Does it Make Sense for Programmers to Move to the Bay Area?

Another data set crowd-sourced by the startup Step in early 2016 suggests that for at least a subset of talented developers, working in the Bay Area brings more equity than working in other locations. The Step study compares total compensation at the two dominant Seattle tech companies, Amazon and Microsoft, with compensation at Silicon Valley leaders Google and Facebook. The study finds that compensation is comparable for junior engineers in both locations, with those in the Valley getting paid slightly higher, roughly as you would predict based on the BLS, Indeed, and Glassdoor data. But with increasing experience, total compensation at Google and Facebook comfortably outpaces that at Amazon and Microsoft, largely as a result of much more generous cash and stock bonuses. For comparable job titles in Step’s Level 3 engineer category, for example, total annual compensation is $180,000 at Amazon, $199,000 at Microsoft, $249,700 at Facebook, and $306,500 at Google. That is, senior engineers in the Bay Area appear to earn a $50K to $126K yearly premium in total comp.

I would think if someone has the opportunity to work here in the Mecca that is Silicon Valley or the Bay Area, he/she would be crazy to pass it up. The work experience, the resume filling and networking will lay the foundation for one to leave the area, or not, to other opportunities. It is like college. You don’t necessarily have to go to an elite school to succeed in life , but if you did, it probably will help open some doors for you. It is of course what and how you do after that, that will make or break you.


That premium comp is largely determined by stock performance. The real question is who’s stock will increase the most the next 5 years.

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Then Bay Area should be the best, simply because we have so many tech companies here. The chance of hitting jackpot is much higher. Even unsexy companies like AMD and Nvidia have seen their stocks on rocketship this year.

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Total compensation doesn’t include unvested stock. Thus, if the employee sell the stock at the time of vesting, then total compensation becomes his/her cash income that year.
Most companies (especially large ones) adjusts RSU grant based on stock price. Hence, total compensation tends to remain stable unless company really struggles and removes bonus and RSUs substantially. In that case, people move to other company with same or better compensation.

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I have never seen anyone make that argument. Maybe it’s just too provocative? So here it is:

Programmers should move to Bay Are because of our high housing price here.

That’s right. Our high housing price is a selling point. Why? You get rich by simply owning real estate here. And the easiest way to own here is to actually live here. Have you heard people from Seattle and Portland buy remotely in SF? Neither do I.

AMD and Nvidia are sexy with AI and automated cars. Their processors are better than Intel’s CPUs. There are data centers running on GPUs now. If you’re bullish on AI, then you should be bullish on AMD and Nvidia.


Can’t it just be that the Bay Area is a wonderful place to live??? For anybody!!! There is so much to do here, and quite frankly, if you have some dough you can really enjoy it here. Napa trips, ski trips, great restaurants, sporting events, etc…

Depends on what your interests are; I am not a big fan of skiing/wine/football/baseball…


Vancouver people are mostly modest income, but their housing price is more than BA. Their industry is pretty modest as well.

I don’t think it’s appropriate to throw Amazon into that comparison unless it’s Amazon Seattle to Amazon SF. Amazon is known for being a frugal company, and my understanding was that it affects compensation as well as perks, though Amazon subsidiaries tend to get better perks (like real half and half) than Amazon employees.

How about hiking/biking/walking/BBQing/ and camping?

It’s been cold the last couple of days. But compared to the rest of the country it ain’t so bad… :wink:

What’s wrong with Texas???


Mexico built a climate fence


Top base pay at Amazon is $160k Seattle and $180k Bay Area. The rest is bonus and stock. Even the top execs have those limits. Everyone there is invested in the long-term growth of the stock price.

Wonder if the stock compensation is different. Wouldn’t be surprised if BA employees get more stock simply because it’s how it’s done out here.

Sure. If you don’t mind living in a piece of crap with a long commute instead of a lovely McMansion with a short commute. For $20K difference in income–oh wait, Washington state has no income tax, so make that almost no difference in income–you can buy 2-3 times the house in Seattle. In fact, if you are going to be a landlord, you’re probably better off doing it remotely from Seattle. You can live in comfort and let a PM company deal with the tenants far away.


All true. But very few people have that kind of discipline if it’s not forced on them. By subjecting ourselves to the ultra high pricing pressure here in BA the financial discipline is almost key to survival. If we had it easy like in Seattle we would have thrown money on fancy eat-outs everyday.

Short term pain long term gain. Well by short term I mean 20 years. :smile:

It could be tiddlywinks for all I care. All I know is you are here and you bought here, correct??? Pocketbook speaks louder than words I always say…

Hmm I feel like the above can be done at a lot of other places, except maybe camping and hiking. I’m not a fan of camping though…

Just because I bought here doesn’t mean I agree that it’s a wonderful place to live. Like I said many times before, I am only in the bay area for job opportunities, but other than that I don’t necessarily agree it’s desirable for me.

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