When Bad Internet Service Forces You to Sell Your House
Working from home? Don't let bad or non-existent internet service drive you away
Remember when the main reason people moved to new neighborhoods was to enroll their kids in “better” public schools?
I do. I was 9 years old the summer that my parents decided it was time to move to a larger house and a more highly-rated school system. So off we went, precisely 2.7 miles down the road to a neighboring suburb. With a new elementary school where my old friends … weren’t.
It’s a familiar scenario. But today, internet connectivity – and reliability! – have become just as important a consideration.
Who doesn’t work from home in some capacity? Or depend on the internet for electronic communications and digital entertainment? Not many, at least for those below retirement age.
It wouldn’t be an issue if connectivity and reliability were fairly standard across the country. But they’re not, especially in rural areas or in places where a monopoly of service providers is in place. And that can be a problem.
Case in point: I have a marketing friend who lives with her husband and son in a neighborhood that they’re mostly happy with. But - and it’s a big “but” - their internet provider has a monopolistic hold on their community and delivers shoddy, intermittent service. Not only is it hard for my friend and her son who depend on reliable connectivity for their work, but it’s driven her husband to renting out hotel rooms just so he can do his! Talk about an extreme. Like me, her husband is a voice actor. And believe me, internet availability, fast download speeds, and reliability are huge issues, especially when we’re working with clients in live, remotely-directed recording sessions. What do you do when you internet service is spotty? Well, he leaves his house, packs up his recording equipment and a portable Tri-booth (or Vocal Booth To Go, which is what I use when traveling by car), and rents a nearby hotel room, just to do his work. Untenable! And an unnecessary expense and nuisance. My friend and her family are moving, just so they can work without service interruptions.
What should you do if you were looking for a new place to live?
Do your research BEFORE you sign on the dotted line
What home buyers can do
If you’re purchasing from a homeowner, see what type of internet connection they had set up for themselves. What company did they use for phone and internet services? How many devices did they run at one time? Did they have any issues streaming movies and TV?
If the service is still operational, use an app like Speedtest by Ookla or Fast.com to test the download and upload speeds.
Check to see if lines and connections for Cable or DSL are already present in the home. If the house is already pre-wired, you can choose the fastest option.
Ask the neighbors what they use and how happy they are with their service providers.
Check sites like Broadband Now.com to find out who the providers are for the area.
Options for renters
Before signing a lease, ask the landlord or building a manager which Internet service providers serve the building, and then compare costs and speed options available.
If a renter is already living in the building, test the current connection speed on Speedtest by Ookla or Fast.com.
Moving into a new neighborhood? Internet connectivity – and reliability! – have become just as important a consideration as the quality of the local school system.
Routers and modems and connections ... oh my!
Routers can become less effective over time, and upgrading to a better router can do a lot for your internet speeds and reliability. If yours is years old, replace it. Check online to see if updates are available to keep them at top performance.
Modems become outdated, too. How can you tell?
You've had your modem for more than 5 years.
You need to reset the modem regularly.
Your Internet connection drops out.
Your Internet speeds are either slow or inconsistent.
Your modem makes a buzzing or humming noise often.
Help, I'm stuck!
What if there just isn’t a decent option available and for whatever reason, you can’t simply pick up and move to a different area? Consider one of these options:
Use cellular. Most of the major cellular carriers have an option to provide WiFi from their cellular system using a cellular WiFi router.
Use satellite. There are several satellite companies that provide internet to anywhere in the US or Canada.
Investigate a DSL line through the phone company.
Laura's Quick Tips
Do your research before you decide to buy, rent, lease, or squat somewhere.
Ask the locals about their services and then verify that you can get similar quality, too.
Make sure that your own equipment is up-to-date.
Hopefully, you can make some changes so that you don't have to totally uproot yourself to a new home, but if you do, at least you can avoid the problem of bad internet service again. Until the technology changes again and makes everything you've done a moot point....
But in the meantime, you can relax about all that and just worry about the really important stuff about your new neighborhood: the tax base, school system, local air and ground traffic patterns, HOA, crazy neighbors (see HOA), etc. And when all that gets to be too much, at least you know that you’ll have good internet service to escape into. 😉