

All that said,  Happy wife = happy life.  I can understand not being comfortable somewhere.  China felt extremely hostile to me, although I doubt "china" had any feelings towards me one way or another.

And yea, lets all move to Australia!
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 10, 2015, 07:33:50 AM
After being there awhile I realized that what I perceived as nasty, rude, mean was really just a different set of manners.  In Texas, the polite thing to do is hold the door open.  In New York City, the polite thing to do is pretend you don't see anybody else.

In Texas if you need to have a little breakdown, an on-your-knees screaming fit, you can just go to your house and do that.  In New York City, you'll disturb your neighbors doing that, so you need to go find a nice public street to have your episode.  Filled with strangers who will politely ignore you.

This is why I laugh when people say New Yorkers are "rude". No, we just have a different set of social norms built on the fact that we have a lot more density than the rest of the country.

All that said,  Happy wife = happy life.  I can understand not being comfortable somewhere.  China felt extremely hostile to me, although I doubt "china" had any feelings towards me one way or another.

My wife felt very uncomfortable in Thailand because we got stared at All. The. Time. We saw like zero black people when we were there and the locals clearly had no idea what to think of us. It wasn't hostility, just curiosity, but it was still wearing. I can't imagine the long-term psychic drain of living someplace like that.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: Cathy on July 10, 2015, 09:52:26 AM
I think you might want to test the job market in NYC before leaving, because you may be able to earn money which would further contract your time to retirement and perhaps make you reconsider leaving. I don't think $180,000 in total compensation at age 30 is particularly high for a software engineer working in finance, if you are good. Maybe you recently did a career change. If you have 5-10 years of experience, I think you could be earning considerably more than that.

I don't recommend relying on glassdoor. For whatever reason, it seems to report figures that are below the market rates. We might speculate that people with higher levels of pay are less likely to report it on glassdoor. It might also be that the market levels go up significantly over time (much higher than inflation), but glassdoor gives you an average that includes historical data, and thus it is averaged down below current market rates. Or maybe employers flood glassdoor with low-compensation data to improve their negotiating position. I don't know, but I certainly wouldn't assume that glassdoor is accurate. At higher levels of compensation, less of compensation (as a percentage) will be base salary, and people are also generally less reliable about reporting stuff other than base salary on glassdoor.

Maybe I'm wrong and this is the best that is available in your field. But I think doing a bit of testing of the job market might prove very worthwhile.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 10, 2015, 10:07:43 AM
I think you might want to test the job market in NYC before leaving, because you may be able to earn money which would further contract your time to retirement and perhaps make you reconsider leaving. I don't think $180,000 in total compensation at age 30 is particularly high for a software engineer working in finance, if you are good. Maybe you recently did a career change. If you have 5-10 years of experience, I think you could be earning considerably more than that.

I don't recommend relying on glassdoor. For whatever reason, it seems to report figures that are below the market rates. We might speculate that people with higher levels of pay are less likely to report it on glassdoor. It might also be that the market levels go up significantly over time (much higher than inflation), but glassdoor gives you an average that includes historical data, and thus it is averaged down below current market rates. Or maybe employers flood glassdoor with low-compensation data to improve their negotiating position. I don't know, but I certainly wouldn't assume that glassdoor is accurate. At higher levels of compensation, less of compensation (as a percentage) will be base salary, and people are also generally less reliable about reporting stuff other than base salary on glassdoor.

Maybe I'm wrong and this is the best that is available in your field. But I think doing a bit of testing of the job market might prove very worthwhile.

You nailed in. I don't like to toot my own horn but I am probably in the top 10-20% of developers I've seen in the industry. I was career-dumb when I started out and stayed with my first employer (also a bulge bracket bank) for 7 years, moving twice internally. Loyalty was not rewarded, I was told each time that a move, even with more responsibility, did not trigger a comp review. Total bullshit.

