Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Progammer pay rates in the US

I am looking for a list of average pay rates for programmers in the different states of US. I recall Joel mentioned a link to some site where there's a forum that has these sort of discussions. I seemed to have lost that link. The URL of the site had the word salary in it, if I remember correctly. The question was on the Ask Joel forum. I've tried searching JoS with Google but it throws up from 54 to 167 links depending upon the query. Does anyone remember that URL where they discuss pay rates for programmers in different states in the US? More links of the kind are also welcome.

A regular poster to this forum
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

salary.com

Patrick
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Thanks for the URL. Was this the one Joel recommended?

A regular poster to this forum
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

salary.com has some significant differences between "software development" type roles delimited by job titles that, at least to me, don't necessarily make a lot of sense (e.g.: "Client/Server Programmer I" can make $40K less than "Client/Server Programmer V", but what do those roles really mean?).

Kalani
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

My interest is in finding out what it would cost me to move to a place in the US like, say, Seattle. Let me catch the thingie from the other end. Okay, what would the following items cost in Seattle:

(1) A decent one-person meal in a not-so-great restaurant
(2) A baloney sandwich
(3) A can of Coke (330 ml)
(4) Monthly rental for a two room apartment (say 800 sq feet in area)
(5) Bus fare (say for a 20 mile commute)
(6) A bottle of beer (650 ml)

I'd be grateful for the answers.

A regular poster to this forum
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

http://www.realrates.com

is a great resource for info like that

jack
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

In Seattle:
1) A decent one-person meal in a not-so-great restaurant
  $10-$15
(2) A baloney sandwich
  $3-5
(3) A can of Coke (330 ml)
  <$1
(4) Monthly rental for a two room apartment (say 800 sq feet in area)
  Depending on location & niceness,
  low bar: $800, high bar: $1400
(5) Bus fare (say for a 20 mile commute)
  $2.50
(6) A bottle of beer (650 ml)
  $3-4

andrewm
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

1,2,3,6 & generally 5 are going to be the same throughout the US.

1) $4 at Taco Bell or McDonalds, both of which are really pretty good. I love Taco Bell.

2) At a deli? Say $2.

3) $.50 - $1 depending on where you buy it.

5)  Can't help - I've never taken a Bus, let alone for 20 miles.  It's maybe $10 to go that far by train in Chicago or NY.

6) I don't drink beer, so I can't help - though you'll want to qualify where you're buying it. At the grocery store will be 1/4 of the price of buying one in a trendy bar.

You might want to check out BestPlaces.net. They have detailed cost of living comparisons for most cities in the US, as well as crime and other social stats.

Good Luck.

  --Josh

JWA
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

If you are heading to the USA from elsewhere, keep in mind that in many areas, outside the major big cities, there is either poor public transportation or none at all.  You may want to factor in all the expenses of owning a car (purchase price, maintenance, fuel, insurance) in your cost of living calculations.

Mitch & Murray (from Downtown)
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Yaay Seattle!

(1) A decent one-person meal in a not-so-great restaurant
You can get a good meal in restaurants in some parts of the city for like $5 (like the U district).  In general, a good meal at a sit-down but not-fancy restaurant will run from $8 to $12.  With drinks extra.  It goes up from there as the places get fancier, etc.

(2) A baloney sandwich
hrm .. make it yourself with ingredients from the grocery store for like $1 per sandwich?  I guess...

(3) A can of Coke (330 ml)
Pop prolly costs the same across the country.  I don't drink much pop except at work where it's free so I don't know.

(4) Monthly rental for a two room apartment (say 800 sq feet in area)
Depends largely on where you want to live?  In-city, an 800 sq foot ish place can vary from $700 on the low end (non-convient neighborhood, not as nice building, but still very livable. etc.) up to $1500 on the high end (right there in a hip happenin' neighborhood with fancy-pants building.)  In general, for a decent neightborhood and a decent building, you're looking at $900ish for a 2-br.

