Moving in

Household management and utilities

Moving in

When you move to the US, you will probably have to take care of things in your apartment that you haven’t had to consider before. Below is a list of hints and tips to set you up in order to avoid any unpleasant discoveries.

Utilities such as gas, water and electricity are usually supplied by private companies, local municipalities or the federal government. In most cases, you will have to sign up for these services yourself (except for water), and remember to take along your rental agreement, social security number and a photo. Depending on your credit history, you might be required to pay a security deposit which can be anything between $50 and $300.

Water: Water is normally billed on usage and charged with the rent. Water in America is generally fine to drink. There are a number of filter systems available to purify it and improve the flavor.

Electricity and gas: Each tenant must register with the local gas and/or electricity company. The landlord, house manager or caretaker can tell you who is responsible for supplying the gas and electricity and where you should register. Compared with other countries, electricity rates in America are reasonable.

Electricity outlets: Electricity is 110 volts, with a frequency of 60 Hertz. Depending on the country you come from, you might need adaptors and transformers. You can easily find them at stores like Radio Shack, at grocers or even at pharmacies.

Separating garbage

Many states in the U.S. are becoming more and more environmentally conscious (especially California) and people are used to separating their trash. There are normally several different bins in each apartment block and paper, glass and packaging are often collected separately. Packaging usually has a symbol to show that it can be recycled. Food and organic waste is collected separately for compost.

Chemicals: All trash containing poisons or chemicals (e.g. fridges, paints, batteries, etc.) have to be taken to special depots and cannot be put in regular rubbish bins. These depots are run by the local garbage disposal companies. Batteries can also often be disposed of in supermarkets or electrical goods stores.

Bulky waste: Old furniture and large electrical goods are picked up by garbage disposal firms which usually charge a fee. Or you can drive to a dump and dispose of items yourself.

Clothes: Old shoes and clothes can easily be donated. Several organizations have stores specialized in receiving and reselling used clothes and accessories. You can find the addresses in the Yellow Pages or online.

Further reading

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