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LegendInzi
30th August 2017, 13:28
So, I completed my Masters from a top university here in Germany and got job at one of the big name companies here. I thought I was getting paid very well.

Until I learnt about my friends who completed their Masters from US and their starting salaries are around ~130k USD. Now that is almost twice as much I make. Most of them are living in cities such as San Jose, San Francisco, San Diego etc and working for companies like Nvidia, Qualcomm, Intel and such.

Now, I know that money is not everything and costs of living can vary a lot. But surely one can look to save up a lot and live 'upper-class' lifestyle even in America.

Are any PP'ers working in Silicon valley? How would you rate your quality of life there and satisfaction with your earnings? I think Nostalgic mentioned he works in tech in US, it would be great if you could share how's it been living so many years there at such pay scale.

bones
30th August 2017, 13:35
First think I looked for is property costs in that region of the US and on average it's higher than any other area of USA, including the capital and NY.

So as much as they earn, a lot of it is probably going straight to rent/mortgages.

bones
30th August 2017, 13:37
Business insider has an article, do a search on the net, but they're saying $120k isn't actually all that. It's average and will give you an average lifestyle.

maxamax
30th August 2017, 14:15
I've studied couple of researches that were made to build dual-core CPUs/GPUs, they deserved it.

zimmz
30th August 2017, 14:39
As mentioned above by others living, traveling, health costs and family benefits, taxes are key factors when comparing salaries. Germany is not cheap and has high taxes but may offer better health and family benefits, job security, more off days etc. Geographic location is also important for someone who travel every year to home country (Pakistan).

Personally I prefer Germany over US for factors listed above and so far satisfied living here except the ridiculous foreign office policies (with regard to visas).

Varun
30th August 2017, 14:39
Every second guy from Bangalore heads there eventually. It's a rich part of the world.

Slog
30th August 2017, 14:42
$130k in San Fran is prolly $100k in any other city asides from NYC.

Im sure those cities are a lot more expensive than any German city

However its not surprising that a graduate from a top US uni will earn more than a graduate from a European uni

GBK_Fan
30th August 2017, 15:30
You will find it difficult to manage with 130k there. Apartment costs there are astronomical and you will find it difficult to rent a decent one below 2k. Add living and traveling costs, you are not really saving a lot. You should probably ask them how much they manage to save every month, should give you a better benchmark

GBK_Fan
30th August 2017, 15:31
As mentioned above by others living, traveling, health costs and family benefits, taxes are key factors when comparing salaries. Germany is not cheap and has high taxes but may offer better health and family benefits, job security, more off days etc. Geographic location is also important for someone who travel every year to home country (Pakistan).

Personally I prefer Germany over US for factors listed above and so far satisfied living here except the ridiculous foreign office policies (with regard to visas).

What German policies do you find ridiculous?

JaDed
30th August 2017, 15:43
$130k in San Fran is prolly $100k in any other city asides from NYC.

Im sure those cities are a lot more expensive than any German city

However its not surprising that a graduate from a top US uni will earn more than a graduate from a European uni

100 k is still more than 65k which is the half he is earning,which is what body shop guys from Indian IT companies with bachelor's get.
Hopefully the ceiling is higher.

GBK_Fan
30th August 2017, 16:11
100 k is still more than 65k which is the half he is earning,which is what body shop guys from Indian IT companies with bachelor's get.
Hopefully the ceiling is higher.

A body shop IT guy won't make 65k in Europe. He will probably be around the 40k mark.

Also the OP probably should not move without doing a realistic cost of living comparison. Moving for a 130k job does not make sense imho.

WhenSultansBowled
30th August 2017, 16:31
36000Euros in any EU country > 136.000USD in the USA.

In EU you get:
Cheap housing, healthcare, transportation and a reliable* social security system.

Can't say much about USA/Canada but from what I've read on internet these place are pretty expensive.

