How to Find the Best Internet for Your New Home

Catherine McNally
Researcher & Writer
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Published on September 30, 2021
4 min read

At a glance

Are you dreading getting the internet set up at your new home? We’ve compared prices, plans, and installation for more than 21 internet service providers (ISPs) across the US to help you find the fastest, most affordable, and easiest internet to set up in your area.

Let’s dig into ways you can find the best internet for your new home and check that task off your moving to-do list.


4 steps to find the best internet

Finding the best internet service for your new home should be simple. You shouldn’t have to hijack your neighbor’s Wi-Fi to use your phone, computer, and other devices. We’ll break it down into four easy steps so you end up with the best possible internet connection at your new address:

  1. Find out which ISPs are available in your area with our zip code checker.
  2. Determine how many people and devices use the internet in your new home.
  3. Compare prices and speeds for your new internet options.
  4. Weigh the pros and cons of self-setup versus professional installation.

1. Narrow down your internet choices

First things first: your internet choices primarily depend on the location of your new home.

For example, you’ll see internet providers like AT&T and Spectrum in Chicago, Illinois. But if you’re moving to Bellevue, Washington, you’ll see Xfinity and CenturyLink. And that doesn’t even cover smaller, local internet providers.

This may seem daunting, and we don’t blame you. That’s why we built this easy internet provider search tool to help you find the ISPs available in your area. It uses your new zip code to check which internet providers offer service in that area.

Find internet prices for your new home

Once you’ve figured out which ISPs are available in your area, you can compare them with our list of the most common internet providers.


2. Tally up the people and devices using your internet

After you zoom in on which internet providers are in your area, you’ll have a handful of plans with different download speeds to choose from. Your first instinct might be to go with the fastest plan that sticks with your budget, but this could leave you high and dry in one of two ways:

  • You might end up with not enough speed and a house full of buffering icons.
  • You might overpay for too much speed.

Neither of those is a great scenario, but you can easily avoid them by getting an idea of how much internet you need for your household with these general bandwidth (internet speed) recommendations:

Cheatsheet: general internet speed recommendations

Internet speed
Number of people
Online activities
5–25 Mbps1-2Checking email, browsing the web, streaming music or SD video on one device
25–50 Mbps2–3Streaming HD video on one device, video calls, online gaming, light work from home
50–100 Mbps3–4Streaming 4K video, working from home, multiple online gamers
100+ Mbps5+Almost any online activity

Data as of 11/9/2020.

If you prefer to get more specific and do the math, you can tally up the number of people and devices that use your internet.

If you need some ideas of who or what might be using your internet, here’s a list of ideas to get you started:

  • Partner or spouse
  • Children
  • Roommates
  • Smart TVs
  • Security system and cameras
  • Cell phones
  • Gaming consoles
  • Desktops, laptops, and tablets
  • Smartwatches
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Vehicles
  • Home appliances

Next, we’ll add up the bandwidth, or download speed, you need per person and device.

Recommended speed per person and device

For each person in your household, add 25 Mbps. For each device, a safe starting point is 10 Mbps—unless it’s a 4K device, then you’ll want to allot 25 Mbps.

  • People: 25 Mbps per person
  • Devices (non-4K): 10 Mbps
  • Devices (4K): 25 Mbps

For example, let’s say you have a home with three people and a handful of connected devices:

Add up people and connected devices to get recommended Mbps

Person/device
Total number and Mbps per each one
Total Mbps
Yourself, your partner, and one child3 at 25 Mbps each75 Mbps
Desktop computer2 at 10 Mbps each20 Mbps
Laptop2 at 10 Mbps each20 Mbps
Tablet1 at 10 Mbps10 Mbps
Cell phone3 at 10 Mbps each30 Mbps
Smart TV (non-4K)1 at 10 Mbps10 Mbps
Wi-Fi printer1 at 10 Mbps10 Mbps
Total recommended internet speed75 + 20 + 20 + 10 + 30 + 10 + 10 Mbps175 Mbps

The recommended internet speed for this household is 175 Mbps. But keep in mind, that’s if every single person and every single device is online at the same time. So, if this family has a lot of offline time, they can likely get away with purchasing around 100 Mbps.


3. Compare prices and speeds

Okay, now that you’ve got an idea of which ISPs you can choose from and what kind of internet speed you need, it’s time to make a decision. Here’s a quick look at some of the more common internet providers in the US, how they stack up for price, and what range of speeds they offer.

