Getting connected in the USA
You may have the key to your new home in your hand, but until you get yourself connected to all of the necessary utilities, it will be tricky to feel truly at home.
Prior to making the purchase, it’s important to ask the current owner how much they currently spend on utilities, so that you can have an accurate idea of how much you will need to budget each month. In the US, you’ll often find that the previous owners will leave you a folder full of information, which should include the contact details for all of your local providers.
In the US, you’ll often find that the previous owners will leave you a folder full of information, which should include the contact details for all of your local providers.
Each American State has multiple power companies, which means it will be up to you to locate your local company. You will need to call them up, and they will let you know whether or not you need to go into the office before you can be connected to the power. In some cases you may be asked to produce official documentation showing that you own the property, for example, proof of a mortgage agreement.
In some instances, power companies do ask for a deposit. This will be returned to you after an agreed period of no late or missed payments, and it is usually enough to cover one month’s bill. Unless your chosen company is one who has already made the switch to digital electricity meters, someone will come out to read your meter every month. You will receive a monthly bill, on a date that will be determined when it is first switched on. It’s possible to pay your bill pretty much any way you would like, i.e. direct debit, cash, cheque, PayPal, in person, online – the choice is yours.
It’s likely that your home will already be connected to a public utility company, although if your property is out in the sticks, you may well have to use well-water or water from investor owned co-operatives. Your realtor will be able to advise you on which method is best for you prior to purchase. The cost of water varies from State to State; in some places it is a metered service and a fee is charged per unit consumed/discharged, while in others, there are fixed monthly rates.
Although landlines are becoming less common, thanks to mobile phones and Internet-based phone services like Skype, Facetime, Viber, and WhatsApp, you may like to have a landline installed into your new US property. To do so, you will need to contact the local telephone company, and pay an initial connection fee, before you can negotiate a service plan with the telephone company’s sales team. You should expect your landline to cost between $30-100 per month.
It’s likely that your home will already be connected to a public utility company.
There are a range of satellite and cable television providers in the USA, so you’ll be able to choose a package that reflects your tastes entirely, i.e. all the sports or movie channels. The monthly cost will depend on what package you opt for, but you can expect to pay anywhere from just $15 per month, all the way up to $150.
If your new property is located in a city, town, or built up area, no doubt you will have a number of Internet providers available to you, allowing you to choose the most competitive package for your needs. If you’re located in the countryside, you may only have a couple of options to play with. You’ll find that most companies offer packages that include phone line, cable, and Internet. The most popular of these include:
Comcast – https://www.xfinity.com/
$89.99 per month, 2 year contract for TV, Internet and phone.
AT&T – https://www.att.com/
Bundles start from $80 per month.
Time Warner Cable – https://www.spectrum.com/?cmp=TWC
Offer a TV, Internet and landline package for $89.99 per month.
Much like the UK, there are a range of service providers to choose from for your mobile phone service. You will need to shop around to secure the best deal for your needs, but will find that the majority of packages have a set cost based on your data usage. If you require a handset too you will have to pay a monthly amount until the cost of the device is paid off too. The main mobile service providers include:
If you are going to be living in, or spending time in a rural area, you should ask the previous owner or your relator to advise on which mobile provider offers the best coverage.
Download your free USA property guide
Our guide to buying a house in America is readily available online, but you can also a PDF version to view when you're offline or print. Simply fill in the form to the right and you'll be able to download your free copy.
- Ask the right questions
- Avoid the legal pitfalls
- Find your property
- Avoid losing money
- Move in successfully