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Old 05-16-2013, 12:50 AM
 
Location: Mountain View, CA
1,152 posts, read 2,977,818 times
Reputation: 1061

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As others have said, averages are a dangerous thing. IF you are in tech though, my general take is this:

Bay Area means you will have a crappier home but more spending money.

What do I mean by that? Well, with COL here, the home prices are the elephant in the room. Everything else, while a bit more expensive, doesn't really add up to much. Rent / home price is the killer. So what I see a lot of is people having lots of cool stuff, being able to travel, and having a nice car, but living in what people from other areas would consider a "crappy" place - some kind of average apartment. Whereas someone in, say, Ohio, may only make 60K and have a 4br house, but not really have money for traveling, cars, and such (since that costs the same wherever you live).

So, long story short, assuming you are in tech - my assumption would be you'd have more "free money" with a good job in the Bay Area than you do in LA, but perhaps have to lower your housing standard a bit. For me as a single person, that's a good tradeoff overall - I don't need a big place anyway! Folks with families and such might make a very different choice though .
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Old 05-16-2013, 01:01 AM
 
28,877 posts, read 31,545,527 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Azmordean View Post
What do I mean by that? Well, with COL here, the home prices are the elephant in the room. Everything else, while a bit more expensive, doesn't really add up to much. Rent / home price is the killer. So what I see a lot of is people having lots of cool stuff, being able to travel, and having a nice car, but living in what people from other areas would consider a "crappy" place - some kind of average apartment. Whereas someone in, say, Ohio, may only make 60K and have a 4br house, but not really have money for traveling, cars, and such (since that costs the same wherever you live)
You are describing my life here . I'm not in tech, but I lived a version of this life. I traveled outside the U.S. on 4 big trips over a 10 year period in addition to trips inside the U.S. But for much of that time I was renting a room. When I upgraded to my own studio apartment, the traveling was cut way back.

Bottom line is you really do have to make some major concessions in terms of housing to make the Bay Area work, and that's true for all but the very highest income levels.
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Old 05-16-2013, 01:28 AM
 
Location: Mountain View, CA
1,152 posts, read 2,977,818 times
Reputation: 1061
Yeah I hear you haha, it is my life as we speak to some extent. Luckily it wasn't a huge downgrade for me because my salary went up so much - but basically I traded a 2br 2ba (dual master style) condo I own, nicely remodeled, for a nicely located but relatively average 2br 1ba apartment.

That said, I'm saving WAY more in my retirement fund, and am able to travel more and pretty much not have to watch the budget too closely. As a single guy it's a good tradeoff - I don't NEED or even WANT a huge place.

The only thing that gets me down is I just don't see a path to home ownership for me here - even a crappy condo. I'm OK renting for now, but I'd like to be able to consider buying if I decide in a year or two to make my adventure here long term. I don't see that happening though - the down payment alone on a 500K+ place is basically an impossibility. And the prices rise faster than I can save money. So that alone may eventually push me out of this area. Of course, I probably haven't lived here long enough for the shock to wear off - my response to a lot of listings I see is "that piece of crap? they can take that price and shove it up their a**".... then someone buys it 3 days later .

But yeah, for that reason alone, I may try to leave the area in a few years. I don't want to be a lifetime renter.
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Old 05-16-2013, 11:53 AM
 
189 posts, read 331,675 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Azmordean View Post
Yeah I hear you haha, it is my life as we speak to some extent. Luckily it wasn't a huge downgrade for me because my salary went up so much - but basically I traded a 2br 2ba (dual master style) condo I own, nicely remodeled, for a nicely located but relatively average 2br 1ba apartment.

That said, I'm saving WAY more in my retirement fund, and am able to travel more and pretty much not have to watch the budget too closely. As a single guy it's a good tradeoff - I don't NEED or even WANT a huge place.

The only thing that gets me down is I just don't see a path to home ownership for me here - even a crappy condo. I'm OK renting for now, but I'd like to be able to consider buying if I decide in a year or two to make my adventure here long term. I don't see that happening though - the down payment alone on a 500K+ place is basically an impossibility. And the prices rise faster than I can save money. So that alone may eventually push me out of this area. Of course, I probably haven't lived here long enough for the shock to wear off - my response to a lot of listings I see is "that piece of crap? they can take that price and shove it up their a**".... then someone buys it 3 days later .

But yeah, for that reason alone, I may try to leave the area in a few years. I don't want to be a lifetime renter.
Yeah leave the area and go where though? Portland? Seattle?
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Old 05-16-2013, 03:11 PM
 
Location: Mountain View, CA
1,152 posts, read 2,977,818 times
Reputation: 1061
Quote:
Originally Posted by gaijin_samurai View Post
Yeah leave the area and go where though? Portland? Seattle?
If I leave at some point, I would probably return to the east coast since that is where my roots are. DC, maybe Boston. It's all conjecture at this point. For the time being I'm here for career reasons and enjoying it! Maybe the housing situation will sort itself out at some point and I'll be able to stay long term - who knows, anything can happen!
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Old 05-18-2013, 02:01 AM
 
28,877 posts, read 31,545,527 times
Reputation: 30123
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azmordean View Post
The only thing that gets me down is I just don't see a path to home ownership for me here - even a crappy condo. I'm OK renting for now, but I'd like to be able to consider buying if I decide in a year or two to make my adventure here long term. I don't see that happening though - the down payment alone on a 500K+ place is basically an impossibility. And the prices rise faster than I can save money. So that alone may eventually push me out of this area. Of course, I probably haven't lived here long enough for the shock to wear off - my response to a lot of listings I see is "that piece of crap? they can take that price and shove it up their a**".... then someone buys it 3 days later .
Your assessment of the housing situation here is correct. Do not expect it to change. It won't. It hasn't in the 16+ years I've lived here. Rents and home prices can occasionally take a slight dip from stratospheric to mere rip off levels, but this only happens when unemployment is approaching double digits (in which case you may be out of work, too!). Bottom line is it usually takes not one, but two professional level incomes to afford a very ordinary single family home here...and probably one in San Jose or Santa Clara, not Mountain View/Palo Alto (unless you don't mind being house poor, of course, and there are many high income folks here who are...Not a good way to live, IMO).

Of course, if you're in tech, you may be forgoing career opportunities if you leave. But if you want to get married and have kids and you want to be able to afford at least a half decent 3BR tract house without paying someone else to raise your kids (because you and your wife are working all the time), then you should seriously consider leaving. Tough trade off. I know. If you want to stay single or don't want kids, then you have more options because you can skimp on housing.
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