Yeah I'm sure DC is pretty gnarly; not something I have much experience with either since I've never been. I'm aware that a salary is a fixed figure who's true value will fluctuate depending on area; my assumption with that last statement was that since the pay is comparatively high here in this area, I would assume that similar projects would dictate a similar rate of pay elsewhere as well, since the whole point of prevailing wage is to guarantee a fair, market-value wage. Totally an assumption and not intended to be interpreted as anything other than a lightly educated guess. I also totally get your point on how people tend to stop making compromises on certain areas when they start to scale their income up, but my point is that maybe they shouldn't. For example, when I bought my house, I could have afforded to get a place that would have costed me an extra couple hundred a month. It would have been easy to push myself in that direction, and honestly, I wouldn't have even come close to missing a payment to date if I had done so. But I didn't, because that extra couple hundred a month would have tightened things up a bit to where if I were to suddenly lose my job or my car to any crazy circumstance out there, it would be really difficult to stop the hemorrhaging in a reasonable manner. I'm sure you made a similar decision on your condo. In this situation, I don't think we "compromised" in choosing where we live; both dwellings were more than adequate and I'm quite happy with my house. We just didn't overextend. I'm not talking about scaling down spending, I'm talking about budgeting costs (and probably a little bit of scaling down spending too, who am I kidding). If you place yourself in a position where your budget is too tight to save (or you just don't save) and your expenses are high enough to where it would be tough to meet your budget should you be in a situation where you're forced to take a pay cut / different job / etc; you made a bad call somewhere imo.