Author Topic: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley  (Read 29194 times)

Jack

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #50 on: December 21, 2013, 01:36:17 PM »
I've been reading through this thread and I'm really confused. I live in Atlanta, which allegedly has higher salaries than Seattle, but my house cost only about a third of what a comparable one would cost in Seattle. And then seeing you guys write about the bike paths and the walkable neighborhoods and whatnot, I'm thinking to myself "yep, I've got that too." Despite Atlanta (and Georgia in general) having a reputation for poor schools, the high school I'm zoned for has an IB program and a nearby elementary school has such an innovative exercise and gardening program that Michelle Obama visited it. About the only thing mentioned that Seattle has but Atlanta doesn't is pretty scenery. So what am I missing that makes places like Seattle so much better?

Empire Business

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #51 on: December 21, 2013, 01:50:28 PM »
My entire family, force of habit, and being able to get to the mountains in 30 minutes, the ocean in 120, and lakes or the Sound in 10.  Those are the only things.  I have been to Atlanta and thought it was great.

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #52 on: December 21, 2013, 09:26:30 PM »
Well, the housing collapse hit Atlanta particularly hard, so cost of living is WAY better than it was five years ago. Personally, despite being a southerner, I feel a deep connection with Seattle and more or less loathe Atlanta. But you're right -- on paper, I can't really articulate any great reasons why.

No Name Guy

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #53 on: December 23, 2013, 10:21:27 AM »
About the only thing mentioned that Seattle has but Atlanta doesn't is pretty scenery. So what am I missing that makes places like Seattle so much better?

Hmmmm, yes the scenery is pretty.....The Cascades.  Puget Sound.  There's also the mild climate.  Those are worth a lot

The pretty scenery is really a massive playground in our backyard combined with the mild climate - it's far more than something to look at.  Where's the snow skiing within 1 hour of Atlanta?  How about multiple 12,000+ foot volcano's to get the snowcone climbing on?  The Inside Passage kayak route starts here for some epic sea kayaking (play in the mild current of the south Sound or the lakes, or head up to the San Juan's for some more exciting paddling, or continue all the way to Alaska).  Whales / Orca's romp through the sound.  Most houses here don't have A/C since it rarely is hot enough and practically is never humid enough to need it.  Tornado's or severe T-Storms?  Nope.  Winter temps are usually in the 40's (with occasional cold and usually dry blasts to the 20's or teens), heavy snowfalls are once in a 5 year occurrence, those summer temps hit the 80's at times most years, but with low humidity, and very rarely get into the 90's and practically always with comfortable overnight lows to cool things off.  I think the absolute record high is 100 on the button, and that's only been hit twice, ever, if memory serves.  Old growth is something else that's here - yeah, they're not quite as massive as the Redwoods in the Humbolt, but our trail crew clears 2-3 foot diameter Doug Firs every year and the real big stuff is 5-8 foot diameter.  Two words for the hunter / fisher types - Elk and Salmon.  Hikers, here's 3 words - Pacific Crest Trail.  Some of the best scenery on the trail extends from Snoqualmie Pass (I-90) to Canada - the High Sierra is also the highlight.  Add in the rest of the great hiking in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Glacier Peak Wilderness, the Goat Rocks, Enchantments, etc. to name but a few spots (or for the urban hiking, the Issaquah Alps as Tiger, Squak and Cougar are know).   The list of outdoor playground items goes on......

What's it worth to have all of that here?  In short, lots.  If you want to ski in Atlanta, that's a major vacation to where, the NE or Colorado?  Night skiing after work in Atlanta?  Nope - but a quick trip up I-90 does it here.  How about ocean Kayaking?  Trip to the Gulf coast, instead of 15 minutes trip to the sound.  Mountain climbing?  Get on a plane and come west.  Mild climate....well,you're stuck with how many 90 degree and 90% humidity days a year (which has never happened here in Seattle)? 

But in re house pricing, it's simple supply and demand.  The supply is highly constrained for geographical and political reasons.  I won't touch on the latter, but the fact is Seattle IS geographically limited.

Is Atlanta geographically constrained by an arm of the Pacific oriented north / south, and two large north / south oriented lakes, and then by the Cascade foothills?  Nope.  Atlanta sprawls in all directions from the core with no major geographical restrictions evident on Google Maps for miles more.  Compare Seattle to Atlanta in the terrain mode at equal levels of magnification and you'll see.

