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Old 05-30-2013, 10:49 AM
 
3 posts, read 5,343 times
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Hi all!

I've finished my PhD at an Ivy League university, and (after a short postdoc in a so so university) am moving to Stanford for a (non-tenure track) assistant professorship. My wife and I are completely clueless when it comes to this move, since we've only ever lived in the East Coast.

I was wondering if I could probe your collective minds about some things:

1. Currently our bank is PNC. Should we create a bank account using a bank that is more prevalent in the Bay Area? Is PNC basically non-existent is California? Which banks are prevalent there?

2. My wife will finish her PhD in the coming year, while living with me at Stanford. Ideally, she would like to leave academia and get an industry job. (She did her Bachelor(ette?)'s degree in Computer Science, but she is now doing data-management-heavy research in the humanities, which revolves around doing experiments.) How difficult would you think it would be for her to get a high-tech job at Silicon Valley? Is there any way to prepare for such a transition? Is it generally very difficult to get *any* job in Silicon Valley unless you're an MBA or an engineer? Or is it just a matter of time, since there are so many potential employers there?

3. We're going to be a little short on cash this coming year. (I will be payed around $70,000 a year, and she has just finished her last year of PhD funding.) I'm trying to understand how costly life is there? Are groceries more expensive in California than in the East Coast? Is $70,000 enough to live on for two people for a year? (Remember that we were both graduate students recently, so we lived on a collective $45,000 a year in the East Coast. But since California is more expensive, I'm not sure how that translates.)

4. Is it reasonable to find a one bedroom somewhere in the Bay Area (say, Mountain View) near the train at less than $1500 a month? Currently the plan is to take Stanford's faculty housing, which will cost us about $1850 a month (not including electricity or water), which is pretty expensive for us. Are there good deals out there, or should we just cave and take the faculty housing?

5. We are thinking about having a baby soon. I assume that employers are much less likely to accept a pregnant woman... Are they much less likely to accept a woman with a toddler? Would my wife be expected to say that she has a child upfront? If you have any advice in this direction, we are completely clueless, so it would be very welcome!

If you can answer just some of my questions I would be grateful.

Thanks,
the eternal postdoc.
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Old 05-30-2013, 11:48 AM
 
Location: Eureka CA
9,519 posts, read 13,250,177 times
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I can only offer the following: Congratulations! first. Second, I don't know what PNC is but you will be eligible to join the Stanford Credit Union, CU's are always a better deal than banks. Third, since you don't mention where on the East Coast you are, I don't know how relevant this is, but when I travel to see my folks in Jacksonville FL I am always shocked at the price of groceries. Also comparing life on campus where you can easily bike to wherever you're going , to commuting by car to Mountain View or somewhere- well it would be a no-brainer for me, but everyone's different. I would think bonding with your colleagues would be especially important during this time. Enjoy your time at Stanford! You'll love it.
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Old 05-30-2013, 11:58 AM
 
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Right now we don't live in Philadelphia because of my short postdoc, but that's where we used to live. We met when we were both grad students at the University of Pennsylvania.

When you say you are shocked at the price of vegetables, do you mean that they are much more expensive in Florida compared to California or vice versa?

Mountain View is only 15 minutes by car, according to google. I was told that there is going to be a lot traffic, so I guess it's a bit of hassle. Isn't it pretty bearable if I use the train, though?

Last edited by The eternal postdoc; 05-30-2013 at 12:19 PM..
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Old 05-30-2013, 12:21 PM
 
370 posts, read 807,669 times
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see answers below:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The eternal postdoc View Post
Hi all!

I've finished my PhD at an Ivy League university, and (after a short postdoc in a so so university) am moving to Stanford for a (non-tenure track) assistant professorship. My wife and I are completely clueless when it comes to this move, since we've only ever lived in the East Coast.

I was wondering if I could probe your collective minds about some things:

1. Currently our bank is PNC. Should we create a bank account using a bank that is more prevalent in the Bay Area? Is PNC basically non-existent is California? Which banks are prevalent there?

Not many PNC down here. Minor problem and easily solved.

2. My wife will finish her PhD in the coming year, while living with me at Stanford. Ideally, she would like to leave academia and get an industry job. (She did her Bachelor(ette?)'s degree in Computer Science, but she is now doing data-management-heavy research in the humanities, which revolves around doing experiments.) How difficult would you think it would be for her to get a high-tech job at Silicon Valley? Is there any way to prepare for such a transition? Is it generally very difficult to get *any* job in Silicon Valley unless you're an MBA or an engineer? Or is it just a matter of time, since there are so many potential employers there?

Hard to say but sounds like she will be employable down here given her background.Again your question is vague so its hard to say but sounds fine.

3. We're going to be a little short on cash this coming year. (I will be payed around $70,000 a year, and she has just finished her last year of PhD funding.) I'm trying to understand how costly life is there? Are groceries more expensive in California than in the East Coast? Is $70,000 enough to live on for two people for a year? (Remember that we were both graduate students recently, so we lived on a collective $45,000 a year in the East Coast. But since California is more expensive, I'm not sure how that translates.)

$70K is not alot of money here. For a year its doable especially if you are used to living like students. Long term you will just be scraping by if your take home is $6k per month gross and you are the breadwinner. I would worry more about rent eating into your costs than groceries.

