Author Topic: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?  (Read 10944 times)

jeromedawg

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What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« on: August 18, 2016, 07:27:56 PM »
Hey all,

We live in probably a somewhat mid to mid-high COL area (Orange County) and I was contemplating what it would take to move to a pretty HCOL (SF Bay Area/Silicon Valley/etc). For those of you who are contemplating or have contemplated the same, what would it be for you? More specifically, if you were in a single-income situation with one or two kids and a SAHM, and were say offered a position in the Silicon Valley area that paid in the range of $150-175k base salary, would that be 'enough' to make you consider? I know that's sort of a subjective thing to add into the conversation but I just wanted to get some feedback because initially, that is around the number I'm sort of anticipating and expecting (as far as a 'realistic' salary range) in terms of "being enough" if I were ever to consider moving up that way at this. I'm sure everyone's answer would vary differently too based on life goals and when they want to retire but in my mind, FIRE just doesn't seem super compatible and definitely not easy when wanting to live and work in a HCOL unless you're getting paid 'proportionately' - rent is sky-high in most places up there and it just seems like every 'comparable' housing option to where we're currently at is inflated at least by 10% but easily more. E.g. I just saw a listing for a condo slightly bigger than the one I'm in for $1.2mil. Our condo is currently valued between $500-600k...!

Currently, I'm pretty happy living where we are mostly because there's great flexibility (I'm working from home for a large bank/financial institution) and I get paid pretty decently. But there's always that fear of regressing in work skills etc and getting 'dumbed down' from lack of face-time as well as lack of engaging work projects, etc.

Thoughts?
« Last Edit: August 18, 2016, 07:29:27 PM by jplee3 »

JLee

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2016, 07:55:44 PM »
Not exactly your situation, but I moved from $61k/AZ to $97k+bonus in Northern NJ (~7 miles outside of NYC).  I rented my house in AZ and am renting a furnished room here for $750/mo.  It was well worth it, and I also much prefer this job to my last one.

I would not have moved here for much less than what I accepted - run the numbers and see how it comes out for you.

Pigeon

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2016, 08:22:23 PM »
I wouldn't do it if I had any other choice.  I've done it before and hated every minute of it.  I never found the pay differential to come close to making up the differencee.

CanuckExpat

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2016, 08:39:48 PM »
I would do it if you liked the new area more than the last, and the new job. If you like the area, you'd make the costs work at a reasonable salary and find a way to save. You have to decide on the trade offs.
(150k is still good money)

BTH7117

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2016, 08:48:28 PM »
I moved from Pittsburgh with $42k state gov jobs to DC for a federal gov job that "journeymans" at $111k after 4 years. The initial salary was $76k

For me, it was about doing a job with actual advancement potential, which of course is in DC.  That was the most important factor for me.  The true cost of a HCOL area is if you want to live near or in the city for commuting purposes. That's what gets me.

seattlecyclone

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2016, 08:59:20 PM »
For me it's not the cost of living, but the amount I get to save and the quality of life once I'm there. I feel pretty good about my choice of locale, as a recent study identified Seattle as having the highest cost-of-living adjusted salaries for software engineers. Besides that, it's a great city to live.

Compare that to northern California. I've visited San Francisco a few times and could see myself liking it well enough if I had a job within the city, but housing and income taxes are so expensive there that they would have to offer me a pretty huge raise to allow me to save as many dollars as I do here in Seattle. As for Silicon Valley itself...it's a suburban hell. It was designed from the ground up to be hostile to any form of transportation besides the private automobile, but recent years have pushed the number of residents and workers up to the point where even driving is meeting some major structural challenges. As I get close to FI I've decided there is essentially no amount of money that could cause me to take a job there. Perhaps if I was offered a million-dollar salary I'd go down there for a couple of years and become a wealthy philanthropist, but that's unlikely to happen.

Don't even get me started about the people who take jobs in Silicon Valley but choose to live in San Francisco because their workplace is located in the middle of a suburban hell. The amount of time they waste on commuting is the very definition of insanity in my book. Surely there must exist a suitable job within ten miles of their house.

Lagom

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2016, 09:33:32 PM »
For me it's not the cost of living, but the amount I get to save and the quality of life once I'm there. I feel pretty good about my choice of locale, as a recent study identified Seattle as having the highest cost-of-living adjusted salaries for software engineers. Besides that, it's a great city to live.

Compare that to northern California. I've visited San Francisco a few times and could see myself liking it well enough if I had a job within the city, but housing and income taxes are so expensive there that they would have to offer me a pretty huge raise to allow me to save as many dollars as I do here in Seattle. As for Silicon Valley itself...it's a suburban hell. It was designed from the ground up to be hostile to any form of transportation besides the private automobile, but recent years have pushed the number of residents and workers up to the point where even driving is meeting some major structural challenges. As I get close to FI I've decided there is essentially no amount of money that could cause me to take a job there. Perhaps if I was offered a million-dollar salary I'd go down there for a couple of years and become a wealthy philanthropist, but that's unlikely to happen.

Don't even get me started about the people who take jobs in Silicon Valley but choose to live in San Francisco because their workplace is located in the middle of a suburban hell. The amount of time they waste on commuting is the very definition of insanity in my book. Surely there must exist a suitable job within ten miles of their house.

This is one of the more common criticisms of the Bay Area, but it's overblown, honestly. There are tons of communities in the South Bay that have very nice walkable neighborhoods with restaurants, libraries, and often cute downtowns clustered together. Granted, many of those are on the expensive end for the area (Los Gatos, Mountain View, Palo Alto, etc.), which is already expensive. Also, outside of rush hour, traffic is no problem, and there are arguably more diverse recreation options within a bike ride and/or short drive than almost anywhere on earth, both urban and outdoor. All of this is not to mention the great weather. I lived in a Chicago suburb for 7 years and it was several orders of magnitude worse on all of the aforementioned, for example. Commutes are the trickiest thing to navigate here though, for sure.

Regarding the expense, my wife and I have a combined gross salary of ~$140k and get by just fine here with a 35-40% savings rate, and we are far from top tier mustachians.

Freedomin5

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2016, 09:50:03 PM »
For me it's not the cost of living, but the amount I get to save and the quality of life once I'm there. 

+1. We moved to a HCOL area for our jobs, and we're currently in a single income situation with one kid. While QOL is not always great, we are able to save a ton more than if we were both working back in Canada. In making our decision, we considered several factors, including opportunities for career advancement, personal values/goals, lifestyle, and savings rate more so than salary. For us, living and working here allows us to significantly accelerate our progress towards FIRE.

humbleMouse

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2016, 10:00:27 PM »
I am a single dude programmer in minneapolis making pretty good money.  I would have to either get an offer from a big name company, and interesting startup, or a job paying insane amounts to consider moving to a hcol area. 

Minneapolis it is easy to live like a king off not too much money.

seattlecyclone

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2016, 10:29:24 PM »
For me it's not the cost of living, but the amount I get to save and the quality of life once I'm there. I feel pretty good about my choice of locale, as a recent study identified Seattle as having the highest cost-of-living adjusted salaries for software engineers. Besides that, it's a great city to live.

Compare that to northern California. I've visited San Francisco a few times and could see myself liking it well enough if I had a job within the city, but housing and income taxes are so expensive there that they would have to offer me a pretty huge raise to allow me to save as many dollars as I do here in Seattle. As for Silicon Valley itself...it's a suburban hell. It was designed from the ground up to be hostile to any form of transportation besides the private automobile, but recent years have pushed the number of residents and workers up to the point where even driving is meeting some major structural challenges. As I get close to FI I've decided there is essentially no amount of money that could cause me to take a job there. Perhaps if I was offered a million-dollar salary I'd go down there for a couple of years and become a wealthy philanthropist, but that's unlikely to happen.

