Here are some things to keep in mind so your monthly utility bills don’t surprise you.
General utility tips
If you move into an apartment community, some utilities, such as water and sewer, will be arranged by your apartment management. For other services, such as electricity and gas, ask management whether you are allowed to compare prices between providers in your area. Also, inquire if they know of deals being offered to other new renters, or look for advertised deals for the recently moved.
The easiest, time-honored, way of setting up phone service is to call the dominant phone company in your area, but many more options now exist. You can often bundle your phone and Internet service with your cable bill, for instance. If you’re already planning on getting Internet access, you can look into Voice over IP (VoIP) services, such as Skype and Vonage. Yet another option is to rely exclusively on your cell phone rather than getting a separate residential line. If you do get a residential line, you may want to use it for local calls only and reserve long-distance calls for your cell phone to save money.
You’ll want to think about how many channels you want to pay for and whether your location will allow you to pick up satellite or cable TV. Your landlord or community manager should be able to tell you if there are certain providers who give better service than others. Also, factor in what you like to watch: if you’re a movie fan, for example, it may make more sense to get a Netflix subscription than to pay for cable channels.
Most people will have to choose between Internet through a cable connection or through DSL, which is tied to your phone service. New mobile options, such as Clear, are becoming available in some markets. You may also be able to get wireless Internet through your cell-phone provider. Compare both the expense and personal convenience of the options available to you before settling on a provider.
If you are able, plan to contact utility companies two weeks before your expected move-in date to allow plenty of time for setup. A deposit or credit check may be required, which could add to the time needed to get things up and running. Schedule activation for one to three days before the first night you plan to spend in your new apartment.
Utilities are necessities we depend on, and setting them up for your new apartment is a critical task for your move. With a little advance thought and preparation, your apartment will feel like home the minute you arrive — phone, TV, Web, water and power all connected and ready to take care of you, at the best price your advance effort could find.
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