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Old 10-01-2011, 02:03 PM
 
2 posts, read 5,378 times
Reputation: 16

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Quick question to the Angelenos,

I have a job offer to mull over - Los Angeles or Dallas. The annual pay will be over $200K, with a fairly steady increase towards $500K within about 5 years. The firm is national, so I don't need to worry about the lousy California economy in particular. My question is the following:

1. Could you really "live well" in LA on this cashflow?

2. Are the "exit options" in LA for non-entertainment business substantial, or will I just be leaving in five years anyways for a place like Dallas with a better economic climate?

3. Where would you chose to live and raise a family in the long term? Why?


I am an early-30s, Harvard educated married male with a young family, mostly know the East Coast as home, and my professional concerns revolve around continuing my executive track. I welcome all mature insights, and you can assume that things like surfing or attending "Burning Man" are not real value-adds for me (although I love the outdoors, and have lived in the Bay Area). Hope to hear your opinion soon!
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Old 10-01-2011, 02:52 PM
 
Location: Sometimes Portland, other times LA
600 posts, read 813,279 times
Reputation: 229
Depends on what you consider living well. Will you rent or buy? EVERYTHING is expensive in LA - housing, groceries, gas, utilities, etc. Rule of thumb when looking for a place to live is if you want safe, better schools and anything affordable the farther on the outskirts of LA county you will live. So you trade commute and closeness to city for more affordable living. If you want to stay within a decent commute of anything be prepared to pay for it. You can buy a shack for $6-700K or pay anywhere from $2000 and up in rent for a decent place. We live in Pasadena in a 3br, 2 ba SFH that is 1500 sq feet and pay almost $3000 a month. And Pasadena has pockets of bad neighborhoods and the schools are not great. We moved Our family here when my husband got a job transfer and are looking forward to another transfer because personally LA is not where I want my kids growing up and going to school. It seems like you work solely to pay bills/rent/mortgage. My husband has an excellent salary but living in such a HCOL city is just not worth it in my opinion
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Old 10-01-2011, 02:58 PM
 
Location: Arvada, CO
9,058 posts, read 12,091,047 times
Reputation: 6598
Have you been to both?

Go with which one you like better.
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Moderator for Los Angeles, The Inland Empire, the Washington state forums, & Co-Mod for the North Dakota forums
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Old 10-01-2011, 03:28 PM
 
1,876 posts, read 2,452,581 times
Reputation: 1420
I think you should ask colleagues in your professional field since we really don't have any idea as to your skills or education (besides Ivy League). Being a financial analyst is vastly different than a bankruptcy attorney.

But the short answer, is NO. You cannot live a life of privilege & luxury on $200k alone here in LA. You'll be comfortable and well off & never feel like you're counting pennies, but the cost of buying a home in the best areas (where crappy fixer uppers start at $1M) combined with private schooling will make you wish your wife was a doctor or banker.
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Old 10-01-2011, 11:34 PM
 
Location: SLC, UT, Ketchum, ID, Southern Cal.
3,162 posts, read 4,568,824 times
Reputation: 1529
Quote:
Originally Posted by smokingGun View Post
But the short answer, is NO. You cannot live a life of privilege & luxury on $200k alone here in LA. You'll be comfortable and well off & never feel like you're counting pennies, but the cost of buying a home in the best areas (where crappy fixer uppers start at $1M) combined with private schooling will make you wish your wife was a doctor or banker.
This.

$200k is plenty if you're single and not over extending yourself. Married, with kids? $200k gets eaten up quick.
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Old 10-02-2011, 06:23 PM
 
Location: Santa Monica, CA
1,291 posts, read 1,429,003 times
Reputation: 539
Yes, but with an income rising to $500k within 5 years you can live very well even supporting a family in LA. I don't know anybody who knows what their income will be in 5 years BTW.
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Old 10-02-2011, 09:11 PM
 
8,234 posts, read 11,132,901 times
Reputation: 5682
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunbar42 View Post
Yes, but with an income rising to $500k within 5 years you can live very well even supporting a family in LA. I don't know anybody who knows what their income will be in 5 years BTW.
Quite a few industries are on pay scales- teachers and public servants on the lower end and big law firm attorneys on the high end. For example:

This link is 2 years old, but is indicative of the pay scales posted on this law blog all the time->
Associate Bonus Watch: Weil Pays ‘Distinguished’ BonusesSome senior associates will get $50K bonuses. Above the Law: A Legal Web Site
This particular big law firm pays the following:
1st year out of law school: $170k
2nd year: $185k
3rd year: $210k
4th year: $230k
5th year: $250k
6th year: $265k
7th year: $280k
8th year: $290k
Partners making significantly higher salaries and may also share profits, pushing their potential salaries into the millions.
So it would be entirely possible for a 2nd year attorney to know in 5 years he'll be making at least $100k more than today (provided he stays with law firm or at least within "big law" firms and doesn't screw up.) If he were a 5th year and knew he was slated to make partner in 2 years, it wouldn't be crazy for him to realistically ballpark a raise in the couple-hundred thousand range for 5years out.

Here's a teacher's salary scale from a TX district:
http://www.risd.org/Group/Employment...cherSalary.pdf
A 1st year teacher could expect around an $800 raise for his/her second year and a $300 raise each year for the next few years.

So yeah, not typical for most jobs, but very typical in certain industries or pockets of industries.
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Old 10-02-2011, 09:11 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles, CA
214 posts, read 242,023 times
Reputation: 230
Anybody that tells you that you cant live a pretty damn good life on 200k anywhere, is delusional. Debt and family are huge factors, but all things held constant 200k is plenty.

I make 60k with no debt and no family and I have plenty of extra money, so 200k with even with a family or a bit of debt should be fine.

Of course there are various levels of luxury, but provided you don't consider penthouse living as the bare minimum you will do fine.
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Old 10-03-2011, 09:08 PM
 
Location: Pasadena
1,285 posts, read 1,835,040 times
Reputation: 1207
At 200k with a path to ~500k I'd choose LA.

Yes, Dallas is cheaper and your standard of living will be higher in Texas. But there comes a point where I would choose LA lifestyle over Dallas lifestyle if money is no object. You aren't there with 200k, but you're pretty close with 500k and if you are asking this question you obviously aren't purely looking at economics.

That said, if you are something like a Doctor with a 400k in student loan debt and a wife who isn't working, you will be middle class in LA. And you will be more than middle class in Dallas. But if you are making 200k with a working wife who produces some income and you have low debt levels, you are certainly upper middle class in both cities. Obviously (if) you hit 500k a lot of these issues go away. But what your probability of hitting that salary in LA or Dallas is up to you to figure out.

However, there is so much "money can't buy" that exists in LA (beaches, climate, fresh produce, megacity amenities) that does not exist in Dallas.

Best of luck to you. A lot of it comes down to your values in life and depending what they are one city or another will be a better fit for you.
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Old 10-03-2011, 09:27 PM
 
Location: Whittier
2,096 posts, read 2,332,022 times
Reputation: 1526
Quote:
Originally Posted by hockfan86 View Post
Anybody that tells you that you cant live a pretty damn good life on 200k anywhere, is delusional. Debt and family are huge factors, but all things held constant 200k is plenty.

I make 60k with no debt and no family and I have plenty of extra money, so 200k with even with a family or a bit of debt should be fine.

Of course there are various levels of luxury, but provided you don't consider penthouse living as the bare minimum you will do fine.
This.

But people who make this much usually are working 60+ hours a week anyway.
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