Toronto’s high cost of living can make it tough to ever feel as though you are earning enough money. High inflation rates have only made the problem worse. Whether you are living paycheque-to-paycheque or investing every month, earning a bit of extra money can make a big difference: it can either ease the burden of your bills or go towards your investment accounts, setting you up for greater success later on.
If your budget (or grocery bill) has been filling you with a sense of dread lately, it may be time to look into earning some extra cash. However, this does not necessarily mean that you have to sign up for a second job. Toronto is full of unique side hustle opportunities that allow you to earn extra money without committing to a strict work schedule. Simply pick a hustle or two that sound interesting, then try them out in your spare time! Plus, none of the side hustles on this list require an upfront investment so they will not cause undue strain on your budget.
Work as a film (or television) extra
Lots of movies and television shows are shot around Toronto — and need people to play background characters. Fortunately, you do not need any acting experience to work as an extra!
You will generally have to commit to long hours in order to be an extra, but that does not necessarily mean that you will be working the whole time. Even though you may have to be on set the whole day, you will generally spend most of your time waiting for your scene. Luckily, you can use the spare time however you see fit (as long as you are quiet and ready to film at a moment’s notice). Plus, if you land the role through a reputable agency, you will still be paid for the entire day.
Most big productions hire extras through professional agencies like Toronto Talent Agency or Toronto Film Extras. However, these organizations charge annual membership fees. If you would like to work as an extra but do not want to register with an agency (and pay their fees), your best bet is to keep an eye on FaceBook groups like Toronto Film Network where calls for cast or crew members are occasionally posted.
Answer surveys/participate in market research
Whether you are looking for an online opportunity or an in-person side hustle, there are lots of companies that would like to hear your opinions before launching (or modifying) their products. If you would like to make some extra cash online, there are plenty of legitimate sites that will allow you to earn some money while answering surveys. This route is relatively flexible since you can fill out surveys from the comfort of your own home.
Although in-person focus groups are not as convenient as their remote counterparts, they can be better paying. Plus, since Toronto is such a big city, companies such as Branded Survey, Léger, Opinion Inn and Survey Junkies are frequently running studies. If you would like to participate, all you have to do is register with the company. You will then be notified when an upcoming study matches your profile.
Care for pets
During the pandemic, lots of people added a furry friend or two to their household. However, now that offices are requiring employees to work in-person more frequently, many pet owners need some help with caring for their dogs and cats.
If you would like to only dedicate a few hours per week to your new side hustle, you may find it lucrative to start a dog-walking business. You can either take out advertisements the old-fashioned way or join a website like Rover that connects dog-walkers with pet owners. If you have a bit more time on your hands (or work remotely), Rover also allows you to offer pet day care, boarding, and house sitting services.
Participate in studies at the University of Toronto
As a research institution, the University of Toronto frequently runs a wide range of studies. Participants generally have to meet certain criteria (e.g. being in reasonable health, smoking regularly, etc.). However, there are usually enough studies running at any given time that most individuals will qualify for at least one.
Since studies are organized by academic department, there is no central directory that lists all current calls for study participants. However, the kinesiology department almost always has a long list of current studies that you can look through (just be sure to only apply for paid studies). Similarly, if you are between the ages of 55-80, you can join the psychology department’s Adult Volunteer Pool to be notified when you qualify for new psychology studies.
Become a rideshare driver
Toronto’s public transit can be unreliable even on its best days. Between unexpected closures and safety concerns, public transit is becoming an increasingly unappealing method of transportation.
Fortunately, if you own a car, driving for Uber or Lyft can be a great side hustle. You get to make your own hours and can take pride in the fact that you are helping to move people around the city safely.
Food delivery is another great side hustle idea for drivers and non-drivers alike: Uber Eats, Doordash, and SkipTheDishes all allow Torontonians to deliver food via bicycle. Delivering food on a bike can be a great way to get paid to stay fit. Plus, food delivery workers can set their own hours and accept or decline contracts as they see fit.
