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Old 09-19-2016, 09:09 AM
 
19 posts, read 21,902 times
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Posted this in the L.A forum as well, but figured I would check here to see what you guys thought.

Lived in the san Fernando valley when I was younger but have now been in Austin for several years. I ended up moving out here for work and have since started a family.

We are potentially looking to move back to CA, and I was curious what y'all think would be a reasonable salary in order to live comfortably in the San Diego area? 90k, 100k, 120k? I work in tech, so those salaries aren't unimaginable, however I am wondering if that amount will buy a decent life for a family of four.

By decent I mean at some point potentially being able to own a home in a neighborhood with decent schools (with a large down payment I assume), ability to still contribute to 401k, IRA, etc and able to go out on family outings without having to worry about how to pay the mortgage next month. Thanks for the replies.
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Old 09-19-2016, 10:02 AM
 
Location: La Mesa Aka The Table
8,404 posts, read 9,070,321 times
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The more the better.
120k would the best imo
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Old 09-19-2016, 10:31 AM
4SR
 
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I think it comes down to what you see as a "nice" neighborhood and "home." Another huge factor is where you're going to work. A lot of the tech jobs are in North County/Sorrento Valley so that nixes a lot of the good south county neighborhoods unless you're willing to commute or can work from home. If you want a short commute, single family home and are working in the North County Area, you'll be looking at a home starting at 700K. So a salary of 200K is a baseline to live comfortably.
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Old 09-19-2016, 10:42 AM
 
321 posts, read 267,122 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baddabigboom View Post
By decent I mean at some point potentially being able to own a home in a neighborhood with decent schools (with a large down payment I assume), ability to still contribute to 401k, IRA, etc and able to go out on family outings without having to worry about how to pay the mortgage next month. Thanks for the replies.
Decent is very subjective. Depending on the neighborhood you could be looking at 500k or 1.5M for a similar sized house.

The way to work this out is by figuring out your housing and taxes. Housing you can find online information about prices / school districts. Taxes in CA are pretty straightforward just make sure to include property (1.25% of purchase price), state+fed, payroll, and mortgage interest deduction. You can just take last year's version of turbo tax and input the numbers. Other costs aren't particularly higher in CA (except for service labor such as daycare).

I'm a DINK but personally I wouldn't try to raise a family of 4 here unless household income was ~200k at least. However many people do it on less so it depends on "decent" and what are your priorities.

Just to give you an example of what you can expect, I have a relative in tech living in Rancho Pensaquitos. I pretty sure he values education highly so selected a decent school district. Houses there listed for sale are around 800k median. He says his commute is pretty good (works near UCSD) and I think it's under 30min.
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Old 09-19-2016, 11:03 AM
 
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Having said that, as others pointed out, "decent" is very subjective. If education is important to you, you'll be competing with a lot of other DINKs and dual-earner families for homes in the areas with good schools. Personally speaking, I'd agree with others who said $200K is the starting point.

Keep in mind that it's relatively easy to end up near retirement as house rich but cash poor. If you end up diverting more of your income to a home (instead of 401k/etc) and homes appreciate over the long run like they have in the past, you may have a similar net worth to if you had stayed in Austin or somewhere else more affordable. But a lot more of your wealth will be tied up in the SoCal house, potentially leaving you with having to sell it to realize the gains and spend your retirement somewhere less expensive.

As someone else suggested, take a quick look at places that meet your major requirements to get a realistic price. Then plug that into your budget making sure to include 1% for maintenance and 1-1.35% for real estate taxes, plus $4-5K/yr in CA State income taxes (assuming you pay $0 in TX).

If low $100's works, I think your next priority is your job situation. Unless your current employer has remote-work options and your current salary is $100K+, I would focus all your energy on getting a job offer in San Diego (or LA -- same general thing) for that amount. It seems like a lot of people just assume they can break into SD at their current (or higher) pay and are often then disappointed.

Last edited by someguy10; 09-19-2016 at 11:16 AM..
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Old 09-19-2016, 11:05 AM
 
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When I had a family in 1960 I was making 5000 a year and we lived comfortable. You just have to find housing affordable for your budget. This was in the Bay Area which is even more expensive than San Diego.
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Old 09-19-2016, 11:08 AM
 
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Obviously, the first and most important task is to find a job here. I would never recommend moving a family without lining up a job before the move. But, let's assume that your salary here will be in the $90 - $120 K range, as you indicated.

