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Responses to Danielle Lan’s Quora post on the high cost of living in the Bay Area

I recently saw someone tweet out a link to Danielle Lan's answer to a question on Quora about cost of living in the Bay Area.

Basically, Danielle Lan confirms that the asker's friend declaring "his life is shitty" is correct, and she says "I'm living his life, except I'm a DINK (double income no kids) and it's still terrible."

Most of the responses to her post are the usual awful comments that you're not supposed to read when people say "Don't read the comments"—everything from misreading her "530K house" to be "350K house" and then chastising her about her mortgage payments, to accusing her of being a gold-digging leech of her husband. I was impressed with the calm, measured replies she had to these trolls. I would have just ignored them, but she was careful to explain all of her financial circumstances and divulged a lot about her family situation and debt... a lot more than most people are willing to share in a public forum.

Even though I felt some sympathy for her—since people were piling on and nitpicking her finances and giving her lots of unsolicited (and unnecessary) financial advice—I wouldn't exactly called putting away $300-500 in savings per month "still terrible." That's about $5000 in savings per year after car payments, mortgage payments, student loans, and other expenses. I'd say that's not bad. Now, granted, I get her general point: if you're making almost six figures and your husband is making well into the six figures, you would be living in the lap of luxury in almost any other part of the country, and that's not true in the Bay Area now.

I would like to add a piece that was missing, even in all the troll replies to her original comment: Most people in the Bay Area do not make anywhere near the amount of money she and her husband make..

So, yes, I absolutely feel bad for her that her student loans are massive. I feel bad that she and her husband can save "only" $300-500 per month. I feel bad that they thought they'd be rich with the salaries they have but they're "only" middle class in the Bay Area. At the same time, they're a technical writer and a software engineer.

My spouse and I are educators and our combined salary is probably less than what her husband makes. And we probably make more than even a lot of other people in the Bay Area who work minimum-wage jobs.

I don't judge her for feeling frustrated. And this post is not a poor-is-me or oppression olympics entry. It's just odd that in all the responses to her Quora post (people were telling her to sell her cars for cheaper ones, to move away from her friends and family, to telecommute even when her employer won't let her), very few mentioned anything about the non-techies and their non-techie salaries, and how do those people manage?

The Bay Area is an absolutely wonderful place to live, but it is becoming far more expensive even than it's been in the past. It's hard on a lot of techies who thought they'd be super-rich. But it's even harder on most of the folks out here, who aren't pulling those techie salaries.

Further Reading:
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