Prices and download speeds for large US ISPs

Provider
Promotional price
Download speeds
Learn more
ATT$35.00–$60.00/mo.*300–940 Mbps
CenturyLink$50.00–$65.00/mo.**Up to 100–940 Mbps
Cox$19.99–$99.99/mo.25–940 Mbps
Earthlink$49.95–$99.95/mo.††3–1,000 Mbps
Frontier$49.99–$74.99/mo.500–1,000 Mbps
Google Fiber$70.00–$100.00/mo.‡‡1,000–2,000 Mbps
HughesNet$59.99–$149.99/mo.§§25 Mbps
Mediacom$19.99–$79.99/mo.60–1,000 Mbps
Optimum$35.00–$80.00/mo.°300–940 Mbps
Spectrum$49.99–$109.99/mo.◊◊Up to 100–up to 1,000 Mbps
Verizon$39.99–$89.99/mo.ΔΔ200–up to 940 Mbps
Viasat$30.00–$150.00/mo.***12–100 Mbps
Windstream$27.00–$85.00/mo.†††25–1,000 Mbps
Xfinity$34.99–$94.99/mo.§§§50–1,200 Mbps

Data as of 9/2/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. See full disclaimer.

We also recommend checking reviews for the internet providers you’re considering. We regularly update our lists of the best internet providers, the fastest internet providers, and even the best satellite ISPs so you can get an idea of what to expect.

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Don’t forget about data caps

If you work from home, study at home, or just download a lot of videos, songs, and games (legally, of course), you’ll want to keep an eye on your internet data.

Unlimited data is best—it means no worries. We’ve got a list of all the major ISPs with no data caps, plus ways to add data if you’re stuck with a cap.


4. Decide if you want to self-install or call a pro

Every ISP’s installation process is different, but more and more internet providers are offering self-installation kits.

Of course, getting your hands dirty may not sound appealing, especially when you just did all that moving into your new place. Here’s some general reasons why self-installation might be your best choice—or not.

Self installation pros and cons

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Often cheaper than pro installation
Pro Bullet No waiting for a technician
Pro Bullet May be less time-consuming
Pro Bullet Done on your own time
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet May be more difficult to troubleshoot
Con Bullet Not available for certain internet types, like satellite and some fiber

Professional installation pros and cons

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet An expert handles connecting your main device
Pro Bullet Instant support if something goes wrong
Pro Bullet A technician does the heavy lifting, like wiring or installing equipment
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Usually more expensive
Con Bullet Done by appointment, which can involve high wait times
Con Bullet Not always available when you need it

Our recommendation? Use the self-installation kit if you feel comfortable setting up your modem and router. If that’s not your cup of tea, spending the extra money and waiting the extra time for professional installation is well worth it.


Recommended resources

Still stuck in the rabbit hole that is deciding on the best internet service for your new home? We might be able to help you find a way out:


Full disclaimer

*For the first 12 months plus taxes and equip. fee.
**New customers only. Rate requires paperless billing and excludes taxes. Additional fees apply.
†For the first 12 months with a 1-year term agreement.
††With a 12-month contract.
‡For 24 months with 2-year agreement. Actual speeds may vary. Installation, equipment fees, Internet Infrastructure Surcharge, early term, taxes & other fees apply. Services subject to availability and all applicable terms and conditions.
‡‡Plus taxes and fees. Service not available in all areas.
§§Requires 24-month agreement.
¶For the first 12 months.
°w/Auto Pay & Paperless Bill plus taxes, fees & charges.
◊◊Wireless speeds may vary.
ΔΔw/Auto Pay + taxes. Equipment charges may apply.
***For the first 3 months.
†††For the first 12 months.
§§§For the first 12 months. Some packages require a 1- or 2-year contract.

Catherine McNally
Written by
Catherine McNally
Catherine has a degree in journalism and an MBA, and has spent the last 10+ years writing everything from Okinawa travel guides to stories on Medium. She’s been online since AOL CDs were a thing and is an unapologetic PC gamer. (Her current fave titles are World of Warcraft: Classic, Warhammer: Vermintide 2, and the Dragon Age series.) She believes the internet is a necessity, not a luxury, and writes reviews and guides to help everyone stay connected. You can also find her on Instagram: @catherine.talks.internet.