House insurance for the accommodations you rent is a personal preference. Nevertheless, it is always recommended as it will give you more security in case of problems. Moreover, renter’s insurance is not too expensive.
If you are a home-buyer, we strongly recommend you to get a home insurance. As explained before (see the purchasing section), the mortgage contract states that your house will serve as payment if you fail to pay off your loan. Your lender may ask you to take a home insurance, since he would like to be sure that he would not suffer any losses in the future in case your home gets destroyed due to any accidental or natural disaster. In any case, he would like to get his money back and taking a home insurance is the only way to protect you from more financial losses.
The following insurance companies, offer home insurance for both homeowners and people who rent:
- State Farm Insurance http://www.statefarm.com/
- Allstate http://www.allstate.com/
- American Family Insurance http://www.amfam.com/default.asp
- Nationwide http://www.nationwide.com/
- Farmers http://www.farmers.com/index.html
Gas / Electricity / Water
According to the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, the payment for essential services in Chicago such as heat, gas, electricity, running water, hot water and plumbing depends upon the terms of your lease agreement. Indeed, it really depends on the landlord but also the property (condos, coach houses) you rent. Therefore when searching for an accommodation be aware of what is included in the rent and what is not. But most of the time, tenants will have to pay their bills for gas, electricity, and phone. If not, the monthly rent might be higher. It is very rare to pay for water in the Chicago area. Nevertheless, it may happen. If it is the case, make sure to know what the average monthly cost is before to sign the lease.
For more information about the tenants’ rights, check the Metropolitan Tenants Organization: http://www.tenants-rights.org/index.php
As home-owners, you will have to pay for everything including the water. If you own a condo, the water fee may be included in the managing costs for the whole building. If you own a house, there is probably a water meter and you will have to pay according to what you use. Before you move in your new home, contact the water management of the city of Chicago to make sure that the previous owner has paid his/her former bill and register yourself as the new owner. You can pay online your water bill. For more information about this, please check the Water Management webpage:
Moreover, the department of water management also manages the Automatic Meter Reading program (AMR). It is a water meter with a remote transmitter attached that allows a better efficiency in the collection of water meter reading data. The Department of Water Management will no longer need to gain access to your building or house to read your meter. This program is currently ongoing and AMR is not yet installed everywhere.
People Gas is the main company that delivers gas in the city of Chicago.
To start an account with them, go on their website and click on “Start or Stop Service” in the section “Customer service”. You can apply for gas service by filling up a form online. You will then receive a letter at the address you ask for service explaining that to establish an account, you will be required to fax within 14 days:
- A social Security Card and Drivers License, or any other form of photo ID.
- A payment of security deposit. The amount will be specified to you in the letter.
Payments can be done easily on line (Paperless e-Bill) and by automatic payment (deducted directly from your bank account monthly). These two services are free. You can also pay by phone (quick payment) but a fee will apply. Payments are also doable by sending a check via mail.
Monthly price for a three bedrooms apartment: $80. Monthly amount vary according to the season.
ComEd is an energy delivery company that provides service to Northern Illinois. It is an Exelon company.
To start an account with them, go on their website and click on “Customer Service” and choose “Start, Stop or Move”. You can apply for electricity service by filling up a form online.
Payments can be done easily on line (Paperless e-Bill) and by automatic payment (deducted directly from your bank account monthly). These two services are free. If you wish to pay in person in a payment center or by phone (convenience payment), a fee will apply. You can also pay by sending a check via mail.
Monthly price for a three bedrooms apartment: $52. Monthly amount vary according to the season.
There is nothing special to do to start receiving mail in Chicago. Just make sure that your name is properly written on your mail box, give the correct address to your family, friends, company and main service providers such as Gas, Electricity Company and Newspapers.
The United States Postal Service is the main postal service provider. Its website is http://www.usps.com/. You will be able to locate easily the closest Post Office to your home through their online services locator as well as their business hours. Sometimes Post Office Locations are inside a supermarket or a store; therefore their business hours may differ from a classical post office. Through the website locator, you will get not only the post office locations and business hours but also the kind of services a specific postal store can provide.
If you move from your home country or any other country, you will have chosen an international moving company before your departure. Generally, international moving companies have local agents abroad with whom they are used to work with. This is the agent that will deliver your moving locally.
A great resource is http://www.internationalmovers.com/
Shipping companies in Chicago:
- Interconex, Inc https://usnykweb03.interconex.com/pls/idxnet/web.home
- Prime International Shipping http://www.prime-shipping.com/
- Craters and Freighters http://www.cratersandfreighters.com/chicago/