Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Topic Author
Impatience
Posts: 454
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2020 3:15 pm

Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by Impatience »

EDIT: altered title to clarify the job is in Mountain View, not SF itself

Hi Bogleheads, this is my first “career advice” request from all you smart people so thank you in advance.

My partner and I live and work remotely in Phoenix, AZ, currently renting a 2 bedroom apt for $1,600/mo. I’m 32, partner is 34. We’re moderately aggressive savers with about $120k lifetime savings, mostly in retirement accounts. Currently I am earning $67k annually and my partner about $40k, so $107k annual gross between us.

I’m wrapping up a rotational program with my current employer. They like me a lot and I’m sure I could stay here for a long time and have a good career. On my current track I am basically guaranteed a raise to about $80k next near that will ramp up to $100-120k over the next 5 years. Career progression is well-defined here, if I were to do great work and relocate at the company’s whim I would reach the top of that range sooner, if I’m not so great I’ll reach it in more like 5 years. Things here are very predictable. But they are an east coast company and I don't want to move back there, so I already know I'm over it.

I’ve received a Silicon Valley job offer with a late-stage start-up that seems on a good path. I would be stepping into significantly more responsibility and be really close to the action as they gear up to scale. I’m really excited by the job, and the compensation, though also I’m trying to keep a clear head about it – almost all of the “raise” I’ll be receiving is going to be eaten whole by the SF cost of living. I have to relocate and am totally fine with that, just trying to wrap my head around how far this money will get me.

The offer:

$140k base
$25k equity per year for 4 years (assuming face value)
$17k target bonus

So, $182k total comp, bringing our household total to $222k, an increase of $115k (107%). Counting only base salary and not bonus/stock, a total of $180k (68% increase). From using various online cost of living calculators it appears the COL in San Francisco is about double what it is in Phoenix, but these calculations vary a lot in their output and their rents seem to be using pre-COVID numbers. Rents are still depressed, for example apartments right in the city of San Francisco which appear roughly equivalent to our current $1,600 per month apartment are listed for about $3,300, which is nowhere near as bad as the calculators make it out to be.

Anyway. On to the questions.

1. For my San Fran-transplant Bogleheads, what was it like for you? How did you cope with the cost of living – can it be offset by smart spending? We don’t go out much or splurge often.

2. How about job mobility? I work in corporate finance, I’m not a coder so there are far fewer positions doing what I do, typically only in later stage start-ups or the tech megacorps. I didn’t go to a top-whatever school, I secured this position through a reference and a great interview, and brownie points as a veteran. If this start-up folds do you expect it would be hard for me to quickly find another business-or-finance type role in Silicon Valley?

3. What are some decent communities around Mountain View to look at moving to? I expect to be in the office 3-4 days a week. I have never been a long distance commuter and hate the idea of commuting more than 30 minutes each way. Something along a train or public transport route would help alleviate that for me.

4. Any other thoughts you may have given the above facts. Let me know if I've left out any pertinent details, or PM me if some more specific information would help. I realize these questions are quite open-ended, just trying to get a feel for the experiences of any Bogleheads who have gone through a similar change.

Thanks!!
Last edited by Impatience on Wed Oct 13, 2021 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
muffins14
Posts: 854
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2016 4:14 am

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in San Francisco

Post by muffins14 »

I think cost of living can vary a ton depending on whether you live in San Francisco proper, or other smaller towns down the peninsula toward San Jose etc.

What is your current budget for rent, groceries, restaurants, going out, vacations, and other hobbies, broken out by category? We could help you asses what might be reasonable levels.

Will you plan for a family soon? I hear child care costs in the bay area are very high.

Regarding transportation, is your office in San Francisco, or is it in Mountain View? Will your company offer a shuttle bus? If you would be depending on the CalTrain, you may want to be somewhat close to a station, because you'd likely have to bike, walk, or drive to the Caltrain, get to the destination, then take another mode of transport from that location to your office. All the in-between time adds up
MarkRoulo
Posts: 537
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:25 am

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in San Francisco

Post by MarkRoulo »

Impatience wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 7:24 pm

3. What are some decent communities around Mountain View to look at moving to? I expect to be in the office 3-4 days a week. I have never been a long distance commuter and hate the idea of commuting more than 30 minutes each way. Something along a train or public transport route would help alleviate that for me.
If the office is in San Francisco, then I think "communities around Mountain View" are off the table if you want a 30 minute commute.

The CalTrain *express* lines run a bit under an hour for Mountain View to SF (e.g. 6:13am -> 7:05am). The non-express lines take about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. You need to budget time to get to the train, too. And driving from Mountain View to San Francisco (highway 101 or 280) is not good, either.

Communities around Mountain View include:
  • Menlo Park (north)
  • Palo Alto (north)
  • Sunnyvale (south)
  • Santa Clara (south)
  • San Jose (south)
The further south you go, the longer the commute.

Palo Alto is closer, but more expensive than Mountain View, though the commute is better.

North of Palo Alto is Menlo Park, home of Facebook, which has gotten more expensive in the past half decade.

Also "near" Mountain View are Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. Comparable or more expensive than Palo Alto.

Many of these are pleasant places to live. I don't think any of them will get you to within a 30 minute commute of San Francisco.

An alternative you might want to consider would be Piedmont (near Oakland) and taking BART into the city.
jarjarM
Posts: 1632
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:21 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in San Francisco

Post by jarjarM »

As someone who grow up in the SF bayarea and still live and work here and who's sister has been in phoenix for the last 20 years, don't move to SF. The weather is good (if you don't hate the chill during summer) here, good access to fantastic culinary scene, and great job prospect (even if you're in corporate finance). But that's about it. COL is insane and people are always rushing to somewhere and most just talk about the next hot startups and etc. Quality of life here is quite a downgrade from Phoenix (walgreen just announced closing of 5 locations in the city proper due to high crime rate). https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/13/us/w ... cisco.html

If you can stay away, do so. IF you really want to move here for better job prospect, then have a great exit plan. Good luck.
Topic Author
Impatience
Posts: 454
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2020 3:15 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in San Francisco

Post by Impatience »

muffins14 wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 7:35 pm I think cost of living can vary a ton depending on whether you live in San Francisco proper, or other smaller towns down the peninsula toward San Jose etc.

What is your current budget for rent, groceries, restaurants, going out, vacations, and other hobbies, broken out by category? We could help you asses what might be reasonable levels.

Will you plan for a family soon? I hear child care costs in the bay area are very high.

