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Ask Dave

Who Do You Want to Hang Out With?

Aaron has two job offers from tech companies. He's being advised to take the Silicon Valley job, but Aaron would have more money in his budget if he chose San Antonio. Which would be a better opportunity?

QUESTION: Aaron in Houston has two job offers from tech companies. One will pay $55,000 in San Antonio. The other one is in Silicon Valley making $100,000 a year. He’s being advised to take the Silicon Valley job, but Aaron would have more money in his budget if he chose San Antonio. Which would be a better opportunity?

ANSWER: The good news about Silicon Valley is you’re going to be around a really large group of very smart people in your industry. It’s the epicenter for the tech world, right? You’ll learn things, you’ll get opportunities there, so that’s the good news. The bad news is it’s the most insane place in the United States to live as far as cost goes. The real estate prices and the cost of living there is just nuts. Manhattan is really tough. Parts of L.A.—extremely tough. Silicon Valley’s just dad-blame insane. So you’ve got to go over there and shop. I’m not sure that you can make it on only $100,000 in there. It’s bizarre. You do you really need to investigate that.

If it weren’t for the cost of living, for me, it’d be a no-brainer, and it really wouldn’t be as much about the income you’re making as it would be for the opportunity for your career.

You’ve got $35,000 a year for housing and probably almost $30,000 more for housing than you’d have in San Antonio. That turns your $100,000 into $70,000 instantly just on the real estate discussion. The other cost of living thing is it’s not an exaggeration to say you might actually put more money in your pocket at $55,000 in San Antonio than you would $100,000 in Silicon Valley. That’s entirely possible.

I don’t think it’s extreme either way here where it’s a no-brainer based on the money. I think the money’s pretty close after adjusting for cost of living.

I’m a huge fan of Texas. No taxes, and great, great business market. It’s a wonderful, wonderful market.

Based only on career exposure, Silicon Valley is a pick if that’s all we’re basing it on, but I’m kind of stammering here because I’m just thinking about your quality of life, who it is you like hanging out with, the type of people you want to be around—that kind of a thing. The high performance mechanism of Silicon Valley will be great for you, but it might be that if you’re a Texan, you just like being in Texas more around Texans. It’s a different kind of person there.

You’ve just kind of got to decide where you want to live and the people you want to be around. The style of living and so forth. I’m a Tennessean, so we’re like first cousins to Texans, right? I carry a gun. I don’t believe in taxes. I’m one of those kinds of people. I wouldn’t fit in in Silicon Valley. It’s not saying they’re right or I’m wrong. I’m just saying culturally, I’m going to be a lot more comfortable in San Antonio if it’s me because it’s a lot more akin to Nashville where I live and how I live and how I think and who I am and those kinds of things.

You’re really got a break-even on the money. You pray about it, and you see what you get a peace about. Just after my conversation with you, I’m leaning toward the San Antonio deal if I’m you. I don’t think there’s a clear right or wrong answer here. I don’t think you’re stupid if you do one and don’t do the other. I’ve got to tell you the $55,000 versus the $100,000 in this situation is about a break even. It’s about who you want to work with and where you want to live and the kind of folk you want to hang out with culturally. Where’s that going to put you? You do have to keep in mind you’re going to have higher taxes in California because you’ve got an income tax there, and you don’t have that in San Antonio as well. That takes another $10,000 off your $100,000 not to mention California’s famous just on just inventing taxes on a daily basis.

I’m probably going to San Antonio the more I sit here and talk myself out of it. I don’t think there’s a really, really wrong answer here, but those are kind of my variables or touch points as I’m making this decision if I’m in your shoes.