A lot of this stuff really just comes around to mindsets. It's true of the businesses and true of the individuals who work at them.
One of the smartest pieces I ever read about the differences between how software shops approach business was a piece from the co-founder of The Omni Group that compared farming vs. mining. The Silicon Valley bubble has a strange obsession with "mining" schemes and exit strategies that leave rubble in their wake. That mindset permeates the culture, with many of them living as if they were oblivious to the fact that outside of their bubble most people lead happier, more fulfilled lives by going out of their way to avoid working and living in those sorts of conditions.
Speaking personally, I had a few offers on the table when I was a fresh out of grad school several years ago. One was for $50K/yr at a small software consulting company in a town most people have never heard of. One was for some interesting government work in D.C. at $75K/yr.. The last was for $75K/yr + stock options at a startup in Austin that was on course to have a big IPO soon.
I took the first one. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
The location has a low cost of living, delightful people, decent schools, and is populous enough to provide all of the benefits associated with the suburbs of a major city. The company is averse to overtime, small enough that we all know each other, big enough to attract a diverse set of clients, provides incredible benefits, and takes great pride in its work. I get to enjoy the satisfaction each night of a job well done without having to take my work home with me.
My income has increased modestly to $65K since accepting the job, which is easily enough for my wife and I to...
- Live off my income alone
- Enjoy a 7 minute traffic-free commute at 30mph
- Have an 1800 sqft. house on 1/3 acre
- Have a $580/mo. mortgage as our only debt
- Donate $10,000+/year to charity
- Enjoy big vacations on a regular basis
- Have time for family, friends, and ourselves
- Give my wife ample time for charitable service
- Retire early if we keep on as we have been
And all of that for a take-home pay that's roughly comparable to what the guy in the summary is paying in rent alone.
I mean, I get it. Prior to getting married, my wife was making $65K/yr in D.C., which was only enough to rent a small basement that was an hour commute from where she worked. When we were deciding whether to move there or here, it was pretty obvious which choice was the right one. Likewise, I've occasionally checked on that Austin startup over the last few years as a "what if". Turns out that after their last round of funding and claims they were going to hire 100 more people in advance of an IPO, the execs mostly all left to found a new startup and the company quietly announced layoffs.
It sounds like the guy in the summary has wants that outstrip his income. Hopefully he'll come to terms with the reality of his situation sooner rather than later, and maybe even wake up to the fact that there are viable alternatives that will provide not only a better quality of life, but may even provide more spending money.