Utilities/bills? Adulting HELP

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jackien1
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I'm looking at renting a studio/1 bed for my time as a postgrad, but have come to realise I'm woefully uneducated on how utilities/bills/renting privately works.

I've spent my time in undergrad living in uni accommodation or with friends who act as a landlord with bills all sorted for me, so now I'm panicking.

How much do bills cost a week/month? Some water/electricity is on a meter, what's the alternative? How do I pay bills? How do I set internet up? If water/electricity is already on a meter, does that mean I don't have to set it up, I just have to set up how to pay? Do I have to set it all up in advance of moving? How long does it take to set everything up?

Please help. 😭
Thank you.
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Noodlzzz
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1) I would recommend paying the bills yourself as opposed to a company that collates all together
2) Your landlord *I believe* should supply you with the details of the gas/electric provider they have registered, you can look for cheaper tariffs with other companies but check with landlord of it is ok to change
3) In regards to internet, try and get this sorted at least 2 weeks before move in date if you want wifi as soon/close to moving in
4) take meter readings as soon as you move in
5) as a postgrad living alone (in London) I pay the following: gas/electric £40, Internet/TV £42, water £29, council tax free obvs, TV license £12 a month or something? can't remember
6) your gas/electric may be pay monthly or may be pay as you go, check with landlord before switching between these
7) most bills will be direct debit which you sign up to when you call them on move in date to arrange
8) as mentioned internet takes a while to set up, gas/electric should already be in place
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BurstingBubbles
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(Original post by jackien1)
I'm looking at renting a studio/1 bed for my time as a postgrad, but have come to realise I'm woefully uneducated on how utilities/bills/renting privately works.

I've spent my time in undergrad living in uni accommodation or with friends who act as a landlord with bills all sorted for me, so now I'm panicking.

How much do bills cost a week/month? Some water/electricity is on a meter, what's the alternative? How do I pay bills? How do I set internet up? If water/electricity is already on a meter, does that mean I don't have to set it up, I just have to set up how to pay? Do I have to set it all up in advance of moving? How long does it take to set everything up?

Please help. 😭
Thank you.
Normally you'll need to phone up the companies to set up accounts and payments. For example, I think all bills that I pay are direct debit so the bill automatically comes out of my account on a set date of the month.

Water:
Most people have a water meter as it's much cheaper (especially when living alone) than paying a set amount. You'll just need to call up your local water company (you can Google this) e.g. my water company is Severn Trent, but it depends where you live. Normally either you read the meter which is often under the sink or outside in the pavement under a flap and/or the water company will read it. As an average you might pay £20 a month.

Gas/electric:
Some properties are only electric (electric heaters) and some are electric and gas (gas central heating/hob). I would say having had heating is better and often cheaper overall. You can use a comparison site like u switch and see what the cheapest company is and call them up. I've normally stuck with who the previous people were with because it's often that they are already on the cheapest tariff with the cheapest company but it's worth shopping around. Some landlords will want you to stay with a specific provider. You'll just need to phone them up and open an account and set up a payment method. You'll need to give metre readings at the start of your tenancy, every few months, and then at the end. You can often enter these numbers online if you get an online account or phone up to provide them. As an average you might pay £30-40 a month.

Internet:
Again you can use comparison websites for finding the cheapest/best deal. They'll then normally come out and set you up with the internet box or post the box to you to plug in if the property is already set up correctly. Just be careful with contracts and make sure you don't get too long a contract if you aren't certain that you'll be staying there. Some companies like Virgin can offer 6 or 9 month contracts. Make sure you cancel it a months before the contract ends if you need to end it or when it comes up for renewal phone them a month before to keep the price down. Try keeping the price under £30 a month.

Are you a post grad student or will you be working? If working then you also need to pay council tax. Phone up your local council (find the number online) and set that up if applicable. Council tax can be over £100 a month.

With all of these, please make sure you're on the companies actual website rather than the first phone number that comes up on Google as there can be scammers out there.

You may also want some home contents insurance, again you can use comparison websites for this.

