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Dear Douglas E. Welch
I am considering a substantial career shift and am excited about the job because I subscribe to the philosophy of: “If you have passion for what you do, you will never work a day in your life.”
The reason for reaching out is, I have been a listener of your Pod Casts on Stitcher Radio. One in particular was the recent theme of Leadership. It impressed me and drove home of points I have been mulling about and this change to do what I have passion for was one of them.
Where my issue is; the location the job is at. Currently I live in the middle of the US where there are less than a Million people in the state and in a lot of respects simpler life style.
Now I am looking to enter the heart of Silicon Valley, I need to make sure that I am not going to make the commitment and find out that I am unable to survive in the environment based on the unexpected.
These are Items of accepting a wage that to my standards seams great but is poverty in that area. Because of the high cost of items I never considered Or I rent an apartment close to work but most people drive out of their way because…, Where as I am thinking it is a great place. Besides on what I agreed to wage wise it fits in my net budget. Or I choose a place a little way away from work but in a nice community afford the place. But I find out in rush hour it take two hours each ways to work compared to the 3 min commute in rush hour I have now.
I believe you live in this area, reliable non bias way of finding a good indication of what realistic cost would be for taxes and expenses to use when comparing salary and benefits. Also suggest areas to stay away from or strategies’ for commuting?
I appreciate the employer wants the lowest cost where as I want I a comfortable means so that I will have a decent quality of living knowing I am considering one of most expensive places to live in the use. So that is why approach you.
Thank you for any advice or suggestions you can offer.
Michael, Thanks for writing and listening to the show!
I don’t live in the Silicon Valley area, but rather in Los Angeles to the south. That said, cost of living is similar and, as someone who moved here from Ohio 26 years ago, it is substantially more expensive to live here than in other areas. That said, the salaries tend to reflect this higher cost of living so it tends to balance out over time.
First, look at jobs that are similar to the one you want and see what the offered salary is, in the geographic area where you want to work. This will help to insure that you don’t underprice yourself or leave yourself strapped financially. There are so many more tools available these days for discovering average salaries and such then there were in the days when I moved here. (which was basically a 2 week old LA Times in the Cleveland Public Library and one set of family friends that lived here.)
As for places to live, my suggestion is always to live as close to your work as possible. This removes many of the commuting issues as a general rule. A sad fact here in California, as in most metropolitan areas is that traffic is generally horrendous at rush hour. Double or triple that for Los Angeles and Bay area, due to the number of people and geographic oddities that restrict traffic flow.
When looking for jobs, one of your first stops should always be Google Maps. (Man, I wish I had had this when I moved out here (LAUGH). It can give you soooooo much information in regards to traffic, distances and, to address another of your questions, the character of the neighborhood where you might live. With the addition of Street View, you can visually “drive/walk” through a neighborhood and get a really clear idea what it looks like and the pros/cons of living there. Google directions can provide you estimates of traffic during rush hour and off hour times, so you will want to spend some time there, once you start seeing job possibilities and where they might be located.
As for housing, here in the San Fernando Valley in urban Los Angeles, 1 bedroom apartments can cost between $1000-$1500/month in fairly decent neighborhoods. You can find cheaper apartments , but you need to look carefully at the neighborhood. I tend to err on the side of paying a bit more for slightly improved circumstances than paying less for areas that might have noise or other issues. That depends more on what you can deal with. I need a quieter neighborhood as I am bothered by noise. My wife couldn’t care less and often doesn’t even notice noises that are driving me crazy. (LAUGH)
You are already making this move easier for yourself as you are already thinking about it in a careful fashion. No one wants to move somewhere only to have to move back when finances don’t work out.
Finally, look to your online contacts who might live in the area — or in similar areas — and get their feedback on housing, commute, etc. I know that when I put out the call of what to see/do/eat/experience in a given city I am usually overrun with suggestions. Look to online sites like the tourist boards, city web sites, etc for more indepth info on housing, crime, population density, etc.
Of course, know too that it will be an adventure and you will have to “put on your adventure hat” sometimes to make your way through. This is the term my wife and I use to remind ourselves that we have to get through something. Life should not be a constant crisis, but there will be times when things don’t work out. Have backup plans where you can, but also just be aware that change happens and you can’t always plan for everything.
I hope this helps!
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