In particular, what are the upsides of living in the SF Bay Area? Is it worth the high cost of living?
For my situation in particular, I would like to end up at Amazon working full-time after school, but I don't live in Seattle or the Bay Area (I live somewhat close to another major metro area). Does moving make sense?
In a vacuum, yes, I think it does make sense to move. Especially if you're young + don't have kids or a house (which is likely the case if you're an intern).
A more nuanced take: it depends on the density of the team + org headcount in the area.
Even with the shift to remote work, the Bay Area is still by far the best place to be in a vacuum as Rahul mentioned:
That being said, the costs are (literally) quite steep, hence the "in a vacuum" caveat:
At the end of the day, it all really depends on your situation and what I will say is that with covid, it has become far more feasible to build a stellar software engineering career outside of the Bay Area. Here are some reasons for you to stay where you are:
If you (or anyone else reading this) end up moving to the Bay Area, I recommend these resources:
Wanted to also share a YouTube video I made about location here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEf3brlRrQc
I am not an expert like Rahul and Alex, but for me, working remotely is super important. In my past company, we had a mandate for everyone to return to the office.
I changed companies in the past to move to remote work. I was even willing to take a pay cut for the same but I didn't have to. I think I still continue to enjoy remote work and have no plans to move to a company where a return to office is mandated (even if it doesn't mean I don't work for FAANG or get a super high-paying job)
To each his own, I guess. It depends on what is essential for you. And will change employers should the need arise. But I do work hard for whomever my employer is though.