Moving to a new city, town, state or country means setting up utilities in another area where your current suppliers may not provide service. If this is the case, disconnecting and reconnecting utilities can take a bit of time and juggling to ensure that your lights, heat and other services are still functioning while you're packing up your old home and are up and running for when you arrive and settle into your new space.
Who Will be Your New Provider?
Depending on where you're moving to, your current provider may not service your new neighborhood. Or you may be moving to another area of the country which may have different regulations and set-up processes for utility services. Many city and state websites will provide information for newcomers, including utility company and service provider details.
The best thing to do is to Google utilities in your new city. Most cities provide local services such as garbage pickup, sewer, water services and recycling as well. Electricity or hydro and gas options are usually supplied at the state level so best to check with your state's website for more information. To locate a state website, go to www.usa.gov and in Canada, go to www.canada.gc.ca to link directly with a provincial site.
When Should I Call?
To be safe, it's best to contact the new provider at least two weeks before your actual move-in date. While many utilities companies can do a three to five day turnaround, some will need at least a week to ten days in order to get things set up. It all depends on when you move - during peak moving season, such as summer months, the wait-time for services will be longer.
Similarly, some companies will require at least two weeks notice for disconnection, too. Before you call, make sure you have firm move-out and move-in dates. And remember when booking service connection and disconnection, it's important to ask what time the service will be completed. To be safe, I usually book the service for the day before our arrival, just to make sure the lights and heat are working for our move-in.
How Do I Apply for Service?
Every utility company has their own policy and process when it comes to signing you up for new services. The last time we moved from Canada to the US, I had to provide deposit for most of our services, only because the companies couldn't check out credit in Canada. While this meant we paid a higher fee upfront, once the company knew we'd pay our bills, we received our deposit back.
For those of you who are moving across country or to a new city, the usual steps in setting up utilities include the completion of an application (usually online) plus a credit check. Again, if you don't have a good credit rating or are just moving into your first home and haven't had services before, the company will probably ask for a deposit. Remember that the security deposit can be, in some cases, quite substantive depending on the amount of usage that your property may consume. Call the company or log onto their website for more details.
Also keep in mind that many times companies will offer incentives for first-time consumers so use your negotiating skills to get a better deal or to have the security deposit waived. In a recent move, one utility company waived our security deposit of $700.00 after faxing a detailed record of our account with a previous provider. Ask the provider what you can do to lower your bills and whether they provide any support for first time home owners.
Finally, once you've had your utilities set up, remember to keep track of your billing dates and payment options so you're not left in the dark.