In NYC & SF, cost of living changes your entire equation. $70 grand more eight years in is nothing when you're spending it all on rent and still can't afford to buy. planning where salaries will be nearly a decade in based on today's income tax rates seems suspect, too. if you're choosing b/t two firms, maybe they should be weighed against each other, too- where are you most comfortable? which has the more promising partnership track? how do hours worked compare at those two particular firms? where are you more likely to have the level of client/court/partner interaction you want? these are all fun cities, but it's basically the same salary when you average it all out. maybe a slightly better deal if you're really making $100k post-tax in san diego, but not by enough that the money is much of a deciding factor.if you really want to do this objectively based only on money, you're also going to need to look at sales tax, mortgage rates, insurance rates, quality of infrastructure, cost of food & schools, how much it'll run you to visit your mom on the holidays... lot of effort to figure out that they're all pretty equal.