Saturday, November 10, 2012

5 things I did when moving into a new apartment

things to do when moving home
Image by rugosa rosa

We just did another move, our third in five years. And that took quite a bit effort as we accumulate quite a bit of stuff over the years.

I have forgotten how much of a hassle the entire experience can be; the packing was backbreaking to say the least an having a little one "helpfully" unpacking everything that I had put in the boxes didn't help.

I was seriously considering hiring packers but was out off by the prices of those that came highly recommended. Instead, we resorted to DIY and got some hardy boxes instead. If you are ever looking for some, I used Boxes2Move. They've got a couple of handy options and the moving boxes are delivered the next working day.

Then there's this drill of moving into a new place. Fortunately, the short list still holds true over time and here are the 5 things to be done when you first move into a new place.

1. Set up broadband

You don't need to be reminded of this but things move far slowly without a reliable (and fast) Internet connection. Working from home, scouting for services and utilities within the vicinity, and access to BBC iPlayer would hit a snag. Life will be simply unbearable.

Ideally, broadband access should be settled the moment you get your keys to reduce downtime. Broadband providers are notoriously inefficient in setting you up (setting up your direct debit, on the hand, is a totally different matter). Thus far, BT Broadband offers the least lag time - you could very well be surfing online after five working days provided your new place are properly wired up to begin with. But their overseas based customer services can sometimes give you grieve (insert).

2. Register for Council Tax

Next up, get yourself registered at the council. That would involved giving a call to the local council, and providing them your name and move in date.

While that would immediately make you liable for council taxes, it serves a more practical purpose. When we first moved into our new place, there had been letters of demand from debt collectors for debts chalked up by the previous tenant. Apparently, registered bailiffs have the right to enter the property and seize any belongings to offset the debtors' liabilities, only to be released upon you proving that they are yours.

To avoid that ordeal, get registered at your local Council, give the debt collectors a call and have them check with the Council. That was exactly what I did and I received no further letters thereafter.

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3. Sort out utilities bill

This is one thing that people do get overly concern about. There's no need to jump into a frenzy about getting your name on the utilities bill; if you need references for any application, a council tax bill would do just fine.

I would suggest adopting a wait and see approach. Don't worry, your water, gas and electricity supplies won't get cut off without you given ample notice. That said, keep an eye on the mail. Chances are there'd be utility bills arriving for the previous tenant. If so, contact the utility company that you've taken over the property and would not be liable for any charges prior to your moving in date.

However, there's absolute no need to stick to the same utility provider. I suggest that you go online and shop around for the best deal. I rely on price comparison sites like MoneySupermarket.com for the best deal and then hop onto to cashback sites like Quidco to purchase the plan.

Switching a service provider isn't painful at all. In fact, all you have to do is to contact the new provider and they'd do all the work. To be on the safe side, send an email to the old provider as well so as to put things on record.

4. Go through the inventory checklist

If you are renting, you got to hand over a security deposit (6 weeks worth of rental is the norm). If nothing gets broken or missing at the end of the lease, you'll get the whole sum back. That's where the inventory list comes in handy.

Once you enter the property, do a thorough check of every single item (down to the plates and utensils) listed in the inventory list before unpacking the luggage. I've got a landlord who raised the issue of a chipped plate only to have me pointing out the "one chipped blue plate" item on the inventory list.

If there is any inaccuracy on the list (i.e. missing, incorrect description), contact the landlord or property agent immediately. Take photos, if necessary, and attach them in an email. The paper trail will prove invaluable at the end of the tenancy.

5. Get to know the concierge

I can't stress this enough: get to know the concierge (if there's one) on a first name basis at the earliest opportunity. That way you'll make sure your parcels are received (some with unfamiliar names could be returned), you'd received a warning call should your property get unsolicited bailiff visits meant for previous tenants, any maintenance requests for common area are dealt with promptly.

Not only that, by the virtue of their position, the concierge is also an invaluable source of reference for nearby facilities. At the very least, there's the daily dose of gossip.

Moving into a new apartment is stressful. With luck, you wouldn't have to do it for more than once per year. Hopefully, with the list above, the process would be a tad smoother.

Have you moved recently? Have you got any to add to the list?

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