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U.S. Programmers at Overseas Salaries

http://businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/dec2003/sb2003122_8887.htm

Is this where this field is going?

Mr Curiousity
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Didn't we have this discussion already??????

GenX'er
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=92399&ixReplies=70

GenX'er
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Sorry, did not see that ...

Mr Curiousity
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

That discussion is really old, and well hashed over.

As a sidenote, during the middle of the boom there were firms hiring web slingers for minimum wage (desperate bottom feeders), but where were all of the prophetic "is this where we're headed?" proclamations then?

Dennis Forbes
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

45,000.00 USD  =  25,793.31 GBP

Thats not far off what your average programmer could expect to earn here.  It would seem that we are already there.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

But Ged, I still have to pay for medical insurance out of that 45k. Your medical care is free.

Rob VH
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I don't understand why people don't equate $45,000 USD with "a lot of money".  I think it's one fucking hell of a lot.  Better than my current job at $10 per hour.  Of course all this depends on where you live and how you live, but come on people if I got a chance at a programming position for $30,000 a year I would jump at it probably even $25,000 a year.  In my area of the country and with my background that is not a bad living.  Maybe I'm just not spoiled like the rest of you.


Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Being a Canadian, and paying a consideral amount of my gross income in taxes (along with a myriad of other taxes that surround virtually every financial transaction), I'd call you on the statement that socialized medicine is "free". I'm paying for services in a huge group plan, and I think it works wonderfully, but it most certainly isn't free.

Dennis Forbes
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I got one! Quick! Hand me the net!

Rob VH
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

>I don't understand why people don't equate $45,000 USD with "a lot of money".

It depends on the cost of living where you are.  $45K USD in the US or UK is decent money, but it's far from rich when a 2-bedroom apartment costs $1200/month and taxes take out $15K of it.

T. Norman
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Rob VH,

Our medical insurance is deducted at source.  We still have to pay for it.

I'll bet that a developer in the UK pays significantly more Tax than in the US.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Is this Deja Vu or what? As I noted in the earlier post:

You can't live on 40K in New York (Long Island) - If you want to buy a house & have a family!!!!!!!

GenX'er
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

- I don't understand why people don't equate $45,000 USD with "a lot of money". 

Because a family of four is listed in the US at poverty level for $28,000 a year. $45K may be good money in Real Oak, Montana, but it is nothing in NYC.

Smarty
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Speaking of which, when USAns speak of a US$45K job, is it before taxes (Social Security, income, local, etc.), and before medical, retirement, etc.?

For a 30-year-old, single person living in an urban area, how much would be left in disposable income?

Frederic Faure
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Why do so many non-Americans call Americans "USAns" or "USians"?

Anyway, yes, $45K generally means the gross before taxes and Social Security, health insurance premiums etc.

A $45K gross would generally become about $30K take home or $2500/month.  A bit more if you qualify for any of various tax deductions, or live in a state like Florida with no state income tax.

A single person without dependents can live comfortably on $45K in almost any urban area in the US (except New York City or the California Bay Area).  But they won't be "rich", and their budget is likely get squeezed once they bring a non-working spouse, children, and/or buying a home into the mix.

T. Norman
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I was trolling for dollars with my "free" comment above, of course.

As somebody wise once observed, "If you think health care is expensive now, just wait till it doesn't cost anything!"

Rob VH
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

In the US we tend to speak of money before taxes. So that 45,000 USD salary is really a take home pay (assuming only federal and state taxes) of 31,500.  Of course one may still pay for some of their medical coverage (or all), an apartment in an urban area will generally run in excess of 1200/month not including utilities which can add an additional 100-200/month.

Car parking in an urban area tends to run at 150-200/month, car insurance in an urban area will run at 2000/year or higher (up to and beyond 4000 depending on the area I'm sure).

One still might have a net of 8,000 before entertainment, clothing, food, etc - but that isn't necessarily a whole lot when you're in an urban environment where everything tends to be a bit pricier.

Lou
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

In the UK we tend to give the gross figure, before tax is deducted.

$45k net is probably more than I earn.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I make 57k in Boston.  It's utter crap if you want to buy a house.  A very, very, very small house in a relatively nice neighborhood outside of the city (within 45 minute commute time) cannot be found for less than $300,000.  That's sick in my opinion (I just moved here from an area where a nice, big house is $100,000 and I was making $45,000/yr there.  In comparison (and hindsight) I was richer there than I am here.

