How much am I worth?

I was listening to episode #82 of the ShopTalk show today when an answer to a question about salary vs creativity caught me completely by surprise. The guy was basically asking: should he stay at his current job with lots of creative freedom and less money or move to a more “corporate” job for more money and less creative latitude.

Now to the part that caught me by surprise — Chris answered the question by suggesting that this guy could probably have both if he lived somewhere like San Francisco:

Just in my experience in living in the San Francisco area for a while. […] I feel like that’s the base level out there [$100, 000]

That’s a terrible quote, but it captures what Chris was saying. You can listen to the whole answer for better context. Still, Chris was suggesting that $100,000 was pretty-well a base salary for a normal (“non-rockstar”) developer. Does this sound absurd to anyone else? Can a front-end developer make $100,000 doing front-endy things in SF? I recognize that $100k doesn’t get you all that far in a city with enormous living costs, but still.

So it raised the question for me.

How much am I worth?

I’ve developed lots of client sites over the years. I try and stay current, I’m at probably an intermediate-level with PHP/WordPress and Javascript, I’m a reasonably good designer, I do the whole responsive thing. I use Git. Etc. I’m no “full-stack engineer” by any stretch, but I can certainly take a fairly complex project and turn it into a fully-functioning WordPress site.

Is there some upside-down universe out there (SF maybe?) that would pay me $100,000 dollars a year to do this? In less crazy cities, this figure would obviously be reduced, but what are they paying? What does this person make in Chicago? Toronto? Vancouver? Dallas?

Is San Francisco upside-down, or are people actually making similar money out there in normal cities? Just curious. Send me a note on Twitter if you have any thoughts.