Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

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SolarpunkFan
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Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby SolarpunkFan » 2017-02-13 02:04pm

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/02/09 ... or_austin/

Software engineers should ditch their coveted Silicon Valley jobs and look for opportunities in Austin, San Diego or Seattle.

That's according to recruitment company Hired, which looked at the salaries for 260,000 jobs in cities across the US and the world and accounted for the cost of living in those cities.

So while people living in San Francisco (really the Bay Area) are still earning the most – on average $134,000 – they are actually at the bottom of the pile when it comes to how much money they have in their pockets.

At the top of the pile sits Austin, Texas, where the average wage is $114,000 but is equivalent to $198,000 in San Francisco thanks to the much lower cost of housing, food, travel, taxes and so on (data from Numbeo).

Following that logic, even the most poorly paid software engineer in Melbourne, Australia (average: $83,000) is still doing better than Bay Area bods, making an equivalent of $150,000.

You needn't even leave California and enter Trump's America to become better off, claims Hired. Jobs in San Diego and Los Angeles pay an equivalent of $179,000 and $174,000.

"San Francisco's rising prices continue to make it an expensive option," the analysis concludes, "even when compared to other historically pricey US cities. When you adjust for cost of living, the average software engineer salaries in New York and Los Angeles have seen an 8 per cent and 14 per cent increase in their purchasing power relative to San Francisco over the last year."

Of course, this is all well and good but the analysis doesn't appear to have accounted for quantity of jobs, or career prospects. San Francisco and Silicon Valley remain the biggest hub for software engineer jobs, and most of the big tech companies are based there.

Would you rather make slightly less and have Google on your CV, or make a little more and have to explain why that coding job at Denver's answer to YouTube makes you a perfect candidate for your next position?


Here's a larger version of the map on their page:

Image

Interestingly enough, the adjustment for cost of living is better even here in Chicago. Now that's a surprise. :P
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Re: Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby Ace Pace » 2017-02-13 02:36pm

To look at it from the foreign perspective, no sane engineer moves to SF for the money. People move to SF in order to live in a social bubble for better and worse. There's no better concentration of software talent and job opportunities right now in the world. Furthermore, for anyone who wants to quickly experience many things, SF makes it far simpler to switch career paths.

Furthermore, if you want to look at the startup perspective, there's just no competition. I'm not sure I can explain how much being in a small physical bubble helps with that. If you want to work with small teams and dream about money and impact, then it's the place to be.

But to just live and work normally? Yeah, fuck that shit. If/When I'm moving, it's to Chicago, Toronto, Boston and anyplace sane.
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Re: Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby TheFeniX » 2017-02-13 04:45pm

Austin also exists as it's own "bubble" in Texas. Austin natives operate on a different wavelength than other Texans, even those from cities like Dallas, San Antonio, or Houston. This is both good and bad in my experience.

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Re: Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby phongn » 2017-02-13 05:02pm

SolarpunkFan wrote:Interestingly enough, the adjustment for cost of living is better even here in Chicago. Now that's a surprise. :P

I lived in Hyde Park/Woodlawn and it was much cheaper than San Jose. It shouldn't be that much of a surprise: Chicago can be a reasonably affordable city, especially if you're willing to live outside the dense core.

Ace Pace wrote:To look at it from the foreign perspective, no sane engineer moves to SF for the money. People move to SF in order to live in a social bubble for better and worse. There's no better concentration of software talent and job opportunities right now in the world. Furthermore, for anyone who wants to quickly experience many things, SF makes it far simpler to switch career paths.

Furthermore, if you want to look at the startup perspective, there's just no competition. I'm not sure I can explain how much being in a small physical bubble helps with that. If you want to work with small teams and dream about money and impact, then it's the place to be.

Not just that; the most venture capital money is mostly in Menlo Park with satellite offices in San Francisco. #3 is probably Manhattan.

Also, the money - once you take into account stock options or grants - is better.

But to just live and work normally? Yeah, fuck that shit. If/When I'm moving, it's to Chicago, Toronto, Boston and anyplace sane.

A lot of people start in Silicon Valley and then leave to more livable and affordable cities after a few years (Portland, Seattle, Austin, etc.) Housing is so much more affordable (a friend of mine built a bigger home for less than a third the cost of mine in Austin), childcare is more affordable (the Bay Area is 2-3X as expensive as the rest of the country), there's a better chance to get into a good school district ... the list of downsides to the area goes on and on.
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Re: Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby SolarpunkFan » 2017-02-13 07:05pm

phongn wrote:I lived in Hyde Park/Woodlawn and it was much cheaper than San Jose. It shouldn't be that much of a surprise: Chicago can be a reasonably affordable city, especially if you're willing to live outside the dense core.


Huh, didn't know that. I guess I need more people in my life (my current circle of people I know IRL doesn't extend much beyond the house I live in, and yes I am a basement dwelling loser). :lol:
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Re: Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby Ace Pace » 2017-02-14 01:08am

TheFeniX wrote:Austin also exists as it's own "bubble" in Texas. Austin natives operate on a different wavelength than other Texans, even those from cities like Dallas, San Antonio, or Houston. This is both good and bad in my experience.


That may be true but again, the magnitude of the bubble in SanFran is immense. You literally have to work hard at breaking through it. This is a huge upside to many people.

But yes, it's also amazing to live an engineers live in a non bubble city. You feel far wealthier and can afford to do far more things. Also moving from a place where you're top tier to someplace you're medium tier isn't always fun.
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Re: Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby phongn » 2017-02-14 01:02pm

Ace Pace wrote:
TheFeniX wrote:Austin also exists as it's own "bubble" in Texas. Austin natives operate on a different wavelength than other Texans, even those from cities like Dallas, San Antonio, or Houston. This is both good and bad in my experience.