Don't even get me started about the people who take jobs in Silicon Valley but choose to live in San Francisco because their workplace is located in the middle of a suburban hell. The amount of time they waste on commuting is the very definition of insanity in my book. Surely there must exist a suitable job within ten miles of their house.

This is one of the more common criticisms of the Bay Area, but it's overblown, honestly. There are tons of communities in the South Bay that have very nice walkable neighborhoods with restaurants, libraries, and often cute downtowns clustered together. Granted, many of those are on the expensive end for the area (Los Gatos, Mountain View, Palo Alto, etc.), which is already expensive. Also, outside of rush hour, traffic is no problem, and there are arguably more diverse recreation options within a bike ride and/or short drive than almost anywhere on earth, both urban and outdoor. All of this is not to mention the great weather. I lived in a Chicago suburb for 7 years and it was several orders of magnitude worse on all of the aforementioned, for example. Commutes are the trickiest thing to navigate here though, for sure.

Regarding the expense, my wife and I have a combined gross salary of ~$140k and get by just fine here with a 35-40% savings rate, and we are far from top tier mustachians.

I stand by my remarks. I've spent some time in Mountain View without a car. I can't really recommend it. Bus service is terrible, and low-density land use prevails throughout much of the city. Perhaps the downtown is "cute." Too bad the major employers in town are located nowhere near there. The weather around there is great though! That factor would probably cause me to choose California suburban hell over Illinois suburban hell, but I'll take an actual city any day.

Lagom

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2016, 11:00:34 PM »
No problem if it's not for you, but your criticisms imply generalities that are not really accurate. I do agree that low density land use is an issue. The rich elite call it "protecting open spaces." A major problem here, tbh, but one that has little to do with standard of living, outside the very bloated housing costs. Mountain View is actually one of my least favorite suburbs, with it's overly manufactured yet underwhelming downtown, so condolences if that was your only exposure to the many fantastic options around here. Probably should not have included that in my examples.

You also must not use your bike or walk as a mode of transportation, which is fair enough a reason to be upset that our public transit is indeed quite mediocre, if not plain bad (excepting train service to and from SF). But for those that don't mind hopping on a bike, it's pretty easy to get around, bike to work, etc. 

I live in Santa Clara, which doesn't even have a downtown excepting my proximity to Santana Row, which is even more manufactured and overrated than Mountain View. And yet, I walk or ride my bike to the library or delicious and affordable restaurants all the time, have been on over a dozen completely different hiking experiences this summer without taking longer than 30 minutes to bike/drive to any of them, experienced several amazing cultural events, taken the train to SF (an "actual city," I would propose) several times, and taken cheap road trips to Santa Cruz, Monterrey, Wine Country, and even the Sierras. All of this with endless sunshine and moderate temperatures.

I would still probably enjoy living in the PNW, for example, and I fully acknowledge there are plenty of downsides to the Bay Area, but I really can't give much credit to people who try to claim that they would never consider moving here because it's "suburban hell." Sounds like a very techbro elitist stance, tbh. Plus I am proof that worries about savings rates are overblown (unless you are a low skill worker in which case this place really is the worst). A 25 year old engineer will probably out-earn the combined income of my household, and yet we still save tons and are on track to FIRE without ever moving away.

YMMV.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2016, 11:43:09 PM by Lagom »

jeromedawg

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2016, 11:47:49 PM »
Thanks all. Lots of interesting points of discussion here. I think for me, the things that would make it hard to move away are:

1) Current stable job with good pay in a stable sector + full time work from home and the given flexibility that comes with it (see my kid when I want, help around the house/errands within reason, internet comped lol, zero car commute and little money spent on gas). I think jobs like the one I have are pretty rare to come by. I've also only been there for 8 months now.
2) Have been settled in here for over 10 years since going to college down here. I'm original from NorCal but had to get away from my parents.
3) My in-laws are about 1.5 hours away and both they and my wife would probably be pretty sad if we were to move (especially with us having a kid now)
4) Basically not paying rent - the $$ I'm paying to my dad on a monthly basis is more or less a revolving door that will come back to me.

Only big pluses I can think of for possible relocation (assuming interviews/screeners go well enough to where they want to move forward) would be:
1) Probable significant increase in salary (at least 20%-30% base). From my initial research and calculations, with benefits/bonuses/options of a new potential gig, it *appears* that current salary + bonuses/benefits could near double into the $200k range. Some of benefits include things like full coverage health care, high % 401k match, free breakfast/lunch, relocation package (3 months of housing covered I believe), etc. I definitely don't want to get ahead of myself so we'll just see where things go from here...
2) Opportunity to work for a pretty major tech company which seems like it would be relatively stable in addition to likely more interesting and engaging work. Also, it would probably open a lot more doors as far as career advancement opportunities, etc. Although, I don't doubt the current job is opening many doors as well - I wouldn't have gotten hit up, I'm sure, if it weren't for the current gig.
3) Closer to my parents (but this is a double-edged sword). We do have good times with my side of the family, but it can easily become overwhelming with them at the same time. Both my parents and my in-laws are overbearing and like to meddle in our affairs, so not being close to either side is definitely needed.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2016, 11:50:06 PM by jplee3 »

gooki

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2016, 02:18:35 AM »
It would take double my salary to move from medium COL to high COL.

Made a recuiter spit her coffee out when I told them what that was in dollar terms.

205guy

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2016, 03:56:21 AM »
One big issue you haven't addressed is going from a work-at-home situation to a kiss-and-commute one (as in "bye, love, have fun as a sahm in a new town while I'm away at the office putting in long hours for the new job"). That seems like the biggest change involved for your family.

With all due respect, Santa Clara IS suburban hell--great weather, lots of hiking 1hour drive away, but not a place with high QOL itself. I worked in Santa Clara, I commuted by car and then by bike in Santa Clara. It's a town of what they call "expressways," which are 4-lane (each way) surface roads with timed lights to keep traffic flowing. Everywhere else, lights every 1/4 or 1/2 mile means stop and go even when there isn't traffic. I lived nearby in downtown San Jose, which wasn't much better.

The second time I worked on SF and commuted from the peninsula by train--that was much more civilized, but still rough compared to working 100% from home (my wife is also sahm). Rents are expensive and going up monthly. Especially if you have a cat and need to rent a house with a yard. Even there you still end up driving one hour if you want to go anywhere interesting. I don't know Orange County very well, maybe you're used to suburbia.

Speaking of rent, do check out what percentage of your take-home pay it would take for your family to be comfortable. Benefits such as free meals are great, but they don't pay the rent even if they offset some spending.

So to be honest, one of the main reasons we left the Bay Area (twice) was because of the sprawl and general driving just grinding me down (my wife said the same thing). We moved to an equally HCOL but without those 1-hour drives everywhere--and incidentally back to working from home.

I don't want to make it sound worse than it is, however, it's not Beijing level of craziness. I'm sure lots of people put up with it, and the Bay Area really has a lot going for it. My opinion is that it is having some serious growing pains right now, lots of stress and tension over rents, newcomers, development, etc. So if you have a nice settled and not unpleasant situation in a place you already like right now, it might not be worth it to upset it all due to the uncertainty of being able to re-establish that in Silicon Valley.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2016, 04:00:29 AM by 205guy »

jeromedawg

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2016, 09:15:10 AM »
One big issue you haven't addressed is going from a work-at-home situation to a kiss-and-commute one (as in "bye, love, have fun as a sahm in a new town while I'm away at the office putting in long hours for the new job"). That seems like the biggest change involved for your family.

With all due respect, Santa Clara IS suburban hell--great weather, lots of hiking 1hour drive away, but not a place with high QOL itself. I worked in Santa Clara, I commuted by car and then by bike in Santa Clara. It's a town of what they call "expressways," which are 4-lane (each way) surface roads with timed lights to keep traffic flowing. Everywhere else, lights every 1/4 or 1/2 mile means stop and go even when there isn't traffic. I lived nearby in downtown San Jose, which wasn't much better.

