Yes, You Should Tip Your Movers—Here's How Much

The pros who transported your stuff deserve a gratuity. These guidelines will help you know the going rate.

Packed up and ready to move? If you're among the millions of people who relocate in any given year, you'll face a common predicament: Do you tip movers? Moreover, how much? Moving day is stressful enough without having to figure out how much to tip. As with all forms of tipping, it's best to be prepared ahead of time.

"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."

Moving companies almost always allow tipping, and it's generally considered to be proper etiquette. Check your moving company's policy in your contract, on the website, or with the booking agent. Or ask the foreman discreetly the day of the move to see if they have specific guidelines, says Sharon Schweitzer, international etiquette expert and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide.

How much you should tip movers - money with house
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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.

The team that helps you move out of your former residence might be different than the team that helps you move into your new one, especially if you're going a significant distance. Be sure to tip each team separately, with each getting half the amount. In the case of the $3,000 move, you should tip the movers $225 to $300 at your old home and the same amount at the new place.

And be sure your tip is in cash. "Generally, you know your moving day well ahead of time, so hit the ATM, get some crisp bills, and 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."

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

"When I recently moved offices, the movers only had to transport a few boxes and some office furniture, but I still tipped each mover individually," Schweitzer says. "The workers were appreciative, and that made me feel good." She divvied up the tips ahead of time and handed one to each individual mover with a personal "thank you." Keaton agrees that while the amount is up to your discretion, $10 to $20 per mover for a smaller, half-day move is the correct range.

Considerations When Deciding How Much to Tip

Each expert gave us a range for tipping movers, so how do you arrive at an exact amount? Obviously, you should feel that you've received good service, but there are other considerations that might influence how much you tip:

  • The complexity of your move: How big was your home? How heavy or unwieldy was your furniture? How far did you have to go, and how many movers and packers did it take? How many stairs/levels are in your home? How long did the move take? If the answers add up to a particularly challenging job, 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 possessions with care, making sure to wrap fragile items? If you're very happy with the quality of your move, show your gratitude 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 the gratuity, which is a percentage of the total bill.

Other Ways to Show Appreciation

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

Do you have old furniture that you don't want to take to your new home? Keaton suggests asking the foreman if anyone would like to have it. "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. It can be awkward to be in a stranger's home and have to ask to use the bathroom.

Finally, the best way to show appreciation is to thank each and every person who helped. "Never underestimate the power of your words, your smile, and sincere thanks," Post says. He also encourages people to report a successful move–naming specific workers who took extra care in helping to make the 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 job well done," she says.

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