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We're willing to vacuum, mop, dust and sort laundry each week, but most Australians tend to ignore comparing utilities until they move house.
When it comes to moving, loading your life's contents into the van is stressful enough. Making sure all the basic utilities and services you need to live are waiting for you at the other end is a whole other problem to tackle.
We've put together this guide to simplify the process, running you through what you need to consider before lumping your stuff in the car and leaving your old place behind for good.
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Here's how to go about transferring your utilities
The process of disconnecting, reconnecting and transferring your utilities can sound gruelling and complicated. We've broken down the steps to make sure you've thought of everything and won't leave anything behind.
1. Your internet and phone
Check your new address's connection
Does your new address have access to the same or similar broadband speed/NBN connection as where you're leaving? Though most houses in Australia have access to broadband Internet, there are still blackspots across the country that lack the necessary infrastructure for high-speed Internet, especially in regional and rural areas.
Even if a broadband service is available at your new house, it's important to double-check the specific type of connection you can get. Depending on the technology used, you may be limited to slower broadband speeds than you're used to.
Are you on a contract?
If you signed up to your current Internet service on a long-term contract and that term hasn't ended, you will likely have to pay some form of relocation or cancellation charge as part of the moving process. Should you choose to stick with your current provider – and your new house is within reach of its network – relocating your existing service can cost as little as nothing at all or as much as a couple hundred dollars, depending on your particular provider.
But if you're moving out of your provider's service area or switching provider, you could end up paying a heavy early termination fee for the contract. This fee varies based upon how long you have left on your contract and can be as much as $500 or more with certain providers.
Will you be moving again?
Whether you're a short-term renter or simply a nomadic individual, you might want to look at signing up for a month-to-month contract if you don't intend on spending years at your new place. With month-to-month contracts, you can cancel at any time and not suffer any termination or relocation charges, saving yourself another headache come time for your next move.
2. Your energy
Give lots of notice
You'll have the smoothest transition when your energy provider(s) know you're moving a week or more ahead of time. This ensures they can have your power and gas disconnected right after you leave and hooked up at your new place in time for your arrival.
Check that your electricity and gas meters are easily accessible. Take a reading when you move in to compare to your first month's bill and make sure everything is accurate.
You'll have to pay a fee for cutting off your old place and hooking up your new one. More effort and money will be required if you're connecting up the new property for the first time.
Consider whether changing to a new provider will get you a better deal. We go into this in more detail further down.
If you're moving and changing provider, you may be subject to heavy exit fees if you're on certain contracts.
Get a reading
If you're renting or buying a new home, you should make sure you get an initial water meter reading to make sure you only pay for the water you use. Unlike other utilities, water is always connected and doesn't need to be turned on and off when you move.
4. Pay TV
Check for service
When moving house, all you'll usually need to do is make sure that you can still get your pay TV service at your new address. If you can, all you need to do is hook up your set-top box in the new place, notify your provider and away you go. If you can't get service for whatever reason, your pay TV provider will likely let you cancel the service for no fee, even if you're on a contract.
Don't forget about your outstanding bills
While they may not seem as important as setting up new connections for your new home, it's still important to check that you won't be leaving behind any loose ends.
Whose name is on the utilities?
If you're renting, determine which utility bills are in your name and which are managed by your landlord/real estate. Ensure that you have your name removed from utilities at the property you're leaving so that you aren't liable for the bills.
Pay off leftover bills
Make sure you've paid off whatever you owe at the old property so it doesn't come back to haunt you. Get a clean break from any utility charges at the old address.
Moving interstate? Here's a couple of things to keep in mind
Things can get quite a bit trickier when you move interstate, particularly when it comes to energy.
Places like NSW, VIC, south-east QLD, the ACT and SA have fully competitive energy markets. This means that you can choose which provider you want and sign up for the plan that best suits you.
Elsewhere, you don't have this same freedom. Instead, the government regulates energy prices and you may notice big swings in energy costs when moving from a deregulated area to a regulated one. These swings can go either way – it all depends on where you're moving.
Moving interstate may also force you to switch from your favourite provider: not all retailers operate in all regions or offer the same services if they do.
What's in it for me if I switch providers?
If you're moving house, it's always worth considering whether now's the time to change to a whole new provider. Since you're already disconnecting your electricity, gas and Internet, it could be the perfect opportunity to find a plan with conditions more suited to your new situation.
So long as you're not locked into a contract with an exit fee, switching providers should be free. You could switch for one of the following reasons:
Lower environmental impact
A different provider might burn fewer fossil fuels, provide carbon offsets or let you source more of your power from renewables. They might offer great incentives for solar, letting you switch to green energy more easily at your new home.
Save on bills
Retailers enter or leave the market and conditions change. New competition could drive down average prices, leading to a plan that's straight up cheaper or better in every way than your current one.
Get better customer service
Some retailers are more responsive and reliable when it comes to customer feedback. If you're unhappy with your provider's service, consider switching.
Signing up for a new plan that's month to month with no lock-in contract or exit fees means you can change your mind more easily in the future or move again if you have to.
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