(5) Bus fare (say for a 20 mile commute)
between $1 and $2, depending on length, time of day, etc.

(6) A bottle of beer (650 ml)
Micro-brew or macro?  Here in Seattle, we drink a lot of micro-brews that run anywhere from $2.50 during happy hour to $4.00 at more expensive places.  In the store, a 6pack will cost $6 to $8.  For macro-brews it's cheaper of course, sometimes even by a factor of 2.


Hope that helps, must get back to work now...

Michael Kale
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

It's rent or house price that is the problem. What makes it difficult is that there is often a bigger difference between different areas of the same urban conglomeraiton than between States. And even if you can manage the commute you'll have to factor in the cost of private education (ruinous) if the public schools in your area are lousy.

This applies across countries as well as within the States.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

You won't want to buy the beer that's available in a 650 ml bottle. You'll want a six pack of 12 oz bottles.

Yes, it's possible to get some decent beer/ale in a larger bottle, but mostly it's extra crappy malt liquor.

Miles Archer
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Stephen is right.

Figure what it will cost for housing (factoring in schools if you have a family) and the commute that goes with it. Everything else is down in the noise.

Also look closely at weather.

Anony Coward
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I would argue that the prices of consumer goods are pretty close but do differ from place to place depending on the cost of doing business there (rent, labor).  Which is why a movie ticket costs $11 in Manhattan but about $9 everywhere else.  But compared to housing, it does get lost in the wash.

Don't forget the tax structure in calculating your take-home pay.  In Washington state, there is no personal income tax but the sales tax in King County is 8.8%, and 9.3% at restaurants.  Then there are property taxes.  These are built in to your rent but would need to be calculated as part of a mortgage payment should you buy a house.  And there are some car taxes for regional transportation that can be significant.

OTOH, I lived in Connecticut for awhile and they have a 5% income tax and a 6% sales tax plus property taxes, which also apply to your car.

Oregon has no sales tax but a personal income tax.

In Florida, bankruptcy laws prevent creditors from taking your primary residence.

The USA really is a organization of indepedent states and the laws differ from place to place.  The Tax Foundation's site is the closest I've found to a decent comparison tool between states.
http://www.taxfoundation.org/statefinance.html

Jeremy
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Here's a table comparing income tax rates for all the states.

http://www.taxfoundation.org/individualincometaxrates.html

Again, there are other taxes to worry about but this is a good start.

Jeremy
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Thanks for your guidance, folks. For others that might be interested, here are a few more links I found that might be of help:

http://www.bestplaces.net/col/colresults.aspx?Lcity=1920&Rcity=7600&salary=
http://www.ci.seattle.wa.us/oir/datasheet/quality.htm
http://www.graduatingengineer.com/jobmarkets/seattle_2001.html
http://www.homefair.com/homefair/servlet/ActionServlet?pid=27&cid=homefair

>You may want to factor in all the expenses of owning a car (purchase price, maintenance, fuel, insurance) in your cost of living calculations.

That's the plan - to purchase a car over a period of time. Until then, it will be the public transport I'll be relying on.



>Stephen is right.
>Figure what it will cost for housing (factoring in schools if you have a family) and the commute that goes with it. Everything else is down in the noise.

Thankfully, I am still single, ready to mingle. How are the chicks in Seattle?

A regular poster to this forum
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Sathyaish, is that you? Or is it Estudiantin now?


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Sathyaish who?

A regular poster to this forum
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

This may help, this fellow seems to have the exact same questions:

http://p087.ezboard.com/fopenitforumfrm4.showMessage?topicID=437.topic


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

OK, it is me, BB. Sheesh!

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

"Pop prolly costs the same across the country.  I don't drink much pop except at work where it's free so I don't know."

Michael, it's great to see someone else from the Midwest around here.


I'm tired of calling it "soda".  At my first job here (east coast), I asked where the "pop machine" was and people looked at me like I was crazy.