I finally got fed up with the lack of comp growth and worked with a recruiter recommended by a colleague of mine who confirmed I was underpaid. So I jumped ship last year to another ibank. I'm behind the curve in terms of compensation based on my 8 years of experience but hoping to catch up over the next few years. I am planning on hopping again to another bank or hedge fund in 2 years if I stay in NYC which I hope will bring me to where I would have been had I not been a stupid youngin'.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: bacchi on July 10, 2015, 10:47:23 AM
Austin (and Houston) has a really hot housing market right now.*

http://www.forbes.com/sites/erincarlyle/2015/06/08/americas-most-overvalued-and-undervalued-housing-markets-in-2015/

That said, you can make $150k as an architect or $120k as a senior. That'll get you a central city house but just on the lower end and most of the schools aren't considered excellent. It'll get a 2000 sq ft house in a suburb but the commute will be excruciating.

Yes, traffic sucks and it's fucking hot for 5 months of the year.


*The metric they use may be a bit flawed. Austin wasn't hit as badly by the GFC and prices were stagnant until recently. The "gross metro product" from 2009-2015 would be more relevant.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 10, 2015, 12:09:37 PM
Some people voted for Las Vegas, Portland, and Raleigh in the poll but I haven't heard anything about them. Any Mustachians in those cities care to chime in? :-)
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: AZDude on July 10, 2015, 12:40:07 PM
Have not lived in Las Vegas, but my brother has and I have visited a dozen times. The area was hit hardest during the recession of pretty much any place in the world(may be slight exaggeration). It is much like Phoenix in that it has cheap housing but the job market is not as good(allegedly, again this is 2nd hand knowledge). Its still hot, but not *as* hot as Phoenix(think 100F instead of 108F), and its more liberal than Arizona. The downside is that any time I have been the city just feels sleazy, even away from the strip. Nevada does not have good schools overall, but I don't know specifically what they are like. No state income tax in Nevada, although that could change with the casino industry tanking a little bit right now.

Never been to Portland or Raleigh. Been to Charlotte, NC. Nice place, decent weather. Can't say much beyond that.

Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 10, 2015, 12:45:05 PM
Have not lived in Las Vegas, but my brother has and I have visited a dozen times. The area was hit hardest during the recession of pretty much any place in the world(may be slight exaggeration). It is much like Phoenix in that it has cheap housing but the job market is not as good(allegedly, again this is 2nd hand knowledge). Its still hot, but not *as* hot as Phoenix(think 100F instead of 108F), and its more liberal than Arizona. The downside is that any time I have been the city just feels sleazy, even away from the strip. Nevada does not have good schools overall, but I don't know specifically what they are like. No state income tax in Nevada, although that could change with the casino industry tanking a little bit right now.

Thanks, this is really helpful! We've only been to the Strip in Las Vegas, not the "real" city. If it's like Phoenix but with worse schools, economy, and only slightly better taxes, then I'm comfortable scratching it from the list. It mostly made it on due to the no income taxes!
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on July 10, 2015, 12:50:42 PM
If I could bring a job to any no-state-income-tax city I've been to, it would probably be Corpus Christi, TX. But I think it would be tough to find a job there out of nothing since it isn't that big.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: Mother Fussbudget on July 10, 2015, 12:55:44 PM
There are several of us here in the Seattle area who love the area - the moderate temperatures (this year is an outlier), the nearby natural beauty, parks, etc and overall quality of life, and no state  income tax.  I bought a fixer home in an area less than a mile from Microsoft campus (Bellevue, WA), and worked there as a full-timer for over 10 years.  Options for Microsoft, Amazon, Expedia, Google, Starbucks, AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile, CostCo, etc with large software operations in this area.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 10, 2015, 01:04:16 PM
There are several of us here in the Seattle area who love the area - the moderate temperatures (this year is an outlier), the nearby natural beauty, parks, etc and overall quality of life, and no state  income tax.  I bought a fixer home in an area less than a mile from Microsoft campus (Bellevue, WA), and worked there as a full-timer for over 10 years.  Options for Microsoft, Amazon, Expedia, Google, Starbucks, AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile, CostCo, etc with large software operations in this area.

Seattle (the most popular poll choice!) seems to be the one city we're looking at that has high enough salaries to lure us away from NYC during our working years. In all the rest, the lower COL does not appear to be enough to offset the far lower salaries from an optimizing time-to-FIRE perspective. Once our accumulation phase is over it's a completely different situation!
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: meandmyfamily on July 10, 2015, 02:12:14 PM
Have you thought of Tucson, AZ?  My husband is a software engineer here.  Plenty of jobs!  Some of our children are trans racial but we are white.  I do wish there was a bit more diversity.  COL is great!  Salaries are good.  The weather is fantastic!  We have a pool for the summers but it is a little cooler here than PHX.  The airport is 20 minutes from our house and a quick flight takes you to LAX. 
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: ender on July 10, 2015, 02:15:22 PM
How important is proximity to family?
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 10, 2015, 02:21:56 PM
How important is proximity to family?