Let me know if you have any questions
Last edited by BurstingBubbles; 4 months ago
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jackien1
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(Original post by Noodlzzz)
1) I would recommend paying the bills yourself as opposed to a company that collates all together
2) Your landlord *I believe* should supply you with the details of the gas/electric provider they have registered, you can look for cheaper tariffs with other companies but check with landlord of it is ok to change
3) In regards to internet, try and get this sorted at least 2 weeks before move in date if you want wifi as soon/close to moving in
4) take meter readings as soon as you move in
5) as a postgrad living alone (in London) I pay the following: gas/electric £40, Internet/TV £42, water £29, council tax free obvs, TV license £12 a month or something? can't remember
6) your gas/electric may be pay monthly or may be pay as you go, check with landlord before switching between these
7) most bills will be direct debit which you sign up to when you call them on move in date to arrange
8) as mentioned internet takes a while to set up, gas/electric should already be in place
Thank you for the info!
How does one take a meter reading?
London is really expensive.... I'm glad I didn't end up choosing QMUL to do my postgrad at 😂. (Or are all bills that expensive 😭)
Can I set up the internet if I'm not physically at the location?
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BurstingBubbles
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(Original post by jackien1)
Thank you for the info!
How does one take a meter reading?
London is really expensive.... I'm glad I didn't end up choosing QMUL to do my postgrad at 😂. (Or are all bills that expensive 😭)
Can I set up the internet if I'm not physically at the location?
There's normally a box which contains the meter in or outside the flat with numbers that you write down and then submit online or over the phone every few months. You might have two boxes if you have electricity and gas.

You would need to be there to give access to the property. Sometimes you can have the internet box posted to you and just plug it in. Best to be there though if possible in case there are any issues
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Noodlzzz
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(Original post by jackien1)
Thank you for the info!
How does one take a meter reading?
London is really expensive.... I'm glad I didn't end up choosing QMUL to do my postgrad at 😂. (Or are all bills that expensive 😭)
Can I set up the internet if I'm not physically at the location?
Either you have a smart meter installed, where you just look on the device, or there will be a meter somewhere inside/outside your property where you make note of the numbers e.g. 12345 for both elec/gas and submit them via phone to provider or online once registered with them
I would recommend getting a smart meter installed (you have to by end of year I believe!) where meter readings will auto be taken
And you can, yes. Just call up the provider (e.g. Virgin) and say when you're moving and they will arrange an engineer to come over to install the router etc. once moved it
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jackien1
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(Original post by BurstingBubbles)
Normally you'll need to phone up the companies to set up accounts and payments. For example, I think all bills that I pay are direct debit so the bill automatically comes out of my account on a set date of the month.

Water:
Most people have a water meter as it's much cheaper (especially when living alone) than paying a set amount. You'll just need to call up your local water company (you can Google this) e.g. my water company is Severn Trent, but it depends where you live. Normally either you read the meter which is often under the sink or outside in the pavement under a flap and/or the water company will read it. As an average you might pay £20 a month.

Gas/electric:
Some properties are only electric (electric heaters) and some are electric and gas (gas central heating/hob). I would say having had heating is better and often cheaper overall. You can use a comparison site like u switch and see what the cheapest company is and call them up. I've normally stuck with who the previous people were with because it's often that they are already on the cheapest tariff with the cheapest company but it's worth shopping around. Some landlords will want you to stay with a specific provider. You'll just need to phone them up and open an account and set up a payment method. You'll need to give metre readings at the start of your tenancy, every few months, and then at the end. You can often enter these numbers online if you get an online account or phone up to provide them. As an average you might pay £30-40 a month.

Internet:
Again you can use comparison websites for finding the cheapest/best deal. They'll then normally come out and set you up with the internet box or post the box to you to plug in if the property is already set up correctly. Just be careful with contracts and make sure you don't get too long a contract if you aren't certain that you'll be staying there. Some companies like Virgin can offer 6 or 9 month contracts. Make sure you cancel it a months before the contract ends if you need to end it or when it comes up for renewal phone them a month before to keep the price down. Try keeping the price under £30 a month.

