The startup Zapier is running a hiring experiment: a $10,000 “de-location package” for any hires willing to leave the notoriously expensive Bay Area. The motivation, says Zapier CEO Wade Foster, is to give employees, especially families, a chance to afford rent, mortgages, or child care in one of the most expensive regions of the country.
“The housing crunch and high cost of living simply price out many families and, despite loving the [Bay] area, the realities are many of us need to look elsewhere to create the life we want for our families,” Foster recently blogged.
The workflow automation startup will reimburse moving costs for new hires from the Bay Area who want to seek more affordable pastures. The money can only be used to defray relocation expenses incurred during the first three months of employment, and employees who accept reimbursement are expected to stay with the company for at least one year.
Because the 67-person startup is already “100% remote,” many of its employees already can and do work in far-flung places. The $10,000 “de-location” package is just extra incentive for a trend that is already underway: Silicon Valley tech workers decamping the Bay Area for more affordable areas along the West Coast, or further east to places like Colorado or Texas. Doing so can net them effective raises of 50% or more by reducing their cost of living.
Zapier executives confirmed on HackerNews they would not reduce salaries for new remote workers who take advantage of the program.
While it’s an old Bay Area pastime to complain about cost of rent, the pain is real. San Francisco rents have soared above those of New York, Hong Kong, and Singapore by at least one measure, and in suburban Silicon Valley (median home price $910,000), houses are generally out of reach to all but the very wealthy. It’s far worse for blue-collar workers who sleep in their cars because they can’t afford housing or manage the lengthy commute from anyplace with realistic housing options, but even tech workers at prominent companies complain their paychecks don’t deliver the lifestyle they expected. Last year, Facebook engineers, who earn more than $126,000 on average, asked founder Mark Zuckerberg if the company would subsidize their rent to make living costs more affordable.
Startups like Zapier suggest that some companies, if they can’t raise their employees’ salaries, will help reduce their cost of living instead.