The second time I worked on SF and commuted from the peninsula by train--that was much more civilized, but still rough compared to working 100% from home (my wife is also sahm). Rents are expensive and going up monthly. Especially if you have a cat and need to rent a house with a yard. Even there you still end up driving one hour if you want to go anywhere interesting. I don't know Orange County very well, maybe you're used to suburbia.

Speaking of rent, do check out what percentage of your take-home pay it would take for your family to be comfortable. Benefits such as free meals are great, but they don't pay the rent even if they offset some spending.

So to be honest, one of the main reasons we left the Bay Area (twice) was because of the sprawl and general driving just grinding me down (my wife said the same thing). We moved to an equally HCOL but without those 1-hour drives everywhere--and incidentally back to working from home.

I don't want to make it sound worse than it is, however, it's not Beijing level of craziness. I'm sure lots of people put up with it, and the Bay Area really has a lot going for it. My opinion is that it is having some serious growing pains right now, lots of stress and tension over rents, newcomers, development, etc. So if you have a nice settled and not unpleasant situation in a place you already like right now, it might not be worth it to upset it all due to the uncertainty of being able to re-establish that in Silicon Valley.

Moving from WFH to a long commute would be torture. I've never had to commute longer than 20-30 minutes in my entire career, so the only viable option for me to not go crazy would be to find a commute similar to that or to move closer to the workplace where rent is probably crazy. I asked about their openness to WFH/telecommute and the recruiter mentioned "not for the first two years" so that could be rough with a lot of unknowns. In short, it comes down to: do I potentially want to A) uproot my stable/comfy life here in the OC for a better job opportunity and possible career path at a higher salary but having to deal with lower QOL and higher COL or B) stay where I'm at and be content as things are fine (if it ain't broke don't fix it?) - job is relatively boring and not very engaging (no face-time or super-interesting projects...at least yet) but it's paying the bills and allowing us to save a good amount. Especially with the situation on the condo.

JLee

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2016, 09:23:35 AM »
If I had a competitive salary, enjoyed my job, and was working from home I would not have moved.

Laserjet3051

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2016, 09:29:50 AM »
I live in OC/CA, have 2 kids, and am a single income household. Bay area is ground zero for my industry and has more jobs for me than anywhere in the world. I have done exactly the same calcultion, comparison that you are asking here. The answer in my case is always the same:

THERE IS NEVER A REALISTIC SCENARIO WHERE IT WOULD PAY TO MOVE FROM OC TO SF BAY AREA.

Pay increases (from OC to SF) are never proportional to the inflated RE costs. On top of that are the insane traffic madness and higher population densities that would put me over the brink (I'm in extreme southern OC where density is much lower then central/north OC).

I have friends in the bay area with dual incomes, high earners, that, even in their late forties, still cant afford to BUY RE, in the areas they live/like.

This may not work for you, but in my case, I would never consider a move up there, though I do LOVE the weather (in SF proper).


undercover

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2016, 09:30:25 AM »
If anything, I'd stay put and downsize to a LCOL area instead of trying to temporarily upsize your pay in order to retire in OC, unless you really want to be in OC long term.

I've found it matters very little where we are - things like weather, amenities, cultural attractions, and people only make a small dent in our happiness. It matters much more that we are content with our jobs, friends, and family.

So unless the difference in pay is going to allow you to retire significantly sooner in a place like OC then I wouldn't do it.

jeromedawg

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2016, 09:43:10 AM »
I live in OC/CA, have 2 kids, and am a single income household. Bay area is ground zero for my industry and has more jobs for me than anywhere in the world. I have done exactly the same calcultion, comparison that you are asking here. The answer in my case is always the same:

THERE IS NEVER A REALISTIC SCENARIO WHERE IT WOULD PAY TO MOVE FROM OC TO SF BAY AREA.

Pay increases (from OC to SF) are never proportional to the inflated RE costs. On top of that are the insane traffic madness and higher population densities that would put me over the brink (I'm in extreme southern OC where density is much lower then central/north OC).

I have friends in the bay area with dual incomes, high earners, that, even in their late forties, still cant afford to BUY RE, in the areas they live/like.

This may not work for you, but in my case, I would never consider a move up there, though I do LOVE the weather (in SF proper).

I think you're onto expressing what I'm probably really thinking here... I'm just having a lot of trouble trying to justify moving back up. I used to say that if any of the tech giants up there offered me a job, I'd move in an instant, but the more I think about it and the HCOL, I have serious hesitations. I'm sure my family would *beg* me to come back and try to do whatever they could to convince us as well (e.g. my parents would tell us to move into their rental house in Alameda and not have to deal with rent, and I just would have to accept the 2 hour commute to Mountain View/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara). That doesn't sound very appealing to me either way lol. I did some quick lookups at http://www.payscale.com/cost-of-living-calculator/ and http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_countries_result.jsp?country1=United+States&country2=United+States and *if* I were to receive an offer with the salary range I'd be expecting, it would far exceed the "salary needed to maintain the same standard of living" but I know that statement may mean nothing outside of expenses. I agree that the weather is awesome up that way but the idea of how expensive it is + dealing with traffic is extremely offsetting.

jeromedawg

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2016, 09:47:25 AM »
If anything, I'd stay put and downsize to a LCOL area instead of trying to temporarily upsize your pay in order to retire in OC, unless you really want to be in OC long term.

I've found it matters very little where we are - things like weather, amenities, cultural attractions, and people only make a small dent in our happiness. It matters much more that we are content with our jobs, friends, and family.

So unless the difference in pay is going to allow you to retire significantly sooner in a place like OC then I wouldn't do it.

I'm not sure where I'd want to retire exactly but this potential move would actually relocate me to the Bay Area. My parents have properties up there so retiring up there *could* be viable per their help/inheritance, but the question is if I want to actually move up and work around there.

We could potentially move to a LCOL but I'd argue that our specific living situation ($700 a month goes towards 'paying down' a 3bed/2br condo) effectively pushes us more into the lower-end of living in a MCOL area. Though, another factor is the space-issue as our family grows and we possibly have more kids.

honeybbq

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #20 on: August 19, 2016, 09:52:31 AM »
For me it's not the cost of living, but the amount I get to save and the quality of life once I'm there. I feel pretty good about my choice of locale, as a recent study identified Seattle as having the highest cost-of-living adjusted salaries for software engineers. Besides that, it's a great city to live.


Agreed. I got a large raise when I came to Seattle (not a software engineer) and I also moved from a state with income tax to a state without (including city tax, this was basically 10% of my salary). So over all I moved from the 150k range to the over 200 range, so it was quite substantial.

However, daycare in the midwest was <$1000/month where here it is over $2000. And the housing prices, of course, are triple or more.

But mostly I moved for the quality of life. No amount of money in the world is worth it if you're miserable where you are.

undercover

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #21 on: August 19, 2016, 09:56:08 AM »
If anything, I'd stay put and downsize to a LCOL area instead of trying to temporarily upsize your pay in order to retire in OC, unless you really want to be in OC long term.

I've found it matters very little where we are - things like weather, amenities, cultural attractions, and people only make a small dent in our happiness. It matters much more that we are content with our jobs, friends, and family.

So unless the difference in pay is going to allow you to retire significantly sooner in a place like OC then I wouldn't do it.

We could potentially move to a LCOL but I'd argue that our specific living situation ($700 a month goes towards 'paying down' a 3bed/2br condo) effectively pushes us more into the lower-end of living in a MCOL area. Though, another factor is the space-issue as our family grows and we possibly have more kids.