Regarding transportation, is your office in San Francisco, or is it in Mountain View? Will your company offer a shuttle bus? If you would be depending on the CalTrain, you may want to be somewhat close to a station, because you'd likely have to bike, walk, or drive to the Caltrain, get to the destination, then take another mode of transport from that location to your office. All the in-between time adds up
The job is in Mountain View, I'm currently starting to look around towns a bit down the peninsula as you suggested such as Los Gatos or San Jose.

I don't keep a budget. I just get paid, and don't spend most of it. I know that is not very helpful but it doesn't seem worth the effort to keep a formal budget when I already save most of my money.

We are planning on starting a family soon, specifically early next year which will be right after I move. That alone is going to nix the value of my increased pay. We're currently living 20 minutes from my parents, aka potential childcare providers. This is a pretty major point I neglected in the original post. However, even if the raise is mostly nullified, I feel like the future opportunities to move up in position here or use this job as an exit opportunity back to Phoenix or elsewhere are immense.
jarjarM
Posts: 1632
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:21 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by jarjarM »

Okay, if the job is in Mountain View area, then it's a bit better. Still just as expensive but at least quality of life is usually a bit more tolerable. Cuesta park is a good area, not as expensive as waverly park area, but still retain a good close knit neighborhood feel. Sunnyvale used to be cheaper (20 years ago) but now quite expensive due to proximity to the saucer HQ (Apple). Another place to consider is North San Jose (part that's closer to Cupertino).
Last edited by jarjarM on Wed Oct 13, 2021 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Watty
Posts: 23591
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in San Francisco

Post by Watty »

Impatience wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 7:24 pm ....almost all of the “raise” I’ll be receiving is going to be eaten whole by the SF cost of living. I have to relocate and am totally fine with that, just trying to wrap my head around how far this money will get me.
The first thing to do would be to do a dummy tax return to find out what your income would be after taxes. If you are filing single tax returns then between federal, state, and FICA taxes you would likely be in a tax bracket that is above 40% and that alone will eat up a lot of any pay increase.

In some counties the sales tax will be almost 10% too.

One big wildcard is that your partner only makes $40K a year. Whatever they do, they can likely make a lot more than that if they get a job in the Bay Area that pays a Bay Area salary.

One stragety that can work for some people is to move to the Bay Area and keep your expenses low and save like crazy for five or ten years then to move to a lower cost of living area once you have a nice nest egg built up. It would be good to play with the numbers to see how that might work for you.

If you want to leave Phoenix then I would probably keep looking until you can find a job in an area that you can get excited about where the numbers work better.
Impatience wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 7:24 pm 3. What are some decent communities around Mountain View to look at moving to?
Have you spent much time there?

It has been a long time but I used to live next door in Sunnyvale and I really did not like that area since it seemed like it was all strip malls and office parks. I found the quality of life to be really mediocre. It is not like you would be living in some funky San Francisco neighborhood that has a special vibe that is desirable. I was glad when I left there and about a year later I went back to visit some friends for a long weekend and that really reinforced how much I disliked the South Bay.

It is true that you can drive to the coast or mountains and that is nice but the traffic on a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning will make that a bit of an ordeal.
Last edited by Watty on Wed Oct 13, 2021 10:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 14329
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii No Ka Oi , N. Arizona

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by Sandtrap »

Which do you like better to live in…..
Arizona?
California?

Consider a shorter move to upper Scottsdale??
Grandpa and grandma will thank you.

What’s enduringly important doesn’t fit on a spreadsheet.
j🌺
Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know
User avatar
cchrissyy
Posts: 811
Joined: Fri May 05, 2017 10:35 pm
Location: SF bay area

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by cchrissyy »

What I would expect is your rent will almost triple if you choose a nice townhome near work. But the rest of your living expenses would be about the same so the move is a big step up on your career and savings.

The question is do you want that? Where do you prefer to live?

My top advice moving to the bay area is resist the impulse to live far from work. Commute time is awful for your quality of life and that goes double with a baby at home. Only make this move if you are willing to pay the rent I said above.
comfortable being all stock until age 40, now working towards 60-20-20 us-intl-bond
MarkRoulo
Posts: 537
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:25 am

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in San Francisco

Post by MarkRoulo »

Impatience wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 7:59 pm
The job is in Mountain View, I'm currently starting to look around towns a bit down the peninsula as you suggested such as Los Gatos or San Jose.
Ah. Not San Francisco.

Los Gatos probably won't be any cheaper than Mountain View. Same for Saratoga and Cupertino.

San Jose probably can/will be.

But something to consider, as strange as it seems, is that Mountain View is counter-traffic to everywhere.

Not kidding.

The commute from Mountain View (home) to San Francisco (work) along hwy 101 is better than the reverse.
The commute from Mountain View (home) to Los Gatos (work) along hwy 85 is better than the reverse.
The commute from Mountain View (home) to Milpitas (work) along hwy 237 is better than the reverse.

I don't know HOW this works, but I have seen all three. And other folks I have talked to have experienced the same thing.

So, if you are going to be working in Mountain View then try very hard to live in Mountain View or, at most, one city over.
random_walker_77
Posts: 1583
Joined: Tue May 21, 2013 8:49 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by random_walker_77 »

Good advice above. This could be a good springboard for your career, but do consider that it takes a certain kind of mindset to be really successful at a startup. It's probably going to require some personal sacrifices and an incredible amount of hard work. If you're going to take the plunge, you really should be ready to fully commit, and that is going to be tough with a newborn. Not impossible, mind you, but make sure that both you *and* your partner are on board with that sort of commitment.

Also, silicon valley is in a timezone of its own. At most companies (especially startups), most people don't start at 8am. Not even that many at 9am. Really, 10am is the start of the full workday, and then everything else skews late... so it'd be worth asking what the common hours are at this potential employer, so you know what you're getting yourself into.
CletusCaddy
Posts: 67
Joined: Sun Sep 12, 2021 4:23 am

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by CletusCaddy »

Impatience wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 7:24 pm 2. How about job mobility? I work in corporate finance, I’m not a coder so there are far fewer positions doing what I do, typically only in later stage start-ups or the tech megacorps. I didn’t go to a top-whatever school, I secured this position through a reference and a great interview, and brownie points as a veteran. If this start-up folds do you expect it would be hard for me to quickly find another business-or-finance type role in Silicon Valley?
Every tech company needs finance people. Not as many as SWEs but still a bunch. You’ll have no problem with mobility once you’ve broken into the industry.

