Costs of Living in California

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One of the things I was most concerned about moving from Massachusetts to California was the costs of living out here. I had 30 years to research every optimal deal around Boston. I didn't have to sign up for The Grocery Game, because I had been living it for years.

I'm not quite as efficient out here in San Mateo county. Here are the ups and downs thus far:

- Housing - I have to rent, there's zero chance of me buying a home. Renting isn't that bad overall. It's probably about the same as Boston.

- Utilities - This is going to be a pretty big win for our household. With the ideal weather I don't expect that we'll use the heat and very few places even come with air conditioning because it's simply not necesssary. Our cable and Internet bill will be about $15 cheaper. In fact the package is actually cheaper with HBO - a solid bonus.

- Transportation - My fiance used to pay $200 a month in gas to drive to her job. Here, she'll get $65 towards a metro pass from her job. That means that she's going to have to come out with something like $20 to supplement that subsidy. My costs are going to go up as I am now the one that has to travel, but my math says it's about 2 gallons of a day or about $100

- Food and Materal Possessions - Food and clothing is taxed in California! That's a shock to us who have lived in Massachusetts where it's exempt. We aren't talking about a 5% state tax either, it's 50% more or 7.5% overall. I haven't been able to find the same grocery deals that I found back home, but Costco is about the same price as home, and I'm hopeful that Wal-Mart will be my friend on the grocery front. On the plus side, my job has lunch, snacks, and soda brought in daily. If I'm there late (7PM-ish), they'll bring in dinner as well.

- Gym - The gym will be $10 less for my fiance. That was a great surprise, because the real estate for running a gym is more expensive. While she wants a full gym, I will take advantage of the small fitness center in the apartment complex - a savings of $40 a month for me.

All in all, I think the costs of living will be a little more expensive, but we really need to put together a budget before we are sure.

This post deals with: ... and focuses on:

Money Management, Relocation

Last updated on July 29, 2011.

Finally a Job Offer

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Thank goodness, I finally have an offer for gainful employment. It's not as gainful as I would have hoped though. Once again, it looks like I'm going to have to a discount to what the general market is for my skills. While it's more money than I made at my previous job, with the increased costs of living, it turns out to be less in my pocket. At least there's some good perks like lunch brought in every day and free dinner if you stay late enough. It's incredible how standard that is around San Francisco.

It's a job that I think I can really excel at. It's going to be a challenge to try to save money in this environment.

This post deals with: ... and focuses on:

Job, Relocation

Last updated on December 14, 2006.

Just moving in…

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So I just moved into the new place today. As you may be able to tell from my previous post, I'm not buying a place, but renting instead. I'm running into most of the usual surprises you move into a new place. Since I relocated everything I own, the moving company isn't coming until tomorrow at the earliest. That means no lights in much of the house or a bed. There's no trash barrel as well.

Of course without a TV, I can't get cable installed and that means not only no cable TV, but I have to piggyback on other people's Internet connections. I figured there might be a million people with open networks being in an apartment complex in Silicon Valley, but oddly there's just the one. I hope that borrowing someone else's Internet connection doesn't make me a bad person. It's just temporary.

This post deals with: ... and focuses on:

Relocation

Last updated on December 14, 2006.

Housing Prices in California? Hold your hat!

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Today I opened up a Homes and Land magazine to see what the prices are along the peninsula. Wow, was a mistake. As an owner of a condo in the MetroWest Massachusetts area, I could get a 1000 sq. ft place for a mortgage and HOA payment of $1800. My fiance owned her own 1200 sq. ft. place around Fitchburg, MA for $1100. Those are serviceable prices to pay for home ownership.

Back to the Homes and Land magazine... I note one home at 716 West Capistano Way, San Mateo, CA that's 2 bed/1.5 bath, 1650 sq. ft. The price is a tiny $1,125,000. So after putting $200K down, payments are only $6,000 a month.

I know, maybe I can downsize a bit. A couple of pages away there's another gem. This one is 3 beds/2 bath and even has a 2 car garage. It's 1220 sq. ft, so about the size of my fiance's 180K appraised condo. It's listed as a "great fixer upper, ideal for contractor or buyers who are looking to fix or flip." I wish I could show you the picture of this place. I have to believe that someone is inside holding it up, because it looks like it could fall at any minute. That's a tiny $600K.

What could 600K get us in Framingham, MA or Marlborough, MA? It would get you a new construction 3000+ sq. ft 4 bed/2.5 bath palace. It's a good thing I don't plan on buying here. It would take me years to amass enough for a down payment.

[Originally published Sep 19, 2006...]

This post deals with: ... and focuses on:

Real Estate, Relocation

Last updated on July 6, 2015.

Apartment hunting in California!