Proximity to family is not too important, but I imagine it may be as our parents get older (they are in their 50s). If we are FIREd then there is of course nothing stopping us for coming back for months at a time... :-)
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 10, 2015, 02:23:45 PM
Have you thought of Tucson, AZ?  My husband is a software engineer here.  Plenty of jobs!  Some of our children are trans racial but we are white.  I do wish there was a bit more diversity.  COL is great!  Salaries are good.  The weather is fantastic!  We have a pool for the summers but it is a little cooler here than PHX.  The airport is 20 minutes from our house and a quick flight takes you to LAX.

Thanks, we haven't looked at Tucson, but the Mrs is very interested in AZ in general. Would you happen to know what a highly-skilled software engineer with 8 years' experience might expect in salary?
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: meandmyfamily on July 10, 2015, 02:33:53 PM
My husband has been in the field 15 years and he says around $90,000 to $100,000 depending on what you can do.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: expectopatronum on July 10, 2015, 02:52:37 PM
Seattle (the most popular poll choice!) seems to be the one city we're looking at that has high enough salaries to lure us away from NYC during our working years. In all the rest, the lower COL does not appear to be enough to offset the far lower salaries from an optimizing time-to-FIRE perspective. Once our accumulation phase is over it's a completely different situation!

That's interesting. I didn't know the COL/salary balance was so favorable in Seattle, but it makes sense for software. We have a friend who lives there and works as some type of engineer for Amazon in Seattle. Another is in finance at Microsoft. Seems like a great place to live!

Oh, and FYI, I don't know that people who voted "other" can re-vote even after poll options are added.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: Erica/NWEdible on July 10, 2015, 02:57:34 PM
There are several of us here in the Seattle area who love the area - the moderate temperatures (this year is an outlier), the nearby natural beauty, parks, etc and overall quality of life, and no state  income tax.  I bought a fixer home in an area less than a mile from Microsoft campus (Bellevue, WA), and worked there as a full-timer for over 10 years.  Options for Microsoft, Amazon, Expedia, Google, Starbucks, AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile, CostCo, etc with large software operations in this area.

Seattle (the most popular poll choice!) seems to be the one city we're looking at that has high enough salaries to lure us away from NYC during our working years. In all the rest, the lower COL does not appear to be enough to offset the far lower salaries from an optimizing time-to-FIRE perspective. Once our accumulation phase is over it's a completely different situation!

Well, it's settled then. You should come visit us and see if you fall in love with the area. :)
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: man_is_obsolete on July 10, 2015, 04:00:44 PM
I'm a web developer in Vegas, been here for 5 years. It's working well for me and my peers.

Low cost of living. No state tax.
Wages are good (for developers, anyway). All my dev peers make $50-100k, very low bonuses). Median is probably in the 70s. I know a couple over $100k.

High diversity in most areas.

Schools: It's popular for local complainers to hate on the public schools. I have 2 kids in elementary school (west side of town) and we like their school. The private schools I'm familiar with are ~$10k/year. There are also charter schools.

Weather: hot summer (110 highs), mild winter, perfect fall and spring. I wear shorts and sandals every single day of the year.

Lots: 1/8 - 1/4 acre are what I see.
Home size: most people I know have over 2000 sq ft. No basements.

Food scene: it's Vegas.
Ease of international travel: it's Vegas.

Ask if you want to know more.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: letired on July 10, 2015, 05:09:25 PM
As a longer-term (and white) Austin resident, this is a Really White town with a long history of segregation. Back when the 'east side' of town was the 'bad' area, it was partially because it was the Black area (also, poor as hell). While I don't think you and your wife would get that much shit for being an interracial couple, I'd see if you can dig up some people who might actually have some perspective on that one, given that even I can see how insanely white the town is (esp the tech community).

All that said, I love living in Austin, and it does have a decent tech job market. What's another HCOL person moving and driving up the housing costs!
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: urbanista on July 10, 2015, 05:19:14 PM
You need Sydney. Seriously.

