back to article Do you qualify as poor in Palo Alto? Spoiler: Yes, yes, you do

When you think of affordable housing programs, it's probably safe to say you're thinking about cooks, or cleaners, or even teachers being given a way to live near the neighborhoods where they work. In effect, it's bedrooms for poor people. Except of course in Palo Alto – the heart of Silicon Valley, California. Because in Palo …

  1. PhilipN Silver badge

    Too many words

    Just post "Pretentious twat seeks control freak"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too many words

      "Rich philistine seeks modern-day Jeeves to impress friends."

      1. Sooty

        Re: Too many words

        Jeeves was a Valet, not a Butler.

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Too many words

      "First world problem seeks third world solution"

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Not liking the job security on that

    Your contract is safe until a) your employer's start-up running on unicorn rainbow farts has a problem sourcing more unicorns farting rainbows or b) your employer has a tantrum.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I lived in nearby Santa Clara while employed by pre-dot com bubble burst Yahoo. Like Palo Alto, it's actually a pretty miserable place to exist, just a dormitory for Silicon Valley companies. So glad I went back to London.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My brother happened to be employed by Yahoo at that time and lived there. His home was broken into twice. Pretty steep prices for being a big target. He took a loss to get out, and still had enough for a house and a parcel across the bay.

      It sometimes doesn't pay to be where the money is.

      1. Mark 85

        It sometimes doesn't pay never pays to be where the money is.

        FTFY. When you're where the money is, you are a target. Most of the wealthy spend a heckuva lot of cash for security which doesn't always work.

    2. Malignant_Narcissism

      We are too.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Million +

    Never been to Sydney?

  5. Winkypop Silver badge

    Pretentious? Moi?

    Come the zombie apocalypse, families like these will be the first in the pot.

    The puppy will be for afters....

  6. Chris G

    Come to Spain

    That butler could buy a respectable house outright with his first two month's wages in many parts of Spain, I would guess the cost of living is much less than half depending on your life style,you can push the boat out at a lot of good restaurants for a lot less than €50 a head.

    Californians would feel at home with the place names here as well as the plants and agriculture, they are almost the same. Not to mention more good wines than you can shake a stick at and many Spanish speaking people, even a good few hard working Mexicans to make them feel at home.

    The IT industry here is growing and some West Coast innovators would help, ex-F35 coders need not apply, Spain has a couple of submarines in a similar bracket/boat?

    Of course the wages are a bit lower.

    1. a well wisher

      Re: Come to Spain

      "That butler could buy a respectable house outright with his first two month's wages in many parts of Spain,

      The commute would be a bit of a bugger though - wouldn't it ?

      1. Warm Braw

        Re: Come to Spain

        >The commute would be a bit of a bugger

        One day, someone will design a laptop that will function without a daily change of scenery

      2. FreeTard

        Re: Come to Spain

        "The commute would be a bit of a bugger though - wouldn't it ?"

        Not as bad as the commute into and out of Santa Clara every day. Was working there last summer and it was a total nightmare. It was so bad that it made no difference whatsoever what time you left work on a Friday, the result was frequent stops on the freeway for minutes at a time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Come to Spain

      "That butler could buy a respectable house outright with his first two month's wages in many parts of Spain"

      Or an entire street in Sheffield...

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Come to Spain

      But you are talking about a house in rural Andalucia or wherever and the IT jobs are in Madrid or Barcelona.

      The continual downward pressure on wages, little serious development outside of banks and public sector (which aren't really spending much at the moment), and not much in the way of new startups do not make it an ideal job market either.

      1. Chris G

        Re: Come to Spain

        Actually, there are thousands of cheap houses between Barcelona and Madrid or Valencia and Madrid that are cheap as chips. The rail links from those two cities to Madrid are fantastic and cheap, once the Spanish realise that, there will be (at least) two corridors of high priced properties and they will commute in a similar way to the brits and others. Prices in much of Andalucia are going up in many places. As for Madrid, around Plaza Reina Sofia, Las Delicias area, you can buy a 2/3 bed apartment for a lot less than €200.000, under €150.00 for older properties.

