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First-time buyer's guide to household bills

Your first few weeks in your new home is a whirl of paint samples, furniture deliveries and boxes to unpack. In all the excitement, it’s easy to forget about the more boring and perfunctory things to do with your move, like working out your household expenses.

If you’ve rented up until now or have lived with your parents, chances are you may be confused about which bills you’ll have to pay in your new place. Is building AND contents insurance necessary? What exactly is ground rent?

Help is at hand with our essential household bills list so you know what you should budget for.

Mortgage repayments

It’s likely that your biggest monthly outgoing will be your mortgage repayment. How much you pay will depend on the terms of the agreement, including how much you’ve borrowed and over what time period.

If you’ve opted for a variable rate mortgage, the amount that you pay will go up and down each month, depending on the terms of your mortgage. However, if you are on a fixed rate mortgage, your repayments will remain the same each month.

Help with finding a mortgage

Home insurance

Building insurance

If you’ve used a mortgage to purchase your home, it’s likely you’ll already have this in place since most providers will need to see proof of building insurance before releasing the funds.

If you paid for your home another way, it’s still a good idea to take out building insurance. If your building is ever damaged, building insurance will help you to pay for the repairs. It’ll also cover the cost of rebuilding your home if it’s ever destroyed.

Contents insurance

While building insurance covers the bricks and mortar, as well as some fixtures and fittings of your home, contents insurance is used for everything else.

Whether it’s your laptop, your furniture or bike and other sports equipment, contents insurance will help you to recoup some if not all of the cost of replacing them.

Utility bills

Gas and electric

With rising energy costs, you should set aside extra money to cover your gas and electricity bills. This is particularly true if you’ve moved from a flat into a house, or from a modern home to a period property.

Setting up gas and electric for the first time can be daunting. Luckily, you can be all set up, confident in the knowledge that you’re getting the best deal, by following a few simple steps:

How to set up bills

  1. Find out your existing energy supplier.

  2. Locate the gas and electricity meters and take readings.

  3. Contact the energy supplier to inform them of your move and provide readings.

  4. Find and familiarise yourself with the fuse box and trip switch for safety.

  5. Note down your meter number for future reference.

  6. Understand your current energy tariff.

  7. Consider exploring better energy deals for potential cost savings.


If your new home is within the same area as your previous address, you can simply let them know your new details and they can set up your new tariff. If you’re moving to a different postcode, you’ll need to contact your new supplier - you can find their details here.

Council tax

Unless you’re exempt - for instance, if you’re a full time student - council tax is usually paid over ten months of the year, in ten equal monthly payments.

How much you pay will depend on which ‘band’ your home is in. Your estate agent should be able to let you know this ahead of moving.

It’s important to set up a payment plan for this as soon as you move into your new home.

Ground rent

For leasehold properties (i.e. homes where you don’t own the freehold, or the ground your building sits on), ground rent is an extra charge that has to be paid annually, bi-annually or quarterly.

This is paid by the leaseholder - you - to the person or company who owns the freehold of your property.

Service charges

Flats and apartments can sometimes incur a service charge to cover the costs involved with maintaining the grounds around your building.

The amount you pay will depend on the facilities you’ve access to. For instance, if you’re lucky enough to have a gym, swimming pool or private, maintained gardens onsite, your service charge is likely to be higher.

Now that’s sorted, you’ve more time to browse our range of home improvement guides, offering garden inspiration plus tips for transforming those small spaces in your new home.

Further reading

Buying a house for the first time? Here are the deposit options available

Five dos and don'ts for first-time buyers

First-time buyer mortgage guide

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