Transition Blog: Life in Toronto
There is a myriad of resources available to you when you live in Toronto. So many, that it can be a little bit overwhelming if you are not sure where to look. In this transition blog, we are going to give you some tips on living in the city. Where should you buy your groceries? Should you add a TTC (transit) pass on your Presto card? What is a Presto card in the first place? What can you do for fun in the city? Find out the answers to these questions, and more, below!
Disclaimer: the tips recommended in this article are based on the author's personal experience in 2018.
Groceries and Pharmacies
There is a price difference among grocery stores. Sure, you could get everything that you need at Pusateri's and Whole Foods - but your grocery bill would be 2-3 times higher than if you chose to shop at Metro, FreshCo or No Frills. Here are some general tips when buying groceries in Toronto:
- Learn what stores have student discounts. Sobey's offers 10% off on the first Tuesday of each month. There is a Sobey's near Bay and College - a short 10-minute walk from campus
- Collect store loyalty points - Loblaws, for example, offers a point system (joint with Shoppers). After a couple months using their loyalty card, you likely will have accumulated enough points to get a weeks worth of groceries for free
- Follow sales - as a student living on a modest budget, learning where and when your staple products go on sale can make a big difference
- Take a look at all other student discounts from this list! Many establishments are located in Toronto.
Toronto's an accessible city - bike, walk, streetcar, subway - there are lots of ways to get to where you need to go. Getting a Presto card will be handy if you are planning to take the Toronto Transit (TTC) to get around. It can also be used to travel to various regions in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
- Don't pay full price on the TTC! You can load a monthly or a 12-month TTC pass on your Presto card! As a U of T student, you can set up your Presto card at a discounted post-secondary fare too!
- If you're new to Toronto and live close to campus, do the math on how much you will actually use the TTC before deciding on a monthly pass. If you aren't using it at least twice a day, using the Presto card on a as-needs basis may be the better option.
- If you want to bike around the city, but don't want the worry of your bike getting stolen - check out Bike Share Toronto. You can get a year-long membership for $99, a week pass for $7 - and various other plans. They have pick-up/drop-off sites throughout the city, so it's a hassle-free way to get around.
- If you want to have access to a car, you are able to sign up for Zipcar a short-term car rental service. Signing up as a student is only $20 - saving you $50 from regular price!
- UTM students are covered for MiWay transit in their tuition fees, so there's no additional cost that you will need to incur
Activities and Services
- Toronto Public Library - get a library card. The library gives you access to online magazines, books, audiobooks, movies, events, and much more. Toronto has an amazing library system, and it's a great way to save money on entertainment
- The Royal Ontario Museum is not only practically on campus, but it's free with your T-Card on Tuesdays! Bring your notes and study amongst dinosaurs, or distract yourself from stress by running through the bat cave in the kid's section
- Wednesday's after 6pm are free at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Spending the evening amongst art is a great way to break up the week
- If you're looking for savings on food - try Insomnia (near Bloor and Bathurst) - a comfort food restaurant that opens until 2 AM, 7days/week to satisfy your late-night study session hunger
- If you're looking to go to any Toronto attractions, check in with the UTSU, as they offer a variety of discount passes to Canada's Wonderland, Ripley's and more throughout the year
- If you're a UTM student, check out the UTMSU for discounts. They offer similar perks to those on St. George, with others specific to Mississauga included