        My post was kind of tongue in cheek but Spain does have a lot to offer, not so many start ups but a never ending supply of start ups is not as good as expanding markets that (if they happen) will offer better long term prospects. If it is allowed to Spain will make a come back but it depends on the pressure the world banks are putting on the country.

  7. jake Silver badge

    First of all ...

    ... you can easily afford to purchase a home[0] in a decent neighborhood in Palo Alto for about the same amount of money as renting a squalid one bed, half bath flat in a rundown Victorian converted into four units in San Francisco. Honestly. Do the math(s).

    Secondly, Noe Valley is in San Francisco, not Palo Alto.

    Thirdly, renting is throwing money away when you can afford to purchase.

    [0] 60-70 year old tract house, 3 bed, 1 bath, attached single car garage on a .25 acre lot ... or, if you are feeling adventurous, a similarly aged 3 bed, 2 bath, 2 car attached garage "Eichler"[1] on a similar sized lot.

    [1] AKA "Four minute houses", because if you have a house fire, that's about how long it takes to burn to the ground.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This Silicon Valley bubble needs bursting.

  9. Herby

    It was a much better place when I grew up

    Of course that was in the 50's and 60's, before the invasion of silicon.

    When my dad sold our house in 1973 it went for $95k (or so, I really don't know). The house next door sold a couple of years ago for $4M or so.

    That was for a lot that was purchased in 1946 for only about $20k. The house was probably built for about the same price as the lot, but it was done over time (the last big change was in 1952). Of course things have grown in price since then (at least 10x, if not more), but at one time it was a nice sleepy little town at the edge of Stanford University.

    Times have changed.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Noe Valley is in SF not PA - Cost-of-Living differences are not a laughing matter

    Palo Alto is nowhere near "Noe Valley", which is in San Francisco, by the way. Palo Alto used to be about an hour's drive from San Francisco. Now getting to Noe Valley from Palo Alto, depending on traffic, could be hours.

    But you would be right that it is horribly expensive to live there. The trouble with this article is that it's mostly ignoring, even making fun of, cost of living differences between the entire Bay Area and the rest of the country. Looking at cost-of-living comparison sites, $150,000 in Palo Alto is like $25,000 in many parts of Tennessee.

    That's because it is so expensive for just the basics of life, like living in a tiny shack on a busy street that you can't ever afford to even fix up yourself. There is a whole class of people called "house poor" who are making six figures but who are shelter and even occasionally food insecure. One of the problems is that things like federal tax rates, conforming mortgage limits, scholarships for college, even civil service salaries (which has a cost-of-living adjustment same as Texas), don't take cost of living into account either. The rich people, of which there are many who want to live there because Steve Jobs did (because he wanted to be in a once middle-class suburb), are oblivious to what they are doing to everyone else by jacking up the cost of everything.

    The actual line for what defines low income for a family in Palo Alto, is actually $117,000. Sounds like a lot of money, but if you use the cost of living calculator on bestplaces[dot]com, it's the equivalent of about $17,000 in Cookeville, Tennessee.

    Now think about what it's like to live on $17,000 in most parts of Tennessee, and you still wouldn't even begin to understand, because you can't get help, such as fee waivers to apply for college, when you make six figures even if your income officially makes you low income because you can barely afford to scrape by. Everyone else thinks it's a joke just like this article because they don't take cost of living into account. The entire Bay Area is hugely expensive because of the growing tech money, and it's no longer possible to just find a dirty crime-ridden rundown enclave to find an affordable place to live.

    Greg Scharff's claiming that poor is $250,000 is just a farce, though. He's a real estate lawyer on the city council and wants the public, including the house poor, to pay for subsidized apartments for entry-level highly-paid tech workers so his developer buddies can make a lot of money. So he wants families who are making the equivalent of $17,000 in middle America subsidizing individuals effectively making three times that (the cost-of-living comparison doesn't scale linearly) and can afford to live there without the subsidy. Palo Alto had an infamous person like him on the planning board who complained to the media that she and her husband couldn't afford to live there on $300,000, then promptly quit and bought a large single-family home overlooking the ocean in a town almost as expensive.

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