XYZ
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I'm living in the UK just outside London.

Even with a good combined income (my partner is a teacher) we cannot afford to buy a house.

However, I suspect the problem is with the housing market rather than the job market.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

>Why do so many non-Americans call Americans "USAns" or >"USians"?

Because we think it would be rude to call you "imperialist pigs" to your face. Haha, just kidding...

I would imagine, that it's just following the rule "bang something like '-ians' at the end of the country name":

Germany -> Germans
Indian -> Indians
Canada -> Canadians
Italy -> Italians
etc.


Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Adding to Lou's comment, spending $5/meal, which equates to cooking moderately well for oneself with an occasional dinner out adds another $5500 or so to expenses for the year. $20/week for gas or public transit is another $1000.

Devil's Advocate
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

XYZ - why did you move?

T. Norman
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

The other job was dead-end (small, custom projects.)  The new job is maintaining/enhancing a large commercial enterprise app in .NET.  Also, much closer to my s.o. ;-)
In time, after gaining some experience I will probably go 'home' and use the experience I gained as leverage for more $ and I should be able to live comfortably...  Until then...sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice (worked into the wee hours last night/this morning, only 7 days off since Oct 1 including thanksgiving break.)

XYZ
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

I remember when I first got out of college (3.5 yrs ago), and that first $52k I got was more than enough... then I got married, had to move into the middle of nowhere to get a job, wife got pregnant (see also: -her salary), dad-in-law lost his job and didn't want to pay for wife's car/insurance anymore, and if you haven't been paying attention - a new baby in about a month.  Suddenly, the $55k I'm making now is just enough to get by with a decent apartment and two car payments... all in NC, BTW.

On the plus side, we were forced to learn honest-to-God planning and budgeting, and we'll be much better off if/when she goes back to work or I get a better job.

Greg Hurlman (blogs.squaretwo.net)
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Also, the "USAian" or "USian" usage is sometimes used a protest against the takeover of the term "American" by citizens of the USA.

The logical, but stupid, argument that some people make is that "American" should mean anyone who lives on the two continents of North America and South America.

Bill Tomlinson
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

>> Indian -> Indians
>> Canada -> Canadians
>> Italy -> Italians

Burkina Faso?

Alex
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Mexican American?  Aren't all Mexicans Americans?

I make 72K/yr in Menlo Park, CA.

I have a wife (no income) and 2 kids.

I can afford 1 car (luckily, I live only 1.5 miles from work), and the cheapest apartment I can find.

We're very fiscally responsible, we live comfortably, but it's tough.

I have no hope of ever buying a home in this area unless I win the lottery.  Housing costs are rising far faster than my income.  I could buy a house 50 miles away if I did a 30-year, too-high-interest, interest-only loan using nearly-illegal financing tricks that would let me get approved for a loan where my house would be taking up 70% of my take home pay.  But I'm not going to do that.

Richard P
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Housing prices seem to be the problem, not salary.

When my father bought a house (at about my current age), it was twice his gross income. And with no disrespect to my father, he's not earning a lot, he's a tradesman.

Now days (under 25 years later), to buy a comparable home, it would be over 10 times his current income, and probably 6 or 7 times my current income.

Housing has priced itself out of reach of many people. It's only barely affordable for the current generation. I fear if the trend continues, then my generation may be the last one to own their own home, other than the super rich.

Sum Dum Gai
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

When I designed cutting-edge chips and wrote device drivers for Zilog, I made $37,000/yr. I worked between 10 and 20 hrs a day and 6 days a week normally, 7 days in a crunch. I calculated my gross hourly (calculating overtime in the normal way) and it was a bit less than $7/hr.

I paid federal tax, federal self employment tax, state medicaire tax, state disability tax, state income tax, state sales tax, state use tax, state auto fees, state gas tax, federal gas tax, federal self employment tax, county sales tax, city sales tax, and probably other taxes as well I can't remember. Although I basically worked as an employee, I was 'technically' a 'independent contractor' and my paycheck came from some company I had never visited in an out of state location. Fortunately, this job paid much better than my previous job which was writing software to be used in deep space probes for Rockwell. There were no benefits and my tax rate was higher because I was not a standard employee. The other people I worked at were in similar situations, with a few variations.

