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Relocating to a larger market - salary expectations?

 
Greenhorn
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Hello,

Long time lurker, first time poster.

I'm currently employed in what I would consider in the US to be a small-mid sized market (about 500,000). I work for a wonderful Fortune 500 company that treats their people as well as I think any large company could be expected to do. However, having lived in this market for 6+ years now, I have plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests that my current employer is on the low end in terms of developer salaries when compared with some other large employers in the area. Furthermore, I also have the suspicion that even within my company I'm probably slightly undervalued in terms of my skills and years of experience (which I'm basing on the fact that I often find myself guiding/educating developers who are more "senior titled" than myself).

What leads me to make this post is that we (my family - stay at home wife and two small children - and myself) are looking at the feasibility of relocating to the Denver area. We are serious enough about moving that we have begun crunching some specific numbers - e.g. what are the taxes like? What would we pay for a house? What would we get for our house? etc. What we are finding is, I would need a pretty significant boost in salary (probably around a 25% raise) to maintain the same standard of living - which really I would expect, given that the Denver area is roughly 6X the size of our current market, coupled with the fact that our current area is known for an extremely low cost of living index.

I guess in short, I make about $60K right now, and our rough number crunching leads us to think $75K is about what we would need to live in the Denver area (granted, we would not be "living large" by any means, but we are hardly "living large" right now!). What I'm hoping to find out is - given my rough resume - is $75K completely out of the realm of possibility for a market the size of Denver?

My rough resume looks like:

6 yrs of OO experience (3 w/.NET, last 3 w/Java).
Have not done any formal tech lead stuff in terms of running a small project or something, but have tons of what I would call "informal" tech lead (what you might call tech mentorship).
I have really good familiarity with Ibatis/MyBatis, Spring, WebSphere, RAD/Eclipse, JSF, SQL (Oracle, Sybase, MSSQL, DB2), JUnit/unit testing.
I've worked on several Agile projects, so I have some experience with that methodology.
I'm also probably within a month of taking (and hopefully passing!!!) the SCJP for Java 6.
Not to be immodest (but I guess if there is ever a time for being immodest, it's on the job trail!), but I also consider myself to be a really solid interviewee. I have excellent face-to-face people skills and tend to come off really well in interviews.

I guess looking at that rough resume myself, I feel pretty confident I could probably pretty easily get a job for $65K in my current market, if not a little bit more. I probably would have pursued that option several years ago if it weren't for the fact that I absolutely love all the non-monetary aspects of my current employer.

What's everyone think? I'm just afraid that with such a low salary, trying to move from a small to large market I'm going to get "low-ball" offers from prospective employers.

Any advice I could get would be MUCH appreciated!!! Thank you!
 
author & internet detective
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In the US, you don't have to share your salary history when negotiating for a job. It's none of their business. Forms often ask for things they don't need to see what you write.

When you say larger market, I assume you mean larger city. Which seems safe since you know the cost of living is higher. I think you would get 75K in Denver.

Also note you have more leverage if you job hunt before leaving your current job.

I'd also argue you get more than 60K now. It just so happens some of it isn't in cash/money.
 
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
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