There are many things that need to be taken care of when you move into a new home. Setting up utilities ranks toward the top of any to-do list. Before you set up any accounts, think about what utilities you really need and want. That list may include electricity, gas, water, trash pickup, cable and Internet.
This is a good time to re-evaluate your priorities and budget. After all, you'll be living in a new home that has different costs associated with keeping it running. It's difficult to imagine going without electricity and water, but some utilities are optional and more a matter of convenience. Are there any you're willing to forgo to save money? Maybe you don't need your own Internet connection if your apartment complex has an on-site cafe that offers free WiFi, for example.
You've got two basic options for setting up utilities: transfer your existing utilities to your new home, or establish fresh accounts. The route you choose depends on the circumstances of your move. If you're only heading across town, you should be able to keep all the utility service providers you have now. This is an easy process -- just request the last day of service for your old place and the first day of service for your new home.
That said, you may not be able to transfer your account if you're moving to an area that's not serviced by your current providers. When this is the case, request a last day of service (effectively canceling the account) and set up the utility with a new provider.
Keep in mind some landlords require proof that utilities have been set up before they let you move in. Just ask your landlord which ones, if any, need to be on and what documents he or she needs to see as proof.
When you cancel or start utility services, you've got to make sure your timing is just right. After all, who wants to move into a home with no air conditioning and toilets that don't flush? Go to the next page for some practical pointers.
Timeline for Setting up Utilities
Timing is everything when it comes to canceling or setting up utilities! Always give a utility provider adequate notice when canceling service to avoid overpaying or incurring fees. Contact the company early on to find out how much notice you need to give.
The same holds true when you start a service. Determine how far out you'll need to set up utilities so they're operating when you move in. It's no fun unpacking boxes in the dark or in the dead of winter without heat. When you make this initial point of contact, also ask if a deposit is required to turn on service. This way, you'll be prepared and can budget accordingly.
Something that's easy to forget about is how to navigate a security fence if you're moving into a gated community. Ask your landlord, management company or even sales office personnel for an access code or key. Sometimes exterior security gates or doors can be opened by the resident using his or her landline's key pad. But if you don't have or don't want a landline, ask what other ways you can let in visitors. You just may have to go to the gate to welcome in guests. This can be a hassle, especially if your home is far from the entry gate. If you're adamant about not wanting a landline, it may be worth selecting a unit as close to the entrance as possible.
Choosing which utilities you want is one thing. Selecting service providers and setting up accounts is another set of decisions. Continue on to learn easy ways to simplify these processes.
Tips on How to Set up Utilities
If you have a choice in utility providers, do your due diligence. Talk to friends or neighbors about the companies providing their utilities and the quality of service they've received. Ask questions like:
- What prompted you to choose those providers over others?
- How happy are you with the service?
- What's the customer service like?
- Have you had any problems -- and if so, how quickly were they fixed?
- What are the rates like?
- Are there any deals or discounts you know about?
Because we live in a hyper-transparent world, it's also helpful to do some research online. It's easier now than ever before to find out about companies' customer satisfaction levels. Visit utility companies' Web sites to determine what they offer and how these services stack up against competitors. Read customer reviews or opinions on blogs or sites like Yelp.com.
Another valuable and easy tactic for choosing the best utility provider is to jot down a pros and cons list. Pen a separate list for each kind of utility; one tally for cable companies, one for Internet providers and so on.
When it comes time to choose a provider, you can usually sign up online, over the phone or in person. The first two approaches just take a matter of minutes. Keep in mind, in-person transactions are more time-intensive because you have to commute to and from the provider's office, possibly waiting in line when you get there. Plus, it will cost you money in gas or public transportation fees to run the errand.
Some utilities, such as Internet, can only be set up when you're home. A technician may need to use your home computer during the installation, or may need to access an existing modem built into the structure of your home. Other utilities, like water service, don't depend on you being present. Just ask your provider about the setup process.
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