The greater Seattle metro area is stuck in a linear north south corridor between the salt water to the west and Lake Washington to the east - it's about 5 miles or so wide along side Lk. Washington (yes, some is wider, some like the downtown core is narrower).  The next urban area across Lake Washington (Bellevue) is constrained by Lake Sammamish to the east of there.  East of there, you start hitting the Cascade foothills pretty quickly.  As a result, the greater urban area has grown north / south on the I-5 corridor with more or less a blending of Tacoma / Federal Way / Burien / Seattle / Shoreline / MLT / Lynnwood / Everett and on into Marysville (going south to north) into one metro area with little to no significant undeveloped areas in between.  When you hit the south end of Lake Washington, it's the same thing more or less - with Renton blending into Bellevue, into Kirkland, into Bothell until you've wrapped the north end of the lake.  As a result, if you want to live anywhere within a reasonable distance of the main Seattle core, there aren't a lot of homes compared to the urban area population, ergo prices are generally high.  Things get cheaper the further out you go, but then you get the sucky commute if your job is in the core (of course if you work in Everett, for example, say on the wide body assembly line, living way out from Seattle in the north end is a feature, not a bug).

YMMV of course.....but that's why I love the good ole US of A, there's so much variety.  Some folks will absolutely love the Seattle area for what it has (like I do - stuff that would be hard to pay for elsewhere), others have different priorities and will choose other areas since they offer what that person wants.

firelight

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #54 on: December 25, 2013, 02:58:17 PM »
Awesome posts from others! Here are my two cents:

I just moved from Seattle to Bay Area for work last year. Compared to Bay Area, Seattle cost-of-living is cheaper by 30-40%. Also the traffic is way better (even though Seattle has its traffic jams, its nothing like Bay Area and clears out faster). Anywhere in and around Seattle (Bothel, Redmond, Bellevue, etc) is less costly than Seattle proper. You also get more space/$ and lesser traffic.

The one thing you'll definitely miss is the weather. We take sunshine here for granted, but in Seattle it is precious commodity (so precious that I've seen entire teams leave work early if it is a sunny day).

ArcticaMT6

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #55 on: December 27, 2013, 10:02:32 AM »
Keep in mind that there is a helmet law..

I didn't realize this. Is this only for the city or the whole state? Seattle is losing some points here, but I already knew Vancouver was in the same boat. Too bad as otherwise they both seem like great cities

City.

It's pretty damn stupid to bike without one and without lights, though. So, not seeing why anyone would have a problem.

ArcticaMT6

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #56 on: December 27, 2013, 10:02:56 AM »
So what am I missing that makes places like Seattle so much better?

You don't have to live in Atlanta.

I've spent time in Atlanta. You'd have to pay me a LOT more than what I make here to live anywhere near the gulf coast/deep south. My wife and I could each make 6 figures working in Houston, but it's not at all worth it.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2013, 10:05:16 AM by ArcticaMT6 »

CanuckExpat

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #57 on: December 27, 2013, 02:19:16 PM »
Keep in mind that there is a helmet law..

I didn't realize this. Is this only for the city or the whole state? Seattle is losing some points here, but I already knew Vancouver was in the same boat. Too bad as otherwise they both seem like great cities

City.

It's pretty damn stupid to bike without one and without lights, though. So, not seeing why anyone would have a problem.

Glad to hear it's not the whole state. I do wonder if you stop at random in the city and tell people they are stupid for not wearing a helmet, it must make you not popular, but alas.
I don't want to turn this thread into a helmet argument, but I'll leave these here for your later reading:
http://www.sharetheroad.ca/won-t-mandatory-helmet-laws-for-cyclists-fix-the-problem--p128278
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/sunday-review/to-encourage-biking-cities-forget-about-helmets.html?_r=0
http://www.onestreet.org/resources-for-increasing-bicycling/136-bicycle-helmets
http://bicycleaustin.info/laws/helmet-laws-bad.html
http://bicyclesafe.com/helmets.html

This is not the thread for this discussion, so I will bow out now :)

Jeremy

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #58 on: December 27, 2013, 06:35:20 PM »
We retired in our 30's after working in Seattle.  Great place to save

There are a couple comments on this thread that concern me:

1) You want to buy a house for 450k and are OK with a commute. 

