Knowing how much to tip movers can be tricky (though you should definitely do it). Here’s how much you should tip with every move, whether you’re going near or far.

By Cari Wira Dineen
Updated August 17, 2020
Advertisement

Packed up and ready to move? If you’re among one of the millions of people who will move this year, it’s inevitable that you’ll face a common predicament: Do you tip movers? Moreover, how much do you tip movers? After an exhausting and busy moving day, trying to figure out how much to tip isn’t something you want to stress out about, so be prepared ahead of time. As with all forms of tipping, being prepared to tip ahead of time will leave you and the worker in better standing.

“The moving crew, who is not making a lot of money to begin with, does have a general expectation that they will get tipped,” says Mike Keaton, spokesperson for the American Moving and Storage Association. And you should feel good about tipping your movers. “These are people who you are trusting with your possessions, not to mention that lifting heavy furniture and boxes is really hard work,” Keaton says. “If you think they did a good job, a tip is a lovely gesture to thank them and reward them.”

While tipping movers is almost always allowed by a company and is generally considered to be proper etiquette, be sure to check with your moving company—either when you book the move, by checking your agreement or on the company website, or by asking the foreman discreetly the day of the move—to see if they have a tipping policy or any guidelines, says Sharon Schweitzer, international etiquette expert and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. Chances are, the agent you book your move with will mention tipping expectations ahead of time, but if not, it’s best to ask.

How much you should tip movers - money with house
Credit: Getty Images

How much to tip movers

A good rule of thumb is 15 to 20 percent of the total moving bill for both a typical long-haul or a local move. For example, if you’re moving the contents of a four-bedroom house a long distance with a total move cost of $3,000, you should give the movers $450 to $600 dollars to split between the number of people helping you move.

Keep in mind that the team that helps you move out of your former residence might be different than the team that helps you move into your new residence, especially if you’re moving a significant distance, so be sure to tip each team separately. In that case, you can tip half the amount to each team; in the case of the $3,000 move, you should tip the movers $225 to $300 at your old home and at the new place.

And be sure your tip is in cash. “Generally, you know well ahead of time your moving day, so hit the ATM, get some crisp bills, and then put your gratuity in an envelope,” says Daniel Post, spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute. “Give it to the foreman at the end of the move, requesting that he distribute it among the workers.”

Moving during coronavirus might call for some different practices: You can ask the foreman if the movers use a digital payment app (such as Venmo or Zelle) to avoid potentially transmitting the virus through the exchange of hard cash. In case they don’t, though, make sure you have enough cash for the tip for your movers on hand. Setting it aside in an envelope a few days before the move could help prevent any potential virus spread, too.

What if you’re not moving across the country? Smaller moves which might take only two to four hours still require a tip.

“When I recently moved offices, the movers only had to move a few boxes and some office furniture, but I still tipped each mover individually,” Schweitzer says. “The workers were appreciative and that in turn made me feel good.” She divvied up the tips ahead of time and handed one to each individual mover, making sure to thank them each for doing such a good great job. Keaton agrees that while how much to tip is up to your discretion, $10 to $20 per mover for a smaller, half-day move is the correct range.

What to consider when deciding how much to tip movers

Each expert we contacted gave us a range for tipping movers, so how do you decide how much to tip in the end? Obviously, you should feel that you’ve received good service, but there are other considerations that might influence how much you tip your movers:

  • Complexity of your move. How big was your home and the contents, how far did you have to go, how many movers and packers did it take, how many stairs/levels are in your home, how much bulky, heavy, or awkward furniture do you have, how many days did the whole move start to finish take? If the answers to these questions meant that the move was particularly challenging, plan to tip at the higher end of the range.
  • Quality of service. Did they show up on time? Were they considerate? Did they handle your items with care, making sure to wrap fragile items? If you’re very happy with the quality of your move, demonstrate that with a generous tip.
  • Final moving cost. Did you pay for packing services in addition to moving services? Did all of your possessions fit into one truck or was an extra one needed? These expenses are calculated into your final moving cost and should be factored into how much you tip your movers, which should be a percentage of the total bill from the moving company.

Other ways to show appreciation

In addition to tipping your movers, you can show your movers that you appreciate their service in other ways. “Pass out bottled water and snacks to your movers, and make them some sandwiches or buy them lunch,” Keaton, who mentions that pizza is a good default option to feed a crowd, suggests.

You could also offer some of your old furniture that you might not want to take to your new home. Keaton suggest asking the foreman or move supervisor if anyone would like the furniture. “Often one of the movers will take it for themselves, or they can donate it or trash it for you,” he says.

Another way to be kind to your movers: Point out which bathroom they can use as soon as they arrive, Post says, adding that it can be awkward for movers to be in a stranger’s home and have to ask to use the bathroom.

Finally, the best way to show appreciation is to simply thank each and every person who helped you with your move. “Never underestimate the power of your words, your smile, and sincere thanks,” Post says. He also encourage people to report a job well done, naming specific people who took extra care in helping to make their move go smoothly, to the supervisor or moving company. Schweitzer agrees: “Complimenting a worker to their employer is one the best ways to reward a mover for a job well done,” she says.