*Germany is the best place on earth in this regard IMHO.

jusarrived
30th August 2017, 16:34
One major factor you need to account is YoY salary growth . The salaries in US has not gone up by much in the last 15+ years and I dont expect that to go up much in the next 10 .
130K is a very good sal if you are single , even in places like NY imo . The only thing expensive is rent , rest everything it should be cheaper than Germany .

jusarrived
30th August 2017, 16:44
$130k in San Fran is prolly $100k in any other city asides from NYC.

Im sure those cities are a lot more expensive than any German city

However its not surprising that a graduate from a top US uni will earn more than a graduate from a European uni

This is my experience from short visits , Overall I found US to be the cheapest to any EU country on most accounts . Most of your basic necessities are as cheap as India in some cases .

WhenSultansBowled
30th August 2017, 18:10
This is my experience from short visits , Overall I found US to be the cheapest to any EU country on most accounts . Most of your basic necessities are as cheap as India in some cases .

Did you hit Aldi in Germany?
Monthly balanced food for 1 person: 100Euros
Transportation card for 1 month: 50Euros
Rent in a place near population: 300Euros
Other expenses: Depend on the person and lifestyle.

With a starting salary of 1650Euros you can live comfortably and save money.

(Spain is cheaper :yk )

GBK_Fan
30th August 2017, 18:16
Did you hit Aldi in Germany?
Monthly balanced food for 1 person: 100Euros
Transportation card for 1 month: 50Euros
Rent in a place near population: 300Euros
Other expenses: Depend on the person and lifestyle.

With a starting salary of 1650Euros you can live comfortably and save money.

(Spain is cheaper :yk )

Germany seems very cheap. You cannot survive on 1650 in London. I pay more on my rent

WhenSultansBowled
30th August 2017, 18:27
Germany seems very cheap. You cannot survive on 1650 in London. I pay more on my rent

Well, if you want to be in City Center and live la vida loca then you can spend 15.000Euros.

There are used stuff shops in Germany where you can brand new hispter stuff (clothes, used goods) for under 5Euros which in market might cost over 50Euros. All depends on mindset.

How much do you earn bruh? And what do you do for a living?

jusarrived
30th August 2017, 18:47
Did you hit Aldi in Germany?
Monthly balanced food for 1 person: 100Euros
Transportation card for 1 month: 50Euros
Rent in a place near population: 300Euros
Other expenses: Depend on the person and lifestyle.

With a starting salary of 1650Euros you can live comfortably and save money.

(Spain is cheaper :yk )

May be , a locals perspective would be different . In Germany I specifically speak off Hamburg , where I have spent most of my time .
I would be on company expenses so normally dont look for cheaper options for food/transport etc , but my expense reports for Germany has always been much higher than US . I seem to go out a lot more and explore in US and still end up with some savings even on short trips .

troodon
30th August 2017, 19:47
I have friends who work in Sanjose, Santa Clara and SFO.

I can tell you that if you want to be upper class (not rich), as a family you should be making close to 275k/per year.

If you are single, then 100k is minimum. That area is super expensive. Even a trashy 2 bedroom apartment's rent is $3000/month.

100k in Sanjose is like 60k in smaller cities. Everything is expensive there.

My former roommate bought a single family home. It is a 3 bed 2 bath home and the price is 1.1 million. Its not even in Sanjose. It is 25 miles from San Jose. The same house in Sanjose would cost over 1.7million.

As per OP, if he is making 75k in Sanjose, unless he intends to share his single bed apartment with 3 other dudes, he will not be saving much. 75k in Sanjose is like 35-40k in smaller cities. Its nothing.

The good news is, there are plenty of jobs. So OP can move to other companies and quickly get to around 120k with in 3 years.

sshakir411
30th August 2017, 20:04
Silicon valley is where the 1% lives, literally. I remember meeting some employees from fb who were making $130k and still unable to afford an entire apartment in Palo Alto. A small bedroom with shared bathroom runs around $2-$3k a month.

Sucks even more since Palo Alto is right next to Mountain View which is equally expensive. Most employees at fb, google, Oracle live in downtown San Fransisco and use the shuttle service to get to work...

sjahmed23
30th August 2017, 20:08
The place is very beautiful and exciting. Whenever I visit SF, I regret not taking technology career path and focusing more on comp science in my college days. Hopefully once I complete my masters I will have another shot at getting a job there working for one of the big 4s.

Nostalgic
30th August 2017, 20:09
Are any PP'ers working in Silicon valley? How would you rate your quality of life there and satisfaction with your earnings? I think Nostalgic mentioned he works in tech in US, it would be great if you could share how's it been living so many years there at such pay scale.

I do work in the tech sector. I graduated with an MS from a well-regarded school, ranked 15th nationally for its Computer Science/Engineering department. I've worked for two companies so far, at opposite ends of the size spectrum: the first had 20 employees, the current one about 15,000. I've lived in a college town (population about 40,000 including the students who all leave en masse for the summer), the suburbs of a major metro (4,000,000 people), and now a city you could label medium-sized (500,000 people).

Salaries vary wildly, and whenever I consider a job or interview for one, I use online sites that calculate what I need to make to be able to afford the same lifestyle. Other things to consider are the benefits: health insurance, stock options (including Restricted Stock Units, Employee Stock Purchase Plans etc), schools, commute times, and last but not the least, housing.

It's that last item, housing, that is the real deal-breaker when it comes to Silicon Valley. That $130k, once taxes have been deducted and bills paid for, leaves very little for you to play with when it comes to housing. One look at Zillow would dissuade any tech industry grunt with a family from moving to the Bay Area. If you have kids, you'll also have to seriously consider school rankings, and when you limit yourself to towns with good public, not private, schools, there isn't much in the Bay Area, if anything, that would remotely be affordable, at least if you don't plan on living in a trailer park, or driving many hours every day. The point being, the $130k is far more appealing on paper than it is in real life. To get the quality of life you can get elsewhere, you probably need to make several times that figure. I would never ever consider it, unless I were to somehow land a seven figure offer. That said, for a single person just starting out in the field, it is probably the right career move. It is the best place to lose a job, they say, and for someone who is likely to be on a work visa tied to them being employed, that is a valid concern. Big names on their resumes early on will open doors in the future. I'm past that stage now, but not everyone is.

As for whether I'm satisfied with the quality of life and my earnings, my answer would be a qualified yes. I make far above the national average and my net worth is well in excess of that average too, but then for the sort of hard work I've had to put in, there's always the feeling, justified or not I can't say, that I probably don't make enough. There's plenty of things I read about working in Europe that appeal to me, in particular the healthcare and university education. There's always the nagging feeling that no matter how comfortable my life is right now, once the kids are in University, what money I make is never going to be enough. The grass is always greener on the other side though.

I'll comment on other posters' answers too, which may help fill in any gaps on my initial stab at your question.

LegendInzi
31st August 2017, 01:44
Thanks a lot guys for your replies, in particular Nostalgic for that comprehensive and insightful view. I was thinking mostly along the life as a single, but apparently it's much more challenging in US to support a family, even with that kind of money.

kingusama92
31st August 2017, 02:07
Great pay but ridiculous living costs.

I have a friend who works in Silicon Valley making $100k+, but it's not enough in that area. The only reason they're doing okay is that both husband and wife make a combined $200k+.

Beautiful place to live but the high salaries are nothing more than an illusion.

troodon
31st August 2017, 02:34
Thanks a lot guys for your replies, in particular Nostalgic for that comprehensive and insightful view. I was thinking mostly along the life as a single, but apparently it's much more challenging in US to support a family, even with that kind of money.

If you want to support a family, 200k is bare minimum. Almost everyone works there. If wife is not doing IT job, she will be doing cooking, teaching, baby sitting, daycare etc.

Weather is wonderful and you get a feeling of home there. But unfortunately, that happiness is just an illusion if you do not make over 200k as a family.

LegCutter
31st August 2017, 02:55
If you want to support a family, 200k is bare minimum. Almost everyone works there. If wife is not doing IT job, she will be doing cooking, teaching, baby sitting, daycare etc.

Weather is wonderful and you get a feeling of home there. But unfortunately, that happiness is just an illusion if you do not make over 200k as a family.

Can confirm. I live in South California with a +200k salary; the taxes in California are really progressive and combine that with an insanely high cost of living, it will be a few years until I can buy a house (which are also ridiculously expensive) to support my wife and my elderly parents.
I really wish in hindsight I had moved to Texas or the south/midwest where a smaller paycheck can go a much longer way.

troodon
31st August 2017, 03:23
Can confirm. I live in South California with a +200k salary; the taxes in California are really progressive and combine that with an insanely high cost of living, it will be a few years until I can buy a house (which are also ridiculously expensive) to support my wife and my elderly parents.
I really wish in hindsight I had moved to Texas or the south/midwest where a smaller paycheck can go a much longer way.
You can still move if you have green card or if H1B is not an issue.

Third_Umpire
31st August 2017, 03:57
To live a comfortable life here in Silicon Valley, you need to make 150K+ (be able to afford rent for your own modest 1B apartment) as a single person or young married couple, and 400K+ as a family with kids (be able to afford a modest 2-3BR house/townhome).

The cost of housing here is astronomical and unlike anywhere else in the US. You can somewhat get around this by living 50-75 miles away from the valley, but the tradeoff is a 2-3 hour commute each way.

Yes it's a great area economically with some of the best companies in the world that pay high salaries, but most people would be much better off living in a cheaper part of the country making half the salary.

It's only worth moving to Silicon Valley if you have strong conviction that you'll build a product/service/business that you feel passionate and driven about. If you're looking to lay low and just work a job for the pay check, look elsewhere....plenty of other options. You could work for Google or Facebook living in Seattle, Austin, Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix, etc etc without all the affordability headache of the SV.

troodon
31st August 2017, 04:24
To live a comfortable life here in Silicon Valley, you need to make 150K+ (be able to afford rent for your own modest 1B apartment) as a single person or young married couple, and 400K+ as a family with kids (be able to afford a modest 2-3BR house/townhome).

The cost of housing here is astronomical and unlike anywhere else in the US. You can somewhat get around this by living 50-75 miles away from the valley, but the tradeoff is a 2-3 hour commute each way.

Yes it's a great area economically with some of the best companies in the world that pay high salaries, but most people would be much better off living in a cheaper part of the country making half the salary.

It's only worth moving to Silicon Valley if you have strong conviction that you'll build a product/service/business that you feel passionate and driven about. If you're looking to lay low and just work a job for the pay check, look elsewhere....plenty of other options. You could work for Google or Facebook living in Seattle, Austin, Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix, etc etc without all the affordability headache of the SV.

Great piece of advice.

notAgainPlease
31st August 2017, 09:46
In bay area for 10+ years ... Best place to make hella money and save if you are single. If you are good then you will make from 150-350K with 5 year expereince in software (NVDA iINTC QCOM pays at lower end as they are hardware). 1 bed room apt is from 2500-4K. But you could get a decent room for 1K in shared house.

Move here, save money , move out in 10 years and buy house anywhere in cash and still have lot of savings.

notAgainPlease
31st August 2017, 09:47
You will find it difficult to manage with 130k there. Apartment costs there are astronomical and you will find it difficult to rent a decent one below 2k. Add living and traveling costs, you are not really saving a lot. You should probably ask them how much they manage to save every month, should give you a better benchmark

Saved almost 70% of my salary after taxes ...

notAgainPlease
31st August 2017, 09:50
1 very pretty room with your own bathroom = 1200 (close to all tech companies, dont have to live in San Fran, and its 40 miles away anyway)
Small Car cost 500 (gas + lease + insurance)
Utilities 300 (phone + internet + electricty)
Food cost 500 (eating good, you could live in 200 as well if you watch out)

Total cost 2500 .. If you make 150K, you will end up paying 30% taxes (no more than that, could be less) ...

You could still save huge chunk of your salary ...

notAgainPlease
31st August 2017, 09:56
I do work in the tech sector. I graduated with an MS from a well-regarded school, ranked 15th nationally for its Computer Science/Engineering department. I've worked for two companies so far, at opposite ends of the size spectrum: the first had 20 employees, the current one about 15,000. I've lived in a college town (population about 40,000 including the students who all leave en masse for the summer), the suburbs of a major metro (4,000,000 people), and now a city you could label medium-sized (500,000 people).

Salaries vary wildly, and whenever I consider a job or interview for one, I use online sites that calculate what I need to make to be able to afford the same lifestyle. Other things to consider are the benefits: health insurance, stock options (including Restricted Stock Units, Employee Stock Purchase Plans etc), schools, commute times, and last but not the least, housing.

It's that last item, housing, that is the real deal-breaker when it comes to Silicon Valley. That $130k, once taxes have been deducted and bills paid for, leaves very little for you to play with when it comes to housing. One look at Zillow would dissuade any tech industry grunt with a family from moving to the Bay Area. If you have kids, you'll also have to seriously consider school rankings, and when you limit yourself to towns with good public, not private, schools, there isn't much in the Bay Area, if anything, that would remotely be affordable, at least if you don't plan on living in a trailer park, or driving many hours every day. The point being, the $130k is far more appealing on paper than it is in real life. To get the quality of life you can get elsewhere, you probably need to make several times that figure. I would never ever consider it, unless I were to somehow land a seven figure offer. That said, for a single person just starting out in the field, it is probably the right career move. It is the best place to lose a job, they say, and for someone who is likely to be on a work visa tied to them being employed, that is a valid concern. Big names on their resumes early on will open doors in the future. I'm past that stage now, but not everyone is.

As for whether I'm satisfied with the quality of life and my earnings, my answer would be a qualified yes. I make far above the national average and my net worth is well in excess of that average too, but then for the sort of hard work I've had to put in, there's always the feeling, justified or not I can't say, that I probably don't make enough. There's plenty of things I read about working in Europe that appeal to me, in particular the healthcare and university education. There's always the nagging feeling that no matter how comfortable my life is right now, once the kids are in University, what money I make is never going to be enough. The grass is always greener on the other side though.

I'll comment on other posters' answers too, which may help fill in any gaps on my initial stab at your question.

Assuming you have been working for 10+ years, you wont make 130k (thats a starting salary for a fresh grad), you would make around 300K in software. Bare minimum will be 225K unless you are total dud and/or not motivated

saeedhk
31st August 2017, 14:35
Many Americans with arts, humanities and science degrees are flocking to Hong Kong to teach English. From what I have heard from them, U.S. job market is terrible especially for fresh graduates.

One of teachers was telling me that he was paid peanuts while working as a teacher in the U.S. and now he makes three times more than what he was making in the U.S. Plus, there is almost no tax in Hong Kong.

USofA
31st August 2017, 17:32
Many Americans with arts, humanities and science degrees are flocking to Hong Kong to teach English. From what I have heard from them, U.S. job market is terrible especially for fresh graduates.

One of teachers was telling me that he was paid peanuts while working as a teacher in the U.S. and now he makes three times more than what he was making in the U.S. Plus, there is almost no tax in Hong Kong.

Actually the economy is booming. There are plenty of jobs. You just need the right qualifications. STEM qualifications are very much in demand. Especially the tech companies are always looking for good people.


The liberal arts majors though will have a tough time. They spend a lot of money getting degrees in things that are not in high demand. Which is why a lot of them are English teachers and in some cases they are baristas and such.

saeedhk
31st August 2017, 18:20
Actually the economy is booming. There are plenty of jobs. You just need the right qualifications. STEM qualifications are very much in demand. Especially the tech companies are always looking for good people.


The liberal arts majors though will have a tough time. They spend a lot of money getting degrees in things that are not in high demand. Which is why a lot of them are English teachers and in some cases they are baristas and such.

