Moving from Toronto to PEI : The cost of food in PEI

If you are thinking about coming to PEI, you could be mesmerized by the low cost of ownership of housing. It’s fantastic if you’re an investor and you’re not looking for work or a job in PEI. The tourism industry here is quite the staple and I believe that there is tons of opportunity here for the right person/family. That being said, if you’re thinking about moving from Toronto to PEI or “eastsizing” from any other part of Canada to PEI, you’ll find that the cost of food relatively different from where you’re coming from.

I’ve found that the quality of locally grown produce and meat is excellent. Full stop!

The quality and price of anything that isn’t locally grown is a completely different story. It’s been no secret that I’ve found the price of food here fairly shocking. When you live in Toronto, you take a lot of things for granted

  • Larger job market
  • Ridiculous traffic
  • Incredible culinary diversity
  • Incredible ethnic diversity

When you move to PEI, you flip the entire equation around

  • Tiny job market with even more barriers to entry
  • Comparatively ZERO traffic
  • Little culinary diversity (there are one or two of everything – Chinese, Viet, Sushi, Korean, South Indian … no West Indian place for roti or curry though)
  • Comparatively zero ethnic diversity (When I see a non-white person here, I actually do the “nod” … it doesn’t matter, if they’re black, brown or any shade of not white)

However, before I digress into a rant about something completely unrelated to the price of food in PEI, let’s get back to the topic at hand. For instance, after eating at a couple local Chinese restaurants, I’ve been quite sad until I went to King’s BBQ and Chinese Food. They have a VERY excellent Ma-Po Tofu (After I explained the way, I wanted the dish … I wasn’t impressed with stuff that D* ordered, but the fact that my Ma-Po tofu was so excellent, led to me to believe that if I explain that I know what I’m talking about, I’ll get the real stuff). That being said … our final bill was bit shocking for $70+ tax … three mains and rice)

In Toronto, you could get food for about 3 days for $70, if you went to a decent Chinese restaurant.

If you did a comparison of food prices on a site like Expatistan (which I definitely think is worth a little bit of time), you might think that the price of food is about 2% cheaper in Toronto. The graphic below (which is from Expatistan) outlines the “math”. You can read the first line as a basic business lunch in Toronto is 16% more expensive in Toronto.

cost of food in peicost of food in pei2

These numbers are done through user based input of prices but my grocery shopping experience is the following

  1. If you’re going to shop at Sobey’s or Loblaws here … you’ll need to make a ton of money. If you thought that they were expensive in Toronto, just wait for the surprise of a Charlottetown Loblaws and put on a “cup” to protect your nuts.
  2. Shopping at No Frills (right around the corner from me in Stratford, and one of the factors I considered in moving) will definitely save you money but don’t try shopping there on a Saturday. There is only one No Frills on the island.
  3. Price matching is not a huge thing here because many stores do NOT price match. The quasi-monopoly of Loblaws stores means less competition.
  4. Avoid Atlantic Superstore like the plague … not only do they NOT price match, they have Loblaws’ prices to boot
  5. You’ll need to attack anything on special … there are a lot of specials
  6. There are no Asian/Indian/ethnic groceries here … there are small shops but the price for anything ethnic here is exhorbitant
  7. If you buy groceries/food that are grown here or in season, you’ll save a lot
  8. If you choose to buy groceries as though you would in Toronto … you’re either going to pay through the nose or simply not find what you’re looking
  9. Finding cheap chilis/hot peppers here will cost you a fortune compared to what it costs in Toronto

Using a comparative index on basic items will definitely show that the island isn’t that much more expensive than Toronto but as someone who is living here and has lived in Toronto and Montreal while visiting every major city in Canada, I can tell you that the cost of food in PEI in MY experience is about 15%-20% more expensive for food.

One terrible trick they use to keep the prices comparable is while the price is similar, the size of the offerings is 1/2 of what it is in Toronto. All the groceries use this trick.

It’s because of grocery tricks that the comparative price index looks similar, but if you were to buy the exact size and weight of produce in Toronto vs PEI, you’ll find that your grocery bill is about 15-20% more expensive. If you’re wondering about the price of alcohol on the island, I started putting down some observations over here.

One huge disclaimer … just because there are less ethnic restaurants here and food is more expensive doesn’t mean the island is awful. We moved here and we think it was an excellent investment and lifestyle choice, but we considered all the facts before moving here. If you’re thinking about moving here and want to know more about shopping around the island or what your average grocery bill will look like … please drop me a line on the form or e-mail me ( and I’ll be happy to help answer your questions.

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at