You might think that, once you get through all the interviews and score a coveted position as a white-collar employee of a billion-dollar company, you’ll be set. But if your job means living in the Bay Area, you may find that, even with a generous salary, you’re having a hard time getting by.
According to a write up in The Guardian, well-paid tech workers are struggling to pay for housing since the rents in and around San Francisco “by one measure are now the highest in the world.” In 2015, according to SmartAsset.com, the cost of living there was “62.6% higher than the U.S. average.” In 2016, the same site found that you’d need to make at least $216,129 a year to afford the rent on an average two-bedroom apartment.
Recently, some employees went so far as to ask their boss for help: “Facebook engineers last year even raised the issue with founder Mark Zuckerberg, asking whether the company could subsidize their rents to make their living situation more affordable, according to an executive at the company who has since departed.”
The article recounts the frustrations of tech workers making between $100,000 and $700,000 a year and yet finding themselves rent-burdened, unable to save and commuting for hours each day. In one colorful example, an Apple employee lived until recently in a garage in Santa Cruz, using a bucket as a toilet.
Purchasing real estate there can feel nearly impossible too. One digital marketing exec and her husband say they make a million dollars a year and yet can’t afford to buy a house. As she puts it, “The American dream is not working out here.”
Indeed, as described by The Guardian, the area sounds less like America and more like a post-war society struck by hyperinflation. One tech worker, who gave up and moved out, describes “mundane day-to-day costs, like spending $8 on a bagel and coffee or $12 on freshly pressed juice.”
Still, many of the tech workers cited in the article are self-aware enough to acknowledge that, despite these privations, they are the fortunate ones. The situation is far more dire for those making less exceptional salaries.
“You are caught in this really uncomfortable position. You feel very guilty seeing such poverty and helplessness,” added Michelle, the 28-year-old on a six-figure wage. “But what are you supposed to do? Not make a lot of money?”