Are you a post grad student or will you be working? If working then you also need to pay council tax. Phone up your local council (find the number online) and set that up if applicable. Council tax can be over £100 a month.

With all of these, please make sure you're on the companies actual website rather than the first phone number that comes up on Google as there can be scammers out there.

You may also want some home contents insurance, again you can use comparison websites for this.

Let me know if you have any questions
So even with a meter already installed, I need to find a company that provides water? (and electrics)

Most places I've looked at are electric only, no gas. The lettings agent I said could set it up online and it would all be 'very easy', but I doubt he knows my level of cluelessness.

So I need to be physically there to set up the internet? (just saw your reply got it for this question, thanks!)

I'll be a postgrad so no council tax for me.
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jackien1
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(Original post by Noodlzzz)
Either...once moved it
(Original post by Noodlzzz)
1) I would recommend paying the bills yourself as opposed to a company that collates all together
...
8) as mentioned internet takes a while to set up, gas/electric should already be in place
Do you think it's worth it to try and set all this up or just go with somewhere that's probably smaller and a little further out but has bills included?
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BurstingBubbles
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(Original post by jackien1)
So even with a meter already installed, I need to find a company that provides water? (and electrics)

Most places I've looked at are electric only, no gas. The lettings agent I said could set it up online and it would all be 'very easy', but I doubt he knows my level of cluelessness.

So I need to be physically there to set up the internet? (just saw your reply got it for this question, thanks!)

I'll be a postgrad so no council tax for me.
Oh I see you mean the meters where you top them up with a card? I've not had one of those before (I've had the ones where you pay per month). You might not need to ring up to sort it, it might just be a case of having the card to top it up with. Best to ask the landlord don't worry about needing to ask for help or support with these sorts of things, even quite experienced people with these things may need to ask. E.g. if I moved into a property with a top up meter I would need to ask!

Great about the council tax. Just make sure the council know you're a student and get exemption for it. Also remember to get a TV license if you are going to watch live TV.
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jackien1
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(Original post by BurstingBubbles)
Oh I see you mean the meters where you top them up with a card? I've not had one of those before (I've had the ones where you pay per month). You might not need to ring up to sort it, or it might just be a case of having the card to top it up with. Best to ask the landlord don't worry about needing to ask for help or support with these sorts of things, even quite experienced people with these things may need to ask. E.g. if I moved into a property with a top up meter I would need to ask!

Great about the council tax. Just make sure the council know you're a student and get exemption for it. Also remember to get a TV license if you are going to watch live TV.
I'm not even sure? The lettings agent just said it was on a meter. Should I ask for the landlord's information through the agent to talk to them? Or am I supposed to only communicate with the agent?
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BurstingBubbles
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(Original post by jackien1)
Do you think it's worth it to try and set all this up or just go with somewhere that's probably smaller and a little further out but has bills included?
It's good experience to sort it all out. You can avoid it forever you may save money by not having bills included as well as you may pay more for the convenience.
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BurstingBubbles
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(Original post by jackien1)
I'm not even sure? The lettings agent just said it was on a meter. Should I ask for the landlord's information through the agent to talk to them? Or am I supposed to only communicate with the agent?
Were they talking about the water or the electric/gas? Most water bills are on a meter as it's much cheaper - that just means that they track how much water you use rather than saying right pay £400 a year and use as much water as you want. It'll normally be cheaper to have a meter especially when living alone. The same for gas and electric, a meter just means you get numbers of what you've used and input that to generate the bill amount. Not that many properties have a system where you have to 'top up' but it's not unheard of. It just means you have to keep on top of it so you don't run out of electricity but once you know which property you want then you can find out further information and work around what is there