Start a communal bottle return service
If you have ever looked at your bill after buying a bottle of wine, you may have noticed that alcoholic purchases in Ontario are subject to a $0.10-0.20 deposit per bottle or can. If the containers are returned to a Beer Store location, you get the value of the deposit back. However, when you finish a beer, it can be incredibly tempting (and far more convenient) to just toss the bottle into your recycling can.
If you do not already do so, returning your empty cans can be an incredibly easy way to recoup some money. If your neighbours also tend to throw their bottles in the recycling, you may be able to earn even more cash by setting up a communal bottle return service. This side hustle will not make you rich overnight, but it can be a good way to earn a little bit of extra money.
Work as a tutor
If you are booksmart, you may be able to make some extra money by tutoring students. Generally speaking, in-person tutoring pays slightly better than remote tutoring, but you can only work during times when Torontonian kids are not in school. If you would prefer to work earlier in the day (or from the comforts of your couch), you may wish to look into virtual tutoring. Sites like Skooli and TutorMe connect you with students from all around the world, allowing you to take advantage of time zone differences to work whenever is most convenient for you.
Regardless of whether or not you own a car, working for grocery delivery service Instacart can be a straightforward way to earn extra money. There are two types of Instacart contractors: full-service workers purchase requested items from a grocery store and then deliver them to a customer, while in-store shoppers simply gather ordered items and bring them to a predetermined spot in the grocery store for customer pickup. Unfortunately, full-service workers must have access to a car. However, anyone can sign up to be an in-store shopper.
Event staffing agency
Looking for a side hustle to occasionally fill your evenings and weekends? If you have hospitality experience, you may wish to join an event staffing agency such as Bartendo or DGS. Generally, the agency will notify its talent roster of upcoming events that require support. Once you are on the list, you can accept or turn down work based on your availability.
Help your neighbours with their yard work
Whether you are considering raking leaves or shovelling snow, there is a reason that yard work is a classic side hustle: it pays a decent amount of money and is simple to start. You do not need to own your own equipment, either: Better Living’s Home Maintenance program can connect you with older adults that own maintenance equipment but are no longer able to complete the work on their own. Plus, the program is incredibly flexible: jobs can be picked up as needed and are paid in cash by the client.
Work on odd jobs
If you are not a fan of yard work but like the idea of taking on odd jobs, why not join a service marketplace? TaskRabbit and Handy both allow you to sign up for miscellaneous household tasks, including furniture assembly, window cleaning, minor plumbing repairs, and more. This can be an especially worthwhile option for anyone with occasional full-day availability.
Test apps and websites
If you would prefer to make some extra money without leaving the house, you may want to look into app and website testing. Rates vary, but testing can be relatively lucrative. However, it is important to always keep digital safety in mind. Be sure to only source jobs from reputable platforms such as UserTesting or uTest. Likewise, be wary of sites that offer payments which sound too good to be true.
Share your car
If your car spends most of its time sitting around in your garage, it may be better off earning you some cash. Platforms like Turo allow you to list eligible cars for short-term rentals (similarly to how Airbnb operates). Turo even allows you to name your own price when listing a vehicle.
That being said, there is a catch. If you would like to list your car on Turo (or a similar platform), you will have to notify your insurance provider. Generally speaking, your personal insurance will not apply while the car is rented. Turo offers its own insurance plans (which are collected as a percentage of the bill once your car is rented), but you may have to do some homework to figure out what degree of coverage you need.
Give tours of the city
Whether you were born and raised in Toronto or moved to the city relatively recently, chances are that you have a few favourite spots. After all, despite its flaws, Toronto has something for practically everyone. If you would like to make some extra money while showing the city off, why not organize your own tour?
Although launching an entire tour company is out of the question for most Torontonians, platforms like Showaround connect you with tourists who are eager to learn more about the city. When setting up your Showaround profile, you are encouraged to elaborate on your interests (e.g. live music, art galleries, etc.) As a result, there is a good chance that people who book a tour with you will share those same interests — and all you will have to do is take them to your favourite related spots!
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About The Author: Athanasia Nikolakakis
Athanasia is a freelance writer and personal finance enthusiast. Whenever she has to make a purchase, she takes pride in hunting down stackable discounts and finding great deals. She is currently finishing up a Bachelor of Arts in English and Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto.
More posts by Athanasia Nikolakakis