While I have some free time, I want to tell you about the quarantine in Canada, specifically in Toronto. Before we went to Canada, we read this article about the 14 days of mandatory quarantine for everyone entering Canada. As requested, we prepared a quarantine plan to share with the Officer, but we haven’t talked much about the quarantine itself because of our unusual case. The Officer just told us to go to our temporary place and be back at the airport when the quarantine is over. I was actually mentally prepared for the quarantine; what I was not prepared for was our situation. But I won’t talk about it today.
We got Uber and went directly to our place in downtown Toronto. D.’s company rented apartments there in a tall condo building. We knew nothing about the place; we just hoped it would have a balcony so we could “walk around and get some air.” It appeared to be nice furnished apartments with cooking supplies and everything a person needs to stay at home. It also had a balcony with a view on a small park.
When we arrived, the receptionist told us about the quarantine and added us to the “quarantine list,” which allowed them to leave the deliveries at our door. Usually, they would ask the residents to pick up the deliveries at the reception (because of Covid). The quarantine means that you should not leave your apartments even if you need to take out the trash. We usually called a company which owned our suit in advance to ask them to take out our trash, put the trash next at our door, and some person picked it up. Every morning we checked-in in the ArriveCan app, which you need to install before going to Canada; either way, they wouldn’t let you on board. If you forget to check-in, you’ll get a reminder about it. On the 15th day, our profile got reset, and we could finally go outside.
And now I’ll share details about some delivery services that we used to survive the quarantine. There are many deliveries here, but it’s not easy to quickly get around them with a full understanding of prices and fees.
TL;DR The cheapest way is to order a lot of items directly from the Grocery store. But because of our situation, we were not sure how many things we should order because we didn’t know if we would stay here in Canada. So we tried different options.
The next morning after we arrived, we were too hungry to look around for new apps, we had to quickly order something. We were already familiar with Uber Eats. The grocery delivery in Uber Eats is actually powered by Cornershop (I will tell about it further) and is done within 1-2 hours. Eventually, Uber Eats turned out to be the most expensive grocery delivery because we paid both the Uber Eats fee and the Cornershop fee.
Here is the summary of our first order:
- Walmart (grocery itself) CA $132.03
- Cornershop service CA $13.20
- Delivery CA $6.90
- Estimated taxes CA $4.47:
- Product taxes CA $1.85
- Service fee taxes CA $1.72
- Delivery fee taxes CA $0.90
- Order total CA $156.60
So it’s pretty expensive, but it’s ok when you are hungry, stressed out, and can’t go out.
Later I found out that Uber has recently bought Cornershop, but you can still order groceries directly in Cornershop.
Cornershop also deliver groceries within 1-2 hours.
One can order groceries from various supermarkets: Walmart, Costco, Longos, Metro, etc. You also get three free deliveries after the registration. For some reason, they also gifted me a $20 discount, maybe because I added some items to the basket but didn’t order them right away. Even though Cornershop charges a 10% service fee for every order, it’s still cheaper than Uber Eats.
Here is the summary of our first order:
- Walmart $79.40
- Cornershop service $7.90
- Delivery Fee Free
- Estimated taxes: $4.04
- Product taxes $3.01
- Service fee taxes $1.03
- Credits applied -$20.00
- Total $71.38
We later ordered groceries from Cornershop a few more times, I also shared a referral with my husband, and after we placed an order from his account, I got $20 off for my next order.
Please note that if some items are out of stock, they will suggest a replacement.
Another delivery that we tried was Walmart delivery. The downside is that you have to place your order a few days before the actual delivery date. But even after you place your order, you can still manage your basket. For example, the delivery was set for noon, but I could change items in my basket until 10 pm of the previous day. Walmart doesn’t charge you for service fee, the standard delivery costs $7.97, but you can order the same-day delivery for $10. Unfortunately, if some items are out of stock, you can’t choose the replacement; they will do it for you. But if you don’t like it, you can always return it.
Here is the summary of our first order:
- Items Subtotal: $130.77
- Delivery fee : $7.97
- HST @ 13%: $2.20
- Total: $140.94
The last but not least grocery delivery that I want to mention is Instacart. My referral link will give you a $10 discount for your first order. I also used a referral link when I signed up, but I didn’t order items from my basket right away..And I got $20 off the next day :) The delivery costs around 5% of the order summary. I liked it that they contacted me in their virtual chat about the items that were out of stock; this way, it was easier for me to find a replacement. As I previously mentioned, Uber Eats and Cornershop do the same thing, but Instacart representative contact you directly in live chat, which is nice.
- Item Subtotal: $93.62
- Sales Tax: $0.00
- Tip: $4.68
- Service Fee: $4.68
- Bags Fee: $0.30
- Retailer Coupon Discount: -$20.00
- Total: $83.89
All the products were carefully packed, the delivery person left the bags right by the door, knocked, and left.
Apart from cooking our meals, we also wanted to try various local restaurant deliveries, especially given that Toronto is famous for a variety of cuisine from all over the world.
We mostly used Uber Eats and DoorDash during our quarantine.
To be honest, Uber Eats has a much more variety of restaurants compared to DoorDash. They also have different discounts and personalized offers, for example, the “order one, get one free” deal. Although it should be the same meal to use this option, we left a comment for a restaurant to make one meal spicier than another one when we ordered from a Thai restaurant. Please note that the price for the meal is usually lower than it actually costs. For example, you want to order Massaman Curry, the price is $21, but you have to add meat/seafood and rice to the order, and you have to separately pay for it. In the end, the “order one get one free” deal is only applied to Masaman Curry ($21) and is not applied to the additional stuff. There are also different fees applied to the order, like taxes, tips, and service fees.
Here is an example of our first order:
Massaman Curry CA $21
Shrimp CA $4.00
Jasmine Rice CA $0.00 (usually it’s not free, though)
Tax CA $3.93
Service Fee CA $4.20
Delivery Fee $0.99
Tips CA $5.11
Total CA $39.23
So, although the Curry costs $21, we had to pay $39.12 in total. We later noticed that we could modify the tip, but I advise you to leave good tips because it’s a pandemic going on, and delivery people are our heroes.
Useful tip. You can get a free one month trial for Uber Eats (Eats Pass) and get free delivery in addition to 5% off from the orders that are more than $15. I eventually subscribed for Eats Pass for a month.
Doordash is an Uber Eats competitor. It seemed to me that there are fewer restaurant options in it, but there are promotions, and delivery is often cheaper. DoorDash also has a subscription with some discounts. As a new user, you will get some bonuses - free shipping and some other discounts.
Here is my first order from DoorDash:
- Subtotal $30.58
- Tax $4.42
- Delivery Fee Free
- Service Fee $3.36
- Discount -$5.00
- Tip $2.00
- Total $35.36
You can also order alcohol in Toronto. We used Runner, the delivery usually took around two hours after the order was placed. To get your first order, you have to show your ID for them to make sure that you are over 19 years old. The delivery person from Runner was literally the only person we saw during 14 days of quarantine. After they confirm your ID, they would just leave a package by the door, knock and leave for every other delivery.
We ordered twelve bottles of beer and two bottles of wine for our first delivery.
- Item total $86.58
- Delivery Fee $9.99
- Tax $4.24
- Tip $5.00
- Total 103.87
I’m sure everyone knows about weed legalization in Canada. We were exhausted and devastated because of our situation, so we could not help but take advantage of it. Most of the deliveries need you to stop by the shop to show your ID, but some of them accept ID’s during the first delivery, for example, OCS (looks like we saw two people during our quarantine, from Runners and OCS). Delivery was not so fast; it took them 2-3 days. We ordered a PAX vaporizer and some pods with a high level of CBD extracts to finally relax and get some sleep. The PAX costs $46.50, one pod costs around $50 on average (but it will last for half a year).
- Subtotal $96.45, including $11.00 tax
- Delivery Fee $0.00
And, of course, Amazon. Amazon.ca is not as great as amazon.com, but you can still order almost anything with a fast delivery. For example, cleaning supplies. I subscribed to Amazon Prime to have 1-day delivery, which is also free for the first month.
What we were really missing during the quarantine was the PlayStation! We sold ours just before the trip in order to buy a new one here after the arrival. But again, we couldn’t do it because we were not sure if they let us stay here..and to be honest, where can you order PlayStation 5?! They are still not available anywhere.
Of course, quarantine is a great time to read about everything that you need to get done after it ends (banks, contracts for mobile providers, renting an apartment), but to be honest, we didn’t research much since we were under terrible stress. Once a day, we went out to the balcony to “walk,” several times a week, we worked out.
In general, you can survive 14 days quarantine, but it’s pretty easy to get mad. Perhaps the most unusual feeling is the understanding that you have been in a completely new country and a city for two weeks but have not yet seen anything except the view from your window. I really appreciated people who walked the dogs; I usually spent a few hours a day looking at them 🐶.
P.S. We paid for everything using our Russian Tinkoff bank, which lets you have a CAD balance on your card. Once the quarantine was over, our spending on groceries got less since we were not obligated to order everything, and thus we could spend less on delivery fees. Also, take outs usually give you great discounts.