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Hookups: The Utility Kind
by Kari Lamanuzzi
When you move into a new apartment or house, there are things you need to consider beyond how you are going to get your stuff there. For example, once you've moved in, are you going to want to take a hot shower? If so, you're going to want to make sure the utilities are hooked up.

First and foremost, you shouldn't be expecting massive connection fees. However, there could be some that you need to budget for. Some phone companies will charge you to set up a home line. Ditto for cable companies, who will probably charge you an installation fee (unless you sign up during a promotional period, when it may be waived). Make sure you're aware of which companies charge what, because you may need to budget for more than just the first month's rent and a security deposit.

Usually, setting up utilities isn't something you can do last minute and expect prompt service. In most circumstances, it can'take the utility company up to a week to get out to see you. Even then, you're entirely at their mercy. If you are going to classes during the day and the company wants to come to your house at 3pm, you have to find a way to make it work.

If you are having gas hooked up, the person that hooks up your gas will also conduct an inspection of your hookups to make sure that everything is okay. If the hookups are really old or if they leak at all, they'll need to be replaced (it's your landlord's responsibility to buy the replacement parts or pay for the repair). This is why you should always call ahead of time (read: before moving in) to schedule an appointment.

The most important utilities to take care of are the gas (if it's required) and electric (these are the ones that you'really don't want to have to live without). If these utilities are already in your name from your old place of residence, all you have to do is call up the companies and tell them that you'd like to have your account transferred to a new residence. Otherwise, you'll have to call and let them know that you'll be setting up a new account.

For some people, cable falls into the "can't live without" category. Like the other utilities, it's easy to call and have the account transferred. Like the gas, there is some installation required and you'll probably have to make it work for someone to be at home when the cable guy comes. Cable guys are notorious for not showing up for their appointments, so it's a good idea to call up the company and confirm your appointment the day before.

To save money, check around online and see if the cable companies in your area are offering signup incentive deals. At the very least, you should be able to get some premium channels for free for a few months. On the other end of the spectrum, you may be able to roll your cable, Internet and phone bills into one and get a discount. Obviously, this may not be such a great deal if you have a cell phone and have no need for a home line. However, if you find that you're constantly running over your minutes each month, picking up a home phone line for $20 a month might be worth thinking about.

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