One of MMM's biggest posts is about the really negative implications involved in that way of thinking
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/06/the-true-cost-of-commuting/

You are probably better off buying a house for 850k and not driving.  Please do the math

Being able to walk to a grocery store and have your kids walk to school would be nice, for us at least

2) Why does everybody want to buy a house IMMEDIATELY after moving to a new place?  Do you like it there?  Is the neighborhood good for your lifestyle?  Do you plan to be there forever? 

The answer to all of these questions is probably NO.  Renting first is probably in your best interest, both in terms of lifestyle and long term financial position.



If you live in the neighborhoods that have been mentioned (Bothell, etc...) you will be a slave to your car.  Which brings us back to this post:
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/06/the-true-cost-of-commuting/



Jeremy

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #59 on: December 27, 2013, 07:26:42 PM »
Here is a post I wrote about how we found our perfect living location in Seattle
http://www.gocurrycracker.com/home-sweet-home/

Walkable, easy commute on public transit or bicycle, didn't need to own a car, easy access to library, grocery stores, parks, our garden on public land, restaurants, coffee shops, etc....

We don't have kids (yet) but we were close to an elementary school and a high school.  Not that our home location would work for you, but the procedure would be equally useful to you as it was to us


ArcticaMT6

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #60 on: December 29, 2013, 12:40:17 AM »
Keep in mind that there is a helmet law..

I didn't realize this. Is this only for the city or the whole state? Seattle is losing some points here, but I already knew Vancouver was in the same boat. Too bad as otherwise they both seem like great cities

City.

It's pretty damn stupid to bike without one and without lights, though. So, not seeing why anyone would have a problem.

Glad to hear it's not the whole state. I do wonder if you stop at random in the city and tell people they are stupid for not wearing a helmet, it must make you not popular, but alas.
I don't want to turn this thread into a helmet argument, but I'll leave these here for your later reading:
http://www.sharetheroad.ca/won-t-mandatory-helmet-laws-for-cyclists-fix-the-problem--p128278
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/sunday-review/to-encourage-biking-cities-forget-about-helmets.html?_r=0
http://www.onestreet.org/resources-for-increasing-bicycling/136-bicycle-helmets
http://bicycleaustin.info/laws/helmet-laws-bad.html
http://bicyclesafe.com/helmets.html

This is not the thread for this discussion, so I will bow out now :)

I don't stop and tell people that to their face, but that doesn't make it any less fucking stupid to ride without a helmet and lights on. It's the same stupid shit that people who ride motorcycles without a helmet spew. The fact is that helmets do prevent injury, and all those reasons people try to claim will be hurt by helmet laws is just stupid complaining. I was saved serious injury from a helmet when I was younger. Hit hard enough to split the helmet in half.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2013, 12:45:12 AM by ArcticaMT6 »

ArcticaMT6

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #61 on: December 29, 2013, 12:42:01 AM »
Here is a post I wrote about how we found our perfect living location in Seattle
http://www.gocurrycracker.com/home-sweet-home/

Walkable, easy commute on public transit or bicycle, didn't need to own a car, easy access to library, grocery stores, parks, our garden on public land, restaurants, coffee shops, etc....

We don't have kids (yet) but we were close to an elementary school and a high school.  Not that our home location would work for you, but the procedure would be equally useful to you as it was to us

Exactly. But, you can certainly buy a $450k place with the amenities you list. I spent less than that this summer on a 1600sqft 3bedroom place, actually.

_JT

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #62 on: December 29, 2013, 11:08:36 AM »
Keep in mind that there is a helmet law..

I didn't realize this. Is this only for the city or the whole state? Seattle is losing some points here, but I already knew Vancouver was in the same boat. Too bad as otherwise they both seem like great cities

City.

It's pretty damn stupid to bike without one and without lights, though. So, not seeing why anyone would have a problem.