I know some Americans with arts degrees who were bus drivers and baristas in the U.S. but are making HK$45,000 - $50,000 per month under the Hong Kong government's 'Native-speaking English Teacher ' scheme. English teachers are in huge demand in Hong Kong.

USofA
31st August 2017, 18:31
I know some Americans with arts degrees who were bus drivers and baristas in the U.S. but are making HK$45,000 - $50,000 per month under the Hong Kong government's 'Native-speaking English Teacher ' scheme. English teachers are in huge demand in Hong Kong.

Yes, a lot of them are becoming English teachers. But they have to leave the country to get a job. HK$50K is roughly $6500, which is decent money as long as there are opportunities to grow and earn more. Of course this is more than what teachers make here in the US.

sjahmed23
31st August 2017, 20:08
In bay area for 10+ years ... Best place to make hella money and save if you are single. If you are good then you will make from 150-350K with 5 year expereince in software (NVDA iINTC QCOM pays at lower end as they are hardware). 1 bed room apt is from 2500-4K. But you could get a decent room for 1K in shared house.

Move here, save money , move out in 10 years and buy house anywhere in cash and still have lot of savings.

How do you break into the tech company scene if you are a new grad? I graduated with a BEEE from a state college in NY 2 years ago and could not even get an interview with these firms what advise do you have for someone like me?

iHammad
31st August 2017, 21:08
I don't know why people haven't mentioned other Tech hubs in the US like Austin, TX?

That's where someone can actually make good money as well as start a family.

troodon
31st August 2017, 21:14
I don't know why people haven't mentioned other Tech hubs in the US like Austin, TX?

That's where someone can actually make good money as well as start a family.

Austin used to be cheap along with Dallas some 10-15yrs ago. They have become expensive too these days. Still much much better than Bay area or NY/NJ area. No State Tax.

Also, people should consider North and Central Florida. Orlando/Tampa/Jacksonville etc.

HussainRx8
31st August 2017, 21:28
All the best tech labor has agglomerated around SF. They're more productive and demand higher wages, while driving up the rents and prices in the city.

USofA
1st September 2017, 01:46
Austin used to be cheap along with Dallas some 10-15yrs ago. They have become expensive too these days. Still much much better than Bay area or NY/NJ area. No State Tax.

Also, people should consider North and Central Florida. Orlando/Tampa/Jacksonville etc.

Dallas area has an excellent balance of big city and lower cost of living. Not just tech jobs but other companies are moving there and to Texas in general. No State income taxes combined with no corporate income taxes. Toyota is moving their US HQ from California to Dallas. I am told several mid size companies are also moving to Texas.

notAgainPlease
3rd September 2017, 22:17
How do you break into the tech company scene if you are a new grad? I graduated with a BEEE from a state college in NY 2 years ago and could not even get an interview with these firms what advise do you have for someone like me?

Linkedin, add recruiters from those companies and reach out. Keep applying for jobs at their site, ask for someone who could introduce you.

Nostalgic
4th September 2017, 00:21
Assuming you have been working for 10+ years, you wont make 130k (thats a starting salary for a fresh grad), you would make around 300K in software. Bare minimum will be 225K unless you are total dud and/or not motivated

I'll have ten years of experience in a year or so. But even $300k won't be good enough.

At my current location, $350-400k buys you a brand-new house on a big lot, at least 3-bed, possibly more, with all the fixin's they talk about on HGTV (hardwood, granite et al), top-rated schools in the neighborhood, a short commute, and gorgeous views of the Rocky Mountains.

How much would I need to make in the Bay Area to afford all of this? Salaries of $300k each for both spouses wouldn't make a dent in the sort of mortgages they have in the Bay, for houses that fall well short of what I described.

saeedhk
5th September 2017, 18:47
Yes, a lot of them are becoming English teachers. But they have to leave the country to get a job. HK$50K is roughly $6500, which is decent money as long as there are opportunities to grow and earn more. Of course this is more than what teachers make here in the US.

$6500 is the starting point. In addition, full medical insurance, air tickets to home country every two years plus massive gratuity every year. It is a dream job!