1. Very race tolerant.
2. Excellent free public schools.
3. No winter. Just none.
4. Summer is much milder then Texas.
5. 200K+ is very achievable for finance software developers.

We hadn't considered leaving the county, but we are certainly open to it! I have two concerns though. First, I remember reading once that Sydney had a higher COL then even NYC. Second, what is it like getting residency? I know for the US it is a huge uncertain pain even with advanced degrees and employer sponsorship.

Permanent residence is easy for software developers. There are 2 ways: independent and employer-sponsored. Independent may take 2 years but it is very much like a green card straight away. Employer-sponsored working visa is very fast (1-2 months processing) and after you start working, permanent residence to follow in 2 years almost surely. So the best way is to find the employer first.

Sydney does have high COL but it balances out by the public health system.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: zoltani on July 10, 2015, 05:29:54 PM
Seattle definitely needs more software developers to help it towards its march to becoming another san francisco. It is quickly becoming overpriced yuppieville.

Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 11, 2015, 09:27:07 AM
Seattle definitely needs more software developers to help it towards its march to becoming another san francisco. It is quickly becoming overpriced yuppieville.

Sounds great, I loved San Francisco when we visited! :-P
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: capital on July 11, 2015, 02:31:44 PM
Seattle definitely needs more software developers to help it towards its march to becoming another san francisco. It is quickly becoming overpriced yuppieville.
Seattle will hopefully not be as stupid as the San Francisco Bay Area, and do a funny thing called 'build more housing when more people move there'.
http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Less-room-for-single-family-homes-in-Seattle-6373119.php
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: capital on July 11, 2015, 02:54:33 PM
Oh, and my personal strategy for your situation would be
1. Start scoping out NYC tech job outside of finance— the skills would likely be more transferrable, and the salary might not be quite as high, but would be in the same ballpark-- my NYC tech salary isn't quite as high as yours last year, but I'm also younger
2. Once you've built experience outside of finance, you'll be in a position to switch to remote work for your employer, or find a full-time remote job (my friend who lives in Seattle is a full-time remote employee for an NYC tech company)— likewise at a lesser-but-still-excellent salary. You would probably also be in better shape to hunt for non-finance tech jobs in other cities.
3. Potentially scope out parts of NYC that are boring but have good schools, or parts of the area with a long commute that you could work part-time remote, and come in 1 or 2 days a week. (Remember that the last 2 winters were some of the worst in years— we'll likely see regression to the mean, and milder winters again.)

San Diego probably isn't a great place for y'all, by the way— I lived there my first year out of college, and its tech scene was pretty much limited to Qualcomm and a few defense contractors. It's a diverse city, but there are very few black residents, as well, so the vibe may be similar to Seattle in that way.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: mozar on July 11, 2015, 08:21:17 PM
I voted for NYC. Your child is a newborn.

Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 11, 2015, 10:40:37 PM
Oh, and my personal strategy for your situation would be
1. Start scoping out NYC tech job outside of finance— the skills would likely be more transferrable, and the salary might not be quite as high, but would be in the same ballpark-- my NYC tech salary isn't quite as high as yours last year, but I'm also younger
2. Once you've built experience outside of finance, you'll be in a position to switch to remote work for your employer, or find a full-time remote job (my friend who lives in Seattle is a full-time remote employee for an NYC tech company)— likewise at a lesser-but-still-excellent salary. You would probably also be in better shape to hunt for non-finance tech jobs in other cities.
3. Potentially scope out parts of NYC that are boring but have good schools, or parts of the area with a long commute that you could work part-time remote, and come in 1 or 2 days a week. (Remember that the last 2 winters were some of the worst in years— we'll likely see regression to the mean, and milder winters again.)

San Diego probably isn't a great place for y'all, by the way— I lived there my first year out of college, and its tech scene was pretty much limited to Qualcomm and a few defense contractors. It's a diverse city, but there are very few black residents, as well, so the vibe may be similar to Seattle in that way.

Thanks, these are great ideas. We're going to see if we can find any "diamonds in the rough" in the NYC area. Staying has a lot of benefits, at least until FIRE.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 11, 2015, 10:43:10 PM
Also how does your wife wear her hair? On the coasts it's not going to be that big of a deal, but if it's not relaxed she might get some flak from other black women in the middle of the country. Natural hair is becoming more acceptable but still unusual.