That may be true but again, the magnitude of the bubble in SanFran is immense. You literally have to work hard at breaking through it. This is a huge upside to many people.

That bubble is enraging to people who are raised outside of it and don't inherently believe in its values. It's riding Moore's Law to the bitter end and assuming that it's the natural state of things. The Bubble™'s answer to "only tech workers can afford housing" is "everyone should become a tech worker". Etc.

But yes, it's also amazing to live an engineers live in a non bubble city. You feel far wealthier and can afford to do far more things. Also moving from a place where you're top tier to someplace you're medium tier isn't always fun.

Depending on how hard and well you work, moving into the Silicon Valley bubble can reap huge rewards. It might push you harder, and then if you're lucky you can head out after a few years and maintain your Silicon Valley salary.
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Re: Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby phongn » 2017-02-14 01:35pm

SolarpunkFan wrote:Huh, didn't know that. I guess I need more people in my life (my current circle of people I know IRL doesn't extend much beyond the house I live in, and yes I am a basement dwelling loser). :lol:

You live in one of the great cities of America where there's cheap public transit. You have no excuse to get out.
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Re: Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby Starglider » 2017-02-15 11:36am

The more general problem is that the median household income for the Bay Area is ~30% higher than the US average (65K vs 50K), but the median living cost is ~50% higher. That is a major squeeze on all the non-tech roles vital for a metropolitan area to function.
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Re: Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2017-02-15 04:47pm

The solution is obviously to fill in part of San Francisco Bay
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Re: Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby SolarpunkFan » 2017-02-15 09:31pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:The solution is obviously to fill in part of San Francisco Bay


Is that a parody of the NIMBYs who don't want apartment buildings? My online joke/sarcasm detector is shit. :?
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Re: Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby Starglider » 2017-02-16 03:51am

Back in the first half of the 20th century, the attitude was much more 'civilisation will conquer nature and transform it into something more convenient'. Currently you only really see this in Dubai. Although I think the 80s Japan cyberpunk version would be more appropriate for SF;

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Re: Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby Zaune » 2017-02-16 06:44am

SolarpunkFan wrote:Is that a parody of the NIMBYs who don't want apartment buildings? My online joke/sarcasm detector is shit. :?

I can't comment on Sea Skimmer's intentions, but that was a real proposal back in the 50s that got as far as a detailed feasibility study before being abandoned as impractical. Here, have a Tom Scott video about it:
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Re: Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2017-02-16 04:03pm

Yeah was impracticable because of its bonus amazing plan to create more freshwater, and those western fills were for naval bases and might or might not make sense for new residences. The main problems came from those freshwater diversion dams, not enough freshwater to divert, and wave suppression action of the bay would be nerfed, that's the storm risk issue that video mentions.

But nothing would stop large scale fills with a better understanding of the engineering, and while the big deal in San Francisco is now restoring the tidal wetlands to cleanup the bay a lot of those wetlands have been created by mechanical dredge and fill operations in the first place! A lot of fill could take place while still expanding the wetland space, which in turn suppresses the flood surge problem. It'd be expensive, but even if the tech industry dispersed that whole area is still stuck in a big long term housing crunch.

Starglider wrote:Back in the first half of the 20th century, the attitude was much more 'civilisation will conquer nature and transform it into something more convenient'. Currently you only really see this in Dubai. Although I think the 80s Japan cyberpunk version would be more appropriate for SF;


China has moved way more material on projects like this, it's just other then that new Shanghai port project most of this work isn't blatantly obvious because its enormous hill-fill projects spread across central China. They do such massive areas and huge scales of industrial construction on top of them you can hardly tell it happened afterwards. Its like full time mountaintop removal mining, but just to mine level ground. A lot if it is totally pointless investment in the long term too, but gotta build something!

If dirt moving on this scale was engaged in around San Francisco all problems would go away until millions more people appeared, as they would. Maybe we could build apartment buildings on the former mountains so tall they could be shaped and painted to sort of look like glowing mountains.

A quick target survey of San Fan from the Google Earth reveals numerous targets for obliterating bulldozer action, and most of them not built on because they are too unstable anyway. What's the rock going to do, fight back by falling down faster?
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Re: Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby phongn » 2017-02-19 05:43pm

Starglider wrote:The more general problem is that the median household income for the Bay Area is ~30% higher than the US average (65K vs 50K), but the median living cost is ~50% higher. That is a major squeeze on all the non-tech roles vital for a metropolitan area to function.


NIMBYs and existing property owners are hell-bent on restricting development. Got to keep their property values up, you know.

Sea Skimmer wrote:The solution is obviously to fill in part of San Francisco Bay

I know you jest but they wouldn't even full in a tiny bit of the bay to fix SFO's runway configuration.
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Re: Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby Q99 » 2017-03-10 02:03pm

Let's also not forget: The weather in San Fran is fantastic.

I'd live there, if it wouldn't involve selling limbs to afford it.

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Re: Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby Block » 2017-03-10 03:53pm

Q99 wrote:Let's also not forget: The weather in San Fran is fantastic.

I'd live there, if it wouldn't involve selling limbs to afford it.

Um, it's awful unless you adore fog. The surrounding area has fantastic weather, SF proper is comparatively shitty.

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Re: Why software engineers should ditch Silicon Valley for Austin

Postby Tsyroc » 2017-03-11 11:44am

Q99 wrote:Let's also not forget: The weather in San Fran is fantastic.

I'd live there, if it wouldn't involve selling limbs to afford it.


I like the weather there too and it would be an awesome place to live if I could afford a place to live on my own in actual San Francisco.


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