Glad to hear it's not the whole state. I do wonder if you stop at random in the city and tell people they are stupid for not wearing a helmet, it must make you not popular, but alas.
I don't want to turn this thread into a helmet argument, but I'll leave these here for your later reading:
http://www.sharetheroad.ca/won-t-mandatory-helmet-laws-for-cyclists-fix-the-problem--p128278
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/sunday-review/to-encourage-biking-cities-forget-about-helmets.html?_r=0
http://www.onestreet.org/resources-for-increasing-bicycling/136-bicycle-helmets
http://bicycleaustin.info/laws/helmet-laws-bad.html
http://bicyclesafe.com/helmets.html

This is not the thread for this discussion, so I will bow out now :)

I don't stop and tell people that to their face, but that doesn't make it any less fucking stupid to ride without a helmet and lights on. It's the same stupid shit that people who ride motorcycles without a helmet spew. The fact is that helmets do prevent injury, and all those reasons people try to claim will be hurt by helmet laws is just stupid complaining. I was saved serious injury from a helmet when I was younger. Hit hard enough to split the helmet in half.

You should meet my aunt, so she can tell you her story about the time NOT wearing her seatbelt saved her life. Point being: your anecdotal evidence is as useless as hers is*.

*this is not to be taken as a statement on my feelings on helmets and helmet laws. Merely that people should understand the difference between anecdotes and data.

ArcticaMT6

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #63 on: December 29, 2013, 08:45:25 PM »
Once again, I don't care whether or not there's a helmet law. I'm just saying if you choose to not wear a helmet, you're damn stupid for it. There is no situation that a helmet would be detrimental in an accident. Worst case scenario, it doesn't help at all. Best case scenario, it helps.

_JT

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #64 on: December 30, 2013, 12:58:02 PM »
If that's what you'd actually said, I wouldn't have replied. I don't have any issue with that statement or the logic behind it. I was responding to your anecdotally-supported emotional appeal as if that was actual evidence of anything.

dr72

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #65 on: January 02, 2014, 11:20:06 AM »
But why not take the opportunity when you move to correct that, rather than pretending two hours a day in the car is a necessary part of working?

I'll readily admit this is unmustachian. However, we really want a house with a yard in a good school district without over-extending our budget. Given the current home prices, this doesn't seem realistic but if I see something on the market that ticks all the boxes, I'm ready to pounce on it. The bright side is that in my industry working remotely is pretty common, so I'd negotiate any job offer to let me spend at least a day or two working from home.

Unless your job is in Bellevue or Bothell, there's no reason to live out there to commute into Seattle.  You *can* find a house with a yard in Seattle proper with good schools for your budget.  It just may take some time and/or work on your part once you move in (just like MMM).

We made the move from SV to Seattle years ago, and specifically found a house that allowed us to avoid the crazy commute madness.   We can walk/bike/bus (any of the three) to our jobs in Seattle, and we never have to deal with the bridges or the north-south commute. 

The freedom of no commute in a car is something that I can't believe I didn't do sooner in my life. 

TLV

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #66 on: January 02, 2014, 01:12:53 PM »
Keep in mind that there is a helmet law..

I didn't realize this. Is this only for the city or the whole state? Seattle is losing some points here, but I already knew Vancouver was in the same boat. Too bad as otherwise they both seem like great cities

City.

It's pretty damn stupid to bike without one and without lights, though. So, not seeing why anyone would have a problem.

The law is actually at the county level, FYI. I frequently see cyclists without helmets though (maybe 10%?), and I've never seen anyone ticketed for it - it wouldn't surprise me if they only enforce it if you get stopped for something else first.

+1 for renting first - and maybe always. We intend to rent until FI (or nearly so) and then move somewhere with less expensive real estate. We're renting a 3-bedroom house in Bellevue for $1500/mo, with comparable houses selling for high 300s.

KS

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #67 on: January 16, 2014, 06:10:17 PM »
Update: He didn't get the job, although they did say they were going to circulate his resume around other departments for future positions. (May just be the usual thing they say, although in this case it did seem pretty genuine.) But at least for the moment this decision has been taken care of for us! Luckily, in weighing the possibilities he also came to realize how much his current employer has going for them, so it's not a great loss although it's always nicer to get the offer.

Thank you all so much for the varied and thoughtful responses. He doesn't generally read these forums, I just tell him about anything interesting I learn, so he couldn't believe what a supportive community it is when I showed him how many people replied! Seems like there are a few other people weighing the same move too, so it's great to have all this info in one thread now for future reference.