This is how it looks when I create a new document. I'm not even sure where the artboard edges are, quite hard to see. It seems to be just a TV safe guide and transparency grid. The Photoshop version is the same.
What you are seeing is the Transparency Grid. View > Show/Hide Transparency Grid.
However, if you hide the transparency grid, you might be under the false impression that your artwork has a background, which it doesn't.
If you want a background, you have to add it. Otherwise, you will have transparent areas in your art, which might be good for a title roll, for instance.
Also look at View > Show/Hide Artboards.
If you have snapping enabled, you can easily create a background with the Rectangle Tool.
Further, if you create a document with the base components that you like, you can add that to your templates folder, thereby making your updated template a template that's available to illustrator.