She gets it relaxed regularly. I never even considered this point though, thank you!
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: foggnm on July 12, 2015, 07:52:30 AM
Narrow your list down to 5, then go on a road trip and check them all out. Coming from NY, you are likely to not like the 5 months of 100 degree heat in Phoenix or the 'culture' of the south. The cities you mentioned are all vastly different population wise, I'd suggest you figure out what size a city you want to live. Raleigh is a fraction of Houston or Seattle.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: Trifele on July 12, 2015, 09:15:54 AM
Hi Metaphysik
I am late to this thread but just read through all the comments.  You said you are ruling out Minneapolis due to the winters.   Winters in the upper midwest are colder than NYC, but they are DRIER.  This has a huge impact on how you feel.  Years ago I moved from the Minneapolis area to New York, and I felt so cold that first winter there.  It is a raw, damp cold that seeps right into you.  Much worse than "dry" cold, IMO.  If you can handle NYC winters I think you can probably totally handle anything Minneapolis dishes out. Just my two cents. Minneapolis is cool.  Good luck!  Sounds like you are getting lots of great advice.
T
 
 
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: seattlecyclone on July 12, 2015, 10:00:59 AM
Madison is a great town, but I'm not sure it meets the OP's criteria. Besides the cold winters, the most likely places you would find a software development job are the university, the state government, and Epic Systems. I wouldn't expect any of them to pay enough to accelerate the OP's FIRE.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: Trifele on July 12, 2015, 11:04:22 AM
Madison is a great town, but I'm not sure it meets the OP's criteria. Besides the cold winters, the most likely places you would find a software development job are the university, the state government, and Epic Systems. I wouldn't expect any of them to pay enough to accelerate the OP's FIRE.

Even considering the lower cost of living?
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: seattlecyclone on July 12, 2015, 11:21:42 AM
I was just a student in Madison so I don't know their prevailing wage rates as well as others might, but the OP said he saves $76k after taxes and expenses in NYC. Glassdoor is showing software developers at Epic with 7-9 years of experience average $125k total compensation, so he might be able to maintain the same savings rate at that salary, but it seems tight.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: dadof4 on July 12, 2015, 11:42:41 AM
Some people voted for Las Vegas, Portland, and Raleigh in the poll but I haven't heard anything about them. Any Mustachians in those cities care to chime in? :-)
Software developer from Portland OR here (I haven't voted though; In your situation I would probably just keep feeding the Statche in NY for a while longer).

Portland is like a smaller Seattle. Weather is very similar, high tolerance to diversity, good schools in the suburbs.
The Job market is less robust, but if you're good you will find a software job. Houses are much more affordable than Seattle. There is a high state income tax, but no sales tax. Unlike Seattle, we have an NBA team :P

Overall, we had to make an almost identical decision to your own 8 years ago. We were 30, making very good money in Silicon valley with a couple of kids, and wanted a couple more. We wanted to buy a house, and the high cost of real estate in Silicon valley is what drove us away. I don't regret choosing Portland over Seattle (which was also considered).
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: Tyson on July 12, 2015, 12:45:23 PM
I grew up in Austin, and now live in Denver.  Trust me, Denver/Boulder are FAR better places to live than Austin.  Except for Seattle, we might just be the most progressive couple of towns outside of the eastern seaboard.  As a bit of a culture snob, I always marveled at what an incredibly vibrant arts scene there is here.  Then my best friend (who is gay) pointed out to me that there is the highest concentration of gay people in the country, outside of SF.  Well alrighty then, that explains it!  Haha.  Anyway we absolutely love living here, you get 4 real seasons, and all of them are pretty mild.  Oh, and we are certainly the fittest population in the state, and our state is one of the fittest in the nation. 
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 12, 2015, 04:26:55 PM
Narrow your list down to 5, then go on a road trip and check them all out. Coming from NY, you are likely to not like the 5 months of 100 degree heat in Phoenix or the 'culture' of the south. The cities you mentioned are all vastly different population wise, I'd suggest you figure out what size a city you want to live. Raleigh is a fraction of Houston or Seattle.