What stage is the startup? Early or late?

Your offer is in the range of Sr. Analyst or maybe a junior Manager, my tech company would offer this to someone with 3-5 years of experience post college. Do you fit this profile? If not, it may be a lowball offer.

PM me if you’d like to discuss more, I’m familiar with how Finance teams in tech work.
TheEternalVortex
Posts: 2571
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 9:17 pm
Location: San Jose, CA

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by TheEternalVortex »

If you are going to have kids soon I would strongly recommend staying close to the grandparents. It will be invaluable.
Sprucebark
Posts: 55
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 9:22 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by Sprucebark »

I have horrible memories of Mountain View. You DO NOT want to commute. It will drive you insane. Picture a Phoenix traffic jam on I-10, and then imagine that in every direction every time you try to go anywhere. If you can, get a place where you can walk or bike to work.

Housing will cost more. Car registration will cost more. Taxes will be higher. Everything will cost more- but your bump in salary will make it worth it.

If you are looking at the money, it is a no brainer. You will make so much more money in the Bay Area and be exposed to incredible career opportunities. After two years you can jump to another firm and make even more money.

As far as communities go, Mountain View was a little “lame”. There really isn’t much of a “scene”. A lot of the younger crowd will end of moving to Palo Alto or San Francisco.

I enjoyed working in Arizona a lot more than I did working in the Bay Area. That being said, all of my friends in the Bay Area are significantly ahead of me both in career and finances.
neverpanic
Posts: 914
Joined: Sun May 10, 2020 12:26 am

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by neverpanic »

Overall, I liked the Bay Area over Phoenix, but it will cost a lot more than you're thinking.

You've already heard the horror stories and the comparison of the relative commutes, but even the worst Phoenix traffic can't prepare you for the daily grind on the Peninsula.

Congratulations on the job offer. While I know it's hard to turn down the prospect of doubling your HHI, I'd want to spend some time there before committing to the relocation.
I am not a financial professional or guru. I'm a schmuck who got lucky 10 times. Such is the life of the trader.
Pacific
Posts: 1445
Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2007 8:19 pm
Location: Lost in the middle of the Pacific

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by Pacific »

I have no comment to make regarding the job.

About seven summers ago I made two trips to Mountain View in late July and late August to see a certain cataract surgeon who is famous for IOLs.

I will never forget these trips. Not because of the successful cataract surgery (which was amazing), but because I had never experienced such beautiful weather in the middle of summer. On both trips, it never got above 82 or below 55. I actually thought the earth was reverting to a cooling down period. But, then, I went back to Phoenix and reality.
dboeger1
Posts: 758
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2017 7:32 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by dboeger1 »

Admittedly, my wife and I have been confined to more of the South Bay (San Jose and Santa Clara) since I moved here in 2013, but I think some of this applies to the peninsula as well. In my experience, it's generally worth trying to live very close to where you work in the Bay Area. One of my aunts who visited the Bay Area said it best, that in most of the US, people think of drive times in terms of distance, with a slight adjustment for current traffic conditions, but in the Bay Area, distance means absolutely nothing. A 5-mile drive can take 1 hour, while a different 30-mile drive can take 20 minutes at the exact same time. The problem is that not only is traffic generally elevated, but it's distributed very unevenly, as is the road capacity to carry it. There are absolutely specific intersections, highway ramps, neighborhoods, seasons, etc. that can get stupid levels of congested, and God forbid there's an accident or downed power line causing it to back up. I have literally spent 2 hours bumper-to-bumper trying to get through an off ramp from the highway for an exit that I mistakenly took on a weekend. I kid you not.

While it will be difficult for you to know about such places ahead of time, the general rule is that the closer you are to work, the less risk of running into those things you have. The best is if you can avoid highways entirely, although they're certainly not the only problem spots (I vaguely remember part of Mountain View getting extremely congested, but I don't go there often enough to highlight any persistent patterns). When I used to live in East San Jose and commute about 8 miles to Santa Clara, it took about 45 minutes to and from every single day. It didn't matter if I left at 6AM, 10AM, 3PM, or 8PM. Only in very off hours like midnight to 4AM would the traffic subside enough for it to be quicker. I eventually changed jobs and moved to Santa Clara. My commute distance wasn't much different, maybe around 5 miles, but it was mostly local roads avoiding the prevailing traffic on 101, so the commute was much shorter, like 15 minutes. The difference in my sanity level was astronomical. It may not sound like much, but those commute hours add up, and rush hour traffic tends to be very stressful. Especially with many offices offering perks like gyms and cafes, it can often be nice to have the option to drop in and out throughout the day to run errands or take advantage of things when they're open.

In general, I will say traffic isn't nearly as bad as it used to be pre-pandemic. A lot of it has come back, so the roads definitely aren't as open as they were in early 2020, but I've yet to encounter the same levels of traffic that I was accustomed to in the South Bay and on the peninsula. It's probably because the vast majority of tech workers are still working from home. The East Bay, however, seems to be as bad as ever. There is a ton of super-commuter traffic from all over that still gets really heavy on 680, and it doesn't really subside on the weekends either due to people taking longer road trips. A lot of people supposedly moved from San Francisco and the peninsula to the East Bay and other more spacious parts of the Bay Area during the pandemic, so I think their local traffic may even be more intense than usual. Personally, I would avoid living in the East Bay like the plague unless my job was over there as well, but there are obviously many people who do commute to the peninsula from over there, so that's just me.

Personally, I think the more important question you need to be asking yourselves is what kind of lifestyle you want to live. You are currently on track to comfortably own a really nice home in Phoenix before long, if that's something you're interested in. Coming to the Bay Area, however, even if you can afford a home, it can be very difficult for even relatively wealthy people to afford the kind of home they imagine for themselves. If you have or plan to have children, childcare and educational expenses can be through the roof, depending on what your expectations are. There are definite lifestyle benefits to living in the Bay Area, but most people will take a hit when it comes to housing and family planning by moving here, so that's something you should be very conscious of. It's generally not the greatest area to raise children, even if you do make more money. That being said, it's not like they don't exist, so people do make it work. For me, I always imagine moving to the Bay Area and making my money in my 20s, before potentially moving out in my 30s, although we ended up buying our first home here last year. It's definitely a different plan moving here in your 30s, but it's not uncommon either; I've met many people who did the same thing because of what it meant for their careers. In the long run, if regional incomes stay higher than elsewhere, you'll probably come out ahead financially, but it may not be without a short-term hit to overall quality of life. Is that something your wife would be on board with?
eigenperson
Posts: 58
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2015 7:16 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by eigenperson »