4. Is it reasonable to find a one bedroom somewhere in the Bay Area (say, Mountain View) near the train at less than $1500 a month? Currently the plan is to take Stanford's faculty housing, which will cost us about $1850 a month (not including electricity or water), which is pretty expensive for us. Are there good deals out there, or should we just cave and take the faculty housing?

Stanford is going to be the cheapest and least hassle deal around. I would take it and look for a better deal later. Rents are not heading down any time soon around on the Peninsula.

5. We are thinking about having a baby soon. I assume that employers are much less likely to accept a pregnant woman... Are they much less likely to accept a woman with a toddler? Would my wife be expected to say that she has a child upfront? If you have any advice in this direction, we are completely clueless, so it would be very welcome!

Question isnt any different here than any big city - you probably know the answer.. Given the fact you make only $70k per year on a non tenure track position is the biggest issue to me. You will be scraping by if you are the breadwinner and you have a wife and kid and want to pay for childcare..

If you can answer just some of my questions I would be grateful.

Thanks,
the eternal postdoc.
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Old 05-30-2013, 01:27 PM
 
Location: Northern California
3,702 posts, read 13,993,719 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The eternal postdoc View Post
Mountain View is only 15 minutes by car, according to google. I was told that there is going to be a lot traffic, so I guess it's a bit of hassle. Isn't it pretty bearable if I use the train, though?
Mountain View is nice and rent is a bit cheaper than living in Palo Alto. Sure, traffic can be bad sometimes, especially in the morning and afternoon. Nothing you can do about that.

There is a commuter train between San Francisco and San Jose with stops at all towns in between. System Map. Living in any of the nearby towns near a Caltrain station would work.

Stanford has its own free shuttle around campus, called Marguerite, that picks up people at the Palo Alto Caltrain station. http://transportation.stanford.edu/marguerite
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Old 05-30-2013, 05:19 PM
 
Location: Eureka CA
9,519 posts, read 13,250,177 times
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Sorry for the unclarity. I was surprised that groceries were so expensive in Florida considering how cheap housing, gas etc is compared to California. Farmers markets in FL are actually cheaper than grocery stores whereas in California ( hereabouts anyway) they're more expensive and tend toward heirloom tomatoes and boutiquey stuff. There's a COSTCO in either PA or MV; you'll want to join up. Usually the cheapest place for gas.
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Old 05-30-2013, 05:27 PM
 
Location: San Jose, CA
7,688 posts, read 27,592,169 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eureka1 View Post
Sorry for the unclarity. I was surprised that groceries were so expensive in Florida considering how cheap housing, gas etc is compared to California. Farmers markets in FL are actually cheaper than grocery stores whereas in California ( hereabouts anyway) they're more expensive and tend toward heirloom tomatoes and boutiquey stuff. There's a COSTCO in either PA or MV; you'll want to join up. Usually the cheapest place for gas.
I don't think the Costco in MV has a gas station. It definitely tends to be expensive in that area; I always try to fill up in San Jose so that I don't get gouged, but every once in a while I wind up filling up in Belmont or Redwood City and it hurts.
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Old 05-30-2013, 08:43 PM
 
Location: South Korea
5,242 posts, read 12,367,045 times
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Raising a kid on 70k in Silicon Valley would be miserable.
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Old 05-30-2013, 09:48 PM
 
Location: San Jose, CA
1,318 posts, read 3,360,438 times
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1. The most prevalent banks are Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and then Chase.

2. I couldn't understand your questions, the environment right now is very favorable for those in high tech, companies are competing with each other for talent. The other jobs are tougher to get. I am not sure what your wife's role would be when looking for a job.

3. This is tough to answer as well, we have no idea where you lived before this, cost of living is very different at say Philadelphia or Boston vs Ithaca. I would say you can split the rent on a 1bd on 70k.

4. I think $1500/mo would be tough to find in Mountain View these days, you will probably have to go to Sunnyvale, if not further south. Depending on how far it is the faculty housing would be a better choice since most likely would minimize both your commutes.

5. Employers don't ask about your family situation, I believe it might be illegal, so no they don't discriminate against a woman with a toddler, but if you or her are constantly leaving the office to pick him/her up from day care or other such things, it can affect career progress. Tech jobs tends to be male dominated, and practically everyone in entry level positions is early to mid twenties, so it is not unheard of that they put in long hours, especially as deadlines near.
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Old 05-30-2013, 11:18 PM
 
75 posts, read 115,804 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The eternal postdoc View Post
Is $70,000 enough to live on for two people for a year?


Yes, but only for a year... living that much below the median income for the area (105k for family, 85k for a household) is not a sustainable situation...I live 10k below the median income in alameda county with a SAHM and a 3yr old... we get by but there's no traction..

It's sort of like living off government benefits, it'll put food on the table and a roof over your head, but you don't want to be living your life like this.

Take the faculty housing if you can get it. Orient yourself with the neighborhoods and area.. it will be a culture shock (particularly if you're coming from PSU-University Park (i did my grad studies here) or Pittsburgh) ..

Personally, you've been in academia too long.. with a PhD and some postdoc experience you're settling for a non-tenure track assistant professorship? Will this lead to to a 100-120K income within 3-5 years?

IF you truly desire to 'teach', there's no problem with that, but you can do it somewhere else in the country and live a much happier life.. where the COL is not so high.
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