Congratulations! You have spread your wings towards adulthood and your first step is to get your own home. This is certainly a big feat in your life and with such great accomplishments comes great responsibility. These responsibilities include everything from making sure you turn off the coffee maker on your way out the door to paying your rent on time. However, there a couple tasks you need to accomplish before you can get your keys and set foot in your new home. This is where we come in! Let us talk about important utility tips to know as a first-time renter.
Tip 1: Do Not Be Afraid of The Responsibilities
As a first-time renter, out on your own in the world, it can be quiet overwhelming to set everything up from water, electric, and even the internet. This includes the deposits and all that jazz that comes with moving. The good news is that with a proper checklist, you can get it all done in time if you take it step by step.
Tip 2: Know Your Utility Checklist
The first question to answer is: What utilities do you need to set up? Make sure you give yourself roughly about two weeks before moving in to set it all up. Our advice is to never wait until the last minute. You don’t want to risk moving in with no power, water, or insurance for that matter.
The utility checklist includes:
- Natural Gas
- Internet, Cable, and Telephone
- Security/Alarm Systems
- Trash Collection
- Water and Sewer
- Renters Insurance
As a new renter, it is important to know which utilities you are responsible for. Depending on your landlord, they may cover certain utilities such as water and trash. As a standard rule of thumb, they will cover your utility to a certain price point.
For example: Your landlord may cover your water bill up to $30 a month. If your water bill is $55 a month, you are responsible for paying the difference which in this case totals to $25.
Another important matter is research is what are the preferred providers within your apartment community. Ask your rental company or landlord if your future home is wired to receive cable or satellite. By asking your landlord, you remove some of the guesswork during your utility set up.
To better help you out, here are some key questions to ask your landlord prior to setting up your utilities.
- Which utilities am I responsible for?
- What are the preferred providers for each utility such as, cable, internet, and phone?
- In the case that your apartment community/landlord covers a certain amount of utilities, you can ask: how much is covered monthly for this certain utility? (water, electric, gas)
Tip 3: Setting Up Your Most Important Utility Services
Setting up your utility services is not difficult, it just takes time. However, we have compiled below simple tips, instructions, and questions you can ask during this stage of the process.
Electricity, without a doubt, is a need. Anything you plug into power outlets uses electricity. Since any electrical appliance will use different degrees of electricity, it is important to note if the appliances in your apartment are Energy Saving appliances.
When setting up your utility services, most companies will stop and start your electricity within 24 hours. It is recommended to set your utilities up ahead of time just in case. With most utilities, the cost will vary depending on how much you use them. On average, a tenant spends roughly $40-$60 on utilities depending on certain factors: state, usage, and taxes.
Take the time to study your electricity provider and give them a call. Normally, your electric bill is prorated depending on the time of the month you are moving in. Therefore, it is important to note that your electric bill may be lower your first month then your second month.
Many apartment communities may offer natural gas for cooking or heating. Therefore, it is important to know if you will be having a gas utility apart from your electric utility bill. If natural gas is only for cooking purposes, you can predict your bill to be roughly $10-$20. However, if your gas utility also includes heating your home as well as a hot water heater, it is safe to say your utility service will be much higher.
It typically will take a natural gas provider about one week to process your request to start or stop your gas services. As a result, it is recommended that you accomplish this about one to two weeks before moving into your new home.
Internet, Cable, and Telephone
Normally, you can purchase all three of these utilities as a bundle, if desired. It is important to ask your landlord if they offer any packages for choosing their preferred provider. At times, you might receive basic cable for free or a discount off your internet!
It is highly recommended to call ahead of time to secure a time slot to set internet, cable, and telephone. Your provider will most likely need to enter your apartment building to set up your router for Wi-Fi internet access and your cable box. Please note that if you already have the proper equipment, you may take it with you.
Now, there may be a fee to set up these utilities with brand new equipment. Remember to ask questions about extra fees, late fees, due date, and any special deals they may have.
Water and Sewer
This is one of the utilities that at times a landlord will cover to a certain amount. When setting up your water, you can sometimes do it online. If not, visit your city’s utility department and set it up physically. Normally, as a first-time renter, there is a deposit for setting up your water. The good news is this deposit you could get back within one to two years, depending on your provider and state that you live in. To receive your deposit back, you must consistently make on-time payments through the entire first one or two years.
This is quiet an easy step that only requires you to visit the local utility department and set it up. As always, ask questions such as: When will I receive my bill? Are there late fees and penalties?
Congratulations – You Are a Utility Expert
The most exciting part is the reward that you are out on your own, in your own home, accomplishing a bit feat of life. This is an exciting time that, at times, can be perceived as stressful. We are here to say that, if you have a great checklist, ask proper questions, and take it step by step, you will be enjoying your new home in no time. As a first-time renter, congratulations and we hope you found our utility tips helpful!