If you're working in Mountain View, a quick review of the surrounding towns:

* Mountain View, Palo Alto: Very wealthy, medium-size towns with a hint of bustle downtown. The closest you'll get to night life within a reasonable commute. If you choose one of these places, I'd want to live near downtown -- that's the whole point. California Avenue in Palo Alto is OK too (there's access under the tracks via a pedestrian tunnel).
* Los Altos, Menlo Park (west of 101): Very quiet and wealthy suburbs with good but small downtown cores. Think of living in a small town, except everyone in the small town works for Google or Facebook or a tech startup. There's a fairly limited rental inventory, especially in Los Altos. Again, live near downtown if you want walkability.
* Sunnyvale, Cupertino: Bigger suburbs. These are probably more like what you imagine when you hear the word "suburb" -- wide streets, strip malls, not as many trees. They do have OK downtown areas, but not as good relative to the size of the town as the places listed above. I personally consider these less desirable.
* Menlo Park (east of 101), East Palo Alto: (Relatively) working-class communities. Way, way less dangerous than they used to be, but I still wouldn't want to live there, and the commutes aren't great either. Both are impacted by traffic to the Dumbarton bridge.
Topic Author
Impatience
Posts: 454
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2020 3:15 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by Impatience »

Thank you all for the excellent advice. I’m going to start focusing my rental search a lot closer to work than I had been previously. Also going to do a dummy tax return as someone suggested, I’m not sure if I can do that with my usual tax prep site (credit karma) but I figure it’s about time I splurge on a full-grown adult tax software at this point in my life. Next stop: an actual budget, maybe.
vrr106
Posts: 75
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2015 10:27 am

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by vrr106 »

Impatience wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 7:24 pm 2. How about job mobility? I work in corporate finance, I’m not a coder so there are far fewer positions doing what I do, typically only in later stage start-ups or the tech megacorps. I didn’t go to a top-whatever school, I secured this position through a reference and a great interview, and brownie points as a veteran. If this start-up folds do you expect it would be hard for me to quickly find another business-or-finance type role in Silicon Valley?
I think the demand for corporate finance will continue to be important for tech companies, especially as VC funding continues to increase, IPOs have been trending up and startups explore other options such as SPACs. Unless there is an overall downturn (in which case you are in the same boat as everybody else), I wouldn't worry about this part too much given the compensation you mentioned. A friend of mine started in a corp finance role in his early 30s, moved to the valley and did a few startup stints and was lucky to be a part of a fairly large IPO, which then led to a senior executive finance role. While that is not typical, the career progression is far better than at a similar corporate finance role in the non tech world.
KlangFool
Posts: 22372
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in San Francisco

Post by KlangFool »

Impatience wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 7:59 pm
I don't keep a budget. I just get paid, and don't spend most of it. I know that is not very helpful but it doesn't seem worth the effort to keep a formal budget when I already save most of my money.

We are planning on starting a family soon, specifically early next year which will be right after I move. That alone is going to nix the value of my increased pay. We're currently living 20 minutes from my parents, aka potential childcare providers. This is a pretty major point I neglected in the original post. However, even if the raise is mostly nullified, I feel like the future opportunities to move up in position here or use this job as an exit opportunity back to Phoenix or elsewhere are immense.
Impatience,

<<I don't keep a budget. I just get paid, and don't spend most of it. I know that is not very helpful but it doesn't seem worth the effort to keep a formal budget when I already save most of my money.>>

Then, tell us how much you save every year.

Annual expense = gross income - taxes - annual saving.

<<We are planning on starting a family soon, specifically early next year which will be right after I move.>>

Not a good idea to move to SF.

<<I feel like the future opportunities to move up in position here or use this job as an exit opportunity back to Phoenix or elsewhere are immense.>>

I do not think so. I believe that you have not look into job opportunity that does not care where you live. You have not mention what kind of your job that you do. But, the pay is too low to be only available in SF.

<<2. How about job mobility? I work in corporate finance, I’m not a coder so there are far fewer positions doing what I do, typically only in later stage start-ups or the tech megacorps. >>

You only need one job. Have you try networking through ProductCamp? It is a good way to get to know the start-up in your area.

http://www.productcamp.org/


KlangFool
40% VWENX | 12.5% VFWAX/VTIAX | 11.5% VTSAX | 16% VBTLX | 10% VSIAX/VTMSX/VSMAX | 10% VSIGX| 40% Wellington 40% 3-funds 20% Mini-Larry
Bryan995
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:01 am

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by Bryan995 »

I think it always makes sense to live and work in as HCOL of an area as you can. As long as you can afford the rent, save a little and see a clear path to increasing income, it’s a no brainer.

Only housing is truly more expensive. Food, cars, clothes, electronics, household xyz etc etc are all generally the same price as they are in the middle of nowhere. With a higher income they become proportionally cheaper. That $1300 iPhone 13max becomes a drop in the bucket, even though your 2/2 rental is $8400/mo :)

And when you are ready to retire, you can move away and suddenly have the money to live like a king/queen.

I’d also say that for MV, $180k is good not great. Once you both are making $300k+, then you’ll find things quite tolerable :)
humblecoder
Posts: 807
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:46 am

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by humblecoder »

I have never been to the Bay Area, so I can't answer most of your questions. I guess you can file this under "other thoughts" :-)

It sounds like you have a choice between a stable job with a lower salary but good upward mobility vs a less stable job with a higher salary in a VHCOL area.

One thing I have observed on this board is that the Bay Area is expensive... crazy expensive. Even though your salary might be higher, would that compensate for the increased cost of living expenses? You might come out behind financial.

If there are non-financial considerations that are driving you to make the move, then that's a different story. However, based upon the limited information provided, I am not sure if this new job offer is a winner from a financial standpoint.
BogleFan510
Posts: 747
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:13 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by BogleFan510 »

There can be great job opportunities and the lifestyle is nice in that area, but there are risks as well. One really cant advise without a much deeper discussion, but it sounds like both paths would be great, so no wrong choices IMHO.

<OP has received suggestions, so removed extra info>
Last edited by BogleFan510 on Thu Oct 14, 2021 12:03 pm, edited 4 times in total.
User avatar
FrugalProfessor
Posts: 406
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 11:34 am
Contact:

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by FrugalProfessor »

Didn't read the thread. Grew up in a town adjacent to Mountain View. Left at 17 (at the turn of the century) for college. I've visited a handful of times since.

