Cost of living or job pool: help me decide!
October 6, 2008 10:32 AM   Subscribe

In the current economic climate, should I stay where I am in a place with average cost-of-living and a average job possibilities, or move to a place with high cost-of-living but great job possibilities?

I currently work for a late-stage startup, and the opportunity to move to the San Francisco area has opened up. I've wanted to move out there for a long time, and I'm trying to decide if now is the right time to do it.

If my current company happens to fail down the road, as startups sometimes do, will I be better off in a place like the SF Bay where I believe I could easily find another technology job give my connections and experience, or would I be better off staying here where cost of living is reasonable? I don't really have any strong networking ties to my current location; no stronger than my Bay Area network, so I don't think that's a factor.

My company will pay for relocation to San Francisco, and they will increase my salary based on the cost of living. We'll also downsize things, particularly housing, so I don't think we'll feel the full 80% raw increase in cost of living. It's a place we've wanted to move to for a long time.

So, I've boiled it down to these pros and cons of making the move:


- We want to live there.
- Bigger job pool in case $CURRENT_COMPANY disappears.
- Relocation paid for now, maybe not later.


- Much higher cost of living.

What does the hive mind think? To me, the answer is clear: make the move. But I'm just a little bit shy about shooting myself in the foot in the long term.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My answer is based partly upon your unknown age, but I'm assuming you're in your 20's, MAYBE early 30's.

With that in mind, and in all seriousness, my response to you would be:

Should've, Would've, Could've. (or in the vernacular - "Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda")
posted by matty at 10:44 AM on October 6, 2008

Go for it!
posted by jesirose at 10:55 AM on October 6, 2008

We want to live there.

Then live there. Companies fail, people lose jobs in all economic climates. If it comes to that, you'll find another job. I've seen about 10 questions in the past week where people wonder if they should let the economic crisis run their life. Of course there's a place for prudence, but if you wait for conditions to be 100% perfect before you do what you want to do with your life, you will never do it.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:00 AM on October 6, 2008 [3 favorites]

Absolutely go for it. You don't give details of where you are currently, but if it's anything like the differential here in the UK between $Big_city and $Medium_city elsewhere you might have a bit of sticker shock on prices (transport, entertainment and some food items mainly) but those things will be made up for by the benefits of living in a city (reduced/zero cost of transport if you can use public/bicycle/walking instead of a car, as just one example).

I would definitely take the paid-for move, as if the economy in the US did contract, you could find yourself out of a job and without the funds to move anywhere, never mind SF, whereas, as you say, this way if something did happen you'd be in a much better position jobhunting wise.

As a hedge either way, get out of any debt you're in, build up 3-6 months of expenses and keep your eye on opportunities.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:50 AM on October 6, 2008

If your pay rise is in line with the increase cost of living then the higher cost of living isn't really much of a con.
posted by missmagenta at 11:51 AM on October 6, 2008

even without the paid move, i would tell you to go but the fact that someone else is paying your relocation just makes this that much more of a no brainer. GO!
posted by lia at 12:03 PM on October 6, 2008

Housing is much cheaper in San Francisco this year than last year, and yet the income levels have stayed about the same.
posted by Ookseer at 12:05 PM on October 6, 2008

You don't say where you live now, but it's staggeringly improbable that your salary increase will cover the difference in the cost of housing if you ever want to buy a house or condo, and moving to the suburbs of SF doesn't help your situation either. There is literally nothing worth living in under $600k, and if you want a nice neighborhood, more than two bedrooms, more than one bathroom, good schools, etc., it'll be a far sight more than that. Don't be blinded by the big salary: everyone here makes a lot of money compared to most of the rest of the country, but they're not actually better off in terms of quality of life (unless you really, really, really care about the weather).
posted by jewzilla at 1:38 PM on October 6, 2008

Jewzilla's right that it's still outrageously expensive to buy a place, but the RENTAL market actually isn't all that bad.

True, you might not get a 2 car garage and a media room like in other parts of the country, but it is possible to live well in a small space, especially when you can stroll out to parks, nice restaurants and cafes, and decent public transport (depending on the neighborhood).

When my husband and I moved back to the US in 2003, we debated between Atlanta (where we could buy a house, and both of us had secure job offers) and San Francisco (where we would rent, and only one of us had an actual job offer). Five years later, we are very happy we came to SF.

We both ended up with great jobs, and although we may not have a ton of space, the quality of life in SF was well worth it, at least for what matters to us (great culture, little driving, awesome eating).

Go for it!
posted by CruiseSavvy at 2:08 PM on October 6, 2008

Hopefully it's okay to piggyback on the question a bit... should I expect the SF housing market to stay unattainable for the long term? Is it wise to move somewhere that I'll never expect to buy a house or a condo?
posted by scission at 2:46 PM on October 6, 2008

Oh, if I were childless, and big-dog-less, and someone would pay for me to move to SF, I would say yes before they changed their mind. If it's somewhere you want to be, then by all there!

posted by dejah420 at 8:53 PM on October 6, 2008

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