Author Topic: Would Seattle be better for achieving FIRE than LA, SF, or NYC for software?  (Read 4077 times)

decessus

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Hi all,

If you're a software professional, do you think moving to Seattle would be a better choice than Los Angeles, San Francisco, or NYC for achieving early retirement?  Seattle's cost of living seems slightly lower than LA in terms of cost of living, but the average salaries there seem just as high.  Also, I read Washington has no state income tax, so your money goes further. 

Does anyone in the group have any experience/information with this?  I'm somewhat trying to balance the idea of keeping skills fresh & top-notch while in the field, which would seem to point to SF or NYC as a better place to live for skill development/upkeep due to their tech ecosystems (social networks, companies, etc.).  Seattle seems 2nd tier in this regard.  Although from what I read, it's definitely an up and comer.

Spondulix

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Are you planning on staying there in early retirement, or take the money and run? I don't think it's entirely a matter of staying top notch in the field (because your job could still be outsourced overseas depending what you do) - I'd be more concerned with where can you develop the relationships to open up better opportunities.

Mother Fussbudget

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I moved to Seattle from the SF Bay Area 20 years ago, and it has been a great move overall.  Lots going on technically especially IT - Microsoft (Redmond), Google (Kirkland), Amazon (Seattle), Starbucks (Seattle), CostCo (Issaquah), Boeing (Everett & Renton), and many MANY others. 

You can search housing costs, food costs, etc but you can't find good information on traffic.  Traffic has gotten progressively worse here over the time I've been here - but I've been here so long, I can't compare it to a current-day commute in the Bay Area or LA. 

If you're in doubt, take a week, fly up for a vacation, beat the LA heat, and check out the area for yourself.  Although... this week we're in the 90's - very unusual for Seattle. A nice time for a day trip up to the mountains (35 minute drive), or a dip in Lake Washington.

merlin7676

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I've never been to SF, LA, or NYC so I can't say...but I will say that it is a HCOL in the Seattle area. Rent has gone through the roof and there are often several people fighting for 1 small studio. And yes traffic continues to get worse and worse....I think we just hit the 7 million people here now mark.
That being said it is a very beautiful place to live. It doesn't rain like everybody thinks but does drizzle all day sort of rain fall, winter, and spring. And lots of grey skies. But summers are very nice

Bearded Man

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Yes, be sure to visit the ghettos of White Center and Rainier when you come visit. :P

Joking aside, I'd try to live in the Highest COL area I could get away with. For example, I'd buy a house in SF and live in it while I get money. When ready to retire, cash out and relocate to very low COL area. You should have enough cash to buy a house there, have some stocks, bonds, etc. but also more cash from the cash out of your SF area home sale OR...you could turn it into a rental at say, 4K a month profit (after many years of rent increases) and just live off part of that while you put away part of that money too and never have to touch your index funds.


Syonyk

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It's fuckall expensive and you can't get anywhere because of traffic. Everything is expensive.

It's still probably better than SoCal. But not by much.

If you want that, great, but working remotely for tech wages in a low COL area is much better.

decessus

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Are you planning on staying there in early retirement, or take the money and run? I don't think it's entirely a matter of staying top notch in the field (because your job could still be outsourced overseas depending what you do) - I'd be more concerned with where can you develop the relationships to open up better opportunities.
  - I don't necessarily have to stay there...I was definitely thinking of skill dev and relationships for opportunities....I know a few non-software people in SF, I don't know anyone at the moment in Seattle.

decessus

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If you want that, great, but working remotely for tech wages in a low COL area is much better.
- I agree, but I don't think I'll be able to find a remote position due to various reasons.

I've never been to SF, LA, or NYC so I can't say...but I will say that it is a HCOL in the Seattle area. Rent has gone through the roof and there are often several people fighting for 1 small studio. And yes traffic continues to get worse and worse....I think we just hit the 7 million people here now mark.
That being said it is a very beautiful place to live. It doesn't rain like everybody thinks but does drizzle all day sort of rain fall, winter, and spring. And lots of grey skies. But summers are very nice
- Just perusing Craigslist Seattle a bit, the rent seems comparable to LA to be honest.

sunday

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One thing going for Seattle is that there would be no state income tax.

johnny847

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One thing going for Seattle is that there would be no state income tax.
I was wondering when somebody would mention this. Couple that with the fact that California has one of the highest state tax rates in the country and your decision making process just got harder.

And for a Mustachian, the effect of state income taxes gets higher and higher until eventually at some income level it overwhelms the cost of living difference.
I'd recommend doing a rough calculation of the expected income tax difference. I have never seen state income taxes accounted for in cost of living calculators.

Jeremy E.

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Are you planning on staying there in early retirement, or take the money and run? I don't think it's entirely a matter of staying top notch in the field (because your job could still be outsourced overseas depending what you do) - I'd be more concerned with where can you develop the relationships to open up better opportunities.
This heres a story about billy joe and bobby sue
haha
Disregard above if you don't understand it,
My vote is for Seattle or SF, LA has a bad rep for crime and NYC has a bad rep for highest cost of living in US. I'm sure some LA neighborhoods are safer, but the people in the bad neighborhoods probably go to the better neighborhoods to rob people. I don't know a lot about what software companies are there, but if you can find good job oppurtunities there, Portland could be another option.

seattlecyclone

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I'm a software engineer in Seattle. I'm able to save and invest lots of money every year. I did buy a house when prices were about 30% lower, but even today this is a great city for a software engineer to build up a large stash quickly. Don't worry about the size of the tech ecosystem here. We have fewer small tech startups than San Francisco, but so does every other city in the world. We do have the global headquarters of Amazon, Microsoft, and several mid-sized employers (Zillow, Tableau, Expedia, and others). We also have remote offices for Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Adobe, and other prominent Silicon Valley companies. There are plenty of jobs to be had.