Now I have one offer in Austin and one in SF (both are small size startups). I would appreciate if you could provide some advice about which one to pick? so the base salary before negotiation: Austin: 55k + 10% bonus, SF: 110k

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55k in Austin is VERY LOW.

Summarizing a few key points made by @vivian @ankur @michael.mroczka on this topic:

Networking is important, and location can affect networking. There are many varying thoughts on how substantially location actually affects networking if you really want to put yourself out there. @michael.mroczka believes you can effectively network no matter where you are.

SF cost of living is very high. Much higher than people think, although Austin cost of living may end up close to only 50% that of SF. There is potential to take in more, at the end of year, if in Austin. However, $55K in Austin still seems low.

@ankur also advocates for larger (and presumably) safer companies; where you may get more perks, and have much greater stability.

@vivian has been in both SF and Austin: "Everyone cares about different things, but these are some things abt sf that can wear you out: it can be dreary and dirty, really bad homelessness, really bad crime problems
But so many job opportunities. There’s definitely lots of stuff to do
Been to Austin, have visited twice for like 4-5 days each time. People in general there, are so so nice. It’s Texas but Austin is it’s own little bubble. Definitely hotter and more humid in Austin. But imo there’s more nature, it’s cleaner, and the food is better :rofl: "

Without having any other context. around career growth, team, your interests, your personal preference for cities, etc. Just looking at comp…I’d still go w/SF. Cost of living in Austin is about 50% that of SF so technically you would be slightly ahead when you add the bonus and the fact that Texas does not have state income tax. However, if all things about the job are equal, and you don’t care about the city, I would chose to start my career in a high cost of living city. Having that higher comp will help you get higher comp in future jobs, especially if you are going to move to a lower cost of living city in the future. But it isn’t just about the money, definitely need to consider all the factors about the companies, definitely a great thing to talk through with your advisor!

Also, congrats on your offers!


With a 110k salary, I don’t even look at the bill anymore. As long as the number looks reasonable, just swipe

There are also people making $20/hr in SF. Compare your salary to that, its def not expensive for you at all. You can live frugallly & save a ton of cash

Havent been to Austin so cant give u 2cent on that

I agree with @Alysa that $55K is Austin is low. But with negotiation (to increase base), and bonuses, and stocks, or other perks, it can be viable.

I think @vivian brings up a good point, though, that what you care about in your life, matters the most in making this decision. Are you thinking about family, and a large home, and being able to relax? SF provides almost none of that, for example. It has the lowest children per household of any metropolitan region in America, 3 bedroom single family homes can run you $2.5 Million, and there is definitely an atmosphere in the downtown and financial districts during working hours that has a high intensity bustle to it.

If, however, you don’t care about any of that, and are okay splitting an apartment with roommates, and have some food catered at work, or are good at cooking, $110k in SF can take you very far, where you can even be maximizing out your 401K every year (side note, everyone should aim to this if financially possible, this is a very sound financial decision; we should definitely have some posts where we talk about the intricacies of finances).

I just came back from a trip to Austin, a city I really enjoy (also visited San Antonio, plus heading to Houston for the first time very soon). I think you’re from Texas, right @lizhoucheng, so I don’t need to write much about Austin (although, Austin is clearly different from the rest of Texas). From my limited experience there, though, the tech scene is nothing like downtown SF, or South Bay in California. The people move at a different pace, and the everyday topics people talk about are different. But that’s also what gives every major city it’s unique character. The people of Portland are not the same as New York are not the same as SF, etc. And to me, that’s an amazing thing, and reason why I love visiting all of those cities.

In any case, I think it’s important to really spend time thinking about what you value in life, and once you have the weights of what’s most important, you’ll be able to make the best decision here.

FYI, I currently live in Austin, and have lived here since 2013. If you have any questions about living here, let me know! Lots of great food, things to do, people are friendly, and it’s t-shirt weather 10 months of the year. I get ice cream cones for my birthday in December and eat them outside in shorts :slight_smile:

The cost of living here has been skyrocketing as people move here from other tech hubs, so those “cost of living” estimators can be inaccurate unless they use the most recent year’s data. Keep that in mind!

A typical 500 sq ft, one bedroom apartment can go for over $1200/mo now, when the same apt used to be $700/mo five years ago. Compared to SFO it’s affordable, but calling Austin “affordable” is no longer true. We are starting to have a problem with homelessness as well, which is comparable to how it was in Seattle when I moved here 6 years ago. A problem any growing city has, unfortunately. We’re getting a major Google hub here in a few years, as well as Amazon.


Oh wow, I didn’t realize Google and Amazon were creating major office hubs in Austin. I wonder how that will affect the character of the city.

Besides the weather and ability to eat so much ice cream :ice_cream:, what’s your favorite part about living in Austin @Alysa?

Favorite thing about Austin: the city’s commitment to nature and sustainability! There are more parks and natural wild spaces in Austin than I can think of in any other major city. Also we have a major river (and the world’s largest urban bat colony roosting over it, right in downtown!). When I’ve had meetings downtown, I’ve gone for walks along the river beforehand and been 10 feet away from hawks hanging out along the jogging trail. It’s great!

I have mixed feelings about the Tech Giants showing up. Plus side, more jobs. Minus side… I’m from Seattle. I’ve seen how the giant companies gentrify areas, hike up rents, and push city natives out. Austin is different from Seattle in that it has a huge committment to keeping local businesses. Seattle didn’t, and they’re all gone now. I’m hoping Austin’s culture will help keep local businesses from succumbing to condo hell like Seattle did. We’ll have to see, I guess?

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