Ah, I didn't catch that you were already living fairly cheap. But then again - your "rent" may be cheap, but would you realistically buy a house in the SoCal area? Or do you care about not being a perpetual renter?

I guess all I can say, at least in my experience, is that the more FI you become, the less you care about moving unless there is a very lucrative opportunity involved. Not knowing anything about your finances, the increase in pay and positioning could very well propel you into being full FI much sooner than staying where you're at. So unless you truly want to be in the Bay, I'd just run the numbers and see if it sounds lucrative enough for you.

I personally don't see how the Bay Area weather is better than SoCal...people always rave about how great it is but when I was there in the middle of July it was cold and foggy. It's mostly 50's and 60's which honestly can get pretty chilly. Anyway...I wouldn't pay the weather too much mind anyway - it's never perfect anywhere you go.

jeromedawg

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #22 on: August 19, 2016, 10:08:18 AM »
If anything, I'd stay put and downsize to a LCOL area instead of trying to temporarily upsize your pay in order to retire in OC, unless you really want to be in OC long term.

I've found it matters very little where we are - things like weather, amenities, cultural attractions, and people only make a small dent in our happiness. It matters much more that we are content with our jobs, friends, and family.

So unless the difference in pay is going to allow you to retire significantly sooner in a place like OC then I wouldn't do it.

We could potentially move to a LCOL but I'd argue that our specific living situation ($700 a month goes towards 'paying down' a 3bed/2br condo) effectively pushes us more into the lower-end of living in a MCOL area. Though, another factor is the space-issue as our family grows and we possibly have more kids.

Ah, I didn't catch that you were already living fairly cheap. But then again - your "rent" may be cheap, but would you realistically buy a house in the SoCal area? Or do you care about not being a perpetual renter?

I guess all I can say, at least in my experience, is that the more FI you become, the less you care about moving unless there is a very lucrative opportunity involved. Not knowing anything about your finances, the increase in pay and positioning could very well propel you into being full FI much sooner than staying where you're at. So unless you truly want to be in the Bay, I'd just run the numbers and see if it sounds lucrative enough for you.

I personally don't see how the Bay Area weather is better than SoCal...people always rave about how great it is but when I was there in the middle of July it was cold and foggy. It's mostly 50's and 60's which honestly can get pretty chilly. Anyway...I wouldn't pay the weather too much mind anyway - it's never perfect anywhere you go.

Regarding buying a house, it would definitely be nice but currently is more of a want than a need. However, per discussions with my wife and the burden of her parents, we're figuring out options to potentially help them with housing. In one worst case scenario, we might offer for them to move into the place we're at and paying the same or comparable rent (with my parents' agreement as it's technically their place). This would force us to consider buying a house or renting down here, unless at that point we decide to move elsewhere. But part of the reason why we were considering having her in-laws here is so that they could be closer for the grandkid(s), so us moving away wouldn't help with that. Either way, I'd say buying a house is likely on the map...

I'm assuming owning a house/not paying rent is a strong requisite for FI? If so, I think that's the only piece missing from the equation. From there, it's the RE part that I'm still contemplating through in terms of what that would look like if we were to reach it. If I were to move up to the Bay Area, there's no way we would buy a house... unless we lived in another city where we could afford it. But it's just crazy to think about. Only other option, as I mentioned, is if we were to move into one of my parents' rentals and pretty much mooch off them. That or wait until they pass on the inheritance... even then, that's all around Alameda, which isn't a very desirable commute down to Silicon Valley. What I thinking was to move to the Bay Area for the minimum required years of working "on-site" then request to transfer back to SoCal and work remotely or perhaps in any office they may have down here (which I'm not sure about). That sounds like a pretty far-fetched request though as it seems most companies wouldn't go for that...not unless you're some super rockstar employee I suppose.

Growing up in the Bay Area, it's refreshing to visit again and feel the "cold" coming up from SoCal. That's mostly the only thing I look forward to when going back besides visiting family (to an extent) and friends of course. LOL... I bet it's much better up there than down here right now - this past week it's been in the 90s and the AC at our place stinks. I find myself lightly sweating while *indoors* and just sitting working when it gets that hot outside.

seattlecyclone

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #23 on: August 19, 2016, 10:35:00 AM »
I'm assuming owning a house/not paying rent is a strong requisite for FI?

Not necessarily. You need to save up 25x your expenses. That could mean having a paid-off house and only counting 25x of your other expenses, or it could mean lumping your rent into that number. I think that renting adds some unpredictability to your retirement plans, because a stock market downturn combined with a local housing market increase could force you to relocate to keep your rent at the level you need it to be. If you're willing to take that chance it's a valid path.

You mentioned above that you used to believe that you would "move in an instant" if one of the Silicon Valley tech giants offered you a job. Was that influenced more by excitement about the work these companies might have you do, or because your family is located there? If it's more about the work, you don't have to live in Silicon Valley to work for one of these companies. Right here in Seattle, Google and Facebook have very sizable development centers (>1000 engineers or getting there soon). Apple, Twitter, Pinterest, Uber, Lyft, Cisco, eBay, Snapchat, GoDaddy, Palantir, Oculus, Pixar, Salesforce, and lots more also have a presence. I'm sure other cities have opportunities like that as well.

jeromedawg

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #24 on: August 19, 2016, 10:48:05 AM »
I'm assuming owning a house/not paying rent is a strong requisite for FI?

Not necessarily. You need to save up 25x your expenses. That could mean having a paid-off house and only counting 25x of your other expenses, or it could mean lumping your rent into that number. I think that renting adds some unpredictability to your retirement plans, because a stock market downturn combined with a local housing market increase could force you to relocate to keep your rent at the level you need it to be. If you're willing to take that chance it's a valid path.

You mentioned above that you used to believe that you would "move in an instant" if one of the Silicon Valley tech giants offered you a job. Was that influenced more by excitement about the work these companies might have you do, or because your family is located there? If it's more about the work, you don't have to live in Silicon Valley to work for one of these companies. Right here in Seattle, Google and Facebook have very sizable development centers (>1000 engineers or getting there soon). Apple, Twitter, Pinterest, Uber, Lyft, Cisco, eBay, Snapchat, GoDaddy, Palantir, Oculus, Pixar, Salesforce, and lots more also have a presence. I'm sure other cities have opportunities like that as well.

Hm, then I guess I should consider myself FI in that case. The thing about our 'rental' now is that we can technically live here as long as we want barring actually outgrowing the place. Basically, it's 75/25 ownership with my parents having the higher stake. The monthly "rent" I'm paying is more like an interest-free mortgage if you will - the money is basically being kept within the family. Moving to another area (especially the Bay Area) would definitely result in the loss of this advantage. All things considered, it seems like a *huge* advantage to me but in reality I don't know how big of a deal it really is - if it's not that big of a deal then I suppose it shouldn't be as big of a factor in stopping me from considering uprooting our life here.

I think the "move in an instant" thought was fueled primarily by the ideology and excitement of working at one of those tech giants. Definitely not because my family is all up there. A recruiter from the particular company I may consider, if things move forward, told me that they require two years on-site at their HQ up in SV. Of course, that could all change as I'm sure things are negotiable if things move forward and they really like me. Right now this is all speculation though - we'll just have to see if and how things proceed. Of course, I'd much rather stay local to where I'm at now and have the option to work from here. But I think the nature of the position I'm looking at is one that would likely require me to be onsite.

mm1970

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #25 on: August 19, 2016, 10:48:50 AM »
Hey all,

We live in probably a somewhat mid to mid-high COL area (Orange County) and I was contemplating what it would take to move to a pretty HCOL (SF Bay Area/Silicon Valley/etc). For those of you who are contemplating or have contemplated the same, what would it be for you? More specifically, if you were in a single-income situation with one or two kids and a SAHM, and were say offered a position in the Silicon Valley area that paid in the range of $150-175k base salary, would that be 'enough' to make you consider? I know that's sort of a subjective thing to add into the conversation but I just wanted to get some feedback because initially, that is around the number I'm sort of anticipating and expecting (as far as a 'realistic' salary range) in terms of "being enough" if I were ever to consider moving up that way at this. I'm sure everyone's answer would vary differently too based on life goals and when they want to retire but in my mind, FIRE just doesn't seem super compatible and definitely not easy when wanting to live and work in a HCOL unless you're getting paid 'proportionately' - rent is sky-high in most places up there and it just seems like every 'comparable' housing option to where we're currently at is inflated at least by 10% but easily more. E.g. I just saw a listing for a condo slightly bigger than the one I'm in for $1.2mil. Our condo is currently valued between $500-600k...!