After taxes, rent, utilities, car payment, car insurance, telephone connection (I did not have long distance service so I just paid the minimum rate of $7 plus the 'miscellaneous fees and taxes' of about $22), I was left with about $350/month to buy food, entertainment (no time to go out) and any health care (can't afford it, hope these vitamins keep me well).

So don't tell me how freaking lucky and rich I was as a big fancy engineer. My story is not unusual. You folks in the countries with socialized medicine and government housing have it very cushy.

i was stupid at the time
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Sum Gai -

Tell me about it. I haven't been working very long, but I read an article not to long ago which indicated that in my area, the median house price has increased exponentially over the past 20 years, while the median income has risen only linearly (both inflation adjusted).

It's quite depressing, really.

Devil's Advocate
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Yes, in the UK we pay 11% of gross income to National Insurance, which is supposed to cover health care and pensions. Of course no-one in my generation anticipates being able to live on the state pension when we retire; it is estimated that it will be worth about USD 9.00 a week by then, if nothing changes.

I guess we say "USians" to distinguish the United States of America from other parts of the Americas.

Anyone saying that house prices are the bugbear where it comes to cost of living, is absolutely correct. It is the price of land that drives the cost of living, and in Britain the price of land has increased 800% over the last 20 years.

I was looking through old videotapes the other day, and I came across a commercial from late 1996. It was advertising one-bedroom apartments for GBP 46,000. "Starter homes", but certainly acceptable for a single person. That was roughly the same time I resolved to retrain myself to become a programmer, partly in the hope that I would one day earn enough to afford a mortgage on a 46K apartment. Well, in early 2003 - six-and-a-bit years later - I finally reached that pinnacle of wealth. I could now afford the mortgage on a 46K apartment! Great.

Fernanda Stickpot
Thursday, December 11, 2003

OK -for comparison.

Last year we bought a 5-bed detached house for £240K.  It is not large in US terms and the back garden is only ~50ft.  Today it is worth well over £300K.  We live about 30-40 miles from London.  In central London for the same money you *might* get a 2 bedroom flat. 

Before tax I get £2.8K/month -  take home is £1.8K.

At the time of writing the £1=~$1.70US, from ~$1.35 a few years ago.  Obviously this is going to effect how prices compare.  Where all this puts me in US terms I have no idea and in a sense it doesn't matter - there are too many variables.

A cynic writes
Thursday, December 11, 2003

I graduated just over a year ago now, and the situation with tax, rent, student loans, car insurance is so bad I'll be lucky to clear off my debts within 5 years.
I live in Sheffield in the north of England, and even here renting a property is more expensive than paying off a mortgage on a small house - unfortunately, while paying so much rent I can't afford to buy. A lovely catch 22, which it seems the government is determined to create for every working class university leaver.

As for the USians debate - surely the point is that there is a distinction between country and continent. Mexicans are called such because they come from Mexico, they are American because they live in the Americas. This would be like calling people from the USA American Americans (American^2?)
I myself am a British European - if a United States of Europe was formed on the continent, with all the members called Europeans, this would not change that fact. Some of these people seem to want to complain for complaint's sake.

qwe
Thursday, December 11, 2003

The Spanish use "Americanos" for what the British call South Americans, and what the British call Americans are called "Norteamericanos". The Miexoicans don't like the term at all because they are also North Americans.

Perhaps we ought to all agree on calling US citizens "gringos", except I expect this will annoy the Latinos no end :)

Stephen Jones
Thursday, December 11, 2003

To all you British Folk:

The Smiths rule!!!!

GenX'er
Thursday, December 11, 2003

I'm not sure I want to contribute to this, but can't help myself.  Dublin, Ireland was once a low cost place where US companies could outsource and benefit from the low corporate tax rate.  Now, if we're lucky we can get jobs that pay EUR35-40k (with 5yrs exp), but find that the cost of living has gone to a level where even starter homes on the fringes of the city (10miles out) are costing up to EUR300k!

Seriously thinking of emigrating,
John

John
Thursday, December 11, 2003

" guess we say "USians" to distinguish the United States of America from other parts of the Americas."

Why? Is it hard to keep them straight? Which part of "Canadians", "Mexicans", "Brazilians","Hondurans","Venezuelians","Argentinians","Guatamalans","Hondurans", etc..

can't you understand?