I personally know families with two kids who are living happily in San Diego County on $90-$120K. It is totally doable, as long as you are realistic about housing and open minded about location, home size, condition, and commute distance.

However, many of those families are overlooking or not fully able to plan for two long term items: retirement and college savings. So, before you even think about moving, I'd suggest you take a hard look at those two issues: where your retirement savings and college savings for your children are right now. If you're going to be cutting things so close to the edge that you can't save anything for retirement or college costs for your kids, you might want to rethink your plan for moving to California OR make sure you earn enough of a boost in salary with the move to cover those items.

Putting that sort of long term planning aside, sure, there are plenty of $700k+ homes for sale in San Diego County, but the median price for a single family home is currently hovering just over $500K. So, if you are open minded about location, size/condition, commute distance, and schools, and maybe willing to look at townhomes instead of single family homes, you can find a comfortable place to live here without shelling out 3/4 of a million.

A big issue of course is whether you plan to rent or buy. If you plan to buy, the second issue is how much you can put towards a downpayment to keep your monthly housing costs low. A $500K home if you can only put down a 10% downpayment, a mortgage may not be doable on a salary of $90K. Would you be happy renting long term? Only you and your spouse can answer that question.

As for schools, sure there are some school districts where every school has great test scores, but the truth is there are GREAT schools in many different parts of the county, not just in the "top" school districts. You do have to do your research on schools, but your kids won't automatically be condemned to failure if you don't end up in the "top" (read: expensive) districts. There are plenty of family-friendly areas in San Diego County where you can find rentals and homes to buy that aren't in the million dollar range and still have your kids in a great school.

My bottomline advice: Put some feelers out and do some research on salaries here for your area of expertise. Take stock of where you stand with retirement and college savings, and how they may both be affected by such a move. Then, do your research on ALL areas of San Diego County, not just a few, before making your final decision. Think carefully about what you will be willing to compromise on to live here -- almost every middle class family in San Diego has to make compromises to make it all work, so be sure you and your spouse are on the same page with those compromises.

You may also find this thread helpful. In it, locals who live in different parts of the county have described the pluses and minuses of their areas. It is a good introduction to San Diego County, although it doesn't cover every single family friendly part of the county:

What do you like about where you live in SD County?



Good luck with your decision.

Last edited by RosieSD; 09-19-2016 at 11:37 AM..
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Old 09-19-2016, 01:09 PM
 
2,854 posts, read 2,381,260 times
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$200K+ to support a family here, and enjoy all that SD has to offer.

And even with that salary, you better bring a large chunk with you for down payment if you want to buy a house.
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Old 09-19-2016, 04:27 PM
 
8,496 posts, read 27,477,354 times
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150k minimum to fund a retirement and childcare, education expenses at a middle class level

200k+ to live anything resembling an upper middle class lifestyle

Middle class defined as home owner, 2 vehicles in good repair, funded retirement, good healthcare access, can afford family vacations, etc. Upper middle class is same but with more discretionary spending ability.

Assuming the family is not independently wealthy, didn't inherit significant cash or home equity, taxes and housing costs are the big problems for most families in CA.

Many people on this forum will tell you they know a family of 4 living just fine on 80k, but have no idea how they got there or what their financial situation looks like.

Last edited by NYSD1995; 09-19-2016 at 04:37 PM..
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Old 09-19-2016, 06:37 PM
 
14 posts, read 27,875 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sassberto View Post
150k minimum to fund a retirement and childcare, education expenses at a middle class level

200k+ to live anything resembling an upper middle class lifestyle

Middle class defined as home owner, 2 vehicles in good repair, funded retirement, good healthcare access, can afford family vacations, etc. Upper middle class is same but with more discretionary spending ability.

Assuming the family is not independently wealthy, didn't inherit significant cash or home equity, taxes and housing costs are the big problems for most families in CA.

Many people on this forum will tell you they know a family of 4 living just fine on 80k, but have no idea how they got there or what their financial situation looks like.
100% agree.
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