Currently, I'm pretty happy living where we are mostly because there's great flexibility (I'm working from home for a large bank/financial institution) and I get paid pretty decently. But there's always that fear of regressing in work skills etc and getting 'dumbed down' from lack of face-time as well as lack of engaging work projects, etc.

Thoughts?
Um...I'm in Santa Barbara.  So costs are more than OC, but less than Silicon Valley, but our salaries are much lower, and fewer jobs.

So.  A "kid" I hired out of college 11 years ago moved up last year and went from $90k to $170k.  I'd expect that at this point in our careers, my husband and I would get along the lines of $180k-$250k a piece.  Boy, that extra money would go a long way towards housing. 

Now, it's hard to make a housing comparison.  I have friends in Mountain View.  (I like Mountain View!  It's cute!  They can walk to the downtown area.)  The equivalent single family home in Mountain View or Sunnyvale is looking like $950k to $1.1M.  It's hard to judge the school system (I am in a terrible school district here in SB).  This is a 2BR, 1BA, 1940s home with no garage.  I cannot find such a place listed in zillow, but there are 3BRs with similar square footage.  My friends' home is probably worth about $1.7M, as it's about 2000 sf.

So...a possible move would give extra income in the order of $150k per year, and housing would cost about $300k more (my house here is worth about $800k).  Financially it might work out, but then you have to consider quality of life, traffic, commuting, schedules...I'm old and I'm staying in SB.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2016, 10:53:58 AM by mm1970 »

Cranky

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #26 on: August 19, 2016, 11:26:31 AM »
It would take a paid for house in a reasonably decent neighborhood with a short commute. Or, y'know, magic pixie dust. ;-)

The rest of our expenses are peanuts.

tonysemail

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #27 on: August 19, 2016, 11:58:34 AM »
My parents have properties up there so retiring up there *could* be viable per their help/inheritance, but the question is if I want to actually move up and work around there.

Prop 58 is such a good deal, I'd give it some thought if the family politics/dynamics support it.

Is traffic in bay area really that much worse than OC?
For many years, I hated driving down to LA because ... traffic!
You're lucky to WFH.  that's awesome :)

Would comparing the schools for your kids be a plus or a minus for moving?

How do you project your savings rate to change?

jeromedawg

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #28 on: August 19, 2016, 12:45:05 PM »
My parents have properties up there so retiring up there *could* be viable per their help/inheritance, but the question is if I want to actually move up and work around there.

Prop 58 is such a good deal, I'd give it some thought if the family politics/dynamics support it.

Is traffic in bay area really that much worse than OC?
For many years, I hated driving down to LA because ... traffic!
You're lucky to WFH.  that's awesome :)

Would comparing the schools for your kids be a plus or a minus for moving?

How do you project your savings rate to change?

We may have to take prop 58 into consideration with my inlaws too, for that matter. They currently are in a 30-yr fixed on a home they got into in 2004 and are wanting to retire soon. That means selling the place and then using the proceeds and whatever assets they have to potentially downsize to a smaller place or get into low-income housing if they are able to qualify at the right time. That's another discussion we'll need to have. But as far as up there, it could be an ideal situation but I wonder what the dynamics will look like after my parents have passed away and how the division of properties will actually be by then. I want to think we'll all be "fair" with each other but you never know. Of course, I'm pretty sure my parents have been updating their will so that this situation would mostly be avoided. My parents have even talked about us moving into their current place and them moving into the smaller rental unit few doors down. I think that would just be too much for us to handle (my parents can be pretty overbearing and over-involved...there's a reason I moved to and stayed in SoCal lol).

As far as traffic, I think it depends where. I would probably imagine that they are in competition with each other though - in SoCal traffic is generally bad across the span of all of LA/OC if you're on the road at the wrong times (aka rush hour). I'd imagine it's similar around the Silicon Valley area and along stretches of the 880. The thing about the Bay Area and LA though is that *i think* there's generally less freeway to travel on in the Bay Area as far as commuting is concerned, and public transportation is leaps and bounds better too. That doesn't mean there's not traffic, but it's sort of confined to smaller stretches I'd have to think. I don't think I could deal with traffic in the commute... that's why I'd be hard-pressed to pick up and leave a WFH job.

As far as schools, the city I'm in has a really good school district so I suppose that would be another consideration. My kid has several years to go before going to school, so there's time to prep for that.

I'll have to evaluate what the savings rate will look like. I'd most likely have to rent in the Sunnyvale/Santa Clara/Mtn View area to avoid long commutes, and I know rent is high there, so I'd have to do some further calculations and see if it would be worth while.  But the same dilemma will come up I think either way if things were to move forward: stay at a flexible job that pays well and where my family and I are quite comfortable or uproot our lives for a likely more dynamic/engaging/exciting job with better pay and benefits but have to deal with relocation, commuting, etc.

jeromedawg

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #29 on: August 19, 2016, 12:47:40 PM »
I'm in OC also and yes traffic is just as bad as the Bay area - worse imho ( I use to live in Marin Co.). 

OP I think you should stay in the OC unless you either really hate it here or really love the area you'd be moving too. With your awesome housing deal (I remember some of your posts about that) and the ability to work at home I wouldn't trade that for a higher salary, time away from family and a long commute. You're in a situation to save a lot of money AND have a great quality of life. I don't think you'll have either of those things moving to a HCOL area unless you can live and work remotely for more money.

 Also considering you only pay $700/month "rent" on a place that would probably be around $3000/month normally, and more in Mountain View, plus not having all the commute expenses like fuel and car maintence cost/vehicle replacement, Id think you might come out ahead financially by staying put even at a lower salary. Funny to hear the OC called a MCOL area though. I'm sure people in most of the country would shudder at the average housing price if $650k for an old beater house in.the hood.


Thanks - that's my general feel as well... working remotely is *huge* in that respect. As far as OC being a MCOL it really is but only when comparing to the Bay Area among other places LOL! Maybe there needs to be new term that goes beyond HCOL, like RCOL or OCOL for Ridiculous or Outrageous Cost of Living.

norabird

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #30 on: August 19, 2016, 12:58:08 PM »
I live in a HCOL place and wouldn't really consider moving away, and would encourage anyone to live here; obviously it's different for everyone though.

Lagom

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #31 on: August 19, 2016, 12:59:35 PM »
OK guys, I'm not saying everyone should move here (in fact, I hope you don't. Housing is enough of a problem already!), but most of these excuses about why the Bay Area is so terrible are facepunch-worthy. To repeat, my wife and I have a combined income that is less than most junior engineers make at the local tech giants, we both made financial mistakes that led us to piles of debt we have only just finished paying off at 33 (not counting a remaining 50k in student loans which will take a while longer to pay), and yet we still expect to purchase a house and FIRE before we're 50, all without leaving the area. If I was a Google engineer straight out of undergrad, I could easily FIRE while staying in the Bay area by age 30. If we were willing to move to a LCOL area for FIRE, we could do so even earlier, but the trade-off of living here is worth the delay for us.