I Hate Whiners
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Whining?

Why do I give valuable time to people who don't care if I live or die ?

Heaven knows, I'm miserable now!

Ged Byrne
Thursday, December 11, 2003

> The Miexoicans don't like the term at all because they are also North Americans.

Stephen, I probably know at least 1000 Mexicans other than myself and we all call americans norteamericanos. We only use the term among ourselves, with no problem with the term at all. It might be different for Chicanos.

illegal alien
Thursday, December 11, 2003

My apologies, I Hate Whiners. I did not mean to be offensive.

Fernanda Stickpot
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Dear Illegal alien,
                        I have heard and read Mexicans complaining about the term. As you said though, it doesn't alter the fact that it is in almost universal usage "estadounidense" being highly uncommon.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, December 11, 2003

I don't think I've ever heard that term used.

I know that some american hispanics, who I am calling chicanos, don't like the term. Are you thinking of this group? They also claim that Spanish should be spoken in the United States and the western united states 'returned' to Mexico. May of these are college students who start out as hard workers and then, in college, start shouting slogans such as 'death to the migra pigs', burn the american flag, and other activities. The general population of Mexico is embarassed by these activities. We believe that it would be much better for the United States to take over Mexico that the other way around, because although both governments are corrupt, the corruption in Mexico is many hundreds of times worse. It is very difficult to improve your condition in life in Mexico if you are poor. If you are a member of the privledged class on the other hand, life is very easy for you.

When I say that we Mexicans use the term 'norteamericano', I am speaking of Mexicans, being both people who live in Mexico, and also migrant workers who are not established. In short, people born in Mexico.

illegal alien
Thursday, December 11, 2003

>  (I just moved here from an area where a nice, big house is $100,000 and I was making $45,000/yr there.

Ugh.  Left Eden.

>  dad-in-law lost his job and didn't want to pay for wife's car/insurance anymore,

The fact that your adult wife was still sponging off her dad should have been a HUGE MASSIVE RED FLAG.

> we'll be much better off if/when she goes back to work or I get a better job.

I predict you'll be getting a 2nd/better job before she goes back to work. 

Bella
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Making $35k in Oklahoma leaves more spending money than making $100k in NYC.  Case closed.

Bella
Thursday, December 11, 2003

e.g.:  Tennis costs $135/hr in NYC.  That's a mortgage payment in many places in America.  LOL!!

Bella
Thursday, December 11, 2003

For once, I completely and totally agree with Bella.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, December 11, 2003

NYC is tough, but fun. Expensive as fuck, but if you have a chance to live there, don't turn it down. The same thing goes for MEXICO CITY. I've lived there for 3 months at a time, and it is a sick city, where sick == RAD. If you have a chance to live in mexico city, you should try it out, too. Dirty as hell, but super fun. I don't know where I'm going with this, I'm knackered at the moment. I'm from freaking north dakota, and I live for travel. Thank god for mobility of capital and labor. Hi.

traveler
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Dear Bella,
                Case not closed at all; nice try though!
                If you are buying in a high property price/high salary zone, then even if your spending power is the same (and I reckon you'd have to spend a load in Oklahoma to get the same cultural life you have on your doorstep in NYC) you still will have considerable savings when you sell up your house and go to live on your Carribean island.

                The guy who sells the Oklahoma house will be living in the outhouse at the bottom of the garden of the guy who's sold the NYC condo, and probably tending the NYC guys coconut trees to make ends meet.

Stephen Jones
Friday, December 12, 2003

Stephen, that assumes you earn enough to actually BUY propery in NYC.  If you don't but you still decide to live in NYC, you'll be pissing away huge chunks of your salary for rent, and you'll end up in debt to the guy in the outhouse.

T. Norman
Friday, December 12, 2003

last week's new yorker explains why renting is actually better than buying property at the moment.


Friday, December 12, 2003

argh. not the new yorker. the economist.


Friday, December 12, 2003

Making $35k in Oklahoma leaves more spending money than making $100k in NYC.  Case closed.

-----------

That actually isn't true, Bella. The two salaries are close to equivalent. In fact I think you can save more in NYC.

$35K in Oklahoma == about $2100 a month, after taxes.
Your rent is going to be about $500. A car payment is going to be about $300. Let's say food is about $200 a month. Thus you have $1100 left over.

