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Setting up your cell phone, Internet and household utilities is a priority once you’ve relocated to the US. Before purchasing that first plan or provider you find, you’ll want to do your research to save time and money.
Even if you already have a cell phone, you could consider buying a local SIM and signing up for a phone plan. By getting a local number in the US, you can avoid international roaming charges.
Whatever your needs, you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to the plans — and deals for new customers — that each service provides.
To stay connected with friends and family at home, ask specifically about an international calling plan that includes your home country.
With a large cell phone market that includes many carriers, the first time that you buy a cell phone and plan can be challenging.
The US has four national carriers, each with its own network: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. You also have the option of several second and third-tier providers — these are services like Metro PCS, Cricket and Boost Mobile.
While users disagree as to which is the best service, they often agree that Verizon and AT&T offer the best coverage nationwide.
In the US, you have a choice of two main types of cell phone billing: a monthly plan with a contract or a prepaid plan. Because you are new to the US, it will be trickier to sign up for a cell phone or plan on arrival.
But you don’t necessarily need a contract to get a cell phone. Instead, you could look into:
When looking at a plan, ask the provider:
If you’re looking to set up Internet at home, you might be able to take advantage of bundle deals that include mobile service, a landline, and Internet in one plan.
Signing up for a phone or broadband contract can be challenging for a newcomer. But once you understand the process, it’s easier to compare your options for the best deal.
To sign up for a mobile and broadband deal, you’ll need:
With this information in place, you can approach broadband and phone providers to sort out your contracts. Note that application are often accepted both online and in stores.
Once you’ve found a place to live, you’ll need to set up utilities — services like electricity, heat and running water.
Research your local utility providers online and contact them individually to open new accounts. If you have a choice of service providers, talk with your neighbors or friends the US to learn which they might recommend.
After you’ve chosen a provider, you can typically sign up online, over the phone or in person.
Most household utilities are billed monthly. Here’s a breakdown of monthly expenses you can expect in the US:
|Water and sewage service.||Depending on the size of your home, this could cost $10 and $200 a month.|
|Trash collection services.||From $10 a month, with possible additional fees for recycling.|
|Home and cell phone bills.||Between $70 and $250 a month.|
|Internet service.||Up to $50 a month.|
|Cable and satellite TV.||This optional service could run between $25 and $150 a month, depending on the options you choose.|
Different services provide different options for paying your bills. While most offer the ability to receive and pay bills online, depending on where you live, you could still encounter services that insist on mailed paper checks to pay them.
If you’re unsure how you should pay a particular bill, contact your service provider directly. And to avoid the hassle of paying every month, ask if you can set up automatic deductions or autopay.
Whether you’re arriving to the US to stay or just to study, you’ll likely need to get set up with Internet, cell phone and utilities for your new home or dorm. It’s just one way that you can ensure a softer landing into your new life in the States.
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