You can ask the agent who can always ask the landlord if they need to
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jackien1
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(Original post by BurstingBubbles)
Were they talking about the water or the electric/gas? Most water bills are on a meter as it's much cheaper - that just means that they track how much water you use rather than saying right pay £400 a year and use as much water as you want. It'll normally be cheaper to have a meter especially when living alone. The same for gas and electric, a meter just means you get numbers of what you've used and input that to generate the bill amount. Not that many properties have a system where you have to 'top up' but it's not unheard of. It just means you have to keep on top of it so you don't run out of electricity but once you know which property you want then you can find out further information and work around what is there

You can ask the agent who can always ask the landlord if they need to
Both the water and electric are on meters. (for one property I looked at and spoke to the letting agent about) Others have just said it's something I'll need to sort out myself without giving more information. Are the two options for water/electric just £x/year or meter?

edit: are deposits needed for water/electric as an international student?
Last edited by jackien1; 4 months ago
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BurstingBubbles
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(Original post by jackien1)
Both the water and electric are on meters. (for one property I looked at and spoke to the letting agent about) Others have just said it's something I'll need to sort out myself without giving more information. Are the two options for water/electric just £x/year or meter?

edit: are deposits needed for water/electric as an international student?
Yeah you'll need to find out if by meters they mean that you give metre readings (standard for most properties) or if it's a top up system (like the pay as you go phone system some people still use). Yeah and the top up card system where you top up gas/electric as you use it. I don't think that's something you have for water though.

I've never heard of utility companies needing deposits. For direct debits, you might end up paying for a month in advance but if you don't end up using that amount (it's often estimated) then at the end of the contract you might be in credit and get a bit of money back from them. You might need to increase or decrease your monthly payments depending on how much you use to stay in credit (the energy company sorts this calculation out). For water, I pay once every 6 months but some people will pay monthly so it's more manageable.

I hope that all makes sense. It's quite hard to explain by writing it down. You might be able to find some YouTube videos that can explain it all better (make sure you use information from the internet which is from a good source e.g. the companies themselves, BBC, money saving expert (Martin Lewis), u switch. I hope that helps
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jackien1
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(Original post by BurstingBubbles)
Yeah you'll need to find out if by meters they mean that you give metre readings (standard for most properties) or if it's a top up system (like the pay as you go phone system some people still use). Yeah and the top up card system where you top up gas/electric as you use it. I don't think that's something you have for water though.

I've never heard of utility companies needing deposits. For direct debits, you might end up paying for a month in advance but if you don't end up using that amount (it's often estimated) then at the end of the contract you might be in credit and get a bit of money back from them. You might need to increase or decrease your monthly payments depending on how much you use to stay in credit (the energy company sorts this calculation out). For water, I pay once every 6 months but some people will pay monthly so it's more manageable.

I hope that all makes sense. It's quite hard to explain by writing it down. You might be able to find some YouTube videos that can explain it all better (make sure you use information from the internet which is from a good source e.g. the companies themselves, BBC, money saving expert (Martin Lewis), u switch. I hope that helps
Will I have to pay council tax if I live in an apartment building with a mix of people who aren't students?


Thanks
Last edited by BurstingBubbles; 4 months ago
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BurstingBubbles
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(Original post by jackien1)
Will I have to pay council tax if I live in an apartment building with a mix of people who aren't students?


Thanks
No you won't as it's a separate apartment even if you shared a house/apartment with someone then they would pay and you wouldn't (they would get a 25% discount if they were the only one paying council tax in a shared house/apartment normally).

Just to let you know I've edited out the link you posted because for security reasons it's best not to post where you might end up living online on a public site
Last edited by BurstingBubbles; 4 months ago
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jackien1
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(Original post by BurstingBubbles)
No you won't as it's a separate apartment even if you shared a house/apartment with someone then they would pay and you wouldn't (they would get a 25% discount if they were the only one paying council tax in a shared house/apartment normally).

Just to let you know I've edited out the link you posted because for security reasons it's best not to post where you might end up living online on a public site
Awesome, thanks!

And haha yes that's smart, thank you again.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by jackien1)
Will I have to pay council tax if I live in an apartment building with a mix of people who aren't students?


Thanks
You don't have to pay Council Tax if you've got your own front door to the property.
Last edited by BurstingBubbles; 4 months ago
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