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The ad wasn't really asking for that much--at minimum a "familiarity" with C or C++ (not a programmer!), and the salary says "from $35", which tells me they're expecting to pay more for more skills. No mention of developer or sys admin docs, lots of talk about GUIs and usability.
In my recent job search I talked with contract agencies about a number of jobs, all of them in the $30-40/hr range. I interviewed with companies offering in the $50-60 K/yr range. I've also seen area job posts for a "technical writer" (part-time, temp, full-time) offering $15-20, but discounted these as from people who don't have a clue what a tech writer does.
I've talked with several tech writers in the area who got new jobs in the last year and they all said they took pay cuts. I didn't but mainly because I was seriously underpaid at my tiny old company, where I'd been a loyal serf for five years. Maybe the salaries do look a little low to those paid top dollar during the bubble, but my expectations were certainly colored by the knowledge that there were 50-100 or more resumes sent in for every job I applied for.
Re Seattle living: I existed just fine in Seattle on my old salary and will live even better on my new. And let me clarify that I am more wastrel than miser. You can still get a decent home for less than $200K without going too far from the main business centers. My sister just bought a home in Kirkland (a fairly popular east-side--read more affluent--location) for about $270K; 1600sf, good sized lot on a secluded cul-de-sac, less than 1 mile from downtown Kirkland. I pay less than $1000/mo rent for my 2BR, but I live in an older duplex in an unfashionable area. $1000-1200 for a 2BR is probably a more realistic average.
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