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When and How Much to Tip Your Movers

Posted in Moving on Mar 18, 2019, tagged with moving costs

Tipping is a divisive topic. It’s not practiced in every country or culture, and it’s not something that’s universally done across all professions. Trying to determine when it’s appropriate to tip can be confusing, and it’s hard to find a definitive resource—who to tip, when to tip, and how much are all subjects that are hotly debated.

While we can’t speak to how much or whether or not you should be tipping your barber, manicurist, or waiter, we can offer some insight into tipping your moving professionals.

Do movers expect a tip?

Movers do not necessarily expect a tip, and if a move is going poorly, they will likely be aware and know not to expect one. However, because they are providing you with a service, there is an unspoken understanding that they might receive one, and tips are always greatly appreciated by any member of the service industry, including movers.

PRO TIP: In some instances, movers may not even be able to accept tips because of company policy, so always make sure to check with your customer service agent when you are booking your moving service.

Do I have to tip my movers?

Like with all tipping, you do not have to tip anyone. You are not obligated to provide someone with a tip—after all, tips are a reward for good service—but it is always appreciated.

Consider tipping your movers if:

  • They arrive, load up the truck, and depart in a timely manner
  • They’re respectful and polite
  • They are careful with your belongings
  • They make every effort to avoid property damage, such as removing doors
  • It is an especially difficult move, with lots of stairs, long carrying distances, or narrow hallways
  • They go above and beyond the job description or out of their way to assist you with something
  • Most importantly—you are happy with their service

Even if you are on the fence about tipping your movers financially, providing them with beverages (nothing alcoholic, of course), some snacks, lunch, and access to the bathroom is a kind gesture that might inspire better service.

How much should you tip your movers?

In most service industry fields, there are standard practices for tipping based on percentages. For instance, when tipping a member of the waitstaff at a restaurant, you normally tip 15-20%.

When it comes to moving, tipping a whole team of movers based on a percentage of the cost of your move can get pretty expensive, especially for long distance moves. Instead, most people recommend tipping based on a flat rate that depends on several factors:

  • Your budget
  • The quality of service provided
  • The complexity of your move (for example, is it a fifth storey walkup? Are the hallways especially narrow and full of tight corners? Do you have lots of large, heavy furniture that can’t be disassembled?)
  • The level of service selected (for instance, long distance economy move would likely not expect a tip)
  • How satisfied you are
  • The distance of your move (are you moving locally or long distance?)
Tipping long distance movers

The distance of your move and how many moving teams you have can also impact whether and how much you tip. For example, is it the same team loading and unloading your stuff at pickup and delivery? In this case, you will most likely want to tip your moving team more, especially for multi-day moves. If you have a different moving team at each location—which you likely will—a flat rate is probably the way to go.

With these things in mind, here are some concrete numbers to give you an idea of how much you should be tipping:

Local movers

  • Hourly: $4 to $5 an hour per mover.
  • Flat rate: $10-30 per mover, depending on time worked.

Long distance movers

  • Hourly: $5 an hour per mover.
  • Flat rate: $40-50 per day, per mover.

Exceptional service 

For exceptional service, consider going up to $8/hour.

Tipping the foreman

Depending on the complexity of the move, tip the foreman $50-100.

Keep in mind that this is all at your discretion, and you can decide to tip the moving crew more or less depending on what seems fair to you.

How do I tip movers without being awkward?

Outside of traditional tipping contexts, such as leaving a tip for your waiter with the bill, tipping can be awkward and uncomfortable—especially for those of us who are not gifted with the ability to be casual with cash and get anxious during social interactions with strangers.

Here are some guidelines for artful tipping:

  • Timing - First, make sure all of your boxes have been delivered and are undamaged, and sign the necessary paperwork[link]. After confirming all of your belongings have arrived unscathed and—if you’ve paid for it—unpacked, tip the moving crew before they leave.
  • Know who to tip - Avoid giving a lump sum to the foreman. Instead, tip each member of the moving crew individually based on how you feel about the service they provided. They will appreciate the acknowledgement and it ensures they actually receive the money, plus it gives you an opportunity to thank them personally for their services.
  • Prepare in advance - Make sure you take out enough cash for tips before your moving crew arrives, and get it organized and ready to give out before they complete their work. If you’re uncomfortable handing out loose cash, put the tips into envelopes before giving them to your moving team.
PRO TIP: It’s always good to have extra cash on hand during a move anyway, so take out more than you think you’ll need.

Conclusion

Tipping can be a stressful experience, especially because it often requires you to factor in the expectations of others, and you might find yourself worrying if it was enough—or maybe even too much—after the fact. If dealing with money this way makes you feel uncomfortable or awkward, keep the following in mind: 

  • Tipping is not required, but you should consider tipping your movers if they provide you with good service
  • The amount you tip is at your discretion
  • To make things easier on yourself, have cash on hand before your movers arrive and divvy it up for tipping before your moving team finishes for the day