KC
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Now that reminds me of a joke I made up to amuse myself on my way back home last night. Last night, I saw a billboard outside a wine shop that read

Wine and Beer Shop
[Chilled Beer Available Here]

It suddenly struck me that a huge lot of the Indian community in the unorganized business segment mis-spells words in their adlines, because they're not that well-educated. I've observed many adlines mis-spelt. So, I tried thinking of ways I could mis-spell the adline there to get a chuckle out of it. Here's what I came up with:

Wine and Beer Shop
[Child Bear Available Here]

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Its 'pop' in Buffalo too....The furthest east i've heard pop is Utica ny

Yo
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

During the height of the dot-com boom, for fun I tried to find the cheapest single-family house in the silicon-valley area, and came up with a 900 sqft 2-bedroom 1-bath for $330,000.  Let me tell you, this house was no prize...
(www.realtor.com)

To the OP:
I would forget the whole public transport idea.  Unless you live in the Northeast, where the population density requires public transport, in the rest of the US you'll need a car.  Every region has a newsprint magazine (often distributed at the gas stations) for buying/selling used cars.  One of the biggest is Auto Trader (www.autotrader.com)

You'll want to bring cash for the car.  Until you've lived here for a few months, you won't have a credit history, and will have a difficult time getting an auto loan (yes, I'm sure you're a responsible person in your country, but you'll start from zero here)

example
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Oh, and in the South, it's always "Coke", even if the restaurant actually serves Pepsi.
:-)

It turns out that what you call fizzy drinks is one of the major ways to identify where a person is from.  And of course, there's a website devoted to the issue:
http://www.popvssoda.com/

example
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Thanks, example. You actually just reminded me I had to visit http://www.SuzeOrman.com to ask a couple of questions from Suze Orman.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Having grown up in Connecticut, your comment about "the Northeast" struck a nerve. Unless by "the Northeast" you mean "Boston or New York", there's zero public transit in New England at least.

Expect to need a car, unless you're living in one of the cities mentioned, in which case don't even THINK of buying one.

Chris Tavares
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The post about paying cash for a car reminded me of something. Yes, anyone moving here from overseas will start at dead 0 with personal credit. I know a fairly well off English fellow who moved to the US from Canada and he wasn't able to get credit cards.

When you move to the US one of your biggest logistic issues will be lack of credit. I suggest applying to department stores for credit cards (IE, Kohl's and Target are two such store chains throughout the US with their own credit.)

Store credit is considerably easier to get than general bank credit cards, and it's a stepping stone to general credit.

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

+1 for pop.

Not Midwest, just talk like it
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

If you play Euche, it's pop. Otherwise coke or soda.

Miles Archer
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Open a bank account and get a credit card through the bank (that's what I did with Fleet and I had no trouble getting "approved" since they know exactly where to go if I misbehave).

Kalani
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Would credit be that important? Being an Indian, I've been braught up to save and spend less than I earn. Except if I have to acquire an asset (a car or something), would I still need credit, or is that just a US lifestyle thing?

Fortunately or whichever way, Indians are a lot less hedonistic than the Westerners. Or am I missing something?

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Yes, credit cards are important. You need it to build up your credit history, without which you won't be able to get a good loan, like when you need to buy the house. Also, credit cards are very convenient and much safer than carrying cash around.

You don't have to carry over the balance on the credit card. You pay it off every month and there are no penalties.

genius
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

It isn't (just) a matter of hedonism. A lot of financially disciplined people use credit cards as a cash surrogate. Also credit cards have a built in "stop loss" on liability, generally $50, if the card gets lost or stolen.  It's like a riskless lifeline, esp. if you're traveling.

And, it's unlikely that you're going to be able to pay cash for a house or a car.

So credit is often necessary just to live.

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

It's getting more and more difficult to participate economically in the US without credit.  And part of that is having a good credit history, and lenders prefer that it's longer.

