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Which Tech Workers Can Actually Afford San Francisco?

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It depends on how you add it up

The image of the well-heeled techie, so laden with startup cash that she or he doesn’t even mind paying $4,000/month to live in San Francisco, may not necessarily reflect the lives (and checkbooks) of actual technology employees.

Rental site RadPad decided to pit the popular image against the cold hard reality of the numbers, first by calculating the median rent within a half mile of major tech companies in San Francisco (necessarily the properties most attractive to those companies’ employees) and then comparing it to the median post-tax salary of software engineers at those companies.

(Job search site Anthology ponied up the salary data.)

Zynga workers have it the worst, pushing in 56 percent of their pay toward a rent of $3,760/month. This probably has more to do with being one of the lowest paid developers in the study, though, at $81,144 a year (again, after taxes).

The blow lands softest for Twitter developers, who make $97,380 a year (or so says Anthology) and pay $3,330/month to live near the company’s Market Street hive. That’s 41 percent.

Google employees shacking up near the Embarcadero office are the highest paid at $8,566/month, but are also charged the most: $3,800 (44 percent).

Uber shakes out to $81,702/$3,421/51 percent.

Salesforce (counting only their Market Street office) is $94,668/$3,740/47 percent.

So even people with super lucrative jobs are paying well more than the prescribed, magical 30 percent every month that housing bigwigs dub affordable. But nobody’s forcing them to move in next door to work. What happens if they just get a place further away?

Taking the case of an Airbnb developer (no particular reason…) making $75,660/year and using numbers released earlier this week by Zumper, a move to the Excelsior would still mean paying just more than that ideal 30 percent number. Googlers break the 30 barrier everywhere except for the Bayview, Tenderloin, Outer Sunset, and Excelsior.

Times, it seems, are tough all over.

Then again, going over the 30 percent mark isn’t the end of the world; basically everyone does it. And these are still some of the highest paid workers in the city, whose reported salaries may not include things like benefits and, in some cases, stock options.

So do they have it easy or not? Like so many of the truths we cling to, it depends on your point of view.