No money, mo' problems...
April 4, 2011 7:55 PM   Subscribe

How do I reconcile myself to earning less money in a more expensive location?

I have recently moved to SoCal, and though the job market is extremely tight, I've been averaging an interview a week since I got here (which I know is above average and unusual). The sticking point is my income requirements... I was underpaid in Michigan, I can't imagine making less than that here. At what point do you just suck it up and work 2 jobs? How do I not feel like that is a statement about my personal worth?
posted by blackkar to Work & Money (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I was underpaid in SoCal for years and years until very recently. Now I'm not underpaid, but it's so expensive to live here that, even with a substantial income, it's really not affordable. How do I reconcile it? I don't, really. I hate it and I feel like an idiot for living here because I make enough money that I really ought to be living better than I am.

I think you just have to accept that living here is outrageously expensive and that wages are not high enough to cover the cost because the place is full of people who are willing to accept a lower standard of living in exchange for some psychic benefit that they receive from living in this place. The weather's nice, sure, but it's not nice enough to justify all the other nonsense.

As long as you live in Southern California, you will always get less than you pay for and you will always get paid less than you're worth - no matter how much you are paid and no matter how ultra rich you may become.

But, on the bright side, if you don't have a job yet, that means you might be flexible in where you live and you might be able to settle down in one of the few parts of SoCal that are more affordable than others.

Also, and I really do mean this, some of the best people ever live in LA and, for me at least, living in close proximity to so many really great, thoughtful, kind, and interesting people really helps justify the cost.
posted by The World Famous at 8:04 PM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Treat it like an opportunity to get skinny? Get used to living on less. It blows.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:05 PM on April 4, 2011

How do I not feel like that is a statement about my personal worth?

Your value as a human being comes from what you do, not how much you get paid. Do what you can to make yourself proud of what you do. As long as you can afford rent and other basic necessities (and I live in New York City and work in a generally low-paying industry, so I know the feeling) and have a little fun here and there, it's not so bad.

I can't tell by your question what exactly underpaid means, whether that's still a decent amount of money or you'd actually qualify as low-income for the area. But once you do get used to it there's still plenty of good times to be had on low incomes as long as you have inexpensive hobbies.
posted by wondermouse at 8:11 PM on April 4, 2011

It's a statement on the economy, not your personal self-worth. With literally hundreds of applicants for every opening, the law of supply and demand is leaning heavily in favor of the employers right now - and probably for the next couple of years at least. I just took a 20% pay cut after 90 days of unemployment, but I still think I'm awesome ;)
posted by COD at 8:29 PM on April 4, 2011

Honestly, I think it's a tradeoff for the weather. Think of it as paying to make sure you don't have to live through cold, nasty, snowy winters. Think of the worst winter you ever spent back home. Think of power outages, being snowed in, all the horrible storm stuff. How much would you be willing to pay to never have to go through that hell again? Congratulations, that's what you're paying for good weather, not dealing with freezing issues, not being soaked 24-7, being able to go outside and enjoy the sunshine and go to the beach most of the time, and for free! And to be able to get there relatively quickly (er, compared to Michigan)!

It's a Good Weather Tax!

Okay, so I'm speaking as a spoiled born Californian (I think I'm glad I got born here, because "expensive" to everyone else is same old to me), but man, I am so glad I don't have to deal with "real" weather. Worth it to me to not move.

Also, yeah, the economy. But that's EVERYWHERE you live.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:33 PM on April 4, 2011

wondermouse has it!

Also...don't just look at how much they are paying you...look at how much they MIGHT pay you if X and Y work out in the future. Plan on them happening, and what you would do if they don't.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:59 PM on April 4, 2011

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