And all the comments about traffic presumes you guys are submitting to rush hour, which is definitely avoidable in many cases. If it's unavoidable for your particular career for whatever reason, then sure it's a big issue. But if you're getting a tech giant kind of salary, you should still be able to afford housing within a reasonable biking distance of work.

Also, claiming it takes an hour to get to good hiking from Santa Clara is laughably incorrect. I'm not saying it's the best suburb by any stretch (and it is one of the most poorly positioned for good hiking access, I'll grant), but the complainers are definitely biased in their opinions, and those considering moving here should take those opinions with a grain of salt.

Now that said, at least half the reason I enjoy living here is because most of my extended family is in the region. This is a huge plus and I might not live here if that were not the case. Ultimately, all of this depends on your individual situation, of course, but don't let complaints from people who decided to leave color your view too much. Many of us have very happily decided to stay :)

PS - losing the work from home perk would actually be my biggest concern, regardless of where you live. I work remotely now and it would take a pretty massive raise for me to consider going back to an office environment.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2016, 01:03:06 PM by Lagom »

Lagom

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #32 on: August 19, 2016, 01:13:22 PM »
Most of us aren't saying the bay area is a bad choice, its not as its a wonderful place, much better than OC  by far imho. Just saying that in the OPs unique circumstances with housing and work at home that staying in OC is probably better. If the OP slugged it out on the 405 or 5 or ant other SoCal Fwy everyday and had to pay market rent then we'd probably say move!

I know :)

Just being a bit defensive, I'll acknowledge, specifically towards the "suburban hell, unavoidable and horrible commutes, impossibly expensive" folks.  I agree that for the OP, staying put does seem like the best option, but for others considering a move here, I felt I had to balance the viewpoint a bit.

jeromedawg

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #33 on: August 19, 2016, 01:24:30 PM »
For those of you saying it would take "alot" to convince you to go back to a office work environment after being WFH, can you elaborate more on what that entails? I know Lagom mentioned a massive raise, and someone else mentioned kick-a perks, etc. For those of you who care to elaborate, how much of a "massive raise" would be enough? Let's assume the context by which we are talking includes a standard 20% raise moving from job to job... so would "massive" be on the scale of 50% more? 100% more? Somewhere in between? I know, again, this is a subjective number, but I just wanted to see what people are thinking...

Lagom

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #34 on: August 19, 2016, 01:38:49 PM »
For those of you saying it would take "alot" to convince you to go back to a office work environment after being WFH, can you elaborate more on what that entails? I know Lagom mentioned a massive raise, and someone else mentioned kick-a perks, etc. For those of you who care to elaborate, how much of a "massive raise" would be enough? Let's assume the context by which we are talking includes a standard 20% raise moving from job to job... so would "massive" be on the scale of 50% more? 100% more? Somewhere in between? I know, again, this is a subjective number, but I just wanted to see what people are thinking...

I'm not sure. My definition of massive has gone up since I started working from home and came to fully appreciate how amazingly awesome it is. At first I thought 20% would be enough but right now I would say 50% is probably the minimum level I would demand. Even more if my commute would be longer than 15-20 minutes.

Another rule of thumb I might use is how many years sooner could I FIRE with the move. Right now my timeline is ~15 years, so a raise that lowers that to 13-14 wouldn't be enough for me, psychologically. I would probably want to lower it to less than 10 to feel like it was worth it.

« Last Edit: August 19, 2016, 01:40:21 PM by Lagom »

JLee

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #35 on: August 19, 2016, 02:22:03 PM »
For those of you saying it would take "alot" to convince you to go back to a office work environment after being WFH, can you elaborate more on what that entails? I know Lagom mentioned a massive raise, and someone else mentioned kick-a perks, etc. For those of you who care to elaborate, how much of a "massive raise" would be enough? Let's assume the context by which we are talking includes a standard 20% raise moving from job to job... so would "massive" be on the scale of 50% more? 100% more? Somewhere in between? I know, again, this is a subjective number, but I just wanted to see what people are thinking...

I'm not sure. My definition of massive has gone up since I started working from home and came to fully appreciate how amazingly awesome it is. At first I thought 20% would be enough but right now I would say 50% is probably the minimum level I would demand. Even more if my commute would be longer than 15-20 minutes.

Another rule of thumb I might use is how many years sooner could I FIRE with the move. Right now my timeline is ~15 years, so a raise that lowers that to 13-14 wouldn't be enough for me, psychologically. I would probably want to lower it to less than 10 to feel like it was worth it.

A percentage can be tricky because 50% of $60k may not be worth it, given a commute/etc....but 50% of $250k would be massive.

jeromedawg

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #36 on: August 19, 2016, 03:48:02 PM »
For those of you saying it would take "alot" to convince you to go back to a office work environment after being WFH, can you elaborate more on what that entails? I know Lagom mentioned a massive raise, and someone else mentioned kick-a perks, etc. For those of you who care to elaborate, how much of a "massive raise" would be enough? Let's assume the context by which we are talking includes a standard 20% raise moving from job to job... so would "massive" be on the scale of 50% more? 100% more? Somewhere in between? I know, again, this is a subjective number, but I just wanted to see what people are thinking...

I'm not sure. My definition of massive has gone up since I started working from home and came to fully appreciate how amazingly awesome it is. At first I thought 20% would be enough but right now I would say 50% is probably the minimum level I would demand. Even more if my commute would be longer than 15-20 minutes.

Another rule of thumb I might use is how many years sooner could I FIRE with the move. Right now my timeline is ~15 years, so a raise that lowers that to 13-14 wouldn't be enough for me, psychologically. I would probably want to lower it to less than 10 to feel like it was worth it.

Thanks for sharing. That makes a lot of sense to me. Are you going based off base salary + bonus OR are you saying 50% more after base + bonus + options + benefits are considered? For some reason, it's harder for me to get out of the mindset of including everything in addition to the base + bonus (and even sometimes less bonus since that's not *always* guaranteed or can fluctuate).

Part of the issue is that I'm not exactly sure when I'd feel comfortable with the RE part. I think we're pretty much at the FI point but RE is another consideration... the concept, though it sounds awesome, is still a very foreign one to me. I just can't begin to imagine how that would look like for me. Especially with first figuring out how to establish all the "passive income" stuff. So even outside of that, I don't have a set date or target date for full FIRE - right now I'm just saying "oh it would be nice to not have to work by the time I'm 45" or whatever, but logistically, I have no clue what that really means.

jeromedawg

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #37 on: August 19, 2016, 03:49:38 PM »
For those of you saying it would take "alot" to convince you to go back to a office work environment after being WFH, can you elaborate more on what that entails? I know Lagom mentioned a massive raise, and someone else mentioned kick-a perks, etc. For those of you who care to elaborate, how much of a "massive raise" would be enough? Let's assume the context by which we are talking includes a standard 20% raise moving from job to job... so would "massive" be on the scale of 50% more? 100% more? Somewhere in between? I know, again, this is a subjective number, but I just wanted to see what people are thinking...

I'm not sure. My definition of massive has gone up since I started working from home and came to fully appreciate how amazingly awesome it is. At first I thought 20% would be enough but right now I would say 50% is probably the minimum level I would demand. Even more if my commute would be longer than 15-20 minutes.

Another rule of thumb I might use is how many years sooner could I FIRE with the move. Right now my timeline is ~15 years, so a raise that lowers that to 13-14 wouldn't be enough for me, psychologically. I would probably want to lower it to less than 10 to feel like it was worth it.

A percentage can be tricky because 50% of $60k may not be worth it, given a commute/etc....but 50% of $250k would be massive.

Yea, that's a good point.... I guess I'll just have to run some numbers and what not. I'm probably getting a little ahead of myself because I haven't even had the technical phone screener yet. For all I know, that could totally blow up in my face... even then, I think it's still good for me to think through all this stuff because I want to have some idea of what I'd consider should the opportunity ever come up in the future.

