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Old 01-03-06, 08:32 AM   #1
The_Guru
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Cost of living comparison for SoCal cities

Hi

I got a call out of the blue from a company who has offices in both Zurich and SoCal, asking whether I'd be interested in interviewing with them...
While I'm very content at my current place of employment, I like to keep an open mind, and confirmed with them...

And then I got thinking - what would it be like to live in the USA?
(I was born in Cape Town, South Africa; lived there for 22 years, moved to London, England where I worked for 18 months, and then took up an offer in Zurich, Switzerland ... so I've lived in difference places, and have visited USA but never lived there).

Could someone give me an indication of what the relative cost of living is in:

LA (Santa Monica)
SF (Mountain View)

I've checked the UBS cost of living comparison of course, but one cannot really get a feel of what is a comparative salary in another country...

I'm married, and have one kid ... of course I'll pay considerably more income tax there than here, but then cars and groceries are orders of magnitude cheaper too ...

If anyone has any experience in this dept, would be grateful for your input.

Thanks
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Old 01-03-06, 12:04 PM   #2
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I never tried looking for incomes from other countries....but did you try the main salary comparison and cost of living website?

www.salary.com
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Old 01-03-06, 12:45 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by KingTermite
I never tried looking for incomes from other countries....but did you try the main salary comparison and cost of living website?

www.salary.com
Yep, I did ... but I don't trust those things to be accurate ...
First-hand personal experience always counts for more...
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Old 01-03-06, 02:49 PM   #4
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You can buy a $100,000 house for $600,000 here in CA. Santa Monica? Make that an even $1,000,000. Hopefully you OWN the company. Housing costs are unbelievable here.

I'm thinking Mountain View is about the same.

100 mile commutes are not uncommon. To afford a house, you typically have to be quite far away from where you work.

Public transit is OK for any distance you could easily bike, but otherwise forget it.

As a result...the traffic here is horrible. World famous.

...but you can't beat the SoCA weather.

In winter, I can scuba dive in the morning at Laguna Beach and snow ski in the afternoon at Snow Valley.

I'm trying to talk you out of moving, but bear in mind that I'm being self-serving and trying to avoid having one more family move this area. I am one of the few that was actually BORN here.
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Old 01-03-06, 03:06 PM   #5
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i've been to socal a few times. have friends in the area. it's a weird place, and from everyone i've talked to it can seem abrasive at first and then grow on you after a while. it's car culture all the way, however, so keep that in mind. lots of urban sprawl as well and the smog that settles in the valley is disgusting. housing costs, like many places in the US right now, is extremely expensive.
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Old 01-03-06, 03:20 PM   #6
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Stay away from the valley! Live on the coast, that's the only place to be in SoCal. Any place with "Beach" in its name, like Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Long Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach will have 200-300% higher cost-of-living than areas just 100km inland.

Definitely car-oriented. We can thank Eisenhower for declaring a culture based upon the automobile. Lots of design, planning and engineering went into the highway system to efficiently concentrate areas of shopping, business, housing, etc. Unfortunately, traffic and congestion wasn't a concern decades ago when many of these roads were built. So, don't plan on easy bike-riding in the LA area. The coast and PCH can be nice, but smog inland will get to you.
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Old 01-04-06, 04:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
. The coast and PCH can be nice, but smog inland will get to you.
Hahaha. Kids...

There is so much less smog today than there was back in the 60's and 70's...even with there being more cars today!

IMO (because I already HAVE a house), the traffic is the biggest detriment to an otherwise great standard of living.
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Old 01-04-06, 04:48 PM   #8
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I lived in San Diego for about 13 months and I was glad to get out. The weather is superb, scenery is incomparable, and biking is fantastic, but the cost of living is really just insane. I mean, it's pretty much out of the ballpark. I live in Houston now, and the EXACT same house I own would cost anywhere from $400-600K, depending on the area. And I own a small 1,000 sf house. I honestly don't know how anyone actually BUYS real estate there without being a CEO or something, because (at least from my experience) salaries are not much different than other parts of the country.

And it's not just housing. Gas is expensive, taxes are high, and groceries (the produce is the best anywhere BTW) were double what I pay now. Seriously, how can a pack of 3 chicken breasts be $12.00, especially when they're bred, raised, and slaughtered in CA?

But like someone else said, during the winter you can swim in the ocean, go ski in the mountains, and visit the desert all in the same day. The outdoor activities are top notch.
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Old 01-04-06, 05:47 PM   #9
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I've lived in SoCal since 1990 and I can't imagine living anywhere else (moved here from upstate NY). I would consider other places but they'd have to be outside of the United States.

It is expensive though. I don't recommend it if your goal is to buy a nice house and settle down and raise a family unless you are making big money. I was fortunate enough to have bought our house in San Diego before housing prices went crazy so my mortgage payment is fixed for the next 24 or so years.

Santa Monica is pretty crowded and traffic in Los Angeles is horrible. I would stay in the coastal areas and avoid the valley. Again, all the places you would want to live will be ungodly expensive if you're thinking of buying. You might be able to find a nice condo for $400-500,000 though.

Haven't been up to the bay area in years so I cannot make any recommendations for you there.
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Old 01-10-06, 03:08 PM   #10
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(moved here from upstate NY).

me, too! where upstate?
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Old 01-10-06, 07:45 PM   #11
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A condo, 1200 sq ft, 2bd 2ba, is about 500k here in West LA (not yet Santa Monica which is higher). Gasoline is in the $2.40s for 91 premium grade. Moving a little more inland, housing gets slightly cheaper, but not by much and gasoline drops about 10 cents -- commuting further doesn't make much more sense. It's pretty ridiculous, but what can you do? There's always great weather here -- 80F today (early January).

Mt. View is part of Silicon Valley so it's pretty much the same as LA or even a bit more expensive.
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Old 01-10-06, 07:54 PM   #12
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I love to visit SoCal - but couldn't live there unless I won the Mega-Lotto. What everyone said above holds so very very true. I live in Dallas, Tx where housing costs and general cost of living is one of the lowest in the country for the size city I'm in. A 1700sqft house here costs 140ish. In SoCal - what do you all say - 700+? And the traffic is bad. Dallas doesn't have the best traffic by any means, but I'll take it over LA any day of the week.
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Old 01-10-06, 08:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuda2k
I love to visit SoCal - but couldn't live there unless I won the Mega-Lotto. What everyone said above holds so very very true. I live in Dallas, Tx where housing costs and general cost of living is one of the lowest in the country for the size city I'm in. A 1700sqft house here costs 140ish. In SoCal - what do you all say - 700+? And the traffic is bad. Dallas doesn't have the best traffic by any means, but I'll take it over LA any day of the week.
Man, why is the cost of living in TX so low, considering that Dallas, San Antonio and Austin are pretty large and well-known cities? If I were to live in TX, again, I'd choose Austin. I grew up in Houston and Port Arthur, but can't stand how nasty Houston has gotten (bad congestion and out of control development).
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