That said, if someone can't manage credit well it's better to go easy on it.  But lenders are relying on financial models that include a person's credit history often more than looking at the individual's ability to pay.

My old roommate got a job out of college that paid him a good starting wage but he had to have his father co-sign in order to get a (used) car loan.  He had plenty of income but didn't have any credit history.

I'm a fan of living on a cash basis except for big stuff like houses.  I use credit cards but pay the balances in full every month, so it's essentially an interest-free, 25-day loan.

Jeremy
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

If you're travelling, one big reason to have a major credit card is to pay for airline tickets and rental cars.

If you try to pay cash for an airline ticket, Bad Things Happen (Who is that heavily armed man, and why does he want his dog want to sniff me?)

Car rental companies will merely suggest that you walk to your destination.

Pretty much any card with a MasterCard or Visa logo will be accepted everywhere, even if it says "Eurocard" or something else on it.  Diners Club acceptance is pretty much non-existent outside of big cities.  American Express is accepted, but not nearly as many places as MC/Visa.

BTW, it's good that you were raised not to live your life in debt (major purchases excepted).  Credit cards are like loaded guns -- it's easy to get in serious trouble with one.  Just make sure you pay in full each month and you'll be fine.

Also, ATMs are everywhere, and as long as your bank is a member of Cirrus (run by Mastercard) or Plus (run by Visa), you won't have any trouble with one.  I see that Bank of Punjab is a member of Cirrus, so if you bank there you're set.  Unfortunately, the US banks now look on them as a source of revenue, so you'll pay a fee for each use ($1.00 to $3.00).

example
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Be aware that many landlords will require income and credit verification before allowing you to sign a lease. The strictness of the standards seems to vary from place to place; my impression is that it's more demanding in bigger, more expensive cities, in more desirable neighborhoods, and in larger apartment buildings. But if you have no credit history whatsoever and no demonstrable source of income, be prepared for a very difficult time qualifying for a traditional lease, although non-traditional approaches such subletting a place from a bunch of people who recently had a roommate move away might work.

>>Being an Indian, I've been braught up to save and spend less than I earn. Except if I have to acquire an asset (a car or something), would I still need credit, or is that just a US lifestyle thing?

Spending less than you earn remains a useful trait in the States. But you need to be vigilant -- things that you might be used to getting very cheaply in India can be very expensive here, especially if they have a significant labor component. Aside from keeping your housing expenses down, one of the best ways to save money is to cook for yourself rather than eat out.

If you want to buy a car or anything else, you basically have two options: Pay cash or use credit. The amount of credit you qualify for will be determined by your income and credit history. If you don't have a credit history, it will severely limit your options. That's why you need to start building a history with something small, even if you don't like credit -- just charge things, don't go overboard, and pay off the balance in full each month.

Also, in case you don't know this, when you're looking at salary information you have to consider the amount that will disappear because of income taxes and other federal levies, plus things like health insurance (which many companies make you pay at least a token contribution toward). For example, a $40,000 salary would likely translate to take-home pay of something like $30,000 annually, *before* state income taxes, sales tax (which you pay on purchases, not income), and the like. Interest you earn on savings and investments will be taxed, too.

>> How are the chicks in Seattle?

Fit, well-educated, laid back, and mostly friendly in my experience. But you would probably do well to avoid calling them "chicks". Some of my friends say it's impossible to meet interesting women in Seattle, but I have to say I haven't found that at all. Maybe it's just a question of what kind of personality you have and look for. It helps if you are into outdoor activities -- hiking, bicycling, skiing, that kind of thing.

John C.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I play euchere (and it's nice to see that there are other people here from one  of the I/O states) and it is a soda, sometimes a sodapop but not a pop.

K
Thursday, August 26, 2004

In the UK it used to be 'pop' but the term has gone into disuse. Now you would actually use the brand name. 'Soda' will get you a soda-water.

Stephen Jones
Friday, August 27, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home