Adrian Horning's Blog

The unexpected way living in a small town prepared me to live in San Francisco

April 19, 2020

I went to a small college in a small college town of about 20,000 people (Rexburg, ID).

4 years later I moved to San Francisco, city of almost 1 million people.

In both places I arrived broke.

Rent in San Francisco at the time was 5x what I was paying in Rexburg, and that includes sharing a room with 2 strangers. It is arguably the most expensive place in the world to live.

Yet, it was easier to live in San Francisco than it was in small town Idaho.

BYU-Idaho, the college in Rexburg, has about 15,000 students, and many need jobs.

So almost half of the population in Rexburg are broke college kids who are too poor to afford anything, don’t have cars, and also need low-skilled work. 🤦‍♂️ So we’re all fighting for the same jobs, in the same 5 mile radius.

As a result, I worked any job I could get. Including:

  • Delivering newspapers
  • Art model (some eye candy for you below)
  • Call centers (I think I worked at all the call centers at Rexburg at one point)
  • Early morning (4am) janitorial
  • Yard work (at one point I was so desperate that I went around putting fliers on peoples doors offering to do yard work, which honestly I should’ve done from the beginning)
  • Painter
  • Laying sod
  • Work coach for disabled people

Needless to say, you had to be scrappy and creative to find work in Rexburg.

Whereas in San Francisco, there weren’t ENOUGH low-skilled workers to fill the demand. Obviously, it’s tough living in the most expensive city in the world, making low-skill job wages, so hence the reason there aren’t many low-skilled workers available. Different story trying to apply for a highly skilled job with zero experience, as I would find out later.

I drove for Lyft and delivered food for Caviar.

Even making the $1,000/month rent wasn’t that difficult because I could work as much as I wanted in SF because demand was so high, and because I was considered an independent contractor.

I did end up getting a coveted campus job. My failures at earlier attempts of getting a campus job helped me learn where I needed to step up my game.

I was TERRIBLE at interviews when I first started 😅

I learned that I needed to out-prepare and out-work every other applicant. Interview preparation, resume writing, and sheer number of jobs I applied for.

I also learned to apply for jobs, even if you don’t think you qualify. A lot of times people put random crap on job req’s because they have no idea what to put on the req, and they themselves don’t know exactly who they’re looking for, or what skills are most important to them.

The campus job I ultimately got I did not qualify for on paper.

Hustling in a small town made it much easier to find work and hustle in a big city, because I was already used to it.

Here are all the things I learned trying to get work in Rexburg:

  • Thoroughly prepare for interviews. Do TONS of mock interviews. 10+
  • Get your resume reviewed like a thousand times
  • Get involved to separate from other candidates. If you can’t get paid for work that you do, gain experience by volunteering somewhere.
  • “Spam apply” Apply anywhere and everywhere
  • Leverage past experience to gain better experiences. Always keep leveling up.
  • You don’t NEED to network your way in. Definitely helps, but your interview/resume and preparation can help you stand out
  • I should’ve just started my own business 🤷‍♂️ I’m sure I could’ve easily made $25/day going door to door to the rich kids apartments selling them something. And in much less time than 4 hours (what it would take at a minimum wage job)