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What to Know About Utilities When Moving for a Job

You’ve landed a great job and need to move into a new apartment before your start date. Congratulations! But before you take that next big step, don’t forget to manage all the administrative tasks of moving, like terminating your utilities at your old place and turning on service at the new one. It’s not difficult, but you’ll want to do it far enough in advance that you don’t get any unpleasant surprises after the move.

Check with your landlord

Before you pick up the phone or go to any websites, talk to your landlord or property manager to find out what services may be covered by rent and what you need to pay for on your own. Some apartments, for example, may cover garbage removal, but you’ll have to provide your own electricity and internet. Some apartments cover all utilities as a part of the rent, though that’s pretty rare.

Some landlords won’t turn over keys and give you access to your apartment until you provide proof that the utilities have been turned on in your name. “I had a property manager who required electric and water services be established in my name prior to move-in,” says Zach Maye, who recently moved from Memphis to Washington, D.C., for a change in jobs. Clarifying those kinds of rules can avoid an ugly surprise on move-in day.

Schedule shut-off at your old apartment

With your focus on your future apartment, don’t forget to schedule a shut-off with the utility company for the place you’re currently in. Do this at least two weeks in advance so you won’t be charged a utility bill after you’re no longer living in the apartment.

Zach has a minor horror story about failing to turn off his utilities. “I failed to ensure my old property manager required the new tenant to establish electric service after I had moved out and was hit with their excessive electric bill. Despite arguing this with the electric company, I remained responsible for paying the bill as the service remained in my name.”

The bottom line: Be vigilant about both stopping and starting services on both sides of the move.

If you’re staying in the same state and the same utility company services both your old address and your new one, one call might be all you need to transfer service.

Schedule utilities for the new apartment

If you’re moving to a new city and working with a new utility company, you might have to provide a lot of information to set up a new account, including your birthday and Social Security number. This can help the utility company approve your credit and allow you to pay online or set up automated payments rather than paying with a more cumbersome method, like by check.

Also, be prepared for setup or activation fees. Some utility companies charge one-time fees to get your service up and running, and you’ll want to budget for that during your first month in the new apartment.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that scheduling is critical. It can take two weeks or more to turn on the utilities or get them switched over to your name, so start the process as soon as you have your new address, if possible. In some cases, a technician will need to make a house call to your apartment to get everything set up, so it pays to know that in advance and schedule it before you urgently need your services at move-in.

What utility services will you need to set up? Be sure to double-check with the landlord, but typical ones you might need to sign up for include:

  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Natural gas
  • Waste disposal
  • Internet and TV

In the same way that your first day at a new job requires you to complete a lot of paperwork, a new apartment needs a little administrative attention before you can fully enjoy its benefits.

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