While I enjoyed my childhood, as an adult (and father of five) I would avoid the area like the plague unless you are childless. If childless, you could make it work by living in a shoebox.

That said, I'll predictably be eating my words when I bike commute (15 miles round trip) in the coming -30°F winter months.
I blog. Taxes are the lowest hanging source of alpha. I eat tax alpha for breakfast.
BogleFan510
Posts: 747
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:13 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by BogleFan510 »

<OP has received suggestions, so removed extra info>
Last edited by BogleFan510 on Thu Oct 14, 2021 12:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
muffins14
Posts: 854
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2016 4:14 am

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in San Francisco

Post by muffins14 »

jarjarM wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 7:54 pm As someone who grow up in the SF bayarea and still live and work here and who's sister has been in phoenix for the last 20 years, don't move to SF. The weather is good (if you don't hate the chill during summer) here, good access to fantastic culinary scene, and great job prospect (even if you're in corporate finance). But that's about it. COL is insane and people are always rushing to somewhere and most just talk about the next hot startups and etc. Quality of life here is quite a downgrade from Phoenix (walgreen just announced closing of 5 locations in the city proper due to high crime rate). https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/13/us/w ... cisco.html

If you can stay away, do so. IF you really want to move here for better job prospect, then have a great exit plan. Good luck.
SF is a fine place, just not for everyone.

To clarify the Walgreens thing, it's not like people are being assaulted daily so they are closing the stores, they are closing them because Walgreens is for some reason incapable of preventing large-scale, repeated theft, which is odd. What are they doing, exactly?
muffins14
Posts: 854
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2016 4:14 am

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by muffins14 »

Impatience wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 8:33 am Thank you all for the excellent advice. I’m going to start focusing my rental search a lot closer to work than I had been previously. Also going to do a dummy tax return as someone suggested, I’m not sure if I can do that with my usual tax prep site (credit karma) but I figure it’s about time I splurge on a full-grown adult tax software at this point in my life. Next stop: an actual budget, maybe.
Please do the budget. It's impossible to evaluate if you will be OK until you make the budget. Childcare and rent will be pretty big expenses
BogleFan510
Posts: 747
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:13 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in San Francisco

Post by BogleFan510 »

<OP has received suggestions, so removed extra info>
Last edited by BogleFan510 on Thu Oct 14, 2021 12:03 pm, edited 3 times in total.
playingwithfire
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:40 am

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by playingwithfire »

It seems like the vast majority of people who gave you advice here has never lived in the bay area, has heard stories from friends of friends, has lived here 20 years ago, etc.

I've lived in the bay area for 15 years since 2006 and nothing is as bad as it seems.

1) Rent. Yes, it can be very expensive. But it can also be not that expensive. There's plenty of places you can rent 2-3 bedroom for $2500 - $3500/month. Plenty of places in East Palo Alto, West San Jose that fit these criteria. Given the amount of money you'd make more, you easily would come out ahead financially. The key is to set expectations. You obviously can't rent a house in Palo Alto at $8500/month, but the average salary in Santa Clara is still only about $100k, so clearly people are getting by just fine.

2) Traffic. Yes, traffic can be bad, but it does not take an hour to commute 5 miles. Bay area is NOT LA. Also, traffic can be particularly bad around Mountain View and Palo Alto because so many companies are there. On a daily basis, some 200k people commute INTO Palo Alto. But the good news is if you live in MTN view and Palo Alto, you do the reverse commute. Going from Palo Alto to mountain view for work is only about 10-15 minutes. Also, peninsula (palo alto, mountain view, etc, IS NOT SF. SF is terrible for many reasons but the peninsula is very nice)

3) Salary. The offer you received has a high base, which is relatively good and I would say reasonable. The equity grant seems extremely stingy, given that it's a startup and also you have liquidity issues. Those shares should be considered worthless and not be counted towards your salary. I would negotiate for this. But more likely than not, you'll leave this company and never exercise those options.

4) Child care. Child care in the bay can be as high as $3000/child, but there's plenty of other options like licensed home day care that costs about $1500-$1700/child. It's a lot, but again your salary is significantly higher.

5) Other expenses. Other expenses in the bay are relatively reasonable. You'd find that you'll pay for less for house maintenance, utilities, etc. Living in an apartment in the bay is great because you are likely to get rent control nowadays, and also expenses outside of rent is really low. Food prices in the bay (non-restaurant) is also pretty cheap. Restaurants themselves vary drastically. You can pay $10-20 or a meal or you can pay $250 for a meal. It's all a personal choice. People pick and choose the most expensive things to scare others, but I find the bay to be perfectly reasonable with expenses.

6) Opportunity. Really see the jump as a way to slingshot yourself to other opportunities. Salaries can grow quick if you take the leap. I would not advise to stay with any company for more than 2-3 years. The more you move, the more you make, and the wider your connections become.

7) Weather in the bay is best in the fall to early fall. The fires of recent have been a major put off but this year has been better than 2020.

Overall, I think it's generally a good jump. You can always go back to AZ. There's a reason the bay area is so attractive to many and why it's expensive. There's also a reason why many people hate on it -- people who leave tend to have more bias against it, whereas the ones who stay enjoy it just fine.
sureshoe
Posts: 559
Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:26 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by sureshoe »

Impatience wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 7:24 pm 2. How about job mobility? I work in corporate finance, I’m not a coder so there are far fewer positions doing what I do, typically only in later stage start-ups or the tech megacorps. I didn’t go to a top-whatever school, I secured this position through a reference and a great interview, and brownie points as a veteran. If this start-up folds do you expect it would be hard for me to quickly find another business-or-finance type role in Silicon Valley?

3. What are some decent communities around Mountain View to look at moving to? I expect to be in the office 3-4 days a week. I have never been a long distance commuter and hate the idea of commuting more than 30 minutes each way. Something along a train or public transport route would help alleviate that for me.
For #2 - I can't speak specifically to corporate finance. At your age, I would be focusing on what job makes me most marketable over the next 5-10 years. If this job does it, you're on the right path. If you're taking a slog of a job just for money, it's likely a mistake. Here's one thing to consider:
If this succeeds, what happens? Do you stay and rake in big comp? Do you become a hot commodity and take a big jump somewhere as a CFO, etc? Flipside, if it fails miserable or slogs out for a few years - what's next? That is how I have always put my job hunt into context.