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Things are moving along out here. I owe quite a few updates as I've been kind of distracted setting up everything.

I think we may have found our new apartment. It's nice townhouse about 1050 square feet, but has the big bedrooms that our furniture from Boston requires. It's very odd that you can find big bedrooms in Boston, but in California, good luck getting a 2 bedroom place that will fit your furniture if it's bigger than average. The rent is $1900, which is a pretty good price for a pretty updated place on the penisula.

The big win for me is the amenites. It includes a fitness room, heated pool, and spa. I'll save $40 a month in gym fees alone. I'm trying to get my fiance to not get another gym and use what's available to save more money, but that's looking like a losing fight. I'm a big fan of swimming and living south of San Francisco will give me much more swim time than I could get in Boston. Even in the hottest day in Boston the pools top out at 78 degrees. Here they are heated to about 82-85 degrees it seems. It really makes a big difference.

It's an odd coincidence that the cost of living will be about the same as my mortgage in Boston. I won't be able to rent my condo out for that $1900 (likely more towards $1400) and I won't get to deduct my mortgage interest from my taxes. Doing the math out on that and I think it's around a $9,000 yearly loss in just housing costs. I just did a little math and if I get my expected salary (which is looking pretty good about now), I should make $16,000 a year more after taxes out here. My fiancee will probably make about the same amount more. So it looks like there may be about 23K ((16K * 2) - 9K) in it for the wallet. Of course that's based on the assumption that only housing is more expensive. It will be interesting to factor in the other areas.

This post deals with: ... and focuses on:

Real Estate, Relocation

Last updated on December 14, 2006.

Getting Ready for the Move to San Francisco

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The time is nearly here. Almost everything I have is boxed up for the trip across country. It will be difficult for me to keep you updated along the way. I'm not sure what Internet connection I'll have - if any. I also am not sure if I'll have any down time.

I feel I owe you a little explanation on why I might not post as much. In exchange, you notice the first image of the blog. I plan to add more of them going forward. If I wasn't so aptly named, maybe I'd go back and do them for prior posts.

This post deals with: ... and focuses on:

Relocation

Last updated on December 14, 2006.

Getting Close to the Move and Still no Job

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You'd think it would be easy to find a job in Silicon Valley for an engineer with 7-8 years of experience. Every recruiter (and there have been 40-50) says that it shouldn't be a problem. Yet, I haven't gotten any offers and they don't seem to be coming back to me as much as they did just a couple of weeks ago.

Fate may have stepped in when Lifehacker (one of my favorite blogs) pointed me in the direction of an article on How to Get a Silicon Valley job. You can't get too much more specific or timely than that. The first recommendation is to seek out the companies you like and apply to them. Interestingly, I had sent out an e-mail like that the day before and got a response back really quickly. I'm not used to working for companies that care if their employees use the product - it just makes too much good sense.

This post deals with: ... and focuses on:

Job, Relocation

Last updated on December 14, 2006.

Greetings from California

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Sorry, I haven't had a chance to write, but I've been on a tour interviewing for jobs in California. I picked up a guide to the real estate today and it was really an eye opener. Anything more than a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom place was 1M+. I can see why mortgage companies are coming out with 40 and 50 year fixed mortgages. It's really a necessity for them to do business. Without them, it would be near impossible to pay the monthly payments on a typical salary. I'm not even sure I can get by on the increased salary. It will be an adventure either way.

This post deals with: ... and focuses on:

Relocation

Last updated on December 14, 2006.

San Francisco at 98%

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It seems like there are no major stumbling blocks with the potential move. I still have yet to get a job, but they seem very plentiful. I'm not as sad I might be to leave my current job. I've put in nearly two and half years building the company from scratch as one of the first employees. In the software world, that's nearly a lifetime. On Friday, the company really showed me where I belonged. I was grouped with a few developers that were less experienced and lacked the communication skills necessary to deal with our clients (as I do on a daily basis). Meanwhile people that were employed after me had fresh new job titles that suggested they were more senior.

I apologize that this blog is getting a little focused on the move to San Francisco. However, it's a decision that dominates your life when the furthest you've been from home is 10 miles. I will get into some of the real estate choices we'll have to make soon.

This post deals with: ... and focuses on:

Relocation

Last updated on December 14, 2006.

The Verdict is in…

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My fiancee has gotten the position in San Francisco. It's a huge promotion for her and will mean more money for us (provided that I can find a software engineering job in the software engineering capital of the world). I'm sure that sounds like I'm justifying it, but it could mean a great promotion for me as well. If I had to choose, I wouldn't be moving, so I have to get that out in the open. Given that the plan is to be out there for 2 years and then get back to Boston, I think I can deal with it.

This post deals with: ... and focuses on:

Relocation

Last updated on December 14, 2006.

 
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