Squishy wrote:I think it's crazy to think you'll get shot in Oakland without considering where you are in it. Furthermore, I think it would really suck living in Cupertino vs. Oakland. But then again, I live in Oakland...so.
Yeah, blanket condemnations of Oakland are one of the ways you can tell someone doesn't know what they are talking about. They either a) don't know shit about the Bay Area because they haven't spent much time there or b) are overly frightened of neighborhoods they don't know, sort of like people who live in Manhattan and think of Brooklyn as if it were a 16th century navigational map with "thar be dragons there" scrawled over the poorly known sections. I've got friends and family living in the Bay Area. Just as an example, one of my friends works as a software developer at Apple (not making 160k, probably not even close), his wife works in a law office (not a lawyer or a pralegal), and they live in a nice apartment in a quiet part of San Francisco and manage just fine. My cousin and his girlfriend are both 1st year associates (Berkeley grads), she works at Gibbson Dunn iirc and he works at a lit boutique. They have a BEAUTIFUL apartment with an amazing view in the City. So yes, you can live in California and be ok making less 160k a year or less. All of the above are paying a premium to live in the City, but seem satisfied by the tradeoff.
The Bay Area is probably harder to afford overall than Los Angeles, where I lived for several years making no more than 20k a year. Downtown is more affordable than the westside (where I lived). The main thing is that you need to think very carefully about how you are going to commute. Now, if you want to live in San Francisco or Los Angeles and raise a family in a spacious home, that is going to be more challenging if your income isn't quite high. That's true in every comparable city in the country. You can live in Sacramento, or the Inland Empire and find more affordable housing, but of course you will likely not make as much and there are negative tradeoffs.
As far as Texas goes, I find the Texas fanboy stuff indicative mainly of how much people behave like mindless sheep. When something is going well everyone thinks "OMG, it must be brilliantly managed it will be awesome forever!" When something is going poorly "OMG, that is a failed state and it will be awful forever!" Sort of like when people convince themselves that housing will always boom.
Texas is a big state with a strong economy. It's biggest strength is in energy markets, particularly oil. For quite some time oil has been going up in price, and so long as oil continues to be profitable that sector of the Texas economy should remain strong (until they run out). My impression is that oil is even more important for the high end legal work in Texas than it is in the overall Texas economy. So for Texas biglaw firm Y to continue to grow texas bigoil corp C needs to continue to need more legal work. It seems doubtful to me that oil is going to vanish anytime soon, but how much it will grow is just guesswork.
Texas economy, of course, isn't just oil. Texas does have a tech economy, for example. But that technology market does NOT compete with California, and I don't see much reason to believe it's going to. Facebook didn't go to Houston. It went to the Southbay because a) that's where the other tech startups are b) that's where the tech venture capital is and c) (HUGELY IMPORTANT) that's where the engineering talent is. Texas' main offering for tech companies is a better tax structure, but that doesn't appear to be worth it for google, Apple, Cisco, Oracle, or the other California based tech companies to leave. Texas--as a state--has a very low educational attainment level per capita and just doesn't have the human capital California has. Maybe that will change, but personally I doubt it.
What Texas does have, that the big cities in California can't get is cheap land (and relatedly, cheap taxes). The major cities in California have basically hit the geographic barriers (oceans and mountains) that constrain their growth. Texas continues to be able to offer cheap land to incoming companies even in its larger cities. My guess is that will continue until the traffic gets so choked up that development needs to turn inward (as it has in Los Angeles).
So, what does that mean for the bottom line of long term growth? Nobody here knows for sure.
The common idea that Texas is poised to launch into the atmosphere and will continue to grow forever like it has in the recent past doesn't have adequate foundation. Nor does the idea that California is suddenly doomed (mainly because the political structure of the California government sucks badly). But that doesn't mean that the Texas economy won't continue to grow and with it the Texas firms. The biggest argument for Texas is probably that it offers the kind of urban life most lawyers seem to want at a cost of living below most other similar areas. But, before you invest in that, remember that was true of California at one time as well. As Texas continues to grow that cost of living will be tough to maintain, especially if Texas wants to attract the kind of talent California currently has.
As a side note I think it's interesting how much less attention people seem to pay to the boom that has been going on in the New South for maybe three decades now than Texas. Living here in the triangle, I see a lot of potential for continued growth. But, unlike Texas, the New South doesn't appear to have developed one or more legal centers that really go out and recruit top talent from all over the country. My guess it that will change, but who knows?
Best of luck.