For #3 - will defer to the SF people here. Only recommendation is to pay what it takes to keep that commute short unless you're working from home a lot.
finite_difference
Posts: 2739
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:00 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by finite_difference »

I would stay in Phoenix unless they can offer 4x your expected salary in 5 years. You’re on track to earn $100-$120k. Let’s say $100k. So they would need to offer about $400k.

Their offer of $182k would be fine if you can work remotely from Phoenix and maybe take a trip once a quarter to visit Mountain View.

Why would I demand 4x to move? COL and taxes and house prices are insane in Mountain View area. It’s also a startup. And moving sucks.
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. - Thich Nhat Hanh
closenough
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu May 18, 2017 10:45 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by closenough »

TheEternalVortex wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 10:09 pm If you are going to have kids soon I would strongly recommend staying close to the grandparents. It will be invaluable.
^^Big ditto. Having kids is always harder than you expect. If the grandparents can be counted on for help, having them nearby will be a life saver.
User avatar
Watty
Posts: 23591
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by Watty »

Bryan995 wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 9:10 am Only housing is truly more expensive. Food, cars, clothes, electronics, household xyz etc etc are all generally the same price as they are in the middle of nowhere.
That might be true for things you order online but that is not true for things like food or services that you buy locally.

You may have heard of the Big Mac Index which can be used to show the relative costs of different countries. A while back I did a post where I used the Applebee's online ordering to see the costs of the same thing in different cities.

I just looked this up and their Classic Burger is $12.99 in San Jose but only $9.79 in Phoenix. That is 32.7% more expensive. Once you add in higher taxes and tips the difference would be even more.
Topic Author
Impatience
Posts: 454
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2020 3:15 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by Impatience »

BogleFan510 wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 9:36 amThis seems misplaced. Why is Mountain View like a 'plague' other than housing costs, which are easily discoverable and can be evaluated rationally?
I am really curious. Are you angry because you would like to return home but cant afford to? What else is so bad that it is like a plague? I was just visiting a friend for a hike this week and it was gorgeous, 70 degrees and hiking in a nearby redwood forest. Sure, the homes can be a bit suburban, cookie cutter in MV specifically, and some traffic issues. My question is sincere because this is a real person with a real offer and being flippant seems unfair to them.
It’s alright I perfectly expected a lot of those responses especially when I asked for such general commentary. Bogleheads are often the perfect mix of age and wealth to generate extreme levels of flippantness.

It’s clear from listening to the people who have more recent actual experiences in the area that it’s not that catastrophically expensive but even so it’s not a financial home run in the short term, just a bump. However my reasons are not strictly financial - the product, company and job are all really exciting to me.

As long as I can max (or close) my 401k and Roth IRA each year the expenses will be fine. We acquire everything we possibly can from Amazon/online so those prices won’t budge which is reassuring. And in any event I’m not trying to die with $10m in the bank.
playingwithfire
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:40 am

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by playingwithfire »

@Impatience, I think that's a fantastic perspective.

In your original post you expressed excitement about the opportunity. Do it. You might have regret thinking what might have happened had you moved. The reality is you can spend as little or as much as you want. The bay has a wider spectrum than most other cities or metro areas due to the extreme wealth. Plenty of people get by just fine. Groceries won't break the bank. In absolute terms, I think you end up coming out ahead financially, savings, and career wise. You can also move back. Also, moving help you get rid of unnecessary stuff.
JohnBDB
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:51 am
Location: DFW

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by JohnBDB »

Just do it. It's much easier to move from a high cost city to a low cost city. Not the other way around. I would move to California too if I had the money.
MarkRoulo
Posts: 537
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:25 am

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by MarkRoulo »

FrugalProfessor wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 9:28 am Didn't read the thread. Grew up in a town adjacent to Mountain View. Left at 17 (at the turn of the century) for college. I've visited a handful of times since.

While I enjoyed my childhood, as an adult (and father of five) I would avoid the area like the plague unless you are childless. If childless, you could make it work by living in a shoebox.

That said, I'll predictably be eating my words when I bike commute (15 miles round trip) in the coming -30°F winter months.
It would be helpful for the OP if you elaborated on WHY you would avoid the area like the plague (unless childless). Is it the cost of child care? The schools? The fact that kids seem to spend all their time either in school, in aftercare or doing homework and aren't running around the neighborhood playing? Or is it that biking to work can be more exciting than is reasonable? Or that you want a very large house on lots of land and this isn't happening anywhere near Mountain View on OP's family income?

It matters because the reasons you would avoid the area like the plague may not matter to the OP.
harrychan
Posts: 1902
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2010 9:37 pm
Location: Pasadena

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by harrychan »

I would do it for the experience and not count on the RSU. The experience you gain at this start up will be immensely valuable and open many doors whether you decide to go back to Arizona for childcare or connect and find a remote position. Do it.
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.
cheapskate
Posts: 867
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:05 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by cheapskate »

(Did not read all the responses)

Question. Is the equity RSUs or ISOs (incentive stock options with a strike price close to what the private valuation is ?).

Do It !

1) The experience at the late stage startup will be great. With some luck, the startup will exit, and your RSUs (hope they are RSUs) will at least double in value if not more. But more importantly, you will be exposed to some driven people who will go off and do the next startup thing (or land in good roles at established companies) and once you establish a good working relationship with them, they will bring you along. Your network will grow and will lead to opportunities.
2) Is the company located in downtown MV, near Castro street ? If so, that just expands your potential area to live widely, because you can take either the Caltrain or the Light Rail (orange line) into downtown MV. You could live South (Santa Clara/San Jose) and take the Caltrain in or you could live to the (south)east and take the light rail. Rents are a lot cheaper in either direction, compared to MV/Palo Alto or even Sunnyvale.
3) Assume that you will save much less money than you do now, unless your startup exits, but you are trading that for better opportunities in the future, and a different experience.
4) You should not have problems finding other jobs in Finance, once you land here. Fortunately, there is less age-ism when you move out of software development.
5) Worst case, if you don't like living here, you do have the option of moving back to AZ, as you mentioned. So the move seems low risk to me.