JLee

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #38 on: August 19, 2016, 05:54:45 PM »
For those of you saying it would take "alot" to convince you to go back to a office work environment after being WFH, can you elaborate more on what that entails? I know Lagom mentioned a massive raise, and someone else mentioned kick-a perks, etc. For those of you who care to elaborate, how much of a "massive raise" would be enough? Let's assume the context by which we are talking includes a standard 20% raise moving from job to job... so would "massive" be on the scale of 50% more? 100% more? Somewhere in between? I know, again, this is a subjective number, but I just wanted to see what people are thinking...

I'm not sure. My definition of massive has gone up since I started working from home and came to fully appreciate how amazingly awesome it is. At first I thought 20% would be enough but right now I would say 50% is probably the minimum level I would demand. Even more if my commute would be longer than 15-20 minutes.

Another rule of thumb I might use is how many years sooner could I FIRE with the move. Right now my timeline is ~15 years, so a raise that lowers that to 13-14 wouldn't be enough for me, psychologically. I would probably want to lower it to less than 10 to feel like it was worth it.

A percentage can be tricky because 50% of $60k may not be worth it, given a commute/etc....but 50% of $250k would be massive.

Yea, that's a good point.... I guess I'll just have to run some numbers and what not. I'm probably getting a little ahead of myself because I haven't even had the technical phone screener yet. For all I know, that could totally blow up in my face... even then, I think it's still good for me to think through all this stuff because I want to have some idea of what I'd consider should the opportunity ever come up in the future.

It's worth running the numbers anyway, just so you know what your number is.

For me, if I made less than 90k it was not financially worthwhile. I ended up doing better than expected on renting my house, and also better than expected for vehicle expenses, so it worked out very well for me and I'm building net worth much faster than I thought possible.

jeromedawg

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #39 on: August 19, 2016, 06:28:37 PM »
For those of you saying it would take "alot" to convince you to go back to a office work environment after being WFH, can you elaborate more on what that entails? I know Lagom mentioned a massive raise, and someone else mentioned kick-a perks, etc. For those of you who care to elaborate, how much of a "massive raise" would be enough? Let's assume the context by which we are talking includes a standard 20% raise moving from job to job... so would "massive" be on the scale of 50% more? 100% more? Somewhere in between? I know, again, this is a subjective number, but I just wanted to see what people are thinking...

I'm not sure. My definition of massive has gone up since I started working from home and came to fully appreciate how amazingly awesome it is. At first I thought 20% would be enough but right now I would say 50% is probably the minimum level I would demand. Even more if my commute would be longer than 15-20 minutes.

Another rule of thumb I might use is how many years sooner could I FIRE with the move. Right now my timeline is ~15 years, so a raise that lowers that to 13-14 wouldn't be enough for me, psychologically. I would probably want to lower it to less than 10 to feel like it was worth it.

A percentage can be tricky because 50% of $60k may not be worth it, given a commute/etc....but 50% of $250k would be massive.

Yea, that's a good point.... I guess I'll just have to run some numbers and what not. I'm probably getting a little ahead of myself because I haven't even had the technical phone screener yet. For all I know, that could totally blow up in my face... even then, I think it's still good for me to think through all this stuff because I want to have some idea of what I'd consider should the opportunity ever come up in the future.

It's worth running the numbers anyway, just so you know what your number is.

For me, if I made less than 90k it was not financially worthwhile. I ended up doing better than expected on renting my house, and also better than expected for vehicle expenses, so it worked out very well for me and I'm building net worth much faster than I thought possible.

What are some of the major factors you included for figuring your number? Obviously, base + bonus at least and then cost of housing (rent or own) in the area along with cost of gas and car maint? I'm assuming that should always be done in the context of where you're currently located and then as much as you can estimate for the potential destination...

EDIT: I just did a quick spot-check on mint and my rough savings rate has averaged around 55% over the past 12 months. Last Aug-Dec I was still at my job commuting (which was only like 7 miles away) but I was also at a lower salary too.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2016, 06:47:20 PM by jplee3 »

CanuckExpat

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #40 on: August 19, 2016, 10:12:39 PM »
And all the comments about traffic presumes you guys are submitting to rush hour, which is definitely avoidable in many cases. If it's unavoidable for your particular career for whatever reason, then sure it's a big issue. But if you're getting a tech giant kind of salary, you should still be able to afford housing within a reasonable biking distance of work.

I do want to agree with Lagom here. If you are worrying about traffic, and commuting by car long distances in rush hour regularly, you've made a lifestyle mistake.

jeromedawg

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #41 on: August 19, 2016, 11:55:13 PM »
And all the comments about traffic presumes you guys are submitting to rush hour, which is definitely avoidable in many cases. If it's unavoidable for your particular career for whatever reason, then sure it's a big issue. But if you're getting a tech giant kind of salary, you should still be able to afford housing within a reasonable biking distance of work.

I do want to agree with Lagom here. If you are worrying about traffic, and commuting by car long distances in rush hour regularly, you've made a lifestyle mistake.

BTW: what is considered the 'standard range' for a "tech giant kind of salary" that would fit into the assumption that there is affordable housing nearby and within a reasonable biking distance from work?

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #42 on: August 20, 2016, 11:23:49 AM »
For those of you saying it would take "alot" to convince you to go back to a office work environment after being WFH, can you elaborate more on what that entails? I know Lagom mentioned a massive raise, and someone else mentioned kick-a perks, etc. For those of you who care to elaborate, how much of a "massive raise" would be enough? Let's assume the context by which we are talking includes a standard 20% raise moving from job to job... so would "massive" be on the scale of 50% more? 100% more? Somewhere in between? I know, again, this is a subjective number, but I just wanted to see what people are thinking...

I'm not sure. My definition of massive has gone up since I started working from home and came to fully appreciate how amazingly awesome it is. At first I thought 20% would be enough but right now I would say 50% is probably the minimum level I would demand. Even more if my commute would be longer than 15-20 minutes.

Another rule of thumb I might use is how many years sooner could I FIRE with the move. Right now my timeline is ~15 years, so a raise that lowers that to 13-14 wouldn't be enough for me, psychologically. I would probably want to lower it to less than 10 to feel like it was worth it.

A percentage can be tricky because 50% of $60k may not be worth it, given a commute/etc....but 50% of $250k would be massive.

Yea, that's a good point.... I guess I'll just have to run some numbers and what not. I'm probably getting a little ahead of myself because I haven't even had the technical phone screener yet. For all I know, that could totally blow up in my face... even then, I think it's still good for me to think through all this stuff because I want to have some idea of what I'd consider should the opportunity ever come up in the future.

It's worth running the numbers anyway, just so you know what your number is.

For me, if I made less than 90k it was not financially worthwhile. I ended up doing better than expected on renting my house, and also better than expected for vehicle expenses, so it worked out very well for me and I'm building net worth much faster than I thought possible.

What are some of the major factors you included for figuring your number? Obviously, base + bonus at least and then cost of housing (rent or own) in the area along with cost of gas and car maint? I'm assuming that should always be done in the context of where you're currently located and then as much as you can estimate for the potential destination...

EDIT: I just did a quick spot-check on mint and my rough savings rate has averaged around 55% over the past 12 months. Last Aug-Dec I was still at my job commuting (which was only like 7 miles away) but I was also at a lower salary too.

I basically did '(future expected COL) - (current COL)' and '(future salary/benefits) - (current salary/benefits)'.  I didn't really want to move out here, but it basically took my three years of experience and gave me a 7-10yr experience job, so I jumped.  The potential for further knowledge and career advancement was more important than the money, but I wanted to make sure that it was financially worthwhile as well.