$100K in NYC leaves you with about 5800 a month after taxes. Subtract $2K a month for rent and you have 3800 left. You don't typically have a car, but you probably will spend more going out. Unless you are a drunk with a prada shoe fetish, you shouldn't have to spend more than $1800 a month on food, subway and entertainment. Thus you can easily sock away $2000 a month. 

I lived in a $750/m apartment in williamsburg (back when it was only mildly trendy), worked in Manhattan, made $70K a year, and saved 1500-2000 a month, depending on how many books I bought per month. I couldn't have pulled that off on $35K in Minnesota unless I lived with my parents and had them drive me to work.


Friday, December 12, 2003

Also, it seems when people think "oklahoma" or "midwest" they imagine that people are living in some rural farmhouse with a $135 mortgage payment.

I guess that is theoretially possible, but most development jobs are in cities, and housing prices in the midwest are more expensive than one might think. For both renters and home owners.

When I lived in minneapolis as a student, rents within the city were anywhere from $800 - $2000 for a 2 bedroom apartment. Buying a (decent) place will set you back at least $200K, more like $300K if you want to live in one of the nice neighborhoods. You almost have to have a car. Eating out isn't really that much cheaper. Starbucks costs the same. Boxer shorts at target cost the same. Etc.


Friday, December 12, 2003

Why does everyone assume you must have a car payment? Buy a used clunker if you must, but interest on car payments are a complete drain. At least for home mortgages you can write it off and, in the markets work out, the value of the house appreciates. Not so with cars.

pdq
Friday, December 12, 2003

I drive a used clunker. It still cost $3500. Which is about $300 a month if you divide the cost of purchase over a year. Of course, I don't have to keep paying year in and year out.


Friday, December 12, 2003

I'm confused.  Since when were we (software developers/system analysts/programers/whatever-term-you-want) owed six-figure incomes?

MR
Friday, December 12, 2003

Nobody here said that we in general deserve six figures.  But if you move to NYC that is what it takes if you're going to be equally or better off financially than jobs in the less expensive states/cities.

T. Norman
Friday, December 12, 2003

The number of "average" 20, 30 and even 40 somethings who make in that $50-$80k range who live paycheck to paycheck in NYC, with under $10k in the bank is simply staggering. 

Bella
Friday, December 12, 2003

You try buying a home in Orange County California on less than $100k/yr.  It's tough.  The bay area is about 5% tougher overall(higher salaries by about 15%, higher mortgage by about 20%).  I have a USD 550k home in an older middle class neighborhood.  Combined household income is about 105k/yr, and we live just a touch above "paycheck to paycheck".

Who cares about interest on car payments when the interest rate is 0-5%?!?  If you are paying on a new car and actually paying more than 5% interest you got ROBBED or you have really bad credit.

someguy_in_socal
Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Illegal Alien, 
"We believe that it would be much better for the United States to take over Mexico that the other way around, because although both governments are corrupt, the corruption in Mexico is many hundreds of times worse. It is very difficult to improve your condition in life in Mexico if you are poor. If you are a member of the privledged class on the other hand, life is very easy for you."
I live in Central Mexico and make about USD$56k x year, take home USD$24 (cost of living is about the same as in a US city)...  I guess I'm in the privileged class but with the price of a small home in a middle class neighborhood at USD$250k or higher and interest rates at 16% let me tell you it's not "easy" at all.  It's pretty much the same no matter where in the world you live.  By the way 99.99% of Mexicans that don't abandon their country don't want it taken over by the USA (we just call them Americanos, we don't like it but since their country doesn't have a real name we have to call them something, equivalent of a country in Europe being named "United States of Europe" would you call them Europeans?).

Anyways, housing is expensive anywhere worth living and professionals without inheritances world wide have few options.

Memo
Monday, April 26, 2004

How would you pronounce USans or USians?  While a case can easily made for clueless ethnocentrism on the part of US citizens, the simple problem is a name needs to be easy to say before it will be adopted.  If we can come up with that then I say go for it.

By the way, couldn't Spanish be considered a "white imperialist" language itself?  I think a better case could be made for having one of the native languages such as Navajo, Arapahoe etc. being the official language.

Francesca
Monday, May 03, 2004

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