I've lived here since 1989 (moved to Mountain View first, then in Sunnyvale, Cupertino etc). The Bay Area is not as bad as it is made out to be. Of course there are tradeoffs compared to LCOL/MCOL areas - smaller home (likely have to rent longer), higher prices for most things and so on. But you do have advantages to living here that trade those off.
jarjarM
Posts: 1632
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:21 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in San Francisco

Post by jarjarM »

muffins14 wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 9:36 am
jarjarM wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 7:54 pm As someone who grow up in the SF bayarea and still live and work here and who's sister has been in phoenix for the last 20 years, don't move to SF. The weather is good (if you don't hate the chill during summer) here, good access to fantastic culinary scene, and great job prospect (even if you're in corporate finance). But that's about it. COL is insane and people are always rushing to somewhere and most just talk about the next hot startups and etc. Quality of life here is quite a downgrade from Phoenix (walgreen just announced closing of 5 locations in the city proper due to high crime rate). https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/13/us/w ... cisco.html

If you can stay away, do so. IF you really want to move here for better job prospect, then have a great exit plan. Good luck.
SF is a fine place, just not for everyone.

To clarify the Walgreens thing, it's not like people are being assaulted daily so they are closing the stores, they are closing them because Walgreens is for some reason incapable of preventing large-scale, repeated theft, which is odd. What are they doing, exactly?
As someone who grow up in the area, I loved the city but just sad of its current state. It's not that I actively avoid the city, going up in a few weeks to watch the warriors home game with timberwolves, but I don't actively go up there like when I was in my late teens/early 20s anymore. As for the Walgreen thing, I think it's a combination of their inability to secure and also lack of prosecution of "minor" crimes. Anymore discussion will not look upon favorable by the moderators so I'll just leave it at that.
miket29
Posts: 371
Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:07 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by miket29 »

What are some decent communities around Mountain View to look at moving to? I expect to be in the office 3-4 days a week. I have never been a long distance commuter and hate the idea of commuting more than 30 minutes each way. Something along a train or public transport route would help alleviate that for me
If you're working for a small company, are they in walking distance of a Caltrain station? If not, you can't take the train unless you finish off the commute on a bicycle. Larger employers have shuttles that meet trains, smaller ones don't. The good news is there aren't that many rainy days so out of 200 work days it might rain on less than 20 of them. As for buses, forget it; it takes 30 minutes to go about 4 miles, and unless your job is close to El Camino you won't be near your office at the closest stop. There's a reason people call it the "shame train".

Another post suggested East Palo Alto. Be careful there; some neighborhoods are safe, some less so. See https://crimegrade.org/safest-places-in ... o-alto-ca/ You could look at Redwood City which has a decent downtown and most neighborhoods are safe. Or just past it is San Carlos. There are nice towns farther to the north (San Mateo, Burlingame, etc) but those are going to be more than 30 minutes away.

If I were in you're shoes, I'd probably do it. It isn't an irrevocable decision, you get to experience a new area, and by leveraging your salary up then even if you leave the area eventually you'll be negotiating from a higher base.
BogleFan510
Posts: 747
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:13 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by BogleFan510 »

Impatience wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 10:08 am
BogleFan510 wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 9:36 amThis seems misplaced. Why is Mountain View like a 'plague' other than housing costs, which are easily discoverable and can be evaluated rationally?
I am really curious. Are you angry because you would like to return home but cant afford to? What else is so bad that it is like a plague? I was just visiting a friend for a hike this week and it was gorgeous, 70 degrees and hiking in a nearby redwood forest. Sure, the homes can be a bit suburban, cookie cutter in MV specifically, and some traffic issues. My question is sincere because this is a real person with a real offer and being flippant seems unfair to them.
It’s alright I perfectly expected a lot of those responses especially when I asked for such general commentary. Bogleheads are often the perfect mix of age and wealth to generate extreme levels of flippantness.

It’s clear from listening to the people who have more recent actual experiences in the area that it’s not that catastrophically expensive but even so it’s not a financial home run in the short term, just a bump. However my reasons are not strictly financial - the product, company and job are all really exciting to me.

As long as I can max (or close) my 401k and Roth IRA each year the expenses will be fine. We acquire everything we possibly can from Amazon/online so those prices won’t budge which is reassuring. And in any event I’m not trying to die with $10m in the bank.
Glad we were helpful. I suggest a visit when SWA is back together. Its and easy and inexpensive flight. Rent a car and check stuff out. I was flying to AZ and back on a weekly basis 10 yrs ago. Its practically commutable.
SantaClaraSurfer
Posts: 379
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:09 am

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by SantaClaraSurfer »

I've lived and worked across the SF Bay Area for more than 20 years. The one thing I would say to anyone considering moving here for work would be to visit and decide for yourself!

Short of that you can read about many suburbs of the Bay Area here.

Personally, we rent in Santa Clara and really like it. There are a ton of couples with young children living here (our kids are grown.) It's a great mix. Rents are going to be higher than you are used to almost anywhere else, so your best bet is to make a budget and see what percentage of your income you are willing to spend on housing, and then see what's available at that price.

If you are serious about moving here, my best advice would be to come visit and maybe take some of the pragmatic steps towards investigating schools, housing, recreation, commute and see what fits for you. Flying in to San Jose to access Silicon Valley is also smart and easy.

In terms of quality of life, go for a hike in parks above Palo Alto or Los Gatos, or walk the Stanford Dish, have brunch at the Alpine Inn, or grab a meal at one of the many local restaurants across from Apple's HQ in Cupertino, or stroll around Castro Street and the surrounding neighborhoods in Mountain View. Drive 280 to San Francisco for an evening out. Take a look for yourself.

Only you can decide your direction. My advice would be to base your decision on first hand information and experience. Personally, when we looked at the cost benefit, renting in Santa Clara/Sunnyvale and commuting 20-30 minutes to work made the most sense for a quality of life point of view. (For reference, the commute from the Tri Valley to Silicon Valley pre-pandemic was easily 140-220 minutes RT per day, but the availability of WFH will change that dynamic.)

Wherever you choose to locate, at your age investing in your career (skills, core strengths, areas to improve/build expertise), your career network (work friendships, communities, conferences, mentors), and your long term happiness in non career activities, will pay huge quality of life dividends.

And, yes, from a Boglehead POV, keeping a budget and tracking your overall expenses is probably the simplest and smartest thing you could do right now.
boogle_12
Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Apr 26, 2021 1:41 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by boogle_12 »

Money aside, also consider just how much you like your current job. If your boss and team have been very pleasant to work with, don't assume that can easily be found elsewhere. Most people quit their boss, not their job after all.
Wannaretireearly
Posts: 2013
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:39 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by Wannaretireearly »

Impatience wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 7:24 pm EDIT: altered title to clarify the job is in Mountain View, not SF itself

Hi Bogleheads, this is my first “career advice” request from all you smart people so thank you in advance.