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #43 on: August 20, 2016, 01:11:54 PM »
For me it's not the cost of living, but the amount I get to save and the quality of life once I'm there. I feel pretty good about my choice of locale, as a recent study identified Seattle as having the highest cost-of-living adjusted salaries for software engineers. Besides that, it's a great city to live.

I'm not sure I entirely trust that study's methodology. I mean sure, Seattle is #1 and Atlanta is #10, but at least a big fraction of those Seattle jobs are working at Amazon or Microsoft's stack-ranked sweatshops whereas (anecdotally) software engineer jobs in Atlanta are truly 40 hours per week.

I make a little bit more than what the study lists as the median salary in Atlanta, but it would take a lot more than the median salary to get me to move to Seattle. Maybe something like $150K plus a very large signing bonus (to account for the difference between my 3 bedroom SFR value here in Atlanta and what it would cost to buy a comparable property in Seattle).

Lagom

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #44 on: August 21, 2016, 01:07:48 AM »
And all the comments about traffic presumes you guys are submitting to rush hour, which is definitely avoidable in many cases. If it's unavoidable for your particular career for whatever reason, then sure it's a big issue. But if you're getting a tech giant kind of salary, you should still be able to afford housing within a reasonable biking distance of work.

I do want to agree with Lagom here. If you are worrying about traffic, and commuting by car long distances in rush hour regularly, you've made a lifestyle mistake.

BTW: what is considered the 'standard range' for a "tech giant kind of salary" that would fit into the assumption that there is affordable housing nearby and within a reasonable biking distance from work?

I am not a recruiter nor a tech worker, so this is not the most informed of sources, but plenty of engineers I know with 5ish years of experience make $150-200k+. And these are just average cog in the machine type engineers (albeit at Google, Facebook, etc.). Tack on $50-100k+ if you are somewhat exceptional/specialized/have the social skills to manage others. Administrative assistants can make $100k at these companies, so it's not like engineers are the only ones making bank. Add a second income to that household and things are going to be just fine.

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #45 on: August 21, 2016, 12:38:22 PM »
While getting paid? Nothing is needed other than a reasonable salary. I've lived in HCOL areas before, such as Baltimore/Washington area, Oahu Hawaii, and Tokyo Japan.

To FIRE? I'd want a paid off house. HCOL areas tend to have higher housing costs and that is the biggest budget eater. As an example, I currently have a $2k/month budget in FIRE (I can live off of more, technically, but don't need to - $2k/month guarantees the money lasts forever). The house I rented in Tokyo cost me over $2k/month alone. Not including utilities or anything else. Even if I owned, land prices in Tokyo are ridiculous (the money is in the land - not the house). I didn't look too much into it, but let's just say I know I wouldn't want to buy a house in Tokyo. The place I rented in Hawaii was about $1700/month. You can expect to pay $750k-$1m+ to buy a house on Oahu, unless you bought something in bad condition.

jeromedawg

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #46 on: August 21, 2016, 07:13:44 PM »
And all the comments about traffic presumes you guys are submitting to rush hour, which is definitely avoidable in many cases. If it's unavoidable for your particular career for whatever reason, then sure it's a big issue. But if you're getting a tech giant kind of salary, you should still be able to afford housing within a reasonable biking distance of work.

I do want to agree with Lagom here. If you are worrying about traffic, and commuting by car long distances in rush hour regularly, you've made a lifestyle mistake.

BTW: what is considered the 'standard range' for a "tech giant kind of salary" that would fit into the assumption that there is affordable housing nearby and within a reasonable biking distance from work?

I am not a recruiter nor a tech worker, so this is not the most informed of sources, but plenty of engineers I know with 5ish years of experience make $150-200k+. And these are just average cog in the machine type engineers (albeit at Google, Facebook, etc.). Tack on $50-100k+ if you are somewhat exceptional/specialized/have the social skills to manage others. Administrative assistants can make $100k at these companies, so it's not like engineers are the only ones making bank. Add a second income to that household and things are going to be just fine.

Are those base salary figures or including benefits/bonuses/options? That's a bit higher than I was expecting, so that's definitely more doable... other factor of course is that my wife is a SAHM so unless she starts working up there, it definitely won't be as easy.

Lagom

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #47 on: August 21, 2016, 10:00:33 PM »
Are those base salary figures or including benefits/bonuses/options? That's a bit higher than I was expecting, so that's definitely more doable... other factor of course is that my wife is a SAHM so unless she starts working up there, it definitely won't be as easy.

Base salary, so far as I know. The range is fairly wide depending on the exact details of your background, but if you have legit skills and at least some solid experience, it should be pretty easy to get to near $200k(ish) base, if not more. At least, so I hear. What I can speak more directly to is that in my opinion, if you want to be within a reasonable (let's say <10 mile) biking distance to Mountain View, Menlo Park, or Palo Alto (where many of these sorts of jobs are concentrated), I would guesstimate ~$200k (for the household) also would be a comfortable starting point from which you should be able to afford housing and save at a quite a lot. This is all highly variable, of course, depending on the actual salary and actual living expenses (and your willingness to compromise on housing).

If you want the best of both worlds, try to get a position at Nvidia, Intel, Apple, or Cisco (I'm sure I'm forgetting others). They might pay slightly less than Google (I would imagine Apple would be the most competitive), but should still be close and all are close enough to Santa Clara or San Jose (and possibly Milpitas/Fremont) that you can get away with living in either (both cities are noticeably cheaper than further up the peninsula). 

To give some more ballpark info, I live in Santa Clara and might consider working at Google (from a commute perspective), although it would be a 12 mile bike ride or 35-45 minute drive. My household income is below $150k for a family of 4 (we rent). We are defintiely not advanced mustachians but still manage to save around 35-40% of that. At $200k+ I would be feeling very comfortable indeed.

meteor

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #48 on: August 22, 2016, 07:56:52 PM »
I live in the bay area, and even though you see rentals/housing for a certain price advertised, there are hundreds of people that show up for them. Most houses sell for all cash and often there are 20 people ready to bid over. So, even if you think you can afford to rent or buy, it doesn't mean you will be chosen.   What I've heard is that it's really hard for people to save money here, even if they make a lot.  A 2 BR house next door to me in a uninteresting area of Berkeley just sold for $1,250,000. And that is because people are fleeing SF and Silicon Valley. It's even worse there.  Sorry to be a downer, but it's what is going on.

Lagom

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Re: What would it take for you to move to a HCOL?
« Reply #49 on: August 22, 2016, 10:37:19 PM »
I live in the bay area, and even though you see rentals/housing for a certain price advertised, there are hundreds of people that show up for them. Most houses sell for all cash and often there are 20 people ready to bid over. So, even if you think you can afford to rent or buy, it doesn't mean you will be chosen.   What I've heard is that it's really hard for people to save money here, even if they make a lot.  A 2 BR house next door to me in a uninteresting area of Berkeley just sold for $1,250,000. And that is because people are fleeing SF and Silicon Valley. It's even worse there.  Sorry to be a downer, but it's what is going on.

True, but also overly alarmist. Nice houses in nice neighborhoods can still be had for well under $1m, even in Silicon Valley (under $800k in many areas). Obviously that's still quite high compared to other parts of the country, but perfectly affordable if you are in certain industries (and even if you're not, if you don't mind delaying FIRE). It's also worth noting that housing is more or less the only thing that is even somewhat above average in cost.

I have only been living here for 18 months and the two rentals I've lived in were both below market and not too hard to secure. If you have great credit and come across well, you'll be fine on that front. Just might need to hustle a bit. People are indeed fleeing the area, but most (all?) of them are incapable of living at a remotely mustachian level.

I'm not saying that the Bay Area is the optimal place to live if your primary goal is FIRE (I imagine it's not), but it's not nearly so bad as many seem to think. Plus quality of life is amazing. 10/10 would move back here again.