Dear Darla

Dear Darla

Dear Darla,

I have issues.

I like to think of myself as a Software Engineer in their 4th year, but the uncertainty of post-graduation makes me want to go to the 5th. Due to a bout of six consecutive detestable co-ops in Nowheresville, Ontario, I have resolved to take a job in Somewheresville, Maybe-Ontario-maybe-not. Alas, alack, I am paralyzed with choice. Waterloo, Montreal, Austin, San Francisco, Singapore, I do not know where to begin my job hunt. My end goal is to earn as much money as possible, so in 30 years I can retire to a luxurious cottage and relax. However, I also want to, like, genuinely enjoy and take part in the things my community has to offer.

Dear Darla, where should I go?

Oliver All-Over-the-Place.

Good Day Oliver,

Now I’m not an Arts major, so don’t expect me to give you some qualitative analysis comparing research and studies comparing personality traits, demographics, and life satisfaction based on geography. Few metrics adjust to see if you’re the right “fit” for a city. You will find happiness in any locale if you understand, appreciate and respect the people around you for who they are, and they do the same for you. However, you may need to compromise some of yourself depending on where you live. For example, if your passion is rehearsing screamo in a fursuit on a balcony under the full moon, and you live in a New York apartment, you will engender resentment from your community. In order to be understood, appreciated and respected, somewhere, you’ll probably find something about yourself that should be changed. Luckily for you, number freak, which you must be if you’re getting a double degree in engineering and math, there is a way to analyze places: Finances. I almost paid attention during my Econ class, so buckle up as I misinterpret eat-the-poor rules.

Since our global society is organized through capitalism, wages for the same job and the same employee will be different depending on where you go. Unfair taxation schemes and currency distortions can remove this mess. Since capitalism determines your wage based on your demand, being a victim of societal discrimination reduces your demand. Additionally, if there are proportionally more people applying to the same jobs, and people don’t start moving away, your wages will go down. However, for ideal capitalism scenarios, you will accrue the same amount of wealth, for the same job, anywhere you go, even if you have a lower wage. This is usually thanks to the cost of living and taxes, in conjunction. In the Bay Area, you may have an incredibly high wage, and an average tax rate, but a sky high cost of living. This means you’re probably getting the same amount of wealth as you would living in Waterloo with lower wages, the same tax rate, and a dramatically lower cost of living. In ideal capitalism, anywhere you go you will get the same amount of wealth for the same job, even though salaries may be different. So take advantage of those market distortions. Go somewhere where you’re aren’t going to be discriminated against, where there are few workers, there is an unfair distortion in the currency that benefits you, and other people have to bear your tax burden.

Much to your benefit, I also know Excel so here’s a graph to compare some cities. The wages are adjusted to show you your buying power after-tax, with the Waterloo cost of living as a basis. Don’t ask for sources or my formulas, you’re in Eng, set up a matrix or something and figure it out. From here you can see why you should go Cali or bust, but probably not to San Francisco. It is well worth it to go to small tech centers like Austin, where you can take advantage of low taxes. After all, you’re probably a young Canadian, so who cares if you have no social safety net in Texas, you can move back North if you need access to affordable(ish) education and free(ish) healthcare. There’s probably something that scares people away from Austin, giving it its edge in wealth earned, but you’ll have more money for proper therapy now, and career coaching, not just some agony aunt in a university newspaper.

Yours untruly,

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