My partner and I live and work remotely in Phoenix, AZ, currently renting a 2 bedroom apt for $1,600/mo. I’m 32, partner is 34. We’re moderately aggressive savers with about $120k lifetime savings, mostly in retirement accounts. Currently I am earning $67k annually and my partner about $40k, so $107k annual gross between us.

I’m wrapping up a rotational program with my current employer. They like me a lot and I’m sure I could stay here for a long time and have a good career. On my current track I am basically guaranteed a raise to about $80k next near that will ramp up to $100-120k over the next 5 years. Career progression is well-defined here, if I were to do great work and relocate at the company’s whim I would reach the top of that range sooner, if I’m not so great I’ll reach it in more like 5 years. Things here are very predictable. But they are an east coast company and I don't want to move back there, so I already know I'm over it.

I’ve received a Silicon Valley job offer with a late-stage start-up that seems on a good path. I would be stepping into significantly more responsibility and be really close to the action as they gear up to scale. I’m really excited by the job, and the compensation, though also I’m trying to keep a clear head about it – almost all of the “raise” I’ll be receiving is going to be eaten whole by the SF cost of living. I have to relocate and am totally fine with that, just trying to wrap my head around how far this money will get me.

The offer:

$140k base
$25k equity per year for 4 years (assuming face value)
$17k target bonus

So, $182k total comp, bringing our household total to $222k, an increase of $115k (107%). Counting only base salary and not bonus/stock, a total of $180k (68% increase). From using various online cost of living calculators it appears the COL in San Francisco is about double what it is in Phoenix, but these calculations vary a lot in their output and their rents seem to be using pre-COVID numbers. Rents are still depressed, for example apartments right in the city of San Francisco which appear roughly equivalent to our current $1,600 per month apartment are listed for about $3,300, which is nowhere near as bad as the calculators make it out to be.

Anyway. On to the questions.

1. For my San Fran-transplant Bogleheads, what was it like for you? How did you cope with the cost of living – can it be offset by smart spending? We don’t go out much or splurge often.

2. How about job mobility? I work in corporate finance, I’m not a coder so there are far fewer positions doing what I do, typically only in later stage start-ups or the tech megacorps. I didn’t go to a top-whatever school, I secured this position through a reference and a great interview, and brownie points as a veteran. If this start-up folds do you expect it would be hard for me to quickly find another business-or-finance type role in Silicon Valley?

3. What are some decent communities around Mountain View to look at moving to? I expect to be in the office 3-4 days a week. I have never been a long distance commuter and hate the idea of commuting more than 30 minutes each way. Something along a train or public transport route would help alleviate that for me.

4. Any other thoughts you may have given the above facts. Let me know if I've left out any pertinent details, or PM me if some more specific information would help. I realize these questions are quite open-ended, just trying to get a feel for the experiences of any Bogleheads who have gone through a similar change.

Thanks!!
Can you negotiate the 'have to relocate' piece?
I would ask for at least 6 months to a year before having to move. Every company is trying to figure this out, wfh, hybrid, etc.

And I wouldn't be afraid to tell new company, your seeing rents around $5k a month and townhouses at $1.XM
Death and taxes. Only one is under your control!
NeophyteCA
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2016 7:29 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by NeophyteCA »

Is the job more important or is the "having a baby soon" more important? If your partner needed to stop working because of childcare, would that be okay? When my Mountain View friend's kids were small (about a decade ago), it was $2400/month for an infant and $1600/month for a toddler. If you want to make the move, I'd be tempted to plan on no kids for 2-3 years, put ~$2500/month in savings to get used to the daycare budget and have extra buffer, and see where it goes. (Everyone else has already touched on rent, so I won't pile on there.)
User avatar
FrugalProfessor
Posts: 406
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 11:34 am
Contact:

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by FrugalProfessor »

MarkRoulo wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 10:48 am
FrugalProfessor wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 9:28 am Didn't read the thread. Grew up in a town adjacent to Mountain View. Left at 17 (at the turn of the century) for college. I've visited a handful of times since.

While I enjoyed my childhood, as an adult (and father of five) I would avoid the area like the plague unless you are childless. If childless, you could make it work by living in a shoebox.

That said, I'll predictably be eating my words when I bike commute (15 miles round trip) in the coming -30°F winter months.
It would be helpful for the OP if you elaborated on WHY you would avoid the area like the plague (unless childless). Is it the cost of child care? The schools? The fact that kids seem to spend all their time either in school, in aftercare or doing homework and aren't running around the neighborhood playing? Or is it that biking to work can be more exciting than is reasonable? Or that you want a very large house on lots of land and this isn't happening anywhere near Mountain View on OP's family income?

It matters because the reasons you would avoid the area like the plague may not matter to the OP.
Cons to bay area in 2021:
* Cost of living through the roof.
* Congestion seems 10x worse than when I was a kid (cars, housing density, etc).
* High taxes, but at OP's income level, not too bad.

Pros to bay area in 2021:
* Strong economy.
* Incredible weather.
* Access to big city amenities if that's your jam.
* Access to natural beauty if that's your jam (ocean, foothills (santa cruz), Tahoe (winter + summer), etc).
* Access to world-class university of california system with in-state tuition discounts (probably an understated benefit).

While there are many non-trivial pros above, it seems to me that living in the bay area (with kids) on less than a $200k FAANG salary is a giant rat race. You will desperately be thrashing to keep your head above water. You won't get ahead financially.

Or you could sell your soul and sign up for a 3-hr round-trip commute by living somewhere cheaper....
I blog. Taxes are the lowest hanging source of alpha. I eat tax alpha for breakfast.
Afty
Posts: 1802
Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:31 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by Afty »

We moved from Boston to Sunnyvale 10 years ago. At first, I quite disliked it — the Peninsula and South Bay felt very bland and soulless coming from a dense, historic East Coast city, and there’s definitely a monoculture of nearly everyone being a tech employee. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate the area for what it does offer: beautiful weather, easy access to nature (beaches, trails), great ethnic food, and smart, accomplished neighbors.
sandan
Posts: 226
Joined: Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:48 pm

Re: Requesting advice as I consider a job offer in Mountain View, CA

Post by sandan »

Finance is very boom and bust in the valley. They keep the engineers first. Don't plan on being able to ride out a downtown and stay in the area unless your already financially independent. Transferring during good times should be easier than other cities.
Post Reply