That's a great idea, we'll probably spend our vacations the next few years visiting these cities. I'm embarrassed to even say both of us have been to more foreign countries than other states of our own country!
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: metaphysik on July 13, 2015, 10:23:10 AM
I just wanted to say how thankful I am for all the replies we've gotten! The MMM community is really something special, but you all already know that. We have tons of info to sift through now and figure out where to move, I'll try to post an update here when we figure it out...
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: Mother Fussbudget on July 13, 2015, 09:17:37 PM
+1 on the summer road trip idea. Travel to prospect cities, and see what's to be seen - and decide whether you like it. Take a week per city if you can - make it an adventure (take just a pocketknife, a rubber band, a paper clip and your wits).  Reach out to MMM'ers in your target cities, and have a cookout at a local park one night while there... or couch surf your way across the U.S. 
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: bb11 on August 13, 2015, 07:27:07 PM
+1 on the summer road trip idea. Travel to prospect cities, and see what's to be seen - and decide whether you like it. Take a week per city if you can - make it an adventure (take just a pocketknife, a rubber band, a paper clip and your wits).  Reach out to MMM'ers in your target cities, and have a cookout at a local park one night while there... or couch surf your way across the U.S.

+1

I did this last year and saw 17 states as I moved from the Bay Area to NYC. Some of these cities are much different than the image I had in my head. Best to check it out before making any serious plans.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: humbleMouse on August 14, 2015, 10:38:16 AM
I grew up in Austin, and now live in Denver.  Trust me, Denver/Boulder are FAR better places to live than Austin.  Except for Seattle, we might just be the most progressive couple of towns outside of the eastern seaboard.  As a bit of a culture snob, I always marveled at what an incredibly vibrant arts scene there is here.  Then my best friend (who is gay) pointed out to me that there is the highest concentration of gay people in the country, outside of SF.  Well alrighty then, that explains it!  Haha.  Anyway we absolutely love living here, you get 4 real seasons, and all of them are pretty mild.  Oh, and we are certainly the fittest population in the state, and our state is one of the fittest in the nation.

Pretty sure the highest concentration of gay people outside of sf is in minneapolis.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: boarder42 on August 14, 2015, 01:01:55 PM
Kcmo. One of the most family friendly cities in the states
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: bacchi on August 14, 2015, 01:14:38 PM
Then my best friend (who is gay) pointed out to me that there is the highest concentration of gay people in the country, outside of SF.

Pretty sure the highest concentration of gay people outside of sf is in minneapolis.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_demographics_of_the_United_States
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/21/upshot/the-metro-areas-with-the-largest-and-smallest-gay-population.html?_r=0

SFO-SEA-BOS
SFO-PDX-AUS

There's not a lot of difference between #2-10 in the top 10.
Title: Re: Best city for software developer with growing family
Post by: RosieTR on August 14, 2015, 02:32:46 PM
Denver/Boulder vs Sea-Tac:
More diversity in Seattle, but because there hasn't been much diversity esp in Boulder, most ppl of color are in mixed relationships. Not uncommon to see adopted other-race children with white parents so nobody bats an eye to see a child of color with a white parent.
Weather: sunnier and more variable in CO. Seattle is mostly 50-80F, Boulder is mostly 20-90F, but could be -15 to 105F. A 20F difference from one day to the next (or sometimes in a couple hrs) is not unusual. Very uncommon to have more than 2-3 days in a row of cloudy weather though. Likewise rare for snow to stick around, because the coldest months are on average the driest.
Culture: similar attitudes but CO has less population. Denver has good art/music etc, Boulder a bit less. Probably both less than Seattle.
Housing: if you are OK with a 30-40 min commute, it's likely you can get a house with space around it in Boulder area, with good schools. Seattle may be tougher for this.
Trips to the east coast are easier from Denver (4hr flight vs 6hrs) but international is probably better from Seattle. Salary is probably better in Seattle. Foodie scene is probably a little better in Seattle too.
I think if the land/yard, sunnier weather and outdoor culture are very important, go with Boulder. If the bigger city amenities are, go with Seattle.

As for Phoenix-Lots of guns. Everything is beige-houses, the ground, etc. trees are barely taller than people and have tiny leaves so there is little greenery or shade. Lots of car bling too. I think Phx would be a huge culture shock coming from NYC.