New career: being bike couriers in Toronto!


After hemming and hawing about it while we were still in Europe, we finally took the plunge and signed up to be bike couriers in Toronto.

Then we sat around nervously NOT doing it for a whole week, because it somehow scared us.

Until one day we decided to just go out there and TRY already.

It’s funny how we were actually NERVOUS to start bike courier-ing even though we’re cyclists and worked former STEM jobs that were high pressure and stressful. But picking up and delivering food by bike? Somehow that intimidated us because it was new and different and wasn’t something we had ever done before.

Now, we are pros!! :mrgreen:

There are times where it can feel like work, but overall it is quite a fun job.

The job is low pressure for us because we don’t need it to pay the bills, and for me it gives some relief from dealing with THE THING.

But for someone who does bike courier work for a living, it can be difficult especially since these jobs only exist in high cost of living urban areas.

So how much are we earning as bike couriers?!?

Each delivery earns us between $5.50 to $11 depending on the distance between restaurant and recipient. It’s quite high at the moment because there are special promotions called Boost, which increases our earnings per trip to encourage cyclists to deliver in cold/bad weather. I imagine in the summer it’s less without Boost, or the Boost amount is not so high.

I usually earn $26 to $29 doing 1.5 to 2 hour shifts, which is $15 to $20 an hour. Martin makes $85 to $122 per shift, which is $17 to $22 an hour, and he is faster (and works longer) and also gets more tips. I’ve only ever gotten a $2 tip. 😕

In total, during the last 2 weeks of occasional deliveries, I’ve earned $92 and Martin around $300.

We get paid via direct deposit every week. Cha ching!

Income goals as bike couriers

We enjoy the job so our intention is to increase our rides to earn more money.

So far, we want to earn enough to pay our business overheads (phone + data plans, food, bike maintenance, etc…), and an extra $100 each to invest in index ETFs. I’m thinking of Vanguard FTSE Canada All Cap (VCN), since our current ETF portfolio is mainly US and Europe.

The minimum goal is around $250 per month.

Martin has already surpassed this goal (he’s made $300 this month already!), but I need some encouragement.

Perks of the job

You may wonder what the perks are for riding in cold weather to deliver food to entitled yuppies who don’t often tip. 🙂

It’s not the same as cycling for fun, but yet getting paid to cycle at all is a GREAT motivator to get off our butts.

If not for this job, I wouldn’t cycle as much because it’s getting cold and I’m a weenie. But I’ll go out there for a couple of hours and earn ~$29 for my efforts.

No, I won’t get rich off of cycling. But it gets me moving, gets me fit, and at least I have a few dollars to contribute to the net worth every month.

The biggest perk of all is that it’s flexible. You can start and stop when you want, and even work in another city as a freelancer for the same company if they operate in that city!

Start up costs to bike courier-ing

There are start-ups costs, which differ per city and per company you work for.

This is what we have found:

– $25 deposit per knapsack (it’s optional and is taken from your first 2 pays)
– $100 to $200 for a basic bike (our bikes cost much more than this but we had them already)
– $80 to $150 for a good lock (or a cheaper lock if you have an ugly bike)
– $30 for a helmet
– $50 to $70 for 1GB data and phone plan
– $0 Warm clothing (most Canadians have these already)

Estimated total: $285 to $475

Not bad to get started. For us it was even lower because we just needed the knapsacks and phone + data plans since we had the rest already. So our start up costs were $75 each.

A not-so-hidden cost is that you’ll need to live in or near or have access to an urban area that is likely high cost. But even in Toronto, you can live in a house with 4 roommates and pay $550 (I have a friend who does this). Or rent a room in a basement apartment for $500 (my friends rent a room in their basement for this much). If Martin and I were paying my parents market rent to live in my childhood bedroom, it would be $1000/month.

Some people even drive their bikes to the city, park it somewhere, and ride.

How do we feel?

We feel great! Getting paid real money to cycle is pretty much a dream come true. 😀

The flexibility is also awesome because we can choose when and how long we work, which is often on a whim, and we don’t have to commit to anything or feel guilty for quitting when we eventually move out of Toronto. Plus we get a fantastic work out every time no exception, which is then rewarded with MONEY!!!

It doesn’t feel at all like we are ‘wasting’ our education. We both have Master’s degrees and are more than happy to NOT use it.

To work a job that is considered low level or low respect, but yet is fun and gets us outside and moving, is pretty much making us feel very happy and productive on many fronts. We will continue doing it as long as we live in Toronto, and even after we move, we will still visit Toronto and pick up some shifts! Because, why not?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *