Where should I settle next?

As some people know, I am currently taking a break from work and this is the first time I’ve been unemployed since 2011. This was by my own choice – I needed break and some time off from work to think and reflect on what I want to do with my life and where I want to go next.

Right now I’m in Korea and will be traveling Asia while I relax and think about things and meeting my Korean friends again. There is some choices I have to make – I think I will continue doing programming as my main career since it is one of the best jobs you can get right now – salary wise and flexibility wise. I am fortunate that I am a career programmer and one of the few people I know that have done this since I was young. It is one of the few jobs in the world that can give me good pay and good flexibility on location – I can work almost anywhere in the world since software engineers are popular worldwide.

But even then there are some choices I have to make – now that I’ve sold my San Francisco home, I don’t have a real ‘residence’ anymore and am free to choose where I should settle next. So I have a few choices on where to go but they all have pros and cons, and I’m still deciding between them. I have to take into consideration salary differences, location, do I have friends there or not, how easy is it to meet friends, (and for my personal future) how likely am I to meet the right Korean girl to marry?

Option 1: Seoul, Korea – the best choice if I want to get married soon

Pros:
-Awesome atmosphere. Lots of things to do. Lots of people to meet. With population of 10 million, easily the biggest city out of my choices
-Obviously lots of single Korean women, easiest to meet the right person
-Lots of Korean friends here
-Rent is cheap – can get decent studio for around $600 a month

Cons:
-Low salary for engineers, around $40k USD/yr
-Work/Life balance is difficult – probably have to work overtime regularly
-Probably won’t get much opportunity to meet those Korean friends because Koreans are usually busy bodies. Even close friends I only met once a month here.
-Take home pay: roughly $2700 USD a month after rent/taxes

Option 2: Vancouver, Canada – the best choice if I want to be closer to family

Pros:
-Most convenient for me, don’t need a visa to get a job
-family and friends can visit me easily
-Lots of Korean women, probably #3 in North America after LA and Toronto

Cons:
-Rainy weather
-Salary is relatively low – $80k CAD on average for engineers which is roughly $61k USD and taxes is similar to California so it’s roughly $40k/yr after taxes, so basically same salary as Korea (without the overwork though).
-Cost of living is high, around $1400 USD/mo for studio
-Take home pay: roughly $2000 USD a month after rent/taxes

Option 3: San Francisco, California – the best choice for the best tech companies

Pros:
-Very familiar with the city, still have some friends left there (including one really good friend)
-High salaries and lots of jobs – around $130k/yr average for engineers
-Very nice temperate climate and scenery

Cons:
-Cost of living is very high, around $2500/mo for studio
-Not a lot of women in general let alone Korean women, probably the worst place to meet girls on my list of choices
-High taxes, so take home salary (net income) would be about $84k/yr
-Take home pay: roughly $4500 USD a month after rent/taxes

Option 4: Seattle, Washington – the best choice for earning and saving money

Pros:
-High salaries, lots of jobs – around $130k/yr average for engineers, but even higher than San Francisco due to no income tax which means net income is around 7% higher, around $94k/yr the highest out of any city on my list

Cons:
-Not many friends in Seattle, I have maybe one or two
-Not as many Korean women as LA/Seoul/Vancouver
-Cost of living is also expensive like Vancouver, around $1400/mo for studio
-Rainy weather
-Take home pay: roughly $6400 USD a month after rent/taxes

Option 5: Los Angeles, California – the balanced choice

Pros:
-Sunny warm weather all year round
-the most Koreans outside of Korea
-Have a few close friends there
-Nightlife better than other American cities. second biggest city on my list after Seoul

Cons:
-Not as many tech jobs as Seattle/SF. Average salary is around $110k/yr for engineers, and after CA taxes would be around $72k/yr, firmly in the middle of my list
-Cost of living is expensive, around $1500/mo for studio
-Take home pay: roughly $4500 USD a month after rent/taxes
-I would probably need a car (which is a hassle), which is something I cannot say for the other cities on my list…

So… where should I go? decisions, decisions.