Hiring Movers? This Is How Much to Tip Them

two removal men carrying boxes
How Much Should You Tip Movers?Tara Moore - Getty Images

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It's finally happening: You're moving. You've signed the closing documents, packed up all your belongings, and started this new adventure. It's so exciting! And, unfortunately, extremely stressful. First of all, when is the best time to move? Second of all, since when did you obtain this much stuff? All it takes is a move to convince you to embrace the Marie Kondo way and throw out half your belongings. No matter how many things you have, there's a good chance you're going to need professional help to get settled in your new home. And once they're finished, you're going to need to decide how much to tip your movers.

There are a lot of factors to consider when pondering what's an appropriate amount to tip. If your movers were attentive, kind, and detail oriented, it's naturally you'll want to give them more than you would if they didn't respect you or your belongings. However, there's proper etiquette to follow in this situation; in fact, most moving companies address the topic of tipping on their website. You might be wondering why they don't simply include the tip in the overall cost estimate—sorry, but we don't have a good explanation for that. (Thank you, tipping culture.) Gratuity is just something you should tack on and plan for when calculating the total cost of your move.

Read on to learn how much to tip movers and what factors to consider when deciding on an amount.

Do I Have to Tip My Movers?

movers carrying sofa from moving van to house
Chris Ryan - Getty Images

Do you have to tip your server at a restaurant? Or your taxi driver? The answer to all these questions is no, you don't have to. However, as we touched on a minute ago, tipping culture is alive and well in the United States. While it's not mandatory, people do have expectations when it comes to gratuity. In general, if someone has done you a service, you should tip them. There's no denying that moving all your stuff from one place to another is a service (especially if stairs are involved). Plus, it's a kind gesture and a wonderful way to show a hardworking team they're appreciated.

How Much Should I Tip My Movers?

male worker unloading cardboard boxes from delivery van
Drazen Zigic - Getty Images

Is $100 per person a good tip for movers? The answer depends on your move. The general rule of thumb is to tip your movers 15 to 20 percent of the total cost of the move. For example, if your invoice comes to $2,000 altogether, you should tip $300 to $400. Reputable moving companies will provide you with a cost estimate before the move occurs, so you'll be able to prepare (both emotionally and logistically) for the total deduction from your bank account. As for the method of payment, cash is greatly appreciated. As Roadway Moving puts it, giving your movers physical money makes the gesture more personal. It's also just easy and convenient.

Do I Tip Each Mover Individually?

Giving a tip to each mover ensures they each receive their fair share. For example, let's say your moving team consists of eight workers. If your total cost comes to $2,000 and you want to tip $400 in total, it's best to give each mover $50. Of course, if you noticed one team member put in more work or care as they were doing their job, you could tip them a little bit more than the others to show your appreciation. However, if you don't feel comfortable giving each individual a tip, it's okay to give the lump sum to the crew chief to divvy up.

Do I Tip Movers When They Load or Unload?

In general, you should wait until the end of the move to tip movers. You wouldn't tip your server at a restaurant after getting your drinks but before getting your entrée, right? This is similar: You shouldn't tip your movers while they still have your boxes on the truck.

That said, sometimes the movers who load your things aren't the same ones who unload them at your destination—for instance, a long-distance move. If that's the case, split the total tip between the two groups and give it to them when they each finish their work. Say you're planning on tipping $400 total: Tip the loading group $200 and the unloading group $200. If the same group is doing all the loading and unloading, wait until the end to tip them.

Deciding How Much to Tip

delivery men picking cardboard boxes from truck during sunny day
Maskot - Getty Images

A lot of factors can come into play when determining how much—or how little—to tip. Only you can decide what amount within the range of 15 to 20 percent is called for. If your movers weren't up to par, chances are you won't want to go all the way up to 20 percent, and that's completely fine. There are generally five factors to consider when deciding your tip amount:

  • Quality of service. This is generally a catchall for the movers' demeanor and behavior. Some important questions to ask yourself when determining the quality of service: Did they arrive on time? Did they communicate with you well and answer your questions fully? Did they work efficiently and in a timely manner? Did they take care of your belongings as if they were their own, or did some things arrive damaged? You're putting a whole lot of trust into strangers to take care of your prized possessions, and you deserve to feel good about how you and your stuff was treated.

  • Difficulty of the move. Think about the layout of the home you're leaving and the one you're moving into. If there are a lot of steps or skinny, winding hallways to maneuver, that could call for a larger tip. Even if your house has a relatively simple layout, having a lot of valuables—we're talking more than the average person—that need to be handled with the utmost care might be a reason to tip more. Finally, if you weren't as well prepared for the move as you could have been, consider tipping more. If movers have to to tape up boxes themselves when that wasn't part of the estimate or move sloppily packed boxes or bags, they deserve more.

  • Size of the move. This one's for all you maximalists out there. Sometimes you don't realize how many knick-knacks you have until you wrap them up and pack them in boxes. A large-scale job, like a five-bedroom home brimming with furniture, might warrant a tip at the top of the scale. Not only is there a lot to carry, but a larger move will take more time or require more labor. For a medium- or small-scale move, you could knock off a few percentage points and aim for a 15 percent tip.

  • Distance of the move. A long-distance move generally costs more than one within in the same town. However, factoring distance into your tipping is a good idea since those movers may have to be away from their families for a few days in order to get you set up in a new spot.

  • Additional services. If there's anything really fragile or bulky or important to you that the movers had to take extra special care of, consider tipping them a bit more. Maybe they had to take your dining room table or sofa apart to fit it through the front door. Yes, it's their job to get your stuff safely from one place to another, but a team that sincerely cares about your belongings deserves to be rewarded for their compassion.

More Ways to Say Thank You

male workers in blue uniform unloading furniture
AndreyPopov - Getty Images

It always pays off to be kind. On top of a cash tip, you can find extra ways to let your moving team know you appreciate them. Having water available is a must whether the weather is cool or warm. On a cold day, you can offer hot coffee, hot chocolate, or tea. If you want to go the extra mile, you can also provide snacks like cookies or granola bars or offer to order pizza. Be sure they know where the restroom is. Even if they don't accept any of your gestures, having the option is always better than not.

If you realize you don't actually want to bring along that dresser you've had since college or any other piece of furniture as you're packing up, offer it to the movers before taking it to your local thrift shop or setting it on the curb. Again, even if no one wants it, it's simply a kind thing to do.

And always, always thank them. It may not sound like much, but not getting a simple "thank you" in recognition of their hard work can sour the entire experience. This could include a stellar Yelp or Google review, possibly naming a few individual workers who stood out for their can-do attitudes. Not only will that person feel good (and possibly get noticed by their boss), but you'll be helping the entire business in the process. Referrals also go a long way toward fostering a good relationship. After